Pioneer Elite SC-81

    81
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    Highlights

    • 7.2 Channels
    • 7.1 Channel Processing
    • 120 W (8 Ω, 1 kHz, 2 channel driven)
    • 4K/60Hz Passthrough, 4K/60Hz Upscaling
    • Bluetooth, Ethernet

    Disclosure: We earn money from the affiliate links to products associated with content in this article.

    1. Overview

    Pioneer Elite SC-81 was introduced in 2014. It is equipped with 7 channel amplifier with 120 W (8 Ω, 1 kHz, 2 channel driven) power per channel and is capable of 7.1 maximum channel processing. It passes 4K/60Hz and upscales up to 4K/60p (Marvell Qdeo) video signal.

    We evaluated the a/v receiver and gave 81 overall score out of 100. Our ranking system is based on the amplifier specifications, audio and video features, connectivity, multizone capabilities, radio and many other details.

    Amplifier
    89
    Audio Features
    75
    Video Features
    73
    Connectivity
    78
    Zones
    91
    Radio
    85
    OVERALL
    81

    For more details about the ranking please go to    Evaluation section.

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    2. Pros and Cons

    In this section we present pros and cons of Pioneer Elite SC-81.

    PROs

    •   High Power Output - 120 W
    •   Front Wide Channel Support
    •   DSD via HDMI
    •   Auto Speaker Calibration System with Mic.
    •   Analog To HDMI Upconversion
    •   Bluetooth
    •   7 HDMI Inputs
    •   USB Input
    •   RCA Pre-Outs
    •   Composite Video Inputs
    •   Component Video Inputs
    •   Ethernet
    •   3 Zones
    •   Analog Tuner
    •   Pandora
    •   Spotify

    CONs

    •   No Dolby Atmos
    •   No Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization
    •   No DTS:X
    •   No IMAX Enhanced
    •   No Auro 3D with Auro-Matic Upmixer
    •   No HDR10
    •   No HDR10+
    •   No Dolby Vision
    •   No eARC
    •   No 8K Passthrough
    •   Does not Work with Amazon Alexa
    •   0 8K Input
    •   Few RCA Line Inputs
    •   No Phono Input
    •   No Digital Radio
    •   No Tidal

    And here are some specifications which fall into average criteria and are neither in PROs nor in CONs category:

    AVERAGE

    •   7.2 Channels
    •   7.1 Channel Processing
    •   Wi-Fi
    •   3 HDMI Outputs

    3. Pioneer 2014 Lineup

    In 2014 Pioneer released 11 new receivers. Here is the lineup:

    Pioneer 2014 Lineup
    ModelChannelsPowerMax. Ch. Proc.Pre OutsImmersive AudioZones Price
    SC-89 Image cannot be found 9.2140 W9.211.2Dolby Atmos4
    SC-87 Image cannot be found 9.2140 W9.211.2Dolby Atmos4
    SC-85 Image cannot be found 9.2135 W9.211.2Dolby Atmos4
    SC-82 Image cannot be found 7.2130 W7.19.24
    SC-81 Image cannot be found 7.2120 W7.12.23
    VSX-80 Image cannot be found 7.290 W7.12.23
    VSX-44 Image cannot be found 7.280 W7.12
    VSX-1124-K Image cannot be found 7.290 W7.12.23
    VSX-1024-K Image cannot be found 7.280 W7.12
    VSX-824-K Image cannot be found 5.280 W5.11
    VSX-524-K Image cannot be found 5.180 W5.11

    You can view their side-by-side comparison here: Pioneer SC-89 vs SC-87 vs SC-85 vs SC-82 vs SC-81 vs VSX-80.

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    4. Changes from the SC-71

    Pioneer Elite SC-81 has replaced SC-71. Here we present differences between these two models.

    UPGRADES Pioneer Elite SC-81 vs Pioneer SC-71
    Full Band Phase Control vs
    Video Signal Passthrough up to 4K/60p (4:4:4 24-bit)
    4K/60p (4:2:2 36-bit)
    4K/24p (4:4:4 36-bit)
    vs up to 4K/30p
    Video Signal Upscaling up to 4K/60p (Marvell Qdeo) vs up to 4K/30p
    More RCA Line Outputs 1 vs
    More Composite Video Outputs 2 vs 1
    More Powered Zones 2 and HDZone vs 2
    +12V Trigger Output 2 (Main, Zone2, HDZone) vs 1 (Main, Zone2, HDZone)
    Transformer Stabilizer vs
    Bigger Power Supply 290 W vs 260 W
    DOWNGRADES Pioneer Elite SC-81 vs Pioneer SC-71
    Surround EX vs
    Less HDMI Inputs 7 (1 front) vs 8 (1 front)
    Less RCA Line Inputs 3 vs 4
    Less Composite Video Inputs 2 vs 4 (1 front)
    Front A/V Inputs HDMI, USB vs HDMI, USB, Composite Video
    Zone 2 Outs RCA Pre/Line Out vs Composite Video, RCA Pre/Line Out

    For more detailed comparison between the models please visit Pioneer Elite SC-81 vs SC-71.

    5. Amplifier

    7 channel Class D3 Amplifier

    Pioneer Elite SC-81 features 7 channel power amplifier with Class D3 design. It is rated at 120 W (8 Ω, 1 kHz, 2 channel driven) and is able to drive 4 ohm speakers.

      AMPLIFIER
      Channels7.2
      Power Output120 W (8 Ω, 1 kHz, 2 channel driven)
      Front Wide Channel Support
      Amplifier DesignClass D3 (Direct Energy HD)
      THX™ Certification
      Continuous 6 Ω Rated
      Certified 4 Ω Performance
      Bi-amp Capability Front

      6. Speaker Configurations

      Pioneer Elite SC-81's 7 channel amplifier can be assigned for different speaker configurations.

      • Configurations: Available configurations are:
      • 5.2, 7.2 with internal amplifier.
      • Front Wide Channel support: Pioneer Elite SC-81 supports front wide channels. With the presence of two front wide speakers you can enhance the front surround stage. The following speaker configurations are available for front wide channels - 7.2.
      • 2-ch Bi-Amp: Pioneer Elite SC-81 allows you to bi-amp up to 2 main channels simultaneously. During bi-amplification two amplifiers are used for one speaker. One amplifier powers the midrange and tweeter section of the speaker and another amplifier powers the low frequency woofers. Each amplifier is less loaded and performs better. In order to use this feature speakers must have 2 pairs of connectors.

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      7. HDMI

      Pioneer Elite SC-81 features 7 HDMI inputs. It has 2 outputs: 1 for MAIN and 1 for MAIN/HDZONE.

      • 4K/60Hz Passthrough: All inputs pass up to 4K/60p (4:4:4 24-bit)
        4K/60p (4:2:2 36-bit)
        4K/24p (4:4:4 36-bit) video signal.
      • 4K Upscaling: Pioneer Elite SC-81 can upscale up to 4K/60p (Marvell Qdeo) from HDMI and analog sources.
      • Analog To HDMI Upconversion: The a/v receiver supports video upconversion, so you can connect your analog Component and Composite video sources and Pioneer Elite SC-81 will output them via HDMI. This means that you will need only one HDMI cable to connect to your TV.
      • 3D Ready: Pioneer Elite SC-81 is able to pass 3D video through HDMI.


      VIDEO FEATURES
      HDR10
      HDR10+
      Dynamic HDR
      BT.2020 color space
      Dolby Vision
      HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma)
      HDBaseT Compatible
      Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC)
      QMS (Quick Media Switching)
      ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode)
      VRR (Variable Refresh Rate)
      QFT (Quick Frame transport)
      3-D Ready
      Video Signal Passthroughup to 4K/60p (4:4:4 24-bit)
      4K/60p (4:2:2 36-bit)
      4K/24p (4:4:4 36-bit)
      Video Signal Upscaling up to 4K/60p (Marvell Qdeo)

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      8. Room Calibration

      Pioneer Elite SC-81 comes with Advanced MCACC room correction system and includes the calibration microphone.

      • MCACC: Pioneer’s exclusive Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration System (MCACC) delivers an easy-to-use, automatic sound adjustment system to precision-tune your Pioneer and Pioneer Elite receivers with minimal effort. Every MCACC system comes with a microphone to measure and analyze reverb characteristics. The equalizer optimally adjusts sound parameters to fit the size and shape of your home environment while maintaining the integrity of high-resolution playback without any degradation to the quality of your music.

      9. Multi-zone Playback

      Pioneer Elite SC-81 offers multi-zone playback which allows you to play different input sources in 3 different rooms.


      Zone 2

      • Powered Zone 2: You can use the unit's 2 amplifier channels by connecting Zone 2 speakers directly to the speaker terminals. The remaining 5 channels will be left for main zone amplification.
      • Audio Pre/Line Output: If you have a dedicated amplifier for Zone 2 you can connect it to the a/v receiver via pre/line outs and use "pre out" option to control volume from the a/v receiver or use "line out" option - send fixed signal and then control volume on the Zone 2 amplifier.

      Zone 3

        ZONES
        Number of Zones3
        Powered Zones2 and HDZone
        Zone 2 OutsRCA Pre/Line Out
        Zone 3 OutsHDMI
        RS-232C Interface
        +12V Trigger Output2 (Main, Zone2, HDZone)
        Remote (IR) Input/Output1 / 1

        10. Inputs and Outputs

        Audio

        • Analog Pre-Outs: Pioneer Elite SC-81 has 2.2 preamplifier outputs which allow you to connect the a/v receiver to the external power amplifier. You may want to use a high quality external amplifier for certain channels, usually for front L/R and center, and use the a/v receiver to power the rest.
        • Analog Line Inputs and Outputs: There are 3 line inputs and 1 line output for analog audio connection.
        • Digital Inputs: 2 optical inputs and 2 coaxial inputs are available for digital audio connection.
        • Headphone Output: There is a 6.3 mm (1/4") headphone output jack on the front panel.

        Video

        • HDMI:
        • Inputs: 7 (1 front)   Outputs: 2 (1 for MAIN, 1 for MAIN/HDZONE)
          8K Inputs: 0
        • Composite Video: Connect you VCR, Laserdisc player and other old video equipment with composite video cables.
        • Inputs: 2   Outputs: 2
        • Component Video: Component video connection gives you the higher quality video compared to the composite video connection. So in case your old DVD player and other equipment do not have an HDMI output but have Component video output use this connection over the composite one. Pioneer Elite SC-81 supports up to 1080p (1125p) resolution on Component video connectors.
        • Inputs: 2   Outputs: 1

        Front A/V Inputs

        • HDMI, USB
        Image cannot be found
        Image cannot be found
        TERMINALS
        HDMI Inputs7 (1 front)
        HDMI Outputs2 (1 for MAIN, 1 for MAIN/HDZONE)
        8K Inputs
        USB Input1 Front
        USB DC Out Port1 Rear for AS-WL300 (5 V, 0.6 A)
        Optical Inputs2
        Optical Outputs
        Coaxial Inputs2
        RCA Line Inputs3
        RCA Line Outputs1
        XLR Line Inputs
        Phono Input
        Multi-Channel Input
        RCA Pre-Outs2.2
        XLR Pre-outs
        Composite Video Inputs2
        Composite Video Outputs2
        S-Video Inputs
        S-Video Outputs
        Component Video Inputs2
        Component Video Outputs1

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        11. Evaluation

        We evaluate Pioneer Elite SC-81 and give score of 81 out of 100. We also give separate scores for 6 different categories according to the available features and specifications some of which are listed below. These evaluations are relative and may change each time a new receiver is added to the database.


        OVERALL
        81

        Amplifier

        EXCELLENT
        89

        We give Pioneer Elite SC-81 a score of 89 for Amplifier features.

        •   7.2 Channels
        •   High Power Output - 120 W

        Audio Features

        GOOD
        75

        We give Pioneer Elite SC-81 a score of 75 for Audio Features features.

        •   7.2 Channels
        •   Front Wide Channel Support
        •   7.1 Channel Processing
        •   No Dolby Atmos
        •   No Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization
        •   No DTS:X
        •   No IMAX Enhanced
        •   No Auro 3D with Auro-Matic Upmixer
        •   DSD via HDMI

        Video Features

        GOOD
        73

        We give Pioneer Elite SC-81 a score of 73 for Video Features features.

        •   No HDR10
        •   No HDR10+
        •   No Dolby Vision
        •   No 8K Passthrough
        •   Analog To HDMI Upconversion

        Connectivity

        GOOD
        78

        We give Pioneer Elite SC-81 a score of 78 for Connectivity features.

        •   No eARC
        •   Wi-Fi
        •   Bluetooth
        •   Does not Work with Amazon Alexa
        •   7 HDMI Inputs
        •   3 HDMI Outputs
        •   0 8K Input
        •   USB Input
        •   Few RCA Line Inputs
        •   No Phono Input
        •   RCA Pre-Outs
        •   Composite Video Inputs
        •   Component Video Inputs
        •   Ethernet

        Zones

        EXCELLENT
        91

        We give Pioneer Elite SC-81 a score of 91 for Zones features.

        •   3 Zones

        Radio

        EXCELLENT
        85

        We give Pioneer Elite SC-81 a score of 85 for Radio features.

        •   Analog Tuner
        •   Pandora
        •   Spotify
        •   No Tidal

        12. Replaced by SC-91

        In 2015 Pioneer Elite SC-81 was replaced by Pioneer SC-91. Let us now have a look at some important differences between Pioneer Elite SC-81 and its successor.

        UPGRADES Pioneer SC-91 vs Pioneer Elite SC-81
        Higher Power Output 130 W (8 Ω, 1 kHz, 2 channel driven) vs 120 W (8 Ω, 1 kHz, 2 channel driven)
        Dolby Atmos vs
        Dolby Surround Upmixer vs
        More Tone Control Channels All Channels vs Front L/R Channels
        More Advanced Auto Speaker Calibration System MCACC Pro vs Advanced MCACC
        Wi-Fi vs via optional AS-WL300 adapter (sold separately)
        Bluetooth SBC, AAC vs via optional AS-BT100 or AS-BT200 adapters (sold separately)
        More Speaker Terminals 11 vs 9
        More Large Speaker Terminals 11 vs 9
        Higher Power Output (8 Ω, 1 kHz, 2 channel Driven, FTC) 130 W (0.08% THD) vs 120 W (0.08% THD)
        Higher Power Output (6 Ω, 1 kHz, 2 channel driven, FTC) 170 W (1.0% THD) vs 150 W (1.0% THD)
        Higher Power Output (4 Ω, 1 kHz, 2 channel Driven) 210 W (1.0% THD) vs 180 W (1.0% THD)
        Higher Multi Channel Simultaneous Drive (8 Ω, 1 kHz, 1.0%) 660 W (8 Ω, 1 kHz, 1.0%) vs 560 W (8 Ω, 1 kHz, 1.0%)
        Higher Rated Lineout Level 380 mV/2.2 kΩ (REC OUT) vs 365 mV/2.2 kΩ (REC OUT)
        Higher S/N Ratio (Line, IHF-A) 101 dB vs 100 dB
        Higher DSD Sampling Rate via USB 5.6 MHz, 2.8 MHz vs 2.8 MHz
        DOWNGRADES Pioneer SC-91 vs Pioneer Elite SC-81
        Dolby Pro Logic vs PLIIz
        DTS Neo Neo:6 vs Neo:X
        Wide Surround vs
        Virtual Depth vs
        X-Curve vs
        Component Video Maximum Resolution 1080i (1125i) vs 1080p (1125p)
        Stream Smoother vs
        Pure Cinema vs
        Video Parameter Adjustments vs YNR, CNR, BNR, MNR, Detail, Brightness, Contrast, Hue, Chroma, Black Level
        Triple HD Noise Reduction vs
        USB DC Out Port vs 1 Rear for AS-WL300 (5 V, 0.6 A)
        Less Optical Inputs 1 vs 2
        Less Coaxial Inputs/Outputs 1 vs 2
        Less RCA Pre-Outs 0.2 vs 2.2
        Less Component Video Inputs 1 vs 2
        Less Component Video Outputs vs 1
        adapterport vs
        On-Screen Display Icon-based Graphical User Interface (GUI) vs Graphical User Interface (GUI) with Album Artwork (HDMI only)
        PreAmp Mode vs

        For more detailed comparison between the models please visit Pioneer Elite SC-81 vs SC-91.

        For the complete list of specifications please go to the next page:

        Discussion

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