In 2012, Pioneer introduced 6 home theater receivers each targeting different audiences. Pioneer encourages ordinary consumers and enthusiasts with 5.1 or 7.1-channel speaker setups to check out any of the 4 VSX models as they are reasonably priced and most of them come with nice networking features. But the top 2 Pioneer SC home theater receivers are for the select few that are looking for the best audio experience possible with custom home theater installation possibilities. The Pioneer SC-1522-K is Pioneer’s consumer flagship model and it comes out swinging with THX certification and some serious specs and features.
Premium home theater receivers usually have a more minimalist look on the front and the SC-1522-K continues that tradition. It gets the same brushed aluminum treatment as the other 2012 AV receivers but all you can access from the front are the two large knobs and power button. All the rest of the front controls are hidden beneath a smooth black front panel found just below the large info display. Also beneath the front panel are the usual ports including the MCACC jack for calibration, USB port and phones and video jacks. Unlike the entry-level models, the Pioneer SC-1522-K also sports an HDMI port on the front which is most ideal for Android smartphones and tablets. This HDMI port supports Mobile High Definition Link or MHL which means that you can connect an MHL cable to the home theater receiver to charge the Android device while seeing the interface on the big screen even if your TV doesn’t support MHL.
Entry-level Pioneer home theater receivers were conservative on the legacy connection ports but the SC-1522-K goes all out on connectivity options fitting as many ports on the back as possible. The top part of the back side is probably what will matter most as there is a long row of 7 HDMI inputs and 2 HDMI outputs right next to it. These inputs can be renamed on the receiver’s display panel for easy identification of source. The LAN and USB ports are also found on the top row. Everything else is basically what you would expect from a 9.2-channel home theater receiver. Those into custom installation may also utilize the RS-232 bus connection for custom installers.
Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.
The Pioneer SC-1522-K is equipped with a Class D3 9.2-channel amplifier which is in-line with some of the more powerful AV receivers in the Pioneer Elite series. It literally supercharges the Blu-ray format by inducing high-resolution audio to each of the channels. Another characteristic of Class D3 is efficiency which means that the 130 watts per power isn’t just about raw performance. The high-resolution outputs are consistent and you won’t experience any performance fluctuations eve under full load. This is why a huge difference can be heard if multi-channel DTS and Dolby soundtracks are brought to a 9.2-channel a setup. DTS Neo:X surround effectively creates a 3-D surround sound environment for these advanced setups.
Another big feature that the SC-1522-K has is advanced video processing. This technology is powered by Qdeo which is known to power numerous other high-end AV receivers. But Pioneer is chipping in with its own technologies too for better video conversion from older sources to HDMI. The Pioneer SC-1522-K isn’t quite ready for the upcoming and expensive 4K displays but it supports video scaling to 1080p nicely and the overall video quality looks natural and free of noise.
Like just about every other home theater receiver, you have to configure the system heavily to get the best performance possible out of your setup. With the SC-1522-K, it is actually pretty simple because uses the connected TV or home theater projector to present a full-color onscreen interface where you can easily navigate through sources or change settings. One of the first things to do would be to use the MCACC or Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration system right after the speaker setup has been finalized. This automatically tweaks the settings of each speaker in relation to their size and position.
If you do not have a 9.2-channel speaker setup, you may alternatively set up another home theater system in another room. The Pioneer SC-1522-K has more than enough power to not only handle Zone 2 network audio sources but video as well. This lets you set up another TV in another room so you can control the SC-1522-K interface from that other TV. Dedicated controls allow you to alter things like the tone and subwoofer for Zone 2.
Pioneer remains committed with Apple and iOS products so you can easily charge the portable Apple device through the USB port while being able to play back content. Album art shows up on the TV display too. But if you don’t need to charge the device, you can use AirPlay for wireless streaming if the Pioneer SC-1522-K is hooked up wirelessly. Since it only comes with an Ethernet port, you will need to buy the AS-WL300 wireless network adapter ($149).
Other manufacturers like to embrace iPhone, iPad and iPod connectivity too but Pioneer isn’t leaving behind other devices. A recent firmware update that is available for free download lets HTC smartphone owners to enjoy a similar means of wireless streaming through HTC Connect. Windows 7 and Windows 8 desktop and laptop owners can also take advantage of DLNA compatibility where various file formats can be streamed including FLAC formats. Even highly compressed MP3s boast near CD-quality thanks to the special enhancements applied by the SC-1522-K. Finally, the Pioneer SC-1522-K can connect to several online services including vTuner, SiriusXM satellite radio and Pandora.
Android and iOS devices can also serve as extra remote controls for the SC-1522-Kif you install the free iControlAV2012 app. All the controls are graphically represented and touch-friendly making it far better to adjust things like the EQ from your smartphone or tablet rather than using the remote control.
It’s not often we call a receiver musical when playing back audio source material. While most mid-priced receivers can sound hard and fatiguing during extended listening, the SC-1522K reproduced audio that is natural, dynamic and engaging. Picture quality is top notch as the Qdeo Video Processor produced one of the finest video images we’ve seen at this price. The Pioneer SC-1522-K’s compelling performance coupled with a robust built quality certainly warrants a solid recommendation if you are looking for a receiver in the $1500 price range.
Discontinued by Manufacturer