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Pioneer Steps Up Elite Brand A/V Receivers


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.