I'm keeping this review short and tidy. I had it for 3 weeks so there are numerous things I didn't do, nor care to try as I wasn't going to re-wire many things for such a short time. I concentrated on what mattered, to me, most. How it sounded. Also going to throw in two major kudos to Pioneer/Elite and a "minor flaw" in execution of "looks taking precedence over function".
The major big + for the Pioneer Line is I was able to do everything I wanted while never looking at the manual. Granted, I never used the Networking(beyond listening to a bit of internet radio). Conversely, I never used it with an Apple product over the network. There are numerous other reviews about how their apps stack up to Yamaha and Onkyo. I have an Onkyo 1008 and use none of its native networking...so it should not be a shock I didn't choose to check into this ones implementation. I also never tried its scaling(sources used listed later)
To the review...
There must be something real about Air Studios. During the Hi-Res disc of Handel's Messiah(all links to content will be added at the end) this was easily the quietest AVR I've "never heard". Honest to God. The dead space on this disc was dead space. Matter of fact, all SACD/DVD-A I played, if there was a noise floor. It was the disc.
The setup of this AVR was supremely easy. The GUI seems circa 2011(not going to win any awards. But super simple). Each input is tailorable to exactly how you'll use it, no muss, no fuss. It even appears you can assign the toslink and digital coax to more than 1 input(importance of that to come later and I only tried it with 1).
The remote. Major kudo to Pioneer/Elite to include separate DVD and BD input/mode buttons. For those of us that use both in the same system, having the buttons separate is a big deal. Yes, every other manufacturer allows you to re-name inputs and really have a DVD player on Sat/Cable or whatever other button you want. But when guests come over and the buttons are separate...makes it easier for guests to use your theatre. I have no idea how far down Pioneer/Elite keeps BD and DVD separate, but the 75 is on my short list of AVR to buy(the 79 has more features than I'd ever use). This remote was easy.
Big kudo on the inclusion of HDBaseT. This is the connector we should have gotten. Not HDMI. Yes it is only for Zone use. But hey, it has to start somewhere.
The front plate design, which yes, makes it look sleek, is a complete pita when you want to use the front HDMI. I use it for an Ipad via the AV adapter. The cost of this AVR(understandable on the lesser expensive...) means...why does the flap not slide under the front? Or...why is the HDMI behind it at all? Pioneer/Elite's ongoing "function takes a backseat" award winner of design miss-function.
Why does MCACC not allow multiple crossovers? Neither does YPAO(have no clue about DCAC). This, for me, is the major stumbling block. But, I'm a "fringe" user. I listen to SACD/DVD-A and run full size speakers in all locations(except center/width). Granted I never ran MCACC because auto-EQ programs and DCM TF series don't mix(the DCM TF, for those unfamiliar, are front and rear radiating which makes MCACC, YPAO, Audyssey and even REW have issues. Since these speakers purposely create a phase delay, measurements are never accurate). My 4 main speakers play to 40. I never got to hear what Air Studios could do...within the capabilities of the speakers I have chosen for this room(for when I wanted to include the width. Most of the time I used Direct for SACD/DVD-A, then the chosen crossover no longer mattered).
The remote. Yes It appears in the good and the bad. I know I'm "used to Onkyo/Integra". Why does the remote, beyond its obviously good functioning, have to feel circa 2005? There are those of us who expect their AVR remotes to control the situation. We don't want to "have to buy" a Harmony/URC. Great function marred by dated design.
Great binding posts. If these ever break off...your fault.
Pleasing coloring of the display. The blue lights(depending on sound mode chosen...) add a nice touch.
Side vented. Not that I ever suggest you do this, but if you have a component that offers a bunch of space(meaning it has big feet), you could put something on it...as long as both aren't inside a cabinet. I put this on my TV stand next to a CD player. The TV sits on the CD player and there was enough room under the TV by 2 inches for the AVR to sit there happily. No, I didn't put anything on it. But, no matter how loudly I was running it, the top never got hot. With side venting, the top will never get hot, as long as the fan has open space to blow the air.
Now to the listening. The entire reason you buy an AVR in the first place.
I listen to bunches of music on a daily basis. Approximately 40% of my collection is SACD/DVD-A. I have (last count) 2300 discs. My primary go to Hi-Res are Spyro Gyra Good To GoGo, Beck Guero, Elton John Madman Across the Water and Handel's Messiah(version of this linked later). As far as AVRs, this SC79 packed one of the biggest punches of any AVR I've ever had in my home. Integra DTR 7.8 and Denon AVR 4308 included(which I have both). This exceeds the 4308 and keeps up with the DTR 7.8. To give you an idea on "how good" class D has gotten(in this AVR, the 77 and 75 are probably no less than 95%). I put in the 4308 and set it "like" the SC79(as close as I could given the differences in setup). The SC79 using the Handel's Messiah disc in 6 channel direct achieved 110db in my room while barely chewing 4amp. The 4308 got to 108db chewing more than 6. In my office(which I didn't remove the 7.8 from) the DTR achieves 110db with much more efficient speakers and a smaller room, while chewing 5.5. (the 7.8 still had more...but my baseline was what the SC79 offered up).
That is formidable power production. Five DCM creating an SPL of 110, centered in the room, took approximately 155wpc(but Handel's Messiah is an easy, mostly vocal, load during the stretch I was attempting full bore).
Power is one thing. Sound...
Like said before, the noise floor here is dead silence. If you experience noise. It isn't the SC79. The 4308, at all times, had a noticeable hiss if you were within 3 feet. Noise floor is important for those choosing extremely efficient speakers like Zu or Klipsch. If you don't have to turn it up much, you never get off the noise floor.
Madman Across the Water
Is an excellent listening disc. Plenty of power for the TF's to soar. Channel differentiation was top notch. If you have sound issues, the speakers just aren't placed correctly.
Is a taxing sound stage for any piece of equipment. To get better production than this, you need separates. The rear channel was alive when needed. The AVR never left anything behind.
Was equally fun. DCM TF are good enough they'll reveal weaknesses up the chain. Not a fault here.
As noted the noise floor is a revelation. If you listen to content where noise floor matters, have zero worries. Class D is prime time with Air Studios.
Like is alluded to on other sites about this soundtrack. Even if the plot holes and story leave you cold...the soundtrack separates the kids from the big boys. This here takes its place among the Kings of AVR. The Onkyo NR5010/Integra DTR 80.3 and Denon 4520 have met their sonic equal in Class D. This soundtrack shot up the room. Literally. I had a mishap of room decor. The 4308 never got anywhere near this. This was almost as good as my Onkyo SR707 feeding 2 Kenwood M2A with a Jamo MPA201(center amp). AVR up against the M2A? Yes, I went there. (The mishap happened cause I wasn't expecting what happened with the volume at -2. I have a sword from the British military that I take off the wall when I know "hectic is coming".)
As guttural as U: A is, Immortal Beloved is the opposite. Sweeping, sincere to the music. This soundtrack tasks you to be able to hear Oldman along with the music. Never a problem. Everybody's favorite scene in the movie. Sheer magic. Turn it up and let it roar. If anything cracks up, it isn't the AVR.
Width. Since I'm used to DSX, Pioneer's implementation was...different. Using my speakers, and my perception...
DSX treats width as a separate channel. Seemed here, width was no more than a handoff. Still effective, but much more directionally cued. Essentially, DSX, the width is always in use creating a wide stage. Pioneer's use was more announcing something leaving and entering the sound stage.
Earlier I mentioned the digital inputs. You can tie a digital input with an HDMI. You have to do that in the setup menu for specific inputs. They include this ability because the AVR(apparently...or I missed a setting) can't keep video up if you move to an audio source. The digital input you can assign to the HDMI is "borrowed" from wherever else you have it. Meaning you can put a toslink on CD and borrow it for the HDMI used by your PS/XBox, very cool feature. Also HDMI passthrough in standby is "input choice on/off". Have no idea why, but it is the way it is done.
The SC79 beat my expectations by a mile. This one says it can handle 4ohm. That has been the bane of Class D's existence. The inability to not upchuck their guts on a 4ohm load(read the Magnepan FAQ regarding Class D). I tried this AVR on a pair of Thiel that I have around that are 4ohm. Granted only 2, not 5 or 7, speakers...not an issue was to be heard and they were doing some Felix Hell. Felix on a 4ohm load would have caused a "hey I'm dying here"...which never came. Short list this AVR if you need everything it offers.
Elite DV49 (anything not BD)
Orei M2(Multi-Region BD)
Directv HD DVR
Ipad via AV Adapter
DCM TF600, TF350, Surroundscape and KX(6, I think, tag fell off long ago). M&K subwoofer
Content: Listing the ones where there is more than 1 version only...if mentioned above.