Pioneer Elite SC-97 Review and Specs

Pioneer Elite SC-97 (North American version)

SCORE:
89
Image cannot be found

Highlights

  • 9.2 channels
  • 11.2 channel processing
  • 140 W (8 Ω, 1 kHz, 2 channel driven)
  • Dolby Atmos, DTS:X capable
  • HDR10, 4K Upscaling, 4K Passthrough
  • AirPlay, DLNA
  • Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
  • USB and Phono inputs
amazon
B&H

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

Overview

Pioneer Elite SC-97 was introduced in 2015. It is equipped with 9 channel amplifier and is capable of 11.2 maximum channel processing.

We evaluated the Receiver and gave 89 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
92
VIDEO FEATURES
86
AUDIO FEATURES
91
CONNECTIVITY
89
MULTIZONE
97
MISCELLANEOUS
73
RADIO
85
OVERALL
89

Amplifier score is based on power ratings, minimum impedance load, power supply, transformer type, total harmonic distortion, damping factor, signal to noise ratio and other small details. Audio score depends on the number of channels, front wide channel support, maximum channel processing, support of audio formats, DAC specifications, room calibration algorithm... Video score is based on HDR, Dolby Vision and video signal passthrough and upscaling, analog to HDMI upconversion. Connectivity score is defined from all wired and wireless inputs and outputs, internet and bluetooth connections, HEOS, SONOS and others. Multizone score depends on the number of zones with their outputs. Radio score is evaluated form digital radio support and analog tuner with its frequency range, signal to noise ratio, harmonic distortion...

Pros and Cons

In this section we present pros and cons of Pioneer Elite SC-97.

PROS
👍   Front Wide Channel Support
👍   Certified 4 Ω Performance
👍   Bi-amp Capability
👍   Many Channel Processing
👍   Air Studios Monitor Certification
👍   Dolby Atmos
👍   Dolby TrueHD
👍   Dolby Digital Plus
👍   Dolby Surround Upmixer
👍   Dolby Digital EX
👍   DTS:X
👍   DTS Neural:X
👍   DTS Neo
👍   DTS-HD Master Audio
👍   DTS-HD High Resolution Audio
👍   DTS 96/24
👍   DTS Express
👍   DTS-ES
👍   High Resolution Music Playback via USB and/or Network
👍   Gapless Playback
👍   DSD via HDMI
👍   DSD via USB
👍   DSD to PCM Converter
👍   Dialog Enhancement
👍   Dialogue Lift
👍   Sound Retriever
👍   Sound Retriever AIR
👍   Compressed Music Enhancer
👍   High-resolution Music Enhancer
👍   Auto Speaker Calibration System with Mic.
👍   HDR10
👍   3-D Ready
👍   4K or 8K Video Passthrough
👍   4K or 8K Signal Upscaling
👍   Analog To HDMI Upconversion
👍   MHL Input
👍   DLNA 1.5
👍   Ethernet
👍   Wi-Fi
👍   Bluetooth
👍   New HDCP Version
👍   Many HDMI Inputs
👍   Many HDMI Outputs
👍   USB Input
👍   Phono Input
👍   Composite Video Inputs
👍   Composite Video Outputs
👍   Component Video Inputs
👍   Analog Pre-Outs
👍   Zones
👍   Detachable Power Cord
👍   Analog Tuner
👍   Pandora
👍   Spotify
👍   Transformer Stabilizer
CONS
👎   No Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization
👎   No DTS Virtual:X
👎   No IMAX Enhanced
👎   No Auro 3D with Auro-Matic Upmixer
👎   No HDR10+
👎   No BT.2020 color space
👎   No Dolby Vision
👎   No Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG)
👎   No Chromecast Built-In
👎   Does not Work with Amazon Alexa
👎   Does Not Work with SONOS
👎   No eARC
👎   Few Analog Audio Line Inputs
👎   No Multi-Channel Input
👎   No Tidal
👎   No Deezer
👎   No Napster
👎   No SiriusXM Internet Radio
👎   Old Bluetooth Version

Major Changes from its predecessor

Here we are comparing Pioneer Elite SC-97 to its predecessor SC-87 and displaying the major changes.

UPGRADES Pioneer Elite SC-97 vs Pioneer Elite SC-87
More Channel Processing 11.2 vs 9.2
Dolby Surround Upmixer vs
DTS:X up to with firmware update vs
DTS Neural:X with firmware update vs
HDR10 vs
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 Analog Pre-Outs 13.2 vs 11.2

DOWNGRADES Pioneer Elite SC-97 vs Pioneer Elite SC-87
Less Component Video Outputs vs 1

For more detailed comparison between the models please visit Pioneer Elite SC-97 vs Pioneer Elite SC-87.

Amplifier

Pioneer Elite SC-97 has 9 channel Class D3 amplifier and delivers 140 W (8 Ω, 1 kHz, 2 channel driven) and also has a stable performance at 4 Ω load. This receiver even supports front wide channels which is found only in a very few high-end receivers these days.


Video Features

The Receiver has 4K passthrough up to 60p and 4K upscaling up to 60p. It can bypass HDR10.


HDR10

High-dynamic-range (HDR) video has greater dynamic range than standard-dynamic-range (SDR) video with brigter whites and deeper blacks. HDR10 was announced on August 27, 2015, by the Consumer Technology Association and uses the wide-gamut Rec. 2020 color space. It sends static metadata via video stream to the TV which calibrates its screen brightness and color according to that. HDR10 supports up to 1000 nits of brightness and 10-bit color which corresponds to 1024 shades of the primary RGB colors.


Dolby Atmos and Dolby Surround upmixer

Pioneer Elite SC-97 supports Dolby Atmos with its Dolby Surround upmixer. It can be configured upto 7.1.2 or 5.1.4 channels using internal amplifiers or upto 9.1.2 or 7.1.4 channels by adding 2 channel external amplifier.

Dolby Atmos is the first cinematic audio format in which sounds exist as individual entities, called audio objects. In Dolby Atmos, any sound - the helicopter, a car screeching around a corner, a melodic bird call - can exist as an independent audio object, free of channel restrictions. They can be precisely placed and moved anywhere in your room, including overhead, to flow above and around you in three-dimensional space. Through the use of audio objects, overhead sound, and all the richness, clarity, and power of Dolby sound, Dolby Atmos turns your room into an amazing place for entertainment. You'll feel like you're inside the action, in ways you've never experienced before.

Dolby Atmos for the home represents every sound in the original cinema mix as an audio object. Extensions to the Dolby Audio™ codecs, along with an advanced scalable algorithm, allow Dolby Atmos to be delivered via Blu-ray Disc and streaming media. A spatially-coded substream is added to Dolby TrueHD or Dolby Digital Plus. A Dolby Atmos audio/video receiver (AVR) adapts the cinema experience to your home theater from seven speakers to as many as 34 in 24.1.10 configuration, recreating the original artistic concept. The format supports up to 128 simultaneous independent audio objects in a mix for rich, realistic, and breathtaking sound. It recreates the director's original concept through descriptive metadata to provide customized playback for home theater and delivers sounds above you through overhead speakers, special upward-firing Dolby Atmos speakers, or a Dolby Atmos enabled sound bar.

If the content is not mixed in Dolby Atmos then the Dolby surround upmixer will expand the audio to all channels including ceiling speakers. The upmixer has replaced the Dolby Pro Logic II family with improved upmixing algorithms.


DTS:X and Neural:X upmixer

Pioneer Elite SC-97 supports DTS:X with its Neural:X upmixer. It can be configured upto 7.1.2 or 5.1.4 channels using internal amplifiers or upto 9.1.2 or 7.1.4 channels by adding 2 channel external amplifier.

A technique used in DTS:X is similar to the one used in Dolby Atmos. Instead of a fixed number of channels, DTS:X defines object locations from the listener in polar coordinates. An a/v receiver then dynamically renders sound according to the current speaker configuration. The speaker layout employed by DTS:X is the sum of Dolby Atmos and Auro-3D. It has standard 7.1 channel base layer, a 5 channel height layer above the base layer on the front and side walls, and 3 rows of speakers on the ceiling.

DTS Neural:X is a new upmixer that can take non DTS:X content and upmix it to the DTS:X speaker layout. It has replaced the DTS Neo family with improved flexibility.


Class D3 Amplifier

Pioneer Class D3 amplifiers contain advanced integrated circuitry technology creating unmatched power without sacrificing sound quality or performance. Class D3 amplifiers use a Direct Signal Path Design to provide the shortest audio signal path possible. By eliminating EMI filters, feedback loops, and current limiters of previous designs, Class D3 reduces ringing distortion and noise, especially in the high frequency audio band.

The power consumption of the Digital Class D3 Amplifier is significantly lower than traditional A/B amplifiers - letting you save energy and generate less heat without compromising performance. The Digital Class D3 Amplifier uses a simple structure employing a straight signal path, resulting in improved sound quality requiring less energy than competitive models yet producing more simultaneous power output. This direct signal path means no EMI filters, feedback loops or current limiting - a true engineering art. Unlike traditional designs, these amps deliver the strength to handle multiple low-impedance speakers without dramatic power loss. The efficiency of Class D3 means cooler operation while drawing just a fraction of the power consumed by conventional amplifiers, enhancing and extending component life and reliability.


Advanced Sound Retriever

Compressed music enhancement in Pioneer Elite SC-97 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 Correction

Pioneer Elite SC-97 comes with MCACC Pro room correction system and includes the calibration microphone.


Connectivity

Pioneer Elite SC-97 can be connected to internet using ethernet cable or built-in wi-fi adapter. It can also connect to bluetooth devices via built-in bluetooth adapter. The Receiver supports AirPlay. It has 8 HDMI inputs and HDCP 2.2 copy protection. There is a phono input with built-in phono stage for connecting the cartridge output of the turntable directly to the Receiver. There are 13.2 channel analog pre-outs for external amplification.

Front panel has HDMI and USB inputs.

Image cannot be found
Image cannot be found

Specifications

Here we list all the available features and specifications of Pioneer Elite SC-97.

BASICS
BrandPioneer
SeriesElite
ModelSC-97
TypeA/V Receiver
CountryNorth America
Release Year2015
AMPLIFIER
Channels9.2
Front Wide Channel Support
Amplifier DesignClass D3 (Direct Energy HD)
THX™ Certification
Continuous 6 Ω Rated
Certified 4 Ω Performance
Bi-amp Capability Front, Center, Surround, SP-B
AUDIO
Digital Signal Processing (DSP) EngineTexas Instruments Aureus
DACESS SABRE32 Ultra (ES9016S)
Maximum Channel Processing11.2
Air Studios Monitor Certification
Dolby Atmos
Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization
Dolby TrueHD
Dolby Digital Plus
Dolby Surround Upmixer
Dolby Pro Logic
Dolby Digital EX
Surround EX
DTS:X up to with firmware update
DTS Neural:X with firmware update
DTS Virtual:X
DTS Neo Neo:X (before firmware update)
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
Multi-Channel Music File Playback via USB up to 96 kHz/24 bit
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 All Channels
Compressed Music Enhancer Advanced Sound Retriever
High-resolution Music Enhancer Hi-bit32 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 (Focus/Wide)
Headphone Surround
Virtual Speakers (Surround Back/Height/Wide)
Virtual Depth
Independent Dual Subwoofer Output
CALIBRATION
Auto Speaker Calibration System with Mic. MCACC Pro
Manual MCACC
MCACC Memory6
Reflex Optimizer
Phase Control
Full Band Phase Control
Standing Wave Control
EQ Bands9-Band (Advanced)
Symmetric EQ
X-Curve
Distance Adjustment1/2 Inch
Precision Distance
Polarity Check
Auto Subwoofer Crossover
VIDEO
HDR10
HDR10+
BT.2020 color space
Dolby Vision
HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma)
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)
Video Signal Upscaling up to 4K/60p (4:4:4)
Analog To HDMI Upconversion Component****, Composite
Component Video Upscaling
Analog to Analog Video conversion
Component Video Maximum Resolution1080i (1125i)
Stream Smoother
Pure Cinema
Video Parameter AdjustmentsYNR, CNR, BNR, MNR, Detail, Brightness, Contrast, Hue, Chroma, Black Level
Triple HD Noise Reduction
Super Resolution
isf Certified Calibration Control
CONNECTIVITY
MHL Input 1 Rear (Version 2.0)
DLNA 1.5
FireConnect
FlareConnect
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
Ethernet Switch
Wi-Fi
Bluetooth SBC, AAC
HDBaseT Compatible
Enhanced ARC
HDCP Version2.2
HDMI Input8 (1 front)
HDMI Output3 (2 for MAIN, 1 for MAIN/HDZONE)
USB Input1 Front
USB DC Out Port
Analog Audio Line Input3
Analog Audio Line Output1
Phono Input
Optical In2
Optical Out1
Coaxial In/Out2 /
Composite Video Input2
Composite Video Output2
S-Video Input
S-Video Output
Component Video Input2
Component Video Output
PC In
Multi-Channel Input
Analog Pre-Outs13.2
XLR Inputs
XLR Pre-outs
Front A/V InputsHDMI, USB
Speaker A/B
Headphone Out 6.3 mm
ZONES
Zones4
Powered Zones2, 3 and HDZone
Zone 2RCA Pre/Line Out
Zone 3 OutsRCA Pre/Line Out
Zone 4 OutsHDMI
RS-232
+12V Trigger Output2 (assignable)
Remote (IR) Input/Output2 / 1
MISC
On-Screen DisplayGraphical User Interface (GUI) with Album Artwork (HDMI only)
HDMI Speaker B Link
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
adapterport
RADIO
Analog Tuner FM/AM
Presets63
Digital Radio
Internet Radio vTuner
Pandora
Spotify
Tidal
Deezer
Napster
SiriusXM Internet Radio
CONSTRUCTION
Front PanelBrushed
Solid Aluminum Front
Advanced Direct ConstructionAdvanced Direct Construction
Speaker Terminals11
Large Speaker Terminals11
Color-Coded Speaker Terminals
Ceramic Speaker Terminals
3D Space Frame Construction
Gold plated RCA terminals
POWER
Power SupplyAC 120 V, 60 Hz
Low Leakage Flux Power Transformer
Transformer Stabilizer
Power Consumption370 W
Standby Power0.1 W
GENERAL
ECO Mode / Hybrid Standby Function
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"
Weight17.5 kg (38.6 lbs)
Warranty2 Years Parts & Labor
SPECS
Power Output (8 Ω, 1 kHz, 2140 W (0.08% THD)
Power Output (6 Ω, 1 kHz, 2190 W (1.0% THD)
Power Output (4 Ω, 1 kHz, 2240 W (1.0% THD)
Multi Channel Simultaneous Drive (8 Ω, 1 kHz, 1.0%)810 W
THD0.04% (1 kHz, 130 W + 130 W, 8 Ω)
Input Sensitivity and Impedance (Line)400 mV/47 kΩ (Line)
Input Sensitivity and Impedance (Phono MM)5 mV/47 kΩ
Rated Lineout Level and Impedance400 mV/2.2 kΩ (REC OUT)
S/N Ratio (Line, IHF-A)103 dB
DSD Sampling Rates via HDMI2.8 MHz
DSD Sampling Rates via USB5.6 MHz, 2.8 MHz
Video Input Sensitivity/Output Level and Impedance1 Vp-p/75 Ω (Component Y)
0.7 Vp-p/75 Ω (Component PB/PR)
1 Vp-p/75 Ω (Composite)
Ethernet Standard10BASE-T/100BASE-TX
Wi-Fi StandardIEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n
Wi-Fi Terminal Frequency5 GHz, 2.4 GHz
Bluetooth Version2.1 + EDR
Bluetooth Frequency2.4 GHz
HDMI Terminal19-pin (not DVI)
HDMI Output Type5 V, 55 mA
HDMI Input/MHL Terminal5 V, 900 mA
USB TerminalUSB2.0 High Speed (Type A) 5 V, 1 A
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

Successor

In 2017 Pioneer Elite SC-97 was replaced by SC-LX801. Let us now have a look at some important changes that the successor brought.


UPGRADES Pioneer Elite SC-LX801 vs Pioneer Elite SC-97
BT.2020 color space vs
Dolby Vision vs
Analog To HDMI Upconversion Component**, Composite vs Component****, Composite
FireConnect vs
FlareConnect vs
Chromecast Built-In vs
DTS Play-Fi vs
Works with SONOS vs
More Analog Audio Line Inputs 6 vs 3
More Optical Inputs 3 vs 2
More Component Video Outputs 1 vs
Tidal vs
Deezer vs
Higher DSD Sampling Rate via USB 11.2 MHz, 5.6 MHz, 2.8 MHz vs 5.6 MHz, 2.8 MHz
Newer Bluetooth Version 4.1 + LE vs 2.1 + EDR

DOWNGRADES Pioneer Elite SC-LX801 vs Pioneer Elite SC-97
Front Wide Channel Support vs
Sound Retriever Advanced vs Advanced (Multi-Channel / Auto with ARC)
Sound Retriever AIR vs
High-resolution Music Enhancer vs Hi-bit32 Audio Processing
MHL Input vs 1 Rear (Version 2.0)
DLNA 1.5 vs
Less HDMI Outputs 2 (1 MAIN, 1 SUB/ZONE 2) vs 3 (2 for MAIN, 1 for MAIN/HDZONE)
Less Analog Audio Line Outputs vs 1
Less Optical Outputs vs 1
Less Composite Video Outputs vs 2
Less Analog Pre-Outs 11.2 vs 13.2
Less Zones 3 vs 4
Smaller Power Supply 320 W vs 370 W

For more detailed comparison between the models please visit Pioneer Elite SC-LX801 vs Pioneer Elite SC-97.

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure

ZKelectronics is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for website owners to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon (.com, .co.uk, .ca, etc) and any other websites that may be affiliated with Amazon Service LLC Associates Program.