Pioneer Elite SC-57 Receiver
Don't dismiss high-end Pioneer receivers just because the company's brand is also found on bargain-basement specials. The Elite SC-57 is a continuation of a long line of highly capable audiophile-grade receivers, providing outstanding sound quality at a reasonable price that undercuts many of the 'boutique' products. The SC-57 carries further development of the Class-D amplifiers found in its predecessors, despite Pioneer having dropped the ICEPower units. Sound quality is a highly subjective measurement, but there's no denying the fact that the SC-57 offers some of the nicest sound output compared to anything short of a high-end tube amplifier. The SC-57 carries both THX Ultra2 Plus certification and AIR Studios Monitor Certification, the latter as a direct result of AIR Studios providing direct input on performance. Snobs and traditionalists may still scoff at the Class-D amplifier, but even a quick audition with quality speakers will quell any doubts.
While many 'boutique' brand receivers simply stop at offering great sound quality, Pioneer takes things further with the Elite SC-57. Simply put, this receiver is absolutely packed with features. Marvell Qdeo video processing is built in, and can upconvert analog signals to 1080p with HDMI output. The SC-57 offers internet radio streaming from sources such as Pandora and Rhapsody, and comes with Apple AirPlay for streaming content from iTunes to your home theater system. 7 HDMI inputs and 2 HDMI outputs provide plenty of connectivity, while 3 component video inputs, 4 composite video inputs, and a phono input ensure support for analog devices. Pioneer's own Advanced MCACC calibration makes the SC-57 easy to set up, but more skilled users are welcome to use the various manual modes to tailor the sound output. The SC-57 is just as consumer-friendly as Pioneer's midrange models, making it a great choice for anyone looking for better performance overall.