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Pioneer Steps Up Elite Brand A/V Receivers

5/08/2012 12:01:00 AM 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 pass through, front-panel HDMI inputs with Mobile High Definition Link compatibility, and dedicated zone-2 subwoofer output.

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. One additional Elite receiver will be announced in the coming weeks to fill the gap between the $650 and $1,100 price points.

Of the new models, the $1,600 SC-65 and $2,000 SC-67 are THX Select 2 Pluscertified, 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 frontheight speakers and a pair of front-wide speakers. The top three 9.2-channel AVRs will deliver all of Neo:X’s 11.1 channels with the addition of a two-channel amp.

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.

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 Pro- Logic IIz, which adds two front-height speakers to a typical 5.1-speaker setup.

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.

The models also 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 Bluetoothstreamed songs from mobile devices.

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.
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