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Pioneer SP-C22 Review (Center Speaker)

Rate this speaker:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 8 6.3%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 41 32.0%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 70 54.7%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 9 7.0%

  • Total voters
    128

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Pioneer Sp-C22 center home theater speaker designed by the famed Andrew Jones. It was kindly purchased new by a member and drop shipped to me. It costs US $75.
Pioneer SP-C22 Review  Home Theater center speaker.jpg

It is amazing how much you get from a branded company at this low price! Sure, there is a bit of glue smear on the right mid-woofer but the rest is nice including color matched black screws. We have the typical MTM configuration which will likely cause problem for horizontal directivity.

Most center speakers of this type are sealed. This one has dual ports:
Pioneer SP-C22 Review Back Panel Binding Posts Port Home Theater center speaker.jpg


This should help it with bass but that response will be variable depending on how much you close up the ports.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

Measurements are compliant with latest speaker research into what can predict the speaker preference and is standardized in CEA/CTA-2034 ANSI specifications. Likewise listening tests are performed per research that shows mono listening is much more revealing of differences between speakers than stereo or multichannel.


Reference axis was the tweeter center. No grill was used. Measurement temperature was about 61 degrees F (16 degrees C).

Pioneer SP-C22 Measurements
Normally I start with the over all spin but allow me to do this in a different order with the predicted in-room response:
Pioneer SP-C22 Measurements Predicted in-room Frequency Response Home Theater center speaker.png


This is extremely good! Yes there is a bit of peaking in the highs and a little around 100 Hz but overall is very good. The reason for good response is due to almost perfect early window reflections:

Pioneer SP-C22 Measurements Early Window Frequency Response Home Theater center speaker.png


Let's get to the spin now:

Pioneer SP-C22 Measurements Frequency Response Home Theater center speaker.png


The on-axis response is fairly variable with a bit notch between 3 and 4 kHz. Seems like there is some cancellation going on there due to diffraction (my guess). I will give you the near-field response and let you all diagnose it. :)
Pioneer SP-C22 Measurements Near Field Frequency Response Home Theater center speaker.png


We know horizontal directivity is going to be super narrow and hence poor, and it is:
Pioneer SP-C22 Measurements Horizontal Directivity Response Home Theater center speaker.png



Pioneer SP-C22 Measurements Horizontal Beamwidth Response Home Theater center speaker.png


This is of course opposite of what we want to see in center speakers. Here is the vertical response which is good (where we don't need it to b3 good):

Pioneer SP-C22 Measurements Vertical Directivity Response Home Theater center speaker.png


The benefit of MTM comes into play in power handling which is very good:
Pioneer SP-C22 Measurements THD Distortion Response Home Theater center speaker.png


BTW, notice the in-room frequency response. It is very flat (even zoomed in to 50 dB it is so). This confirms the beneficial reflections for this speaker.

Pioneer SP-C22 Measurements Relative THD Distortion Response Home Theater center speaker.png


The narrow distortion peaks point to resonances which are obvious in impedance/phase measurements:

Pioneer SP-C22 Measurements Phase Impedance Response Home Theater center speaker.png


Finally here are the timing measurements for fans of those:

Pioneer SP-C22 Measurements waterfall csd Response Home Theater center speaker.png


Pioneer SP-C22 Measurements Step Response Home Theater center speaker.png



Pioneer SP-C22 Measurements Impulse Response Home Theater center speaker.png


Pioneer SP-C22 Listening Tests
I set up everything and hit play. I was stunned how good the sound was. My jaw was on the floor seeing how this is a $74 speaker! I go to adjust the speaker and realize that I had not connected the speaker cables to it. Instead I was listening to my Revel Salon 2 speakers!!! :D I connected the cables to the SP-C22 and of course there was fair bit of degradation. The bass was a bit tubby and highs a bit harsher/brighter. Otherwise, the sound was quite enjoyable with extremely good power handling.

I attempted some EQ based on on-axis response and that was not fruitful. Filling the 3 to 4 kHz give the sound a bit more space but made it too bright. I did dial in -2 dB at 100 Hz and that fixed the tubbiness (I happen to have a room mode in that region). Bass was tighter now which I liked.

Horizontal directivity is a problem. Go a few degrees left and right and tonality changes drastically. So definitely not a choice for non-solitary home theater usage.

Conclusions
I wish this speaker wasn't called a center speaker. Then, at $74, it would be a steal of a speaker. It still can be when used as mains. The dual woofers screw up center application but provide excellent power handling. And the rear port adds bass which is typically missing in these small speakers.

Overall, I can't recommend it as a center speaker. But as a general (perhaps rotated 90 degrees) it is an excellent offering at this bargain price.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

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  • Pioneer SP-C22.zip
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Hugo9000

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Pioneer SP-C22 Listening Tests
I set up everything and hit play. I was stunned how good the sound was. My jaw was on the floor seeing how this is a $74 speaker! I go to adjust the speaker and realize that I had not connected the speaker cables to it. Instead I was listening to my Revel Salon 2 speakers!!! :D
:D
That has to be your best comment yet in a review! LOL
 

MZKM

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Here is a good vide showing the insides and some mods:

That is probably one of the weirded grille design choices I have seen, the crosshatch pattern is covering the tweeter but is not covering the woofers (my infinity speakers are the opposite for instance).

6965395C-F5FA-4E32-8BB5-EF054BC715D9.jpeg
 

alex-z

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The C22 has a lot of potential for cheap improvement just like the BS22.

IIRC, Dennis Murphy did a simple mod, adding a 3.9uF cap and 2.2 Ohm resistor to the tweeter circuit, and swapped the tweeter for the BC25TG15-04. That fills in the 3-4kHz dip, and lower distortions slightly.

Doing that plus adding 2-3 dowels bracing front to back should help considerably.
 

Dennis Murphy

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The C22 has a lot of potential for cheap improvement just like the BS22.

IIRC, Dennis Murphy did a simple mod, adding a 3.9uF cap and 2.2 Ohm resistor to the tweeter circuit, and swapped the tweeter for the BC25TG15-04. That fills in the 3-4kHz dip, and lower distortions slightly.

Doing that plus adding 2-3 dowels bracing front to back should help considerably.
Actually, that mod was intended for the BS22 Monitor. I don't recall whether I every tried it with the center channel, and in any event a full crossover mod is really required to even things out.
 

pierre

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Harman/Tonality score is 4.6 (7.3 with a sub).

Speaker is difficult to equalize: if you make the LW (Listening Window) flat it becomes to hot on axis, you would need to be slightly off axis.
I settled for flatter PIR but the LW is oscillating too much for my taste.

Score increases up to 5.1 (7.9 with a sub) which is marginally better. EQ is available here.

filters_eq.png
 
Last edited:

H-713

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Fantastic. I'd think that some of the more clever speaker guys from the DIY community could come up with a way to take care of the issues at 317 Hz.

I do wish that companies would ditch this black woodgrain finish. Surely I'm not the only one who thinks it makes it look like cheap Ikea crap, right? I don't expect piano finishes at this price point, but even the generic finish used on touring cabinets would look better if you ask me.
 

Dennis Murphy

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Pioneer Sp-C22 center home theater speaker designed by the famed Andrew Jones. It was kindly purchased new by a member and drop shipped to me. It costs US $75.
View attachment 204780
It is amazing how much you get from a branded company at this low price! Sure, there is a bit of glue smear on the right mid-woofer but the rest is nice including color matched black screws. We have the typical MTM configuration which will likely cause problem for horizontal directivity.

Most center speakers of this type are sealed. This one has dual ports:
View attachment 204781

This should help it with bass but that response will be variable depending on how much you close up the ports.

Measurements that you are about to see were performed using the Klippel Near-field Scanner (NFS). This is a robotic measurement system that analyzes the speaker all around and is able (using advanced mathematics and dual scan) to subtract room reflections (so where I measure it doesn't matter). It also measures the speaker at close distance ("near-field") which sharply reduces the impact of room noise. Both of these factors enable testing in ordinary rooms yet results that can be more accurate than an anechoic chamber. In a nutshell, the measurements show the actual sound coming out of the speaker independent of the room.

Measurements are compliant with latest speaker research into what can predict the speaker preference and is standardized in CEA/CTA-2034 ANSI specifications. Likewise listening tests are performed per research that shows mono listening is much more revealing of differences between speakers than stereo or multichannel.


Reference axis was the tweeter center. No grill was used. Measurement temperature was about 61 degrees F (16 degrees C).

Pioneer SP-C22 Measurements
Normally I start with the over all spin but allow me to do this in a different order with the predicted in-room response:
View attachment 204782

This is extremely good! Yes there is a bit of peaking in the highs and a little around 100 Hz but overall is very good. The reason for good response is due to almost perfect early window reflections:

View attachment 204783

Let's get to the spin now:

View attachment 204784

The on-axis response is fairly variable with a bit notch between 3 and 4 kHz. Seems like there is some cancellation going on there due to diffraction (my guess). I will give you the near-field response and let you all diagnose it. :)
View attachment 204785

We know horizontal directivity is going to be super narrow and hence poor, and it is:
View attachment 204786


View attachment 204787

This is of course opposite of what we want to see in center speakers. Here is the vertical response which is good (where we don't need it to b3 good):

View attachment 204788

The benefit of MTM comes into play in power handling which is very good:
View attachment 204789

BTW, notice the in-room frequency response. It is very flat (even zoomed in to 50 dB it is so). This confirms the beneficial reflections for this speaker.

View attachment 204790

The narrow distortion peaks point to resonances which are obvious in impedance/phase measurements:

View attachment 204791

Finally here are the timing measurements for fans of those:

View attachment 204792

View attachment 204793


View attachment 204794

Pioneer SP-C22 Listening Tests
I set up everything and hit play. I was stunned how good the sound was. My jaw was on the floor seeing how this is a $74 speaker! I go to adjust the speaker and realize that I had not connected the speaker cables to it. Instead I was listening to my Revel Salon 2 speakers!!! :D I connected the cables to the SP-C22 and of course there was fair bit of degradation. The bass was a bit tubby and highs a bit harsher/brighter. Otherwise, the sound was quite enjoyable with extremely good power handling.

I attempted some EQ based on on-axis response and that was not fruitful. Filling the 3 to 4 kHz give the sound a bit more space but made it too bright. I did dial in -2 dB at 100 Hz and that fixed the tubbiness (I happen to have a room mode in that region). Bass was tighter now which I liked.

Horizontal directivity is a problem. Go a few degrees left and right and tonality changes drastically. So definitely not a choice for non-solitary home theater usage.

Conclusions
I wish this speaker wasn't called a center speaker. Then, at $74, it would be a steal of a speaker. It still can be when used as mains. The dual woofers screw up center application but provide excellent power handling. And the rear port adds bass which is typically missing in these small speakers.

Overall, I can't recommend it as a center speaker. But as a general (perhaps rotated 90 degrees) it is an excellent offering at this bargain price.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
Thanks Amir. I've worked with 100's of these animals dating back to 2015. I'm surprised the center is still available. The BS22 monitor is out of production, so I assumed the center was too. I always felt the center was the most successful version of the AJ Pioneer speakers. They measured better and much more consistently than the BS22 or the 52 Tower. As you note, the bass is a little boomy--the cabinet would need to be twice the volume of the BS22 to maintain the same tuning, and the cabinet isn't that large. The result is a bump in the midbass and less extension than in the BS22.

However--despite the very smooth early reflections curve--the lower treble sound suffers from the same lack of clarity that plagues the other speakers in this series, and the problem is inherent in the tweeter AJ used. Of the 3 Pioneer speakers, the center has received by far the most complaints in audio forums, all citing a lack of dialog clarity. The only way to fix it is to throw away the tweeter, swap in the same Peerless BC25TG15-04 tweeter I used in my other Pioneer mods, and redo the crossover to accommodate the new tweeter and provide more baffle step compensation. You then have a very clean center channel (as long as you don't listen far off axis) for a bargain p;rice. But it's a pain, and I've served my time doing the mod.
 

milan616

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The only way to fix it is to throw away the tweeter, swap in the same Peerless BC25TG15-04 tweeter I used in my other Pioneer mods, and redo the crossover to accommodate the new tweeter and provide more baffle step compensation. You then have a very clean center channel (as long as you don't listen far off axis) for a bargain p;rice. But it's a pain, and I've served my time doing the mod.

And since we're here, thanks again for said mod. Did wonders for us!
 

restorer-john

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The only way to fix it is to throw away the tweeter, swap in the same Peerless BC25TG15-04 tweeter I used in my other Pioneer mods, and redo the crossover to accommodate the new tweeter and provide more baffle step compensation.

Or just throw away the entire speaker and buy a decent centre. Neither the C21 or C22 were/are decent speakers for the all-important voice - their only reason for existing...
 

H-713

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'Black ash effect' , as per the shopping catalogues of yesteryear.
It has its own strata at UK landfill sites.
I still don't understand how anyone ever could have thought it was a good look...
 

Loathecliff

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I still don't understand how anyone ever could have thought it was a good look...
It was a relief after the fake teak that preceded it.

Thinking aloud:-
'Landfill Archeology'. Trade-in your worthlessness 'Gender Studies' ologies for something of use for mankind TV historians, (& forthcoming TV series').
 

H-713

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It was a relief after the fake teak that preceded it.

Thinking aloud:-
'Landfill Archeology'. Trade-in your worthlessness 'Gender Studies' ologies for something of use for mankind TV historians, (& forthcoming TV series').
Let me generalize it to all plastic woodgrain finishes. The fake teak wasn't much better.
 

peniku8

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Pioneer Sp-C22 center home theater speaker designed by the famed Andrew Jones. It was kindly purchased new by a member and drop shipped to me. It costs US $75.

It is amazing how much you get from a branded company at this low price!

And here my painter wouldn't even paint such a speaker for 75 bucks. Mass production amazes me, I'd really love to see their fab. Probably some fascinating stuff going on there!
 
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