Last year, there was only one 11-channel AVR on the market. This year, there are several. With Dolby Atmos and DTS X gaining in popularity, Pioneer has taken the logical step of introducing an AV receiver that offers 11 built-in channels of amplification. Now, it’s possible to use an Elite receiver to power an entire 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos-enabled speaker system with one box using the Pioneer Elite SC-LX901 ($3000), which is the company’s flagship.
The Pioneer Elite SC-LX901 at CEDIA 2016. Photo by Mark Henninger
This Elite receiver deploys class-D amplification that is capable of simultaneously driving all 11 channels with a total of 850 watts of power (1% THD, 1000 Hz). According to pioneer, this is superior to the typical performance of class-AB amplifiers found in many competing AV receivers, which is limited to between 300 watts and 400 watts of total output power using the same metric.
Inside the Elite SC-LX901. Photo by Mark Henninger
Aside from the all-channel-driven figure, power output for the SC-LX901 is rated at 140 W per channel (two channels) into an 8-ohm load, with 0.08% total harmonic distortion. Measured at 1 kHz. It’s all a fancy way of saying you’ll possibly get a couple extra decibels of output from this receiver, thanks to its use of class D amps.
Like all the latest receivers and pre-pros from major manufacturers, Pioneer’s new Elite handles all the latest video formats (4K, HDR, WCG, 4:4:4 color, 60p) thanks to the inclusion of HDMI 2.0a connections with HDCP 2.2 support.
Intriguingly, this AVR supports Google cast, which has emerged as a personal favorite (of mine) among the many multi-room, networked audio ecosystems. With this forthcoming feature—it requires a future firmware update—it’ll be possible to stream music from hundreds of applications, on Macs, PCs, plus Android and iOS platforms.
The SC-LX901 ($3000) is a heavyweight when it comes to decoding high-res audio formats. It handles stereo DSD at up to an 11.2 MHz sample rate. Audio processing is performed in a 32-bit computing space, and it can decode a wide variety of PCM formats that can be played through USB, HDMI, optical, coaxial digital, or noetworked/streaming input.
Connectivity options including eight HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs. Wi-Fi is built-in, and so is Bluetooth, plus there is an Ethernet port for fast, realible Internet and LAN connection, and even analog video plus audio inputs. What’s distinctly new for 2016 is an updated graphic user interface for Pioneer’s Elite receivers. It makes menu navigation, system configuration, and feature selection easier than the primitive DOS-like menus that came before.
Pioneer’s MCACC Pro automatic room-tuning software is included, and the company touts the correction of phase differences as a differentiating factor from other automated room correction solutions.