The most basic and affordable way to set up a home theater system is to simply buy a budget HDTV and Blu-ray player. Some families might already be contented with the stereo speakers that modern HDTVs have built in while others may prefer a surround sound experience. Getting that is pretty easy as there are plenty of 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound systems these days. However, you won’t really feel that cinematic experience unless you amplify the whole home theater system with a home theater receiver. This is where things can get tricky because AV receivers are generally pricey. They are also built like tanks so they should last for several years. Saving up to buy a home theater receiver that costs more than $1,000 is recommended and the Pioneer SC-1222-K is one of the better examples of such a home theater receiver that can explain exactly why.

Pioneer SC-1222-K

Pioneer SC-1222-K


The SC-1222-K is massive weighing 36 pounds and a bit taller than any of the Pioneer AV receivers in the cheaper VSX family. It also uses the same brushed metal finish as the less expensive models which is good because it really gives the Pioneer SC-1222-K that industrial look. The main difference between this particular model and other VSX models is the larger front panel which covers all of the buttons and inputs. Although the layout is a bit different, the functions are pretty much the same and it has the usual arrangement of front panel inputs (USB port, composite video, setup mic and HDMI).

The back of the SC-1222-K best describes why this AV receiver is for serious audiophiles and people with big home theater setups across rooms. There are 6 HDMI inputs on the back which is the same amount as the VSX-1122-K but the Pioneer SC-1222-K also features more outputs for Zone 2 and 3 as well as an RS-232C port.

Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.

Pioneer SC-1222-K Back Panel

Pioneer SC-1222-K Back Panel


The overall amplifier design is actually the core feature of the SC-1222-K and every other Pioneer SC model. Pioneer calls this Class D3 amplification and it does away with the EMI filters, current limiters and feedback loops. Instead, it features a direct signal path so low-impedance speakers can actually be powered. As a result, the Pioneer SC-1222-K gets 4-OHM certification which is something you have to look out for because cheaper AV receivers cannot handle low-impedance speakers. But Pioneer also beats the other Class A/B home theater receivers too in energy efficiency because the power output per channel actually decreases as more channels get added. So even though the VSX-1122-K has a higher power output per channel (165W) than the SC-1222-K (160W), the overall audio experience is significantly more powerful thanks to the Class D3 design.

Powering on the Pioneer SC-1222-K is a real treat because it comes with a very handy interactive manual called AVNavigator. This feature is essentially an on-screen setup assistant which takes you through the steps in configuring the most important aspects of the AV receiver. It is very easy to do things like setting up the speaker and using the Advanced Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration (MCACC). In fact, MCACC is very effective in tuning up each individual speaker. It takes various things into account like the speaker distances and sound levels. Like other calibration systems, all you need to do is place the included microphone on the desired listening area and then plug it in the front panel.

The rest of the interface is very intuitive as it makes full use of the connected HDTV display in displaying easy-to-navigate menus. But that isn’t your only option in operating the Pioneer SC-1222-K if you connect it to a wireless router via Ethernet or wirelessly using the wireless LAN dongle you can buy separately. Once a connection is established, any iOS or Android device that is connected to the same home network can control and configure the AV receiver. A free app on the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store called iControlAV2012 makes this possible. The app shows off a touch-friendly full screen experience where you can do minor things like input selection and volume adjustment or advanced things like Internet Radio control and EQ adjustments. The Sound Explorer can also let you try out each of the sound enhancements that the SC-1222-K offers.

Once you are done using the app, you can still stream audio and video to the AV receiver for immediate wireless playback since the Pioneer SC-1222-K supports AirPlay. You can only make use of this feature if you are using a device running iOS like an iPhone or iPad. Android devices can still stream audio via Bluetooth if you buy the required Bluetooth accessory for the SC-1222-K. If you ever need to charge an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, you can use the included cable to make a USB connection on the front panel. Music and video can be sent this way as well and the USB port can also read thumb drives. Browsing through the iTunes albums is also simple since the cover art is displayed on the TV.

If you are not into mobile devices, the networking features can still be useful if you are fond of using online services like SiriusXM and Pandora. Laptops and desktops can also stream content to the AV receiver thanks to its DLNA certification.

As for raw video performance, the Marvel Qdeo Video Processing technology is the highlight here and it works exactly the same way as the cheaper VSX-1122-K model. It can upscale low-quality sources to 1080p and improve the quality as well. The Pioneer SC-1222-K is also compatible with 3D HDTVs and 3D Blu-ray players.

Bottom Line

The $1,110 price tag shows that the SC-1222-K is really for people that need enhanced audio performance for 7.1-channel setups. You can blindly choose a competing model that costs about $1,000 and may get nice audio performance as well but the Pioneer SC-1222-K manages to be more unique by emphasizing power efficiency and easy usability combined with great support for today’s smartphones and tablets.

Discontinued by Manufacturer