Pioneer's Elite SC-95, SC-97, and SC-99 Home Theater Receivers

Pioneer Elite SC-95 Home Theater Receiver
Pioneer Elite SC-95 Home Theater Receiver. Images provided by Pioneer Electronics

The SC-95

To get things started, here is a rundown of some of the features provided on the least expensive entry, the SC-95.

The Power

First off, there are Pioneer's Class D3 amps. The Elite SC-95 provides 9 built-in channels of amplification and states the power output rating as 135 Wpc (8 ohms, 1kHz, THD 0.08%, 2ch Driven FTC. However, keep in mind that measurement was conducted with a 1kHz test tone and not across the entire 20Hz to the 20kHz frequency range. What this means is that in either real-world 2 or 9-channel operation conditions, the average power output per channel will be lower that than stated - but still plenty, even for a large room.

For more details on what the above-stated power ratings mean with respect to real-world conditions, refer to my article: Understanding Amplifier Power Output Specifications.

Audio Decoding and Processing

For audio, the SC-95 provides Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD Master Audio decoding and Dolby Atmos decoding (5.1.4 or 7.1.2 channel configuration) and is DTS:X ready via a free firmware update. Also, for optimal audio performance, the SC-95 also incorporates ESS SABRE Premiere Audio ES9006S DACs.

Further audio support includes Hi-Res audio playback via a home network, smartphone/tablet, or direct USB connection. Compatible Hi-Res audio files including Apple Lossless (ALAC), WAV, FLAC, AIFF, and DSD (2.8 MHz).

HDMI and Video

To start with, the SC-95 features 8 HDMI inputs and 3 HDMI outputs, that provide 3D and 4K pass-through at up to 60fps, as well as 1080p and 4K video upscaling, Audio Return Channel, and standby pass-through, which allows audio and video signals connected via HDMI to pass through the receiver even when the receiver is in standby mode.

One of the HDMI inputs on the SC-95 is also MHL-enabled, which allows connection of compatible portable devices (smartphones/tablets), as well as the MHL-version of the Roku Streaming Stick.

In addition, with 3 HDMI outputs, of those outputs can route a second HDMI source (both audio and video) to a second zone.

Internet and Direct Streaming

The SC-95 is well-equipped in the network and streaming department. With built-in Ethernet and Wifi, the SC-95 has access to Internet Radio (vTuner), and other streaming services, such as Pandora and Spotify. In addition to internet streaming, the SC-95 also provides direct streaming from compatible devices via Bluetooth, HTC Connect, and Apple Airplay, and can also access media files stored on DLNA compatible PCs and media servers. iPods, iPhones, and iPads can also be connected to the front-mounted USB input.

Speaker Setup

For ease of setup, Pioneer's MCACC is included for calibration of speaker levels, speaker distances, and both speaker and subwoofer EQ, using the provided microphone and built-in tone generator.

The SC-95 allows for a variety of speaker setup options, from a traditional 7.2 channel speaker setup, to a 5.1 channel setup in the main room, combined with an independent 2 channel setup in another room, to a Bi-amp setup where four channels are devoted to compatible front speakers, and 5.1.2, 5.1.4, or 7.1.2 channel speaker Dolby Atmos setup option.

Control Options

In addition to the provided remote control, management and control compatibility is also available via iPhone/iPad and some Android devices using Pioneer's iControlAV5 App.

If you desire to incorporate the SC-95, SC-97, and SC-99 within custom control setup, they are compatible with the following systems: Crestron, Control4, AMX, URC, RTI, Savant.

The Pioneer Elite SC-95 has a suggested price of $1,600.00 - Buy From Amazon.


AIR Studios Monitor Certification, and incorporates more heavy duty construction.

The Pioneer Elite SC-97 has a suggested price of $2,000.00 - Buy From Amazon.


As the top entry, the SC-99 builds on what the SC-95 and SC-97 offer (including the same power output as the SC-97), with the addition of a more advanced version of MCACC that includes precision distance measurement for more exact speaker-to-listener sound delivery, as well as a 192kHz/32-bit DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter) for USB-accessed music content, and high-end low leakage power transformer.

The Pioneer Elite SC-99 has a suggested price of $2,500.00 - Buy From Amazon.

More Info

The features discussed in this article are only the tip of the iceberg with this batch of Pioneer Elite receivers. More details on connectivity, audio/video processing, and setting options, and more aspects of the MCACC speaker setup system can be found by clicking on the Official page links I have provided.