Who Will Distribute Hot New Pioneer Dolby Atmos Speakers In OZ?
It is not known when the new speakers will be launched in Australia or whether they will be launched by the Pioneer Electronics subsidary in Australia or one of several distributors that are now vying to be the Australian distributor of the combined Pioneer/Onkyo product range.
Last week Pioneer agreed to sell most of its struggling audiovisual equipment business to Hong-Kong based investment fund Baring Private Equity Asia and rival Onkyo for an undisclosed sum, signaling another major pullback from consumer electronics.
After exiting from its money-losing television business five years ago, the Japanese electronics maker, known for its speakers and home theater systems, has focused its turnaround efforts on more-profitable car navigation systems and other audio equipment used inside vehicles.
The company said that they have agreed to sell a 51% stake in its unit, Pioneer Home Electronics, to Baring Private Equity Asia and an unspecified stake to Onkyo, which also makes audiovisual equipment. Pioneer will retain a stake in the unit with the remaining 49% divided between Onkyo and Pioneer though the breakdown wasn’t disclosed. Onkyo and Pioneer will continue to sell their products under their separate brands.
Shortly after the sale announcement Pioneer announced a new dedicated line of Dolby Atmos-enabled Elite speakers and Elite SC series of home theater receivers. Dolby Atmos technology was first established for cinema use, and the collaboration with Pioneer aims to offer a multi-dimensional sound experience. Dolby’s partnerships will not stop at Pioneer, with Dolby Atmos branded Blu-ray and streaming video services to be launched before the last quarter.
The three new Atmos-ready Elite SC-series A/V receivers and a selection of Andrew Jones-designed, Atmos-ready Elite speakers include Pioneer’s SC-85, SC-87, and SC-8 will not decode and play back Dolby Atmos-encoded movies right out of the box, but a firmware update the company says will be available by the end of the year will add the functionality in retroactively.
All three models sport 9.2 channels which Pioneer says can reconfigured 11 different ways (12 with SC-87 and SC-89). Configurations can be selected and implemented either through the receiver or through Pioneer’s free iControlAV5 App for iOS and Android devices. In addition to a true 9.2-channel speaker setup or any variation of Atmos surround configurations, each receiver can power a 5.1 speaker system in one room, with the extra outputs left to drive speakers in other rooms.
Power and processing
At the core of the receiver is Pioneer’s proprietary D3 amplfier, a digital amplifier design that Digital Trends has found offers the sort of natural, warm and accurate sound other digital amps struggle to achieve. At the source end, Pioneer employs SABRE32 Ultra DACs in all three models, with the SC-89 sporting a USB 32-Bit Asynchronous Audio DAC for direct connection to Mac and Windows computers. As such, the three receivers will play back nearly any sort of digital audio file, including high-resolution FLAC, ALAC and native DSD files.
Internet content delivered
Pioneer says all three receivers are Roku-ready certified. That means a Roku Streaming Stick can be plugged directly into an MHL port in the back of the receiver, and be controlled using either the receiver remote, or the iControlAV5 App. In addition to access to Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant and thousands of other streaming apps through the Roku stick, Pioneer has built in support for Internet radio services such as Spotify, Pandora and vTuner.
4K for days
Pioneer says all of its new receivers feature HDMI 2.0 ports, which will allow up to 18Gbps of throughput, allowing for 4K at 60p, with 4:4:4 color support (the maximum Ultra HD allows).
Andrew Jones Atmos-enabled Elite speakers
The fact that Andrew Jones’ name is stamped on the this new speaker line is no matter of marketing fluff. Andrew Jones takes the task of delivering high-performance audio from affordable speaker systems seriously, and his first effort in partnership with the Pioneer brand, the Pioneer SP-PK52FS system was desicribed by Digital Trends as “by far the best speaker system we’ve heard under $600”.
With this new line, not only has Jones stepped up component quality and designed a more attractive speaker, but the come with the ability to deliver the Atmos experience by incorporating specialized drivers at the top of the speaker cabinets that fire at the ceiling, reflecting Atmos-specific sound information off the ceiling (as an alternative to ceiling-mounted speakers).