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Unless you’re dialed-in to the home entertainment industry and its latest trends, shopping for home entertainment gear can be a daunting and confusing experience. Components such as these aren’t changed as frequently as the other devices in our lives. If you haven’t shopped for a receiver or Blu-ray player in a few years, there’s a good chance you’re staring at a few features and specifications that weren’t prevalent on home theater components a few years ago. Popular features like Dolby Atmos surround sound support and wireless streaming could very well lead to head-scratching. When feature-confusion sets in, many consumers may choose to turn to brands they trust. Considering how long Pioneer has been a power player in the home entertainment market, it’s safe to say that Pioneer is such a trusted brand. In fact, turning to Pioneer for your home theater needs is a strategy that I endorse, as its products showcase an array of components that are designed to deliver a captivating and immersive audio and video experience.
"...Pioneer has a rich history of delivering top-notch components across its audio and video catalog."
While some brands are lauded for their expertise in a particular area or product line, Pioneer has a rich history of delivering top-notch components across its audio and video catalog. After all, as consumers, that’s what we seek, a complete and capable home theater system. The old adage of only being as strong as your weakest link applies here, as well. A stellar home theater receiver’s performance can be limited if your source components aren’t able to deliver clear and pristine content, and your Blu-ray player’s performance can be compromised if your A/V receiver is unable to provide a dynamic audio experience that matches the video quality of your Blu-ray player. It appears that Pioneer is adeptly aware of the synergy that must exist between your home entertainment devices; as its products pack similar technologies, offering seamless connectivity and integration options. In this article, we’re going to take a deeper look at some home theater receivers, Blu-ray players, and speakers from Pioneer, and highlight how these components can serve as the pillars of your home entertainment environment.
Pioneer’s Elite branding represents the best components the company has to offer, and is well regarded as one of the premier brands in the home entertainment market. Pioneer’s Elite receiver lineup has been refreshed for 2015, and as expected, incorporates the latest features and connectivity options. Having a smaller listening space shouldn’t disqualify you from enjoying quality audio and video―this is where Pioneer’s Elite VSX-45 A/V receiver excels. The receiver is designed to drive up to 5.2-channel-speaker systems and produces up to 80 watts per channel at 8 ohms. In addition to supporting the now common high-resolution Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio formats, this receiver features built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and AirPlay connectivity. These wireless connection options allow you to enjoy music from a wide variety of sources such as smartphones, tablets, and Internet radio. If that isn’t enough, this audio dynamo features 4K video pass-through and upscaling, as well as 6 HDMI inputs and an HDMI output. This a great feature for those connecting high- and low-resolution video components to their A/V receiver.
If you have a larger space, the Pioneer Elite VSX-90 ups the ante by supporting up to 7.2-channel speaker systems and has the power to produce up to 100 watts per channel at 8 ohms. It also adds an additional HDMI input and output, along with Pioneer’s Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration (MCACC) Pro technology. This technology automatically configures your connected speakers and optimizes sound quality based on the characteristics of your listening environment. Also on board is Dolby’s Atmos surround sound support. Dolby Atmos allows you to add height-channel speakers to your surround system to produce overhead object-oriented sound effects, like a helicopter fly-over. Height-channel speakers are intended to be mounted near your front speakers in either an elevated position near your ceiling or in speaker cabinets that feature up-firing drivers, allowing the speaker to reflect sound effects from your ceiling.
Pioneer’s Elite SC series home theater receivers incorporate Class D³ amplifier technology, which is engineered to deliver dynamic and efficient power output from its discrete digital amplifier design. The SC-91 is a 7.2-channel A/V powerhouse that can deliver up to 130 watts per channel at 8 ohms, while Pioneer’s Elite SC-95, SC-97, and SC-99 A/V receivers add incremental power output upgrades, 9.2-channel speaker connectivity, a third HDMI output, and support for DTS:X surround sound via a firmware upgrade from Pioneer’s website, when available. Like the aforementioned Dolby Atmos technology, DTS:X will use additional height speakers to deliver immersive overhead surround sound. Pioneer’s Elite SC series receivers are also rated for driving tough 4-ohm speaker loads, allowing them to be used with some of the most demanding speaker systems available. Other notable features found across Pioneer’s lineup of Elite receivers include Android and iOS apps that enable you to control the A/V receiver from a smartphone and tablet and an icon-based graphical user interface, which allows you to set up and operate the receiver intuitively when connected to your high-definition television.
New for 2015, Pioneer has stepped up to the plate with three high-performance Blu-ray players that are well-equipped to deliver high-definition content to your home entertainment system. The Pioneer Elite BDP-80FD features Full HD 1080p output via HDMI and can also play 3D encoded Blu-ray disc media when paired with a 3D television and glasses. On the audio side of things, this model also supports the playback of high-resolution SACD media. Two USB ports are also on board, as is Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity. Internet connectivity allows the Blu-ray to conveniently connect to your home network and stream a variety of media, such as music and photos via DLNA. DLNA continues to be great a way of bridging content stored on other network-connected devices in your home. Content sharing doesn’t stop there, however; with integrated Miracast, you can share media wirelessly from your similarly equipped smart devices.
The next model in line is the Pioneer BDP-85FD. This Blu-ray player features two HDMI outputs and adds a notable upgrade in the video section, providing near-4K video upscaling. This upscaling technology allows you to get the most out of your lower resolution DVD discs, thanks to its Qdeo video processor. Like the BDP-80FD, this model supports SACD media but takes sound quality a step further with the inclusion of the ESS SABRE32 digital-to-analog converter, which offers low distortion and signal-to-noise ratios. The cabinet of the BDP-85FD has also been optimized, featuring a damped disc tray and a double-layered chassis for added stability and reduced internal vibrations. Pioneer’s flagship BDP-88FD makes an even greater emphasis on build quality with its three-chamber structure, aluminum side panels, and large-capacitor power supply. While these hardware upgrades may appear to be subtle, design choices such as these allow the Blu-ray player to isolate internal audio and video signals in an effort to achieve the possible best audio and video reproduction. While video upscaling is common on Blu-ray players, this model adds Pioneer’s Hi-Bit/Hi Sampling audio technology; this up-sampling technology allows you to enjoy enhanced sound from your CD, DVD, and Blu-ray Disc sources.
If you’re going to have one of the best receivers and Blu-ray players available, why not match it with a speaker system that’s up to the task of bringing your music and movies to life? Pioneer’s Elite SP-EFS73 floor-standing speakers stand 39.7 inches tall and feature a wide frequency response of 38 Hz to 20 kHz, allowing them to support a variety of full-range audio material. In addition to their 3-way design, these floor-standing speakers feature a Dolby Atmos-ready up-firing woofer and tweeter array, allowing them to connect seamlessly to the Pioneer receivers we’ve outlined in this article. For smaller rooms or surround-sound duty, Pioneer’s Elite SP-EBS73-LR bookshelf speakers also feature a 3-way design, along with an up-firing woofer and tweeter. While these bookshelf speakers stand a mere 14.8 inches tall, they, too, are capable of handling up to 140 watts of power.
A center channel speaker is a vital part of your home entertainment system, as this speaker handles the majority of your system’s vocal and dialog reproduction. Pioneer’s Elite SP-EC73 center channel speaker is more than capable of being the focal point of your speaker system. Like its matching bookshelf and floor-standing speakers, this center channel speaker features a 3-way design and stout power handling. If you like bass impact, you’ll like the Pioneer Elite SW-E10 powered subwoofer. This compact subwoofer features a down-firing 10-inch driver, driven by a 300W amplifier. With a frequency response that extends down to 30 Hz, the SW-E10 nicely complements Pioneer’s other Elite speakers, adding powerful bass effects to your listening material.
We began this article by reaffirming what many consumers and industry insiders have pointed out over the years; that Pioneer is proficient at providing a jaw-dropping home entertainment experience. Regardless if you’re a rookie assembling your first home entertainment system or a seasoned veteran who’s looking for an upgrade, Pioneer has something that appeals to both ends of the spectrum. Choosing the right equipment for your audio and video environment should be a fun and educational experience, not one that leads to frustration and settling. You can also rest assured that your friends at B&H are standing by to help you choose the components that will take your dream system from wish to reality. As stated earlier, there’s nothing wrong with going with a brand you trust, and it’s clear that Pioneer has no intention of letting its customers down.