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Friday, June 27, 2014

Pioneer Shares Details of Dolby Atmos-enabled Receivers and Speakers

Pioneer's SC-89 9.2-channel receiver has support for HDMI 2.0 and is upgradeable for Dolby Atmos.

Just the other day, Pioneer Electronics leaked the info that it was selling the majority of its audio and video business to a private equity firm. Baring Private Equity Asia gets 51 percent, with the remaining share being divided up between Pioneer and Onkyo. However, that little announcement doesn't seem to be stopping the company from pumping out a variety of AV goodies. Pioneer just announced plans to release speakers and receivers with Dolby Atmos support, under its Elite line.

Dolby Atmos allows listeners to experience multi-directional sound, even from above. The technology was previously limited to theaters. However, both Dolby and a variety of manufacturers are also planning to put the technology into a slew of newly announced home theater products.

Pioneer's lineup will include three high-end Elite SC receivers and a full speaker complement. The SC-85, the SC-87, and the SC-89 are all high-end 9.2-channel AVRs, but won't come with Dolby Atmos support right out of the box. However, each one will be upgradeable via a firmware update, which will be available by the end of this year.

Each one also includes Class D amplifier technology for high output and low distortion, as well as MCACC Pro, a new version of Pioneer's calibration system -- which also supports Dolby Atmos. Other features include ESS SABRE32 Ultra DACs, HDMI 2.0, multizone network capabilities, and Roku Ready certification so you can plug the Roku Streaming Stick into each receiver's MHL port. Each one can also directly tap into web radio, as well as streaming services like Spotify, Pandora and vTuner. All three also have two-way RS-232 and IP control, making each one a nice addition to one of the home control systems from Crestron, Control4, and more.

The top-of-the-line SC-89 also has a USB 32-Bit Asynchronous Audio DAC for connecting to Windows and Mac computers and HDBaseT support.

Pioneer plans to start selling the Elite SC-85, SC-87 and SC-89 receivers this fall, priced at $1,600, $2,000 and $3,000, respectively.

For those looking to add Dolby Atmos speakers, Pioneer has put together a nice little selection with Andrew Jones, the company's chief speaker engineer. Coming soon to the Elite line will be the newly announced SP-EBS73-LR Elite Bookshelf Speakers, the SP-EC73 Elite Center Channel Speaker, SP-EFS73 Elite Floorstanding Speakers, and the SW-E10 Elite Subwoofer.

Each of the new speaker models includes a three-way design concept using 5.25-inch aluminum woofers, a 4-inch midrange, and a 1-inch soft dome tweeter. Also worth noting is that both the bookshelf and the floorstanding speakers come with an additional 4-inch CST speaker that's integrated into the top of each enclosure. This is what makes the Dolby Atmos experience possible.

Designed for main- or rear-channel use, the SP-EBS73-LR bookshelf speakers have an upward-firing CST specifically designed for delivering Dolby Atmos height channel audio information. The SP-EFS73 floorstanding speakers can deliver big sound from a small footprint, using three 5-inch bass drivers and the upward-firing CST. That CST and bass driver is also in the SP-EC73 center channel, along with a front-mounted 5-inch passive radiator.

Last in the new speaker lineup is Pioneer's SW-E10 subwoofer, which has a 10-inch long-throw woofer with a 2-inch diameter high-power voice coil. Other features include a BASH amplifier that boasts 600 watts of peak power (300 watts RMS) and DSP processing.

"With Dolby Atmos, audio technology has finally caught up with today's visual advancements of 3D or even 4K," said Chris Walker, director of AV product planning and marketing for the Home Electronics Division of Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc. "Our Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers allow for a customer to enjoy a full Dolby Atmos experience with the same footprint as a traditional 5.1-channel system simply by adding four more speaker wires to deliver a sonic experience overhead."

Pioneer plans to start shipping all of the Elite Speakers later this summer. The SP-EBS73-LR Bookshelf Speakers will sell in pairs for $749. The SP-EFS73 Floorstanding Speaker, the SP-EC73 Center Channel Speaker and the SW-E10 Subwoofer will all be sold individually for $699, $399 and $599, repectively.

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