Pioneer Elite SC-95 A/V Receiver Review Test Bench

Test Bench

Two channels driven continuously into 8-ohm loads:
0.1% distortion at 132.4 watts
1% distortion at 159.0 watts

Five channels driven continuously into 8-ohm loads:
0.1% distortion at 121.6 watts
1% distortion at 140.8 watts

Seven channels driven continuously into 8-ohm loads:
0.1% distortion at 96.7 watts
1% distortion at 108.5 watts

Analog frequency response in Pure Direct mode:
–0.10 dB at 10 Hz
–0.03 dB at 20 Hz
+1.11 dB at 20 kHz
–1.08 dB at 50 kHz.

Analog frequency response with signal processing:
–0.80 dB at 10 Hz
–0.25 dB at 20 Hz
+0.97 dB at 20 kHz
–63.87 dB at 50 kHz.

This graph shows that the SC-95’s left channel, from CD input to speaker output with two channels driving 8-ohm loads, reaches 0.1% distortion at 132.4 watts and 1% distortion at 159.0 watts. Into 4 ohms, the amplifier reaches 0.1% distortion at 230.2 watts and 1% distortion at 278.4 watts.

There was no multichannel input to measure. THD+N from the CD input to the speaker output was less than 0.014% at 1 kHz when driving 2.83 volts into an 8-ohm load. Crosstalk at 1 kHz driving 2.83 volts into an 8-ohm load was –88.71 dB left to right and –91.09 dB right to left. The signal-to-noise ratio with an 8-ohm load from 10 Hz to 24 kHz with “A” weighting was –100.53 dBrA.

From the Dolby Digital input to the loudspeaker output, the left channel measures –0.03 dB at 20 Hz and +0.89 dB at 20 kHz. The center channel measures –0.03 dB at 20 Hz and +0.83 dB at 20 kHz, and the left surround channel measures –0.03 dB at 20 Hz and +0.83 dB at 20 kHz. From the Dolby Digital input to the line-level output, the LFE channel is +0.01 dB at 20 Hz when referenced to the level at 40 Hz and reaches the upper 3-dB


hk2000's picture

Love S&V reviews that include test bench results, sounds like a great receiver.
On an unrelated matter, the comment section on most of your articles has turned into a a spam board, does any one monitor these? Couldn't you stop them? Simply ban members who do it? Anything- It's quite annoying.

utopianemo's picture

I've been waiting for a review on this unit. I bought an SC-95 before it was technically available, and I wanted to see how the professional review correlated with my own findings.

It sounds pretty close: Love the sound. There have been some pretty significant hiccups with the connectivity, but those have seemingly been mitigated by foregoing wi-fi and hooking it up directly via ethernet.

The one thing I would like to add is just how much using the Dolby Surround upmixer can enhance 2-channel music. It positively makes old recordings come alive, taking a flat plane of music and pulling it into a 3D hemisphere. There are some exceptions, like 80's rock(I think the synthetic gated reverb confuses the processor), and some modern electronica recordings that use reverb in an experimental way. But classical recordings sound so much better, and this is coming from someone who has traditionally hated extra processing on music.

The most incredible example of Dolby Surround at work is with theater pipe organ music. There was a pizza place here in Portland called the Organ Grinder that had a massive, beautiful theater pipe organ, that produced some of the most impactful, wonderful live music I've heard. I have a few of those recordings, and playing them using the Dolby Surround upmixer brings me closer to being in that space than I'd ever imagined possible. The brass sections in particular play out up high in the front of the room, just like they did at the Organ Grinder.

dommyluc's picture

I totally agree with your opinion of Dolby Surround upmixing for music. I personally think Dolby Pro Logic IIx Music Mode does a phenomenal job of creating a natural 3D soundfield. I have thrown just about every kind of music at it, and it never seems to falter. Of course, like anything else, the better the recording, the better the results. The works of Steely Dan and Donald Fagen sound spectacular, as does most rock, including the 2008 digital remasters of the Beatles albums, which I stream to my Onkyo receiver from my PC in WAV format (as I do all my other music). But what is really fun to listen to are the RCA Living Stereo and other landmark classical recordings that were recorded on 3-channel studio decks, since they actually contain a true center channel that the Dolby processor can extract and place in the center, and also these recordings have great ambience, since they were recorded in many of the world's greatest concert halls, and it really shines through in the rear channels.
Hey, if people prefer just straight stereo, more power to them, and if the Dolby processing sounded flangey or over-reverberant or phony like most of the music modes on many receivers during the 80s and 90s (Yamaha and a few others excepted, of course), I couldn't bear to listen to it. But when I listen to music with DPL IIx, it sounds like I'm sitting in the middle of the studio, or on stage with the orchestra, and that's the way I like it. Also, since I have a 7.1-channel system, it's really nice to be able to use ALL of the speakers. LOL!

pirroplato's picture

Nice review of a a popular receiver, published just in time for the model to be replaced.

Mrsnikoph78's picture

To get to the point -

You say that the MCACC Pro correction basically nailed the setup, but commented that it chose a different EQ curve than other auto-correction systems. Can you please Elaborate? What sort of curves do you usually see?

I am close to pulling the trigger on a Yamaha, Pioneer Elite, or Anthem, but the information on room correction is pretty sparse, and I can't figure out what their target EQ curves are. I understand that Yamaha's is "selectable", Athem's is probably "adjustable", and Pioneer grants a lot of editing but is perhaps using a "flat line". I am wanting something more like the Harman Curve.

Basically, If I know that the room correction won't nail the bass EQ response in my room (which isn't a bad room but clearly has a room mode in the 30-40hz range), I won't bother spending the big bucks. I already know how to set levels, distance, and crossovers without the auto systems. So it is the quality of EQing that matters most. I understand that Yamaha lets you EQ subwoofers down to 16 hz now, with 4 bands. But does YPAO even do anything to the sub channel?

Lewis3000us's picture

I hear stories of some difficulty with the Start-up Navi app that may be used for setting up this receiver. Can you please comment on whether or not you used this app, and if not, then how easy/difficult the setup was without the app?

Triad Steve's picture

Hi Daniel,

Knowing actually tested 8 ohm power is very helpful, particularly with 7 channels driven - so thank you. For AVRs & amps it would be helpful to see 4 ohm tested power to understand compatibility with the many 4 ohm speakers on the market. Different amplifier topologies and power supplies can greatly affect 4 ohm power and even an amp's ability to drive 4 ohm speakers without shutting down. Any chance we can see these tests in the future?

BTW, readers might be interested in the fact that Dolby Pro Logic IIX does not artificially "create" multiple channels from music like many gimmicky venue selections do. Instead it extracts real information from the recording, so you can actually hear more of the original recording space and ambience. As commenter utopianemo suggests and you verify, this can enhance many 2 channel recordings. For those who haven't tried it before, you might give it a shot.

zman's picture

After 4 months this receiver can't get Pandora thru fi. However it gets Internet radio thru wi fi. Any help?