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Pioneer Steps Up Elite AVRs

5/02/2012 12:54:17 PM Eastern

Long Beach, Calif.
- Pioneer is expanding its Elite series of A/V receivers (AVRs) up in price
point and adding such new features to select models as 4k by 2k HDMI
passthrough, front-panel HDMI inputs with Mobile High Definition Link
compatibility, and dedicated zone-2 subwoofer output.

Pioneer's top-end Elite AVR, the $2,500-suggested SC-68, features 9.2 channels, 4K by 2K HDMI passthrough, and front-panel MHL-compatible HDMI port.

One of the five
new AVRs adds a 192kHz/32-bit asynchronous USB DAC, said to be the industry's
first in an AVR, for ultra-high quality music file playback from a
USB-connected PC or Mac. In the line, the company is also expanding proprietary
Class D3 amplifier technology to all five models from last year's two,
expanding DTS Neo:X post-processing to three models from two, and topping out
the line at a suggested $2,500, up from $2,000.

The new Elite
receivers, available in June, are the $1,100-suggested 7.2-channel SC-61,
$1,300 7.2-channel SC-63, $1,600 9.2-channel SC-65, $2,000 9.2-channel SC-67,
and $2,500 9.2-channel SC-68. They will join the $650 VSX-60 and $450 VSC-42,
which were announced earlier this year. In the coming weeks, the company will
announce another Elite model to fill the price bap between $650 and $1,100.

Of the new models,
the $1,600 SC-65 and $2,000 SC-67 are THX Select 2 Plus-certified, the $2,500
SC-68 is THX Ultra 2 Plus-certified, and the $2,000 SC-67 and $2,500 SC-68 add
additional certification from London's Air Studios recording studios.

Key changes in the
line include the addition of 4k by 2k HDMI passthrough in the $1,600, $2,000
and $2,500 models and an expansion of DTS Neo:X post-processing surround
technology to three models starting at $1,600. Neo:X up-mixes stereo and multichannel
audio programs to as many as 11.1 channels by adding a pair of front-height
speakers and a pair of front-wide speakers.

The new line also
adds a second HDMI zone to the top two four-zone AVRs, which also feature an
HD-compatible component-video output for one of the four zones. The other AVRs
are three-zone models with one component-video zone.

Also new is zone 2
subwoofer output, available in all five new models, which also feature dual
subwoofer outputs in the main zone.

Other new features
appearing in Elite for the first time include Direct Stream Digital
(SACD)-compatible front-panel USB port in the top two models and, also in the
top model, the industry's first 192kHz/32-bit asynchronous USB DAC for music-file
playback from a USB-connected PC or Mac.

Now expanded to
five models from two, Pioneer's Class D3 amplifier technology is promoted as
delivering high efficiency while driving all channels simultaneously without a
significant loss in continuous per-channel power output. The technology is said
to ensure high dynamic range, lower impedance support, and high-quality sound,
even if multiple zones are playing at once.

Like before, the
Elite AVRs are networked models that incorporate Apple's AirPlay, DLNA 1.5,
Windows 7 compatibility, Internet radio, PC setup control, Advanced MCACC automatic
room calibration, multiple HDMI 1.4a inputs with HDMI audio return channel, and
Dolby ProLogic IIz, which adds two front-height speakers to a typical
5.1-speaker setup.

Also like previous
models, the new models feature virtual speaker technology to deliver phantom
height, width, depth and surround channels without speakers dedicated to those
applications. 

Other carryover
features include vTuner Internet radio, SiriusXM Internet radio, Pandora,
optional Wi-Fi adapter, optional stereo Bluetooth adapter, and ability to play
192kHz/24-bit FLAC and WAV music filed via a home network or USB port. DACs
with 192kHz/32-bit upconversion start with the $1,600 model and are also new to
the Elite series.

Other new features
include PC setup and remote monitoring by custom installers in the SC-63 and
up. In addition, for the first time, volume, tone and balance control is
available on zone pre-outs, not just zone speaker-level outputs.

Also for the first
time, HDMI standby passthrough works with any source, not just sources equipped
with CEC.

The new models
carry over compatibility with Pioneer's proprietary apps for iOS handheld
devices, including the iControlAV2012 control apps and Air Jam, which lets
multiple users create a combined playlist of Bluetooth-streamed songs from
mobile devices.

Other features
common to all include compressed-video enhancer feature, which improves the
picture quality of video streamed from the Internet through such sources as
connected Blu-ray players, and an advanced video adjust feature, which
optimizes video settings individually for each connected video source as well
as optimize the video output for plasma, LCD or front-projector display
technologies.

 The AVRs also feature Qdeo 1080p/24fps up-scaling
from analog and digital video sources.

As for inputs and
outputs, the $1,100 SC-61 features six HDMI ins and one out, and the $1,300 and
$1,600 models feature seven HDMI ins and two outs. The $2,000 and $2,500 models
add a third HDMI output.

In the coming weeks,
Pioneer also plans to announce two more mainstream-series AVRs at price points
above $599.

 

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