Pioneer SC-2023 owners thread

Dorian

Active Member
Thought I'd start a thread on this rare beast, after finding no reviews anywhere and very few people talking about it.

I came across this amp on sale at Richer Sounds for £499. Their adverts say it is reduced from £649, but I've found places on the web selling it for £849. It appears to be closely related to the award-winning SC-LX57, but 7 channel instead of 9. The rest of the specs are very similar - including the Class D3 amplification at 190W per channel. The only differences I saw are only one DSP instead of two, and a lack of gold-plated connectors. After checking the US range, it may be closely related to the US model SC-72 (although that model is badged Elite and has the gold display).

My review:

After having a very nice Arcam AVR280 for years, I decided it was time to upgrade. The lack of HDMI audio is an annoyance when using an HTPC, and owning a PS3 and PS4 as well means not enough HDMI sockets.

I first bought a Sony DN1040, and liked the detailed sound (although it sounded a bit thin with my Kef Q speakers), but had HDMI issues. When that amp was returned, the Yamaha 675 was recommended to me. This is a nice amp, and had no HDMI issues, but I found a harshness to the sound. The plan was to get the Sony 1050 and hope the HDMI issues were fixed, but then I spotted the Pioneer. Rather than pay £500 for a £500 amp with the Sony, the Pioneer was an opportunity to pay £500 for an £850 amp. At 15kg, it's nearly 5kg heavier than the Sony or Yamaha, and they don't make these things heavier than they need to be, so to me that's an indication of a better transformer and chassis.

After getting the amp home today, the build quality is definitely a cut above other models at the £500 bracket. Just bear in mind it's a full depth (44cm) box, which is right on the limit for my shelf unit. In place it looks subdued and classy. The front dials are maybe a big on the large side but that's being picky. Apart from that it looks minimalist and expensive, and the black finish means it sits nicely in a dark projector room.

In operation, everything works well enough. The remote is cluttered and hard to understand but after an hour or two of use it becomes easy enough. The onscreen messages that confirm what button you pressed are ugly, but can be turned off. The menus for calibration and setup are better, but only functional - not pretty like the Sony 1040 menus.

Sound quality (music)

+ Excellent clarity, vocals are lifelike and instrument separation is very good
+ The sub integration is so good it sounds like it isn't even there and the front speakers have suddenly found great bass ability.
+ Bass sounds have far more definition to them than any amp I've owned
+ Overall sound is punchy yet refined.
+ Smooth sound, with no fatigue after listening for hours

I am really surprised by how good this amp sounds. As an Arcam owner I was a bit wary of trying yet another Japanese amp loaded with technology, but I think this is proper hi-fi sound. For some reason my system (with the Arcam) was starting to sound a bit flat with music, and I was starting to point the finger at the old Kef Q35's up front.

With the Pioneer the Kef's have sprung back to life as if amp has grabbed hold of them and made them work. Playing my lossless CD rips via the HTPC (on digital out) sounds detailed and musical. My 24bit 96khz Nick Drake album downloaded off Linn sounds superb. By comparison, the Arcam also sounded great with the high res files but the standard CD rips sounded flat and a bit lifeless.

Sound quality (movies)

After some quick tests, it's just excellent. The intro to The Day After Tomorrow sound properly cinematic, with lots of emotion to the music, plus deep rumbling bass in the background. I also tried Gravity and that shows the Pioneer to be in a different league to the Arcam.

With a flat MCACC setting the audio quality is great, but when properly calibrated the room just fills with sound rather than obviously coming from each speaker. Dialogue isn't quite as forward as the Sony 1040 I tried, but there is a setting to control it which I haven't tried yet (it's not available in Direct mode which I've been using exclusively).


Conclusion

This amp has been a real surprise - I've got very little experience of Pioneer equipment except an early DVD player which I didn't like, but this amp is superb. Not only is it great on features, but it has genuinely excellent sound quality to back up all the technology. I can only guess that it gets pretty close to the performance of the excellent SC-LX57 - all the positive comments I've read in the reviews of that model seem to apply to the 2023 as well.

Seriously recommended!
 

quatter

Active Member
Thought I'd start a thread on this rare beast, after finding no reviews anywhere and very few people talking about it.

I came across this amp on sale at Richer Sounds for £499. Their adverts say it is reduced from £649, but I've found places on the web selling it for £849. It appears to be closely related to the award-winning SC-LX57, but 7 channel instead of 9. The rest of the specs are very similar - including the Class D3 amplification at 190W per channel. The only differences I saw are only one DSP instead of two, and a lack of gold-plated connectors. After checking the US range, it may be closely related to the US model SC-72 (although that model is badged Elite and has the gold display).

My review:

After having a very nice Arcam AVR280 for years, I decided it was time to upgrade. The lack of HDMI audio is an annoyance when using an HTPC, and owning a PS3 and PS4 as well means not enough HDMI sockets.

I first bought a Sony DN1040, and liked the detailed sound (although it sounded a bit thin with my Kef Q speakers), but had HDMI issues. When that amp was returned, the Yamaha 675 was recommended to me. This is a nice amp, and had no HDMI issues, but I found a harshness to the sound. The plan was to get the Sony 1050 and hope the HDMI issues were fixed, but then I spotted the Pioneer. Rather than pay £500 for a £500 amp with the Sony, the Pioneer was an opportunity to pay £500 for an £850 amp. At 15kg, it's nearly 5kg heavier than the Sony or Yamaha, and they don't make these things heavier than they need to be, so to me that's an indication of a better transformer and chassis.

After getting the amp home today, the build quality is definitely a cut above other models at the £500 bracket. Just bear in mind it's a full depth (44cm) box, which is right on the limit for my shelf unit. In place it looks subdued and classy. The front dials are maybe a big on the large side but that's being picky. Apart from that it looks minimalist and expensive, and the black finish means it sits nicely in a dark projector room.

In operation, everything works well enough. The remote is cluttered and hard to understand but after an hour or two of use it becomes easy enough. The onscreen messages that confirm what button you pressed are ugly, but can be turned off. The menus for calibration and setup are better, but only functional - not pretty like the Sony 1040 menus.

Sound quality (music)

+ Excellent clarity, vocals are lifelike and instrument separation is very good
+ The sub integration is so good it sounds like it isn't even there and the front speakers have suddenly found great bass ability.
+ Bass sounds have far more definition to them than any amp I've owned
+ Overall sound is punchy yet refined.
+ Smooth sound, with no fatigue after listening for hours

I am really surprised by how good this amp sounds. As an Arcam owner I was a bit wary of trying yet another Japanese amp loaded with technology, but I think this is proper hi-fi sound. For some reason my system (with the Arcam) was starting to sound a bit flat with music, and I was starting to point the finger at the old Kef Q35's up front.

With the Pioneer the Kef's have sprung back to life as if amp has grabbed hold of them and made them work. Playing my lossless CD rips via the HTPC (on digital out) sounds detailed and musical. My 24bit 96khz Nick Drake album downloaded off Linn sounds superb. By comparison, the Arcam also sounded great with the high res files but the standard CD rips sounded flat and a bit lifeless.

Sound quality (movies)

After some quick tests, it's just excellent. The intro to The Day After Tomorrow sound properly cinematic, with lots of emotion to the music, plus deep rumbling bass in the background. I also tried Gravity and that shows the Pioneer to be in a different league to the Arcam.

With a flat MCACC setting the audio quality is great, but when properly calibrated the room just fills with sound rather than obviously coming from each speaker. Dialogue isn't quite as forward as the Sony 1040 I tried, but there is a setting to control it which I haven't tried yet (it's not available in Direct mode which I've been using exclusively).


Conclusion

This amp has been a real surprise - I've got very little experience of Pioneer equipment except an early DVD player which I didn't like, but this amp is superb. Not only is it great on features, but it has genuinely excellent sound quality to back up all the technology. I can only guess that it gets pretty close to the performance of the excellent SC-LX57 - all the positive comments I've read in the reviews of that model seem to apply to the 2023 as well.

Seriously recommended!
 

jleholeho

Active Member
Very nice review,
I am planning to buy exactly this one next month, hope Richer Sounds will still have it in stock.
 

Dorian

Active Member
I don't think you can go wrong with it! What setup are you using?

Mine is PS3/PS4/HTPC, Kef q35/85/95 and a BK Electronics sub. And an Optoma HD700X projector.

I was starting to wish I had a more audiophile CD player or streamer, but playing off the HTPC via HDMI and letting the Pioneer decode the audio sounds great.
 

mtenga

Distinguished Member
I was starting to wish I had a more audiophile CD player or streamer

Check out the yamaha cdn500. Not only is it a CD player but is a streamer and has internet radio as well. A great sounding hybrid device.
 

clayts450

Active Member
Way to make me feel jealous, Dorian :(

Glad you're enjoying it anyway - does definitely seem to be a steal.

Be intrigued to know how you're getting on with MCACC tweaking - have you dared to start reading this monster epic yet ?

I'm still trying to get my head round what all the graphs mean - by the way, don't discount that AV Navigator disc that came in the box thinking it's just for wiring up - it has the useful MCACC calibration program on it (a bit 2002 looking, interface-wise) which allows you to import your receiver settings across your network to your computer to play with the reverb graphs, as well as the full MCACC guide for your model - nearly missed this myself ;)

It should also have a much better manual than the standard PDF file, one that allows you to search by keywords etc.
 

womble9

Active Member
Anyone else got anything to say about this amp or Dorian do you have anything you'd like to add? I've just grabbed a 1040 but I'm tempted to maybe spend a little more and swap it over for one of these :)
I do have a question too. Do the various inputs remember which sound setting you had it set to last time you used it or do you have to change it back after it's gone to a default / one that you've set into its memory? Not a biggie, just curious. Oh and I also see that it doesn't have wifi? That seems a bit of an omission IMO.
 

sclarke81

Active Member
I have the Sony 1040 and am seriously tempted to swap for this.

I've been reading a bit about MCACC and there are quite a few people saying that Audessey is better because it is multi point and corrects for the sub too. However, a lot of these posts are older so I was wondering if this amp has the newer MCACC that also does these things? My sub has to be off to one side and under a small table do I'm a bit concerned about that.
 

Dorian

Active Member
Anyone else got anything to say about this amp or Dorian do you have anything you'd like to add? I've just grabbed a 1040 but I'm tempted to maybe spend a little more and swap it over for one of these :)
I do have a question too. Do the various inputs remember which sound setting you had it set to last time you used it or do you have to change it back after it's gone to a default / one that you've set into its memory? Not a biggie, just curious. Oh and I also see that it doesn't have wifi? That seems a bit of an omission IMO.

I'm still very pleased with it. Everything I throw at it sounds better than I've heard it before (on my Arcam AVR280). I was playing the first inFamous last night (PS3) and even though that's a pretty dated game the excellent sound reproduction of the amp was very noticeable.

I think the answer to your question is yes. Please check the manual to be doubly sure, but I think that both video and audio settings are remembered per input. I was playing with video settings and am sure they are per-input. At first the image looked a tiny bit bit dark to me, so I was turning off the video processing, but then I noticed that there is an option to "optimise" the image for the type of display being used, and that defaults to PDP. When I changed it to projector, it fixed the darkness issue.

Compared to the Sony 1040, in my setup it definitely beats it. Maybe my Kef speakers are a bit laid back but while the Sony sounded beautifully clear, it was a bit flat. The Pioneer seems to have the same clarity but it really gets the Kef's singing - the amplification is just more powerful. These Class D3 amps are definitely not a gimmick.

My goal was to get an amp that sounded close to the Arcam in stereo mode (difficult), better in surround mode (not as difficult) but with more modern decoding and more HDMI inputs. Sticking my neck out a bit here but I think this Pioneer is is a big step up from the Arcam even in stereo mode - that was a big surprise.

What Hi-Fi says this about the LX57:
-Superb levels of fine detail
-It’s rare to find bass that goes quite so deep with so much detail to it
-Good dynamic range and sense of scale
-Punchy and exciting

This is exactly what I am finding with the SC-2023. The detail in bass is amazing (i.e. you can make out the sound of real bass instruments), and it is punchy and exciting but in a natural way, it's not bright or harsh.

I do of course wonder how much better the LX57 sounds, but that is a big step up again in price!
 

womble9

Active Member
I've had a bit of a look in the manual and I can't find where it says about the inputs remembering what they were set to last time they were used. I did find that looking at the details of the App that can be used with it that it seems far more detailed than the 1040 one though. Did you get a chance to use them both and if so how did you find they compared? Would I also be right in thinking the the multirooming specs of the 2023 are a good bit better than the 1040 too? Looking quickly it seems that way but I'd be a bit annoyed with myself if having not had a chance to have a proper look (and certainly not a play around with them) I ended up regretting spending a couple of hundred quid more but my time is really limited at the moment yet I have got a chance to pop down to R.S tonight (or maybe Saturday). Sorry for asking you so many questions but there doesn't seem to be a great deal written up on the 2023 online :).
 

Dorian

Active Member
@womble9 ok mate I'll try it for you later on mine to be sure. It will be late on tonight though sorry...
 

womble9

Active Member
That would be brilliant (sorry for the slow reply but I've been out) as indeed would reading up on anything more you can say about the two and how they compare. I've called RS and they're fine with me having a play with the Sony and then maybe popping in to see them on Saturday which as ever is pretty cool of them. So I decided to indeed have a fiddle and went try an update update. 25min's and counting and it's still at it!!!! Anyway I had done the speaker set up firstly and I've got to say I'm impressed with the speed (assuming it's accurate and I believe it is) and ease of it. Not so impressive is the build quality of the amp though which seems really rather flimsy and plastic like, the buttons on the front in particular feel v cheap. I'd be very surprised if the Pioneer wasn't quite an improvement in that department alone :).
 

Dorian

Active Member
Hi mate I've checked, and actually it looks like audio settings are not per input. The manual seems to confirm this - on page 68 it points out that the video settings are per input, but it doesn't say this for the audio settings on page 66.

I can definitely see why you would audio settings per input. It wouldn't work for me because I play both films and music off my HTPC, but if you have dedicated devices it would be useful. I would use it turn off all the EQ on a music input, but keep it on for a BD player.

On build quality you are right, the Pioneer is better. It is a full depth case and weighs an awful lot more than the Sony. It is a bit of a brute.
 

womble9

Active Member
Oh that's a bit of a shame. I'd have all manner of stuff plugged into mine ranging from a wii to a ps4. So are we saying that it won't remember what I set it to last time but that also there's no memory as such as well that it can always be set to per input (that would do the job to be fair)?
 

Dorian

Active Member
The memory is there for audio settings, just not per input. The cool part is you can even have multiple MCACC setups and switch between them. This is great for films where you can quickly turn the EQ on and off and hear the difference (which is very noticeable)

All the audio settings are remembered, Pioneer just took the decision not to make it input specific.
 

womble9

Active Member
Ok so let me make sure I'm understanding this correctly (and you have been really quite clear but I want to be 100% sure I'm getting it right as I'm maybe being a bit thick!!). If say I play a CD using 2 channel stereo and then switch on my PS4 and select the PS4 input it will stay on 2 channel stereo (despite changing inputs) and I'll have to change it to say Dolby HD. Switch back to the CD input and I'll have to change it back from Dolby HD to 2 channel stereo again? I thought (well assumed maybe seeing as there are so many different sound selections that amps do and my 7 yrs old onkyo lets me pre-set the sound type per input) that what I was after would pretty much be a given on most amps :).
 

Dorian

Active Member
I thought you meant audio settings like turning eq on and off, that's the part that is shared on all inputs.

For the actual sound format, I think you will be fine. It will depend on how stuff is connected - if it's digital then of course it will auto detect everything. If you have a CD player connected on analogue stereo, I think you can configure that in the amp's setup menu, and that is per input. For example, you can choose coax or optical audio for certain HDMI inputs, so you will be able to assign analogue inputs as well.
 

sclarke81

Active Member
I'm not sure if this is what womble is asking, but I have a similar question.

Can the 2023 be configured to use specific sound modes/fields per audio format per source? For example if the source is Sky, some broadcasts are stereo and some are 5.1. I'd like to be able to configure it so that when the Sky HDMI is selected the amp will use a direct mode when it's getting 5.1 and something like PLII when it's getting stereo.

I've found out that the Sony 1040 and Yamaha 775 can't do this. I've been told that the Onkyo 828 can, but I was wondering about the Pioneer?
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
Pro Logic is automatically overridden when a discrete multichannel format is detected. You cannot apply PLII to a discrete 5.1 format even if your AV receiver is switched to PLII. This is the case with all AV receivers. Just leave the receiver set to PLII for your SKY input and PLII will only engaged in conjunction with stereo content. If Dolby Digital 5.1 is detected then PLII is overridden without need for you to do anything and will come back into play once stereo audio is once again detected. Pro Logic only creates pseudo channels that are missing and has no effect upon discrete channels that are apparent.

The other receiver's you mention can do what you suggest they cannot. ALL AV receivers function in this manner.
 
Last edited:

clayts450

Active Member
Just to confirm the above works perfectly on my Pio 923 with Virgin Media- i.e. I have it set to ProLogic II, but it does what it should. If it's DD 5.1, ProLogic II will be over-ridden and it'll show Dolby Digital on the front of the AVR. If it's DD 2.0 the receiver will show ProLogic II
 

sclarke81

Active Member
OK, thanks, that makes a lot of sense. I hadn't thought of it in such a clear way before. I assume though that when it's DD 5.1 it switches to straight audio? Is it possible to have it switch to a different mode?
 

MAX1210

Well-known Member
Argh - I should've waited, I got my VSX923 for £279 (a good price at the time) but is now available for £199.95 from RS, and the store where I got my '923 from got a job lot of the '2023 and are doing them from £449!
 

womble9

Active Member
£449 you say :) I'm so close to grabbing one of these (I've literally just started a thread asking for peoples thoughts between it and an onkyo nr828) Where might it be available for that price please??
 

MAX1210

Well-known Member
£449 you say :) I'm so close to grabbing one of these (I've literally just started a thread asking for peoples thoughts between it and an onkyo nr828) Where might it be available for that price please??

A company called Avensys in West Sussex, they've got a closing down/relocation sale going on, I saw 4 in boxes on their shop floor yesterday - don't think they sell online or mail order, but you might be able to get RS to price match against them?
 

womble9

Active Member
Brilliant, thanks for posting that up and RS have indeed done me a deal on one :).
 

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