AV receivers are primarily for home use and they are designed to boost the performance of any home theater components connected to the AV receiver. Cheap models primarily focus on amplifying sound while the pricier models can improve video performance along with added audio enhancements. But there are also some AV receivers that are excessively priced at more than $1,000 and mainly cater to those that prefer custom integration. Pioneer is looking to contribute to that crowd with the Pioneer Elite series and the Pioneer SC-63 model plans on competing by focusing on the ease of setup and widening the flexibility.
Any Pioneer Elite AV Receiver is a step above the ordinary AV receivers but the design shares similar elements to the cheaper models. The black brushed metal finish is nice and should match other Pioneer components. All of the control functionality and front connectivity is hidden behind a smooth panel so the Elite SC-63 looks more presentable when the front panel ports are not in use. If you need to hook up a smartphone, tablet, media player or flash drive, the front panel ports should be sufficient since there is a USB port which can charge Apple devices along with an HDMI port and composite video input.
The back of the Pioneer SC-63 clearly shows that this AV receiver is designed to handle a multitude of inputs with 6 additional HDMI inputs along with the necessary outputs for Zone 2 and Zone 3. There are also some ports for custom installations and Pioneer made sure that home automation products from top companies like Control4 and AMX work properly.
Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.
Pioneer has integrated a Class D3 amplifiers design in the Elite SC-63 to provide professional-level sound amplification. Audiophiles will appreciate the lack of EMI filters and feedback loops as it features a direct signal path. Each of the 7 channels produces 130 watts but only max out at 630 watts when all 7 channels are fully driven. Because it is 4 OHM certified, low impedance speakers can be used with the Pioneer SC-63 as well. These specifications are necessary for people that really want to blast their 7.1-channel speaker systems and it doesn’t generate much heat or consume too much electricity. Blu-ray players should have no trouble in pushing the highest possible sound quality because of the support of Dolby Pro Logic IIz, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.
The Elite SC-63 is also capable of driving up the video experience since it uses Qdeo’s technologies by Marvell. Because of the special video processing that these Qdeo technologies power, the Pioneer SC-63 can upscale any video source to Full HD quality. Visuals look natural at 24 fps with less noise leading to high quality pictures. The Advanced Video Adjust lets users optimize the visuals even more by offering a number of image adjustment functions. In addition to these enhancements, the Elite SC-63 can handle 3D video coming from 3D Blu-ray players and should be able to output to 3D HDTVs with no problem.
There are plenty of ways to configure and interact with the Pioneer SC-63. The most common way is surprisingly simple thanks to the AVNavigator feature which literally walks you through the entire process. After finishing this process, you should end up with a fully calibrated system with the most optimal sound settings. The automatic speaker calibration feature actually works pretty well. Pioneer uses a technology called Advanced Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration which can observe the speaker distances through a specially placed listening microphone. What is nice about this calibration feature is that you know exactly what settings will be changed after the calibration is complete.
The Elite SC-63 can also act as a networking hub even if none of the other home theater components have any network functionality. In order to enable these networking features, all that is required is a direct Ethernet connection to a wireless router. Buying a special wireless adapter can also let the AV receiver connect to the router wirelessly. Pioneer is a long-time partner of Apple and that leads to good things such as the AirPlay support to the Pioneer SC-63 making it possible for any iOS device with AirPlay to stream multimedia directly to the AV receiver. Android devices cannot use that technology but Bluetooth can still be an available wireless option if you are fine with purchasing a separate Bluetooth accessory for Pioneer AV receivers.
Smartphones and tablets can be integrated even deeper with the Elite SC-63 if you install the iControlAV2012 app. This touchscreen-friendly app features an intuitive control panel that lets you tinker with various aspects of the AV receiver anywhere you like providing there is wireless signal. The good news is that the app is freely available and compatible with both iOS and Android devices. If you don’t have any mobile device, you can still use the PC setup program that allows a networked computer to remotely pre-program the AV receiver to your liking. You can also freely monitor the AV receiver and make remote adjustments if necessary. In addition to remote setup, desktops and laptops running Windows 7 or newer also have music streaming capabilities. In fact, installing iTunes allows the AirPlay functionality to be used.
Outside networking, the Internet features are quite limited although audiophiles with Pandora accounts should enjoy the Pandora integration. vTuner and SiriusXM are supported as well.
Pioneer actually makes numerous Pioneer AV receivers and many of the latest models share common features like AirPlay support and easy usability. The Pioneer SC-63 is priced at $1,300 so it targets the serious audio enthusiasts but it successfully delivers with a Class D3 amplification design. Other Pioneer AV receivers have this design too but the added flexibility for custom installations really separate this particular AV receiver from the pack. There are tons of customization options available and the calibration and setup is so simple which is good if different setups need experimenting. Finally multi-zone support allows multiple rooms to enjoy the experience and you can configure that experience any time through the PC setup program or mobile device with iControlAV2012 installed.
Discontinued by Manufacturer
Update: There is a newer model > Pioneer Elite SC-95