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New Pioneer Elite Receiver Lineup Preview

Pioneer Elite SC-27 Receiver

Pioneer Elite SC-27 Receiver


  • Product Name: Elite Receivers
  • Manufacturer: Pioneer
  • Review Date: July 03, 2009 02:25
  • MSRP: $700 - $2000
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool

Pioneer Elite SC-27 - Specifications

Pioneer Elite SC-25 - Specifications


Pioneer Elite VSX-23TXH - Specifications

Pioneer Elite VSX-21TXH - Specifications

The Pioneer Elite VSX-21TXH and VSX-23TXH will begin shipping in July 2009 for the suggested retail prices of $700 and $900, respectively. Pioneer’s Elite SC-25TXH and SC-27 are shipping in August 2009 with the suggested retail prices of $1700 and $2000, respectively.

Pioneer is making four new additions to their Elite receivers with the introduction of the SC-27, SC-25, VSX-23TXH, and VSX-21TXH. With such features as ICEPower amplification, Internet streaming, iPhone control, and lots more, Pioneer is looking to entice you to upgrade whether you are ready to or not. With prices ranging from $700 to $2000, there certainly is something for everyone in this new group of offerings from Pioneer.


Pioneer Elite SC-25 (left); Pioneer Elite VSX-23TXH (right)

The gloss black front plates of the Pioneer Elite receivers has been known to draw in more than one unsuspecting Audioholic to a purchase they weren't quite ready to make. These new Elite offerings continue that tradition was fantastic, if rectangular, aesthetics. The new SC offerings are really the pinnacle of the Elite line. At $2000 and $1700 respectively, the SC-27 and SC-25 are jam packed with features. Probably the most notable is that the SC-27 is the first and only to receive THX certification with digital amplification. They both utilize Bang & Olufsen designed ICEPower modules providing 140 watts per channel into seven channels. According to THX:

With this latest line of A/V receivers, Pioneer is the first and only consumer electronics manufacturer to reach THX Select2 and Ultra2 Plus certification requirements using a Class D amplifier solution. Integrating Class D amplification into a THX Certified A/V receiver is no simple task. Our testing requirements are incredibly strict for noise, distortion, frequency response and output. Pioneer has done a remarkable job of blending this new technology with the raw power and performance needed to accurately present cinematic soundtracks in the home.”

Warren Mansfield, Director of Consumer Technology at THX

On top of this, the SC-27 has received the AIR Studio Monitor certification. While this is not the highest level of certification that AIR Studios offers (Monitor Reference is), it is quite an achievement. For those that have never heard of AIR Studios, they listen to and evaluate gear based on a number of criteria. For the Pioneer SC-27, they ensured that::

  • Stereo must sound excellent and multi-channel should be just as good. This requires identical, independent, discrete power amps for each channel.
  • No unnecessary digital processing. 'Direct' modes that genuinely provide as clean a signal path as possible.
  • Mixing room monitors are aligned for correct distance, SPL and frequency response. Such adjustments are required at home without recourse to a professional acoustician.

According to AIR Studios, Pioneer met and exceeded these requirements with Discrete Output A.D.E MOSFET, Direct Construction and Advanced MCACC. The way the process works is that a pre-production model is sent to AIR Studios with a few of Pioneer's engineers. A group of AIR Studios recording, mixing and technical engineers conduct listening tests in a room outfitted with Dynaudio monitors. They listen and look and make design suggestions which the engineers make on the spot. Once AIR Studios is satisfied with the receiver, it is sent back to Pioneer and stripped and provides the build list for all production models.

The SC receivers utilize Burr-Brown ADCs and Wolfson DACs. The SC-27s up the ante with Burr-Brown 192khz/24-bit sampling rate converter. The VSX models have traditional class A/B amplification (110 watts per channel). The VSX-23TXH models and up provide a front HDMI input for connectivity with the growing number of portables equipped with HDMI. It sort of goes without saying that all the Elite models feature Deep Color support, native decoding of all the newest surround sound formats (including Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD), 3 zones, Advanced MCACC 9 Band EQ, plenty of DSPs, 1080p upscaling and more.


Pioneer Elite VSX-21TXH

All four models utilize an on-screen interface (GUI) for control and calibration. If you have an iPhone or iPod (and who doesn't have at least one of these nowadays), you can utilize the front USB port and control and navigate your content with the Pioneer remote. You can even send your content to the second and third zones! Two new features include Advanced Sound Retriever (ASR) and Auto Level Control (ALC), specially developed to provide multi-channel sound performance of digital audio tracks and other input sources by improving playback quality and volume consistency when heard through home theater speakers. The SC and VSX-23THX all have 5 HDMI inputs and 2 outputs while the VSX-21THX has 4 inputs (none on the front) and one output.

One thing that Pioneer is stressing on their new receivers is PQLS. PQLS stands for Precision Quartz Lock System. This allows users to take advantage of the PQLS Channel that “speed synchronizes” the digital audio data between these products to deliver jitter-free audio transmission. For the VSX-21THX, this is for stereo only but for the rest is is multichannel that will including all the audio formats such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The SC models also include streaming of Internet Radio and Rhapsody for those with an account.

Of course, custom installations have been provided for with a number of specific functions:

  • Multi-room, multi-source capability: All four models serve as the entertainment centerpiece of a minimum of 2 zone applications, and consumers can even step-up to third zone AV with the VSX-23TXH. For ultimate HD home theater performance, the SC-27 provides a 2nd Zone Component video output for multi-zone HD integration.
  • Dedicated custom installation website support for immediate access to additional control codes
  • Dual HDMI outputs for two video devices simultaneously (VSX-23TXH and above)
  • Detachable power cord: All four Elite models now offer installers increased flexibility to fit the receivers in an array of room, rack, and cabinet spaces.
  • RS232 port for PC and third-party control protocols and modules


Pioneer fans have a lot to look forward to here. The only thing that is really missing with these offerings is some of the very latests surround sound decoding like Dolby ProLogic IIz with the height channels. While Audyssey and their Dynamic EQ/Sound is missing, Pioneer has come up with their own solutions. What Pioneer has done here is made all those people with a $1500 budget think about stretching it a bit to $2000. The SC-27 certainly seems to be a nice hybrid of functionality and esoteric with the AIR Studios and THX certification. It will be interesting to see how the public embraces these new Elite offerings. The Pioneer Elite VSX-21TXH and VSX-23TXH will begin shipping in July 2009 for the suggested retail prices of $700 and $900, respectively. Pioneer’s Elite SC-25TXH and SC-27 are shipping in August 2009 with the suggested retail prices of $1700 and $2000, respectively.

For more information, please visit www.pioneerelectronics.com.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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