1-on-1 Comparison

Side-by-Side Comparison

Pioneer Elite SC-81 (USA version)



  • 7.2 channels
  • 7.1 channel processing
  • 120 W (8 Ω, 1 kHz, 2 channel driven)
  • 4K Upscaling, 4K Passthrough
  • AirPlay
  • Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • USB input

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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 80 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.


Pros and Cons

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

  Front Wide Channel Support
  DSD via HDMI
  Auto Speaker Calibration System with Mic.
  4K or 8K Video Passthrough
  4K or 8K Signal Upscaling
  Analog To HDMI Upconversion
  Many HDMI Inputs
  USB Input
  Composite Video Inputs
  Component Video Inputs
  RCA Pre-Outs
  Analog Tuner
  No Dolby Atmos
  No Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization
  No DTS:X
  No IMAX Enhanced
  No Auro 3D with Auro-Matic Upmixer
  No eARC
  No HDR10
  No HDR10+
  No Dolby Vision
  No Chromecast Built-In
  Does not Work with Amazon Alexa
  Few 8K Inputs
  Few RCA Line Inputs
  Few Optical Inputs
  No Tidal


Here we are comparing Pioneer Elite SC-81 to its predecessor SC-71 and displaying the major changes.

UPGRADES Pioneer Elite SC-81 vs Pioneer Elite 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 Elite 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 Pioneer Elite SC-71.

Audio Section

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.

    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.

    Sound Processing

    • Advanced Sound Retriever: Compressed music enhancement in Pioneer Elite SC-81 is done by Pioneer’s Advanced Sound Retriever. Hear the detail, warmth and clarity, the way the artist intended it, from all of your highly compressed MP3 and WMA files stored on USB, Smartphone and portable media players. By restoring data that tend to get lost in the digital compression process, Pioneers Advanced Sound Retriever Technology enhances audio reproduction all the way upto 20 Khz frequencies.

    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.

    Video Section


    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.

    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

      Inputs and Outputs


      • 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 and Outputs: 0 optical input, 2 optical outputs 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.


      • 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
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      Here we list all the available features and specifications of Pioneer Elite SC-81.

      TypeA/V Receiver
      Release Year2014
      Front Wide Channel Support
      AmplifierClass D3 (Direct Energy HD)
      THX™ Certification
      Continuous 6 Ω Rated
      Certified 4 Ω Performance
      Bi-amp Capability Front
      Digital Signal Processing (DSP) EngineTexas Instruments Aureus
      DACSABRE Premier (ES9006S)
      DAC Specs192 kHz/24 Bit
      Maximum Channel Processing7.1
      Air Studios Monitor Certification
      Dolby Atmos
      Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization
      Dolby Atmos Music
      Dolby TrueHD
      Dolby Digital Plus
      Dolby Surround Upmixer
      Dolby Pro Logic PLIIz
      Dolby Digital EX
      Surround EX
      DTS Neural:X
      DTS Virtual:X
      DTS Neo Neo:X
      DTS-HD Master Audio
      DTS-HD High Resolution Audio
      DTS 96/24
      DTS Express
      DTS-ES Discrete 6.1, Matrix 6.1
      IMAX Enhanced
      Auro 3D with Auro-Matic Upmixer
      PCM 2-ch/Multi-ch Input
      Music Playback via USBMP3, WMA, AAC, Apple Lossless, WAV, FLAC, AIFF, DSD
      High Resolution Music Playback via USB and/or Network 88.2, 96, 176.4, 192 kHz/24 bit
      High Resolution Audio Formats via USBApple Lossless, WAV, FLAC, AIFF, DSD
      Gapless Playback
      DSD via HDMI 2-ch/Multi-ch Input
      DSD via USB 2-ch Input
      DSD to PCM Converter
      USB DAC
      Jitter Reduction plus PQLS (HDMI Bitstream/ Multi)
      Auto Level ControlMulti-Channel
      Dialog Enhancement
      Dialogue Lift via Dialog Enhancement
      Sound Retriever Advanced (Multi-Channel / Auto with ARC)
      Sound Retriever AIR
      Digital Noise Reduction
      Tone Control Front L/R Channels
      Compressed Music Enhancer Advanced Sound Retriever
      High-resolution Music Enhancer Hi-bit24 Audio Processing
      Audyssey Dynamic EQ
      Audyssey Dynamic Volume
      Audyssey LFC
      Audyssey Sub EQ HT
      Audyssey DSX
      Direct Mode
      Pure Direct Mode
      Auto Surround
      Optimum Surround
      Advanced Surround11 + 1
      Wide Surround
      Front Stage Surround Advance
      Headphone Surround
      Virtual Speakers (Surround Back/Height/Wide)
      Virtual Depth
      Independent Subwoofer Outputs
      Auto Speaker Calibration System with Mic. Advanced MCACC
      Manual MCACC
      MCACC Memory6
      Phase Control
      Full Band Phase Control
      Standing Wave Control
      EQ Bands9-Band (Advanced)
      Symmetric EQ
      Distance Adjustment1/2 Inch
      Precision Distance
      Polarity Check
      Auto Subwoofer Crossover
      Enhanced ARC
      Dynamic HDR
      Dolby Vision
      HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma)
      BT.2020 color space
      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)
      Analog To HDMI Upconversion Component****, Composite
      Component Video Upscaling
      Analog to Analog Video conversion
      Component Video Maximum Resolution1080p (1125p)
      Stream Smoother
      Pure Cinema
      Video Parameter AdjustmentsYNR, CNR, BNR, MNR, Detail, Brightness, Contrast, Hue, Chroma, Black Level
      Triple HD Noise Reduction
      isf Certified Calibration Control
      MHL Input 1 Rear (Version 2.0)
      DLNA 1.5 (DMR)
      Chromecast Built-In
      DTS Play-Fi
      Works with Amazon Alexa
      Works with SONOS
      AirPlay AirPlay
      Apple Product Connection iPod and iPhone via front USB
      Remote App iControlAV5 (for iOS and Android)
      InstaPrevue Input Source Prevue
      Ethernet Switch
      Wi-Fi via optional AS-WL300 adapter (sold separately)
      Bluetooth via optional AS-BT100 or AS-BT200 adapters (sold separately)
      HDBaseT Compatible
      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)
      RCA Line Input3
      RCA Line Output1
      XLR Line Inputs
      Phono Input
      Optical Inputs2
      Optical Outputs
      Coaxial Inputs2
      Composite Video Input2
      Composite Video Output2
      S-Video Input
      S-Video Output
      Component Video Input2
      Component Video Output1
      PC In
      Multi-Channel Input
      RCA Pre-Outs2.2
      XLR Pre-outs
      Front A/V InputsHDMI, USB
      Speaker A/B
      Headphone Out6.3 mm (1/4")
      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
      On-Screen DisplayGraphical User Interface (GUI) with Album Artwork (HDMI only)
      Multi-Zone On-Screen Display
      AVNavigator Built-in
      IP Control for CI
      PreAmp Mode
      Versatile Speaker ConfigurationSurround Back/ Front Height/ Front Wide/ Front Bi-Amp/ Zone 2/ B-Speaker/ Powered HD Zone
      FL Dimmer
      Function Rename
      Remote ControllerLearning Remote Control (Lumius)
      Detachable Power Cord
      Analog Tuner FM/AM
      Digital Radio
      Internet Radio vTuner
      SiriusXM Internet Radio
      Front PanelBrushed
      Solid Aluminum Front
      Advanced Direct ConstructionAdvanced Direct Construction
      Speaker Terminals9
      Large Speaker Terminals9
      Color-Coded Speaker Terminals
      3D Space Frame Construction
      Gold plated RCA terminals
      Power SupplyAC 120 V, 60 Hz
      Low Leakage Flux Power Transformer
      Transformer Stabilizer
      Power Consumption290 W
      Standby Power0.1 W
      ECO Mode / Hybrid Standby Function
      Auto Power Standby
      Dimensions (W x H x D)435 mm x 185 mm x 441 mm
      17-1/8" x 7-5/16" x 17-3/8"
      Weight14.3 kg (31.5 lbs)
      Warranty2 Years Parts & Labor
      Power Output (8 Ω, 1 kHz, 2120 W (0.08% THD)
      Power Output (6 Ω, 1 kHz, 2150 W (1.0% THD)
      Power Output (4 Ω, 1 kHz, 2180 W (1.0% THD)
      Multi Channel Simultaneous Drive (8 Ω, 1 kHz, 1.0%)560 W (8 Ω, 1 kHz, 1.0%)
      THD0.04% (1 kHz, 100 W + 100 W, 8 Ω)
      Input Sensitivity and Impedance (Line)365 mV/47 kΩ (Line)
      Rated Lineout Level and Impedance365 mV/2.2 kΩ (REC OUT)
      S/N Ratio (Line, IHF-A)100 dB
      DSD Sampling Rates via HDMI2.8 MHz
      DSD Sampling Rates via USB2.8 MHz
      Video Input Sensitivity/Output Level and Impedance1 Vp-p/75 Ω (Component Y)
      0.7 Vp-p/75 Ω (Component PB/CB, PR/CR)
      1 Vp-p/75 Ω (Composite)
      Ethernet Standard10BASE-T/100BASE-TX
      Wi-Fi Terminal5 V, 600 mA
      HDMI Terminal19-pin (not DVI)
      HDMI Output Type5 V, 55 mA
      HDMI Input/MHL Terminal5 V, 900 mA
      USB TerminalUSB2.0 (Type A) 5 V, 1 A
      adapterport Terminal5 V, 100 mA
      Extension Terminal
      FM Frequency87.5 MHz - 108.0 MHz
      AM Frequency530 kHz - 1700 kHz

      * - 480i/576i and 480p/576p only
      ** - 480i/576i only
      *** - no 1080p/24 upconversion
      **** - 1080p signal is not converted


      In 2015 Pioneer Elite SC-81 was replaced by SC-91. Let us now have a look at some important changes that the successor brought.

      UPGRADES Pioneer Elite SC-91 vs Pioneer Elite SC-81
      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 Elite 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 Outputs vs
      Less Coaxial Inputs/Outputs 1 vs 2
      Less Component Video Inputs 1 vs 2
      Less Component Video Outputs vs 1
      Less RCA Pre-Outs 0.2 vs 2.2
      On-Screen Display Icon-based Graphical User Interface (GUI) vs Graphical User Interface (GUI) with Album Artwork (HDMI only)
      PreAmp Mode vs
      adapterport vs

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

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