Pioneer SC-LX88 AV-receiver

It is a lavishly-engineered topflight power station that deserves an audition in the event you're updating your set up - although it has one interesting defect...

I will get to that defect soon enough. Meanwhile, the facts. On the sound side, Pioneer maintains an extremely healthy 220W-per-channel output signal and sonic tuning. You get eight HDMI inputs (one) and three output signals, a lot and multizone set up of legacy connections. Although, as the turntable is quickly becoming the must have sound accessory that is brand new, perhaps that's not as 'legacy' as it was.

Pioneer's USB input signal connects easily to any PC or Mac and it's going to take just about any audio format, including native DSD that is up to. Also, Pioneer has used the high speed processing of the DAC to empower upsampling of digital sound that was native to 192kHz/32-bit before reaching on the amplifier stage in a bid to make certain the most accurate music reproduction. This can be a well seen characteristic common to hifi-unique two channel DACs and you always have the option to get the better of the function in the event you would like accurate in/out purity.

Streaming music from 'net- a Windows8 PC or connected DLNA devices is a doddle, as well as the SC LX88 comes with Spotify Connect on tap and vTuner internet radio, along with iPod compatibility and AirPlay. For a little music gratification that is immediate apt-X Bluetooth is also offered by it. There is a WiFi adapter a part of the carton so that that you do not need to dig out an Ethernet cable to get the network characteristics (although it is recommended by me for robustness - especially when doing a firmware upgrade).

That reads just like a wish list to get a stereo amplifier that is contemporary, which means you can view this Pioneer plans to possess a broad appeal. Adding to its charisma that is allround is the rather fashionable layout, solid-feeling construct and phalanx of symbols stuck to the leading fascia. Given that waving a THX badge does not actually have the impact this is likely no surprise as booming one comes to manufacturing companies at a price.

First-world problem

For people who are appearing to be much in AV tech's cutting edge they're always putting plasters the headline characteristic here is Dolby Atmos processing. Hang on!

Alas not. The brand says the SC LX88 just has got the capacity - channel 'processing,' meaning this can be somewhat more skeletal compared to total-fat we expected for.

Which will leave a few of you in a little predicament - mostly those already using a conventional 7.1 collection and a want to add four height loudspeakers.

For that Atmos expertise that is fully fledged, an option would be to check a competing version out at around the exact same price point. Yamaha, for example, ensures us that its RX-A3040 will supply 7.14 Atmos using its nine stations plus an added stereo amp.

Simple operation

Pioneer's amps are not easy to knock in regards to absolute usability and easy set up. The SC-LX88 is a no-brainer even in the event that do not have any prior knowledge of having an AV receiver to get running. A part of the category-leading bundle is the Pioneer AV Controller program.

With the provided mike placed in the listening place (along with your head continues to be an excellent idea), Pioneer's automated MCACC Pro set up needs only one pass in one mic spot and is two button clicks away. Five minutes after the task is done.

I think Pioneer is anticipating as the remote control is nothing special one to make use of the program for much of the day to day operation. It stays an easy stick filled with small buttons, although it is practical, learning and partially backlit in reddish. I do, nonetheless, value the one-button access to route degrees, as I'm a great lover of running using a degree balance rather than just measures right. Need some activity that is overhead? Just add a little increase to all those channels.

DTS has become the audio format of option in the past couple of years and is ensconced with most of the main studios. Obviously, Dolby expects to turn that around (more through its magnificent Atmos studio mastering tools in relation to the Bluray possible) but it is likely to be a slow burn.

But there's overhead sound expectation for us. Dolby has replaced many of its own iterations that are perplexing (Dolby Pro-Logic IIx etc) using a catch-all 'Dolby Surround' style within the Atmos specification. This maps the channels that are native (and up) from sources that are incoming onto your loudspeaker configuration that is real.

As noted it's subtle - unless you up the channel amounts that are overhead a lot - but it'll have you scanning back during your old DVD and Bluray group to revisit old films having a fresh sonic measurement.

Management consultant wanted

Just how can the Pioneer SC-LX88 really seem? Well, it is a dynamic performer with an upfront nature that delivers action movies with all of the gusto and sharp. The Pioneer simply lets you establish a blanket crossover frequency for all loudspeakers tagged little rather than person channel crossovers. It follows the system (and automatic) places the greatest crossover needed by any one loudspeaker for several stations.

Atmos stations exacerbate the problem. Whether you use in ceiling or upward-fire Atmos loudspeakers, neither layout has LF operation that is really expanded. Dialogue therefore, did not have the complete abundance I've become used to. If you're not employing dissimilar -sized loudspeakers all round that problem will be something.

And there's definitely nothing lightweight about the way bass is handled by the SC-LX88. A lad's night in with Fast and Furious films that were back to back established a gut-churning festival of LFE. Afterward, back down the clarity of the Pioneer shone through. On the Bluray of Saving Mr Banks, the dialogue-heavy play came across superbly presented and formulated with a lot of emotion. Haughty demeanour and Emma Thompson's British emphasis make for nearly uneasy viewing. You actually feel for Walt Disney - and that is not a phrase I believed I'd ever write.

With this particular film, and less action-packed films usually, decoding that is straight was the preferred choice. Adding the additional Dolby Surround virtual processing did not actually add anything, and muddied the clarity of the mixture a little.

Is with Dolby Atmos stuff where this Pioneer definitely glows. The dropping sycamore seed (yeah, all around you twists to the floor using a host. It's certainly a fairly gung ho demonstration but jaw-dropping however, using the seed sounding high, doing whole circuits of the area as the picture goes off display and behind your seat. Visuals tied in in the most immersive, breathless and believable manner I've heard any home cinema format to date.

Small niggles and that deficiency of complete 11-station Dolby Atmos (and DTS Neo:X) processing the Pioneer SC-LX88 would make a fantastic heart for just about any home entertainment system that is modern. The rivalry here is rough, but this well-featured receiver gets the abilities to go into the fight.

Pioneer SC-LX88 AV-receiver photo