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Pioneer Elite SC-57 9.1 THX Reciever Preview

Pioneer Elite SC-57

Pioneer Elite SC-57


  • Product Name: SC-57
  • Manufacturer: Pioneer Elite
  • Review Date: August 08, 2011 00:05
  • MSRP: $2100
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool


  • 140 W x 9 (1 kHz, THD 0.08% @ 8 ohms FTC)
  • Multi Channel Simultaneous Drive Capability Total 810 W (8ohms, 1Hz,THD, 1%)
  • 8 & 6 Ohm Impedance Select


  • 3D Space Frame Construction
  • Aluminum Front Panel
  • Advanced Direct Construction
  • Trans. Stabilizer
  • Gold Pin Plug
  • Selected Skeleton Speaker Terminals


  • AIR Studios Monitor Certification
  • THX® Ultra 2 Plus
  • Dolby® TrueHD / Dolby Pro Logic® IIz / Dolby Pro Logic IIx / Dolby Digital EX / Dolby Digital Plus
  • DTS-HD® Master Audio / DTS Neo:X - 9.1 Channel Surround / DTS Neural Surround / DTS-ES
  • Dual TI “Aureus” 32-Bit Digital Core Engine
  • 192 kHz / 32-bit Digital to Analog Converter
  • 192 kHz / 24-bit Analog to Digital Converter
  • Pioneer Advanced MCACC Room Calibration

o Precision Distance

o 3D Time Axis Measurement

o Polarity Check

o Reverb Before and After Calibration Results (OSD and iPad)

o Standing Wave Control

  • Pioneer Sound Enhancements

o Front, Center, Surround, B-Speaker Bi-Amp

o 32-Bit High Bit

o Full Band Phase Control (Symmetry/Front Align)

o Phase Control Plus

o Virtual Depth, Height and Surround Back

o Optimum Surround - Auto Bass, Dialog, and Surround Balancing

o Jitter Reduction

o PQLS Bit-stream

o Auto Sound Retriever (Multi)

o Sound Retriever AIR / Sound Retriever Link

o Front Wide Surround Movie & Music

o Auto Level Control (Multi)

o Advanced Surround (15 Mode DSP)

o Front Stage Surround

o Headphone Surround


  • Marvell QdeoTM 1080p/24fps Video Scaler
  • Advanced Video Adjust
  • Stream Smoother / Stream Smoother Link
  • Triple HD Noise Reduction
  • Video Conversion to HDMI
  • HDMI® Features

o 3D Ready (Blu-ray Disc®, Broadcast and Game)

o Audio Return Channel

o Deep Color and x.v.ColorTM


  • AirPlay
  • DLNA Certified® (1.5)
  • Internet Radio with vTuner
  • PANDORA internet radio
  • Rhapsody® Music Service1
  • Sirius® Internet Radio1
  • Windows® 7 Certified
  • Home Media Gallery
  • FLAC 192 kHz / 24-bit Audio File Playback via Network
  • WAV 192 kHz / 24-bit Audio File Playback via Network


  • Made for iPod®, iPhone®, iPad®

o Charges iPhone, iPad, iPod

o Combination USB / Composite Video Cable Supplied

o iPhone, iPad, iPod Stored and Streaming Audio & Video with Album Art

  • Memory Audio Playback (MP3/WMA/WAV)
  • Pioneer Air Jam App

o Connects via Bluetooth® to Share Music and Create Playlists (With iPod touch, iPhone, iPad)

o Free via the App StoreSM (Optional AS-BT200 Bluetooth Adapter Required)

  • HDMI Inputs (7 In (6 Back, 1 Front) / 2 Out)
  • Front USB Input
  • Ethernet Terminal
  • Wireless LAN Ready (Optional AS-WL300 Wireless LAN Converter Required)
  • Phono Input
  • Sirius XM Radio Ready2
  • 7.1 Channel Multi-Channel Input Terminals
  • Adapter Port (Optional AS-BT100 or AS-BT200 Bluetooth Adapter Required)
  • Component Video Inputs (3 In / 1 Out)
  • Digital Inputs (2 Coaxial, 3 Optical)
  • Analog A/V Inputs (4 A/V, 1 Audio)
  • 11.2 Assignable Pre-Outs for up to 9.1 Channel Playback
  • 10 Mode Speaker Assignment
  • Large Speaker Terminals (9 Channels Assignable)


  • Pioneer iControlAV2 App

o A/V Receiver and Blu-ray Disc player Control From iPod touch, iPhone, iPad Free via the App StoreSM

o IP Control with Full 2-Way Feedback

  • AVNavigator System Set-Up (CD-ROM Included for PC)
  • Full Color Graphic User Interface (GUI)
  • Zone 2 AV with HD Component Video Output
  • Zone 3 AV
  • RS-232C
  • 12v Trigger (2 Out)
  • SR In/Out
  • IR (2In / 1 Out)
  • HDMI Standby Through for Low Power Consumption
  • Detachable Power Cord
  • Auto Power Down
  • Illuminated Learning Remote Control


  • W x H x D: 17.13 x 7.28 x 17.36 (inches)
  • Weight 39.02 lbs

Pioneer has been one of the few major manufactures that have truly embraced the Class D amplifier typology. Typically, manufacturers and users are more comfortable and familiar with the tried and true Class A/B amps. The problem with Class A/B has, historically, been weight and waste. A Class A/B amp will put out up to half of its power as heat. They are also heavy and bulky. Class D amps will utilize up to 90% of their power (with only around 10% put off as heat). This means they don't need the heat sinks that other types of amps demand. They are also much more energy efficient which is attractive to a society that is becoming increasingly green.

Pioneer's last flagship receiver, the SC-07, had the Bang & Olufsen designed ICE amps. While they are popular and certainly have their following, we found that, in the SC-07, they had issues on our test bench driving 4 ohm loads as can be seen from our review:

Driving 4-ohm loads was an entirely different story. The SC-07 simply fell apart when running full bandwidth (20Hz to 20kHz) continuous power measurements. As I tested at frequencies above 5kHz with only 1 channel driven, the internal cooling fan would instantly come on right before the receiver would go into gross distortion and shut down at levels above 100 watts. With two-channels driven, I was able to squeeze out a clean 150wpc at less than 0.5% THD. Anything higher would again run the amps into gross distortion and shut off the receiver.

We also heard from several loudspeaker manufacturers that they had to make modifications to the crossover designs of some of their speakers that exhibited low impedance at high frequencies as a result of many of their customers using ICE powered Pioneer receivers.

Apparently, Pioneer has heard these, and other, complaints because their new flagship receiver, the SC-57, has dropped the ICE amps for a newer, in-house design designated the D3. It is said their new amplifiers in this receiver are capable of continuous high power output into low impedance loads.

Pioneer claims 140 W x 9 (1 kHz, THD 0.08% @ 8 ohms FTC) or 810 Watts Multi Channel Simultaneous Drive Capability (8ohms, 1Hz,THD, 1%). The 1kHz measurement isn't the most rigorous and we usually see that in lower-end receivers that use it to pad their numbers to impress customers. We're definitely interested to see what this new amplifier design can do on our test bench. While THX Ultra2+ certification didn't help the SC-07 on our tests, we're betting the SC-57 does a lot better.


Of course, a flagship receiver is more than just amps. The SC-57 has 7 (one on the front) in and 2 out HDMI 1.4a connections with 3D and ARC (Audio Return Channel) support. It has three component and four composite inputs, and a output for each. Of course, you won't need it with your HDMI equipped display as the SC-57 upconverts all inputs to HDMI and can scale them up to 1080p/24Hz with its Marvell Qdeo chipset. Each input can be calibrated as well for videoholics and you can set your display type for Plasma, LCD, and Front Projection TV to further tune your video experience.

As always, there are a slew of analogue audio inputs as well as 7.1 pre-ins and 11.2 pre-outs (the dual subwoofer outputs must be dual-mono or they'd list the SC-57 as a 9.2 receiver rather than 9.1). There are two coaxial and three optical digital audio inputs. The SC-57 supports up to three zones of audio, all of which can be powered. There are 11 speaker terminals on the back for easy switching between configurations. There are pre-outs for zones two and three paired with composite video outputs, a nice feature. Zone 2 can also get component video. There is a front mounted USB port which supports MP3, WMA, and WAV.

Pioneer has long used their proprietary MCACC room correction system and the SC-57 is no different (it does get the "advanced" version with 9 EQ bands and 6 memory slots). One thing new, and not unexpected, is the inclusion of DTS Neo:X, DTS's solution for adding additional channels. According to the owners manual, DTS Neo:X supports a maximum of 9 channels rather than the total 11 possible with the DSP. Along with Dolby ProLogic IIz, DTS Neo:X will allow the addition of front height or front wide speakers for a larger front soundstage.

Pioneer has been all about Networking and Apple for quite some time. The SC-57 is made for iPod/iPhone/iPad certified and has apps supporting all of these devices for control. Their AirJam app is also supported which allows you to create a group playlist with other iDevice users in the room. The SC-57 is AirPlay, Windows 7, and DLNA 1.5 certified and can stream Pandora, Internet Radio, Rhapsody, and SiriusXM Radio as well as MP3, WMA, AAC and high-resolution FLAC and WAV files from your networked devices.

As you might expect in a short preview article, it is impossible to cover everything the new Pioneer SC-57 can do. Poking around the manual revealed that HDMI Standby Pass-through is supported. There is a GUI with album art and  an AV Navigator guide for easy setup. Custom installers will be happy that Pioneer has partnered with just about everyone in the industry and even supports features like IP Control. One thing that was a bit perplexing was that all the press material suggested that the MSRP of the SC-57 would be $2000 but the Pioneer website lists it at $2100 (which is what we listed above).


We went back and took a look at our $2000 receiver comparison article to see how the Pioneer SC-57 would have stacked up. Really, it would have done pretty well. It would have been the only receiver to support DTS Neo:X, it has comparable power (though the measurement was less rigorous), similar inputs, and similar numbers of Zones. It supports video to all three zones (none of the others did), has top notch networking, and it even outweighs the Denon which is impressive given that the Class D amps are supposed to shave weight. The Pioneer SC-57 seems to be a worthy contender for your $2000. We will, of course, have to get one on our test bench before we pass a definitive judgement.

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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