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Two Pioneer Elite AVRs Step Up Amp Performance

8/05/2011 02:23:04 PM Eastern
Long Beach, Calif. - Pioneer filled out the top of its Elite A/V receiver (AVR) selection with two models whose third-generation digital amplifiers are said to deliver more continuous power simultaneously to all channels compared to any previous Pioneer AVR.
EliteBoth models are also the brand's first with DTS Neo:X processing, which 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 to traditional surround-sound speaker configurations systems.

Neo:X also appears in one other audio product, a $1,399-suggested Onkyo AVR.

The two Elite AVRs are the flagship 9x140-watt SC-57 and the 9x140-watt SC-55 at expected everyday prices of $2,000 and $1,600, respectively.

Both Elite AVRs are shipping with a wide range of network features already available in other Elite models unveiled earlier this year, plus they add multiple other features.

One of the features is new, proprietary Class D3 amplifier technology, said to "deliver Pioneer's highest-ever continuous power simultaneously to all dedicated channels with extremely high efficiency, significantly less heat production and ultra-low distortion," the company said. They also deliver "extremely" fast response, "exceptionally detailed" midrange frequencies, and high dynamic range from any source with all channels driven, even when driving multiple audio zones, the company said.

"These receivers can truly reproduce the dynamics of uncompressed audio soundtracks from sources such as Blu-ray," said Chris Walker, director A/V marketing and product planning for home entertainment.

Also to enhance amplifier performance, the company redesigned their aluminum heat sinks to deliver 360 degrees of heat dissipation, and the amplifier section was reconfigured to provide an audio signal path that's a third shorter than a previous design. The Direct-Thru signal path directs audio signals from the audio input side to the power supply while eliminating looping through the circuit board or the need for a loop circuit, the company said. As a result, the company said the amplifier "produces virtually no noise," and total harmonic distortion (THD) is reduced to 0.003 percent at 100 watts.

 For multizone use, both AVRs offer more speaker-configuration options for surround-sound, multizone and biamplification applications than other Elite AVRs. The SC-55 features seven options, and the SC-57 has 10 options. Both, for example, can drive a 5.1-channel home theater while using the remaining four channels to drive two separate stereo zones in other rooms.

For home-theater audio playback, the SC-57 is THX Ultra 2 Plus certified, and the SC-55 is THX Select 2 Plus certified. Both are the only two models in the Elite series certified for music playback performance by London's Air Studios recording studio.

Compared to the other Elite AVRs, the two new models add the versatile amplifier configuration, dual Texas Instruments Aureus 32-Bit DSP Engines,  32-bit sampling, phono input, three-zone A/V with component video out for zone 2,   improved build quality with "3-D Space Frame Construction," and isolated pre-amp/power amp circuits.

Both models are certified by Control4, Crestron and Savant for use with their home-control systems.

Like other Elite AVRs, the two new models feature such networking technologies as Apple's AirPlay, certified DLNA 1.5 networking, Internet radio, and proprietary iControlAV2 and AirJam apps for the iPad, iPhone and iPod apps. The iControlAV2 lets consumers use their mobile Apple device to control AVR and Pioneer Blu-ray features and select audio content from a networked PC or network-attached storage device for playback through the AVR. AirJam enables up to four people at a time to connect their Apple device to an AVR to jointly create a master playlist of songs streamed via stereo Bluetooth from the Apple devices.

All Elite AVRs feature front-panel USB port certified for use with iPads, iPhones and iPods to play back stored music. An included USB/composite-video cable also lets users play back stored video.

Also like other Elite AVRs, the two new models feature Marvell Qdeo video processor, whose benefits include up-scaling of analog video to 1080p HDMI output. Also like other Elite AVRs, the two also feature Advanced Video Adjust, which automatically optimizes video signals to the type of display used, and Stream Smoother, which enhances compressed video files, including video streamed through the Internet via networked Blu-ray players.
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