Pioneer has announced two new members of its Elite Series of AV receivers, which are said to be the most powerful home theater amplifiers the company has ever produced. The similar-looking SC-55 and SC-77 9.1 channel receivers both feature a new Class D digital amplifier, capable of delivering huge audio output while drawing much less power than traditional models. They also benefit from Marvell Qdeo video processors, and technology that automatically tweaks the output depending on which display is chosen.

Pioneer claims that its new Class D digital amplifier will deliver the company's highest-ever continuous power output over all audio channels at the same time. There's a top mounted aluminum heatsink for improved all-round heat dissipation, and the audio signal path has been shortened to eliminate noise and feedback, to deliver the kind of uncompressed audio performance necessary for Blu-ray movies.

The total harmonic distortion is rated at an impressive 0.003 percent, and preamp processors support the latest surround formats, such as DTS NeoX, sound enhancements, network content and network control. The receivers have also been certified by both THX and AIR Studios.

Music from an iTunes library can be streamed direct to the receivers courtesy of AirPlay technology, and DNLA-certification gives PC owners the ability to stream sounds to the device over their home network. With an optional Bluetooth adapter, users can also transfer audio from any A2DP Bluetooth wireless-enabled device or PC. If your own music collection is somewhat lacking, you can always tune into the thousands of stations available via online radio. The systems also support Pioneer's own iPad, iPhone and iPod apps like iControlAV2 and Air Jam.

Both receivers convert all analog video signals to HDMI and scale both analog and digital signals to 1080p/24fps high definition via the onboard Qdeo video processors. The company's new Advanced Video Adjust technology also features, that's said to automatically optimize video signals according to selected display output - such as enhancing the blacks for LCD screen output, rendering a virtually noise-free, detailed image for plasma TVs, or sharpening projector output. Pioneer's Stream Smoother technology is included to automatically enhance any internet video.

Both models are available now. The SC-55 carries a suggested retail of US$1,700 and has a power output rating over each of the nine channels of 149W. It has 17.13 x 7.28 x 17.36-inch (435 x 185 x 441 mm) dimensions and weighs 38.36 pounds (17.4 kg), caters for up to seven different custom configurations, and can access and play up to 192kHz/24-Bit audio files.

The SC-57 has the same dimensions as the SC-55, but is slightly heavier at 39.02 pounds (17.7 kg). It's also available now for a suggested retail of US$2,100. This model gets three more custom configurations, making a total of ten available to the user. It is rated at 140W per channel and can handle better quality audio files (192kHz/32-Bit). It's also XM and SIRIUS Satellite ready and whereas the SC-55 is capable of front channel Bi-Amp configuration only, this unit can be configured for front, center, surround and B-speaker.

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