So while wandering around my local Best Buy:Magnolia store yesterday I discovered that they had SC-05's on sale for $899. Brand new. That's *half* MSRP, and equal to the cheapest online fly-by-night, no-warranty places I've seen for this receiver. And of course, easily returnable and with the full warranty since it's a real dealer, and I'll get a Blu-Ray or two worth of reward points, so I couldn't pass it up.
I figured, at best I was getting a great deal on a receiver that I've been looking at for awhile, and at worst I could just return it within 30 days.
So after a couple of hours of rewiring all of my gear (whew!), I've got it all hooked up. Since the main feature of this thing is its ICE Class D digital amplification section, I decided to remove the LPA-1 from the loop to see if the SC-05 could run M80's. It can. Easily. As measured with my standard demo material, I can hit spl levels even higher than the LPA-1 can. At my volume-tolerance level, I can just begin to hear my LPA-1 strain - just a bit. Not so with the SC-05. Extremely clean, even at absurd+++ volume levels. Wow. Anyone wanna buy an LPA-1?
Anyone worried that the SC-05 (and the 07 & 09) might not handle the 4-ohm M80's, don't be. It barely got warm even while running through a few 'torture' tests.
I ran through a few sessions of the MCACC calibration. I like what it does. It's hard to explain but it definitely changes the characteristics of the sound. In my case, it really smoothed out the bass response. I've been struggling for years at taming a both boomy AND bright room, and this thing has fixed it. Very smooth & clean sound, from the deepest bass to the highest highs. The SQ seems really, really good. My wife and I spent about 4 hours just re-listening to music yesterday and we're both in agreement that it just sounds better. I have no idea if it's a difference between the 43tx vs the sc-5, the amp, or the MCACC. But we really like the change.
Everything else seems just fine. Source switching & signal acquisition & processing seem to work perfectly. No weird quirks that I can find.
Drawbacks? Well, there are a couple of annoyances...
1. I knew that it "only" had Faroudja video processing when I bought it. But what I didn't know is that the Pioneer Elites do absolutely nothing with HDMI input video. So there is no upscaling of digital video, only analog. I am somewhat disappointed in this because I had sort of wanted a good upscaler (Reon in the 876). But on the other hand, as I've thought about it I don't know *why* I think I need a good upscaler. All of my sources (Dish HD, PS3, AppleTV) are native 1080i or 1080p anyway, and the PQ looks fantastic to me. So I'm not sure why I think I need an AVR that upscales. Still, one less feature....
2. Lack of OSD. This is a bigger annoyance. It has an OSD for the setup - speaker sizes, MCACC calibration & graphing, etc. But it does not have any kind of OSD for volume, source, or processing modes (DD, DTS, etc). Well, it does if you buy a Kuro plasma I guess, but not for us lowly owners who can't afford them. Sure, it's on the 05's display, but it's impossible to read the itty-bitty 5mm tall status lights from across the room. I understand Pio's logic in saying that they don't want to touch the video. I get it. But other manufacturers don't seem to have an issue with that so I don't know why they do.
3. Global crossover only! I don't know how I missed this in the reviews, but this thing only has a single crossover for the whole system. Wow, how 2002.
Would have been nice to be able to cross my M80's at a different point than my QS8's.
So, I am happy with it. If the fundamentals of what an AVR should do are sound quality & source processing, the SC-05 seems great. It's as solid as a rock (so far), with absolutely no quirky behaviors. I'm loving the one-cable HDMI connections between everything. Serious clean-up behind the AV Rack. And the sound quality, as I've said, seems to be outstanding. So for that, it's amazing. My Axiom's have never sounded so good and the music just sounds, well, alive.
I'm less thrilled with the lack of 'toys', as my wife puts it. I'm not sure it's a deal-breaker but it is a bit disappointing. The perfect-reputation of the Denon 3808 and the amazing array of features on the Onkyo TX-SR876 are tempting. In fact, I have nearly talked myself into ordering one or both of them to compare at home, and then returning the two that I like the least.
We shall see....