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June was a month of news for Pioneer’s Elite brand of receivers. Five new models were announced. Home Theater Shack reported on the SC-72 and SC-71, which round out the lower end of Elite’s offerings. As of the beginning of July, the top end of the lineup has been officially refreshed with three new models.


The SC-75, SC-77 and the SC-79 are all THX Certified 9.2-channel receivers featuring Pioneer’s acclaimed Class D3 amplification section. The SC-77 and SC-79 also boast London’s Air Studios certification, ensuring users high levels of sound quality.

“Through our Class D3 technology, each one of these receivers is built to produce an enormous amount of power efficiently without sacrificing performance, whether it’s powering an advanced 9.2-channel home theater set up or spreading the task to various rooms of the house,” said Chris Walker, director of AV marketing and product planning for the Home Electronics Division of Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc.

New Technology
Elite’s Flagship model, the SC-79, features HDBaseT which provides users with a one-wire multi-zone connection capability that tames complex home installations. Using a standard cat5e/6 cable, the SC-79 can deliver uncompressed 4K UltraHD digital video and audio. This technology allows the SC-79 to power up to four different zones with unique content, including a 5.1 Home Theater zone, stereo audio in two separate zones, and HD video to a fourth.

HDBaseT supports audio formats that matter, like DTS-HD MA and Dolby True HD, as well as others. It also boasts the ability to support cable runs of 300 feet without any signal degradation.
“We’re continuing to integrate the newest and most advanced technologies available into our products, including being the first manufacturer to incorporate the new HDBaseT high definition multi-zone standard,” said Walker.

Packing a Punch
The models’ Class D amplification sections are the industries only Class D amps to achieve THX certification. Pioneer claims their Class D3 amps power all channels with little loss in performance and lower power consumption as compared to typical A/B amps. The SC-79 and SC-77 are both rated at 140 Watts X 9 channels (8 Ohms), while the SC-75 has minimally less power at 135 Watts X 9 channels.

Competitively Outfitted
All three models have features that are becoming common place in the segment, offering 4K pass through and upscaling of both analog and digital sources using the current HDMI 1.4a standard, playback of high resolution music files (FLAC, WAV, AIFF, Apple Lossless, and DSD 2.8/5.6MHz), music streaming through Apple AirPlay, Windows 8, Android OS, HTC Connect2, onboard Apps such as Pandora and vTuner, and Elite’s proprietary iControlAV2013.

The SC-75, 77 and 79 also feature unique options such as wireless control of functionality through the iControlAV2013 App and a two-way interactive owner’s manual that aides in setup. Of course they also carry top-line versions of Pioneer’s popular MCACC room correction technology.

Price and Availability
The SC-75 (MSRP $1,600), SC-77 ($2,000), and SC-79 ($3,000) are available now and should be bought from an authorized retail for full warranty coverage.

Image Credit: Pioneer
 

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I am due for an upgrade sometime in the fall so this information is priceless. It also makes a final decision on what to get very difficult!
 

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There's a lot of quality stuff on the market right now with new top-of-the-line offerings from Onkyo, Yamaha and Pioneer (among others!)...

One thing to keep an eye on: HDMI 2.0

It's likely that it will be the link between devices for 4K. You need multiple HDMI 1.4a connections to get 4K at high frame rates.... only one HDMI 2.0

So, if you can wait (or read up on the topic and educate yourself), it might not be a bad idea to wait. If 4K isn't something that you're necessarily interested in (or predict you'll be interested in over the next 3-5 years), then dive in and grab one of these amazing models.
 

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The HDBaseT functionality of these receivers may provide the 4K link necessary to display 4K video and audio without the need for the HDMI 2.0 connection. I have not read the manuals nor am I an HDBaseT expert, but the HDBaseT Alliance web site suggests this is possible.

I'm not an HDMI expert, so I'll try to get an answer to clarify all of this. But, I believe the HDBaseT connectivity is governed by the HDMI 1.4a chipset (which would be a limiting factor on receivers without HDMI 2.0). So the same problem of frame rates will probably exist.
 

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Suggesting this is possible is one thing, reality is another. Unless HBaseT is setup to do 60 fps 4K video right now, then the issue is academic. The receiver has to be able to process video at that frame rate anyway regardless of the transport mechanism.

Still, the 79 looks like a beast. I'm still a believer in external amps, but that thing will have enough power for most applications.
 
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