Port-land: Pioneers new connect-anything AV receivers

Have you ever seen any domestic technology with over 100 ports? Well, say hello to Pioneer’s new range of AV receivers, where studio-quality sound, HD video and extremely versatile connectivity options are just a few of the many features on the new SC-LX85, SC-LX75, VSX-LX55 and VSX-2021 models.


The SC-LX85 is the flagship device, with more ports than the average user would know what to do with. Along with the SC-LX75, the two offer a number of unique features:

Direct Energy HD amplifiers offer a true multi-channel, continuous power output of 810 watts over 9 channels (720 watts in the SC-LX75). While you can listen to all nine channels at once, you can also set the device to play five channels in one room, and stereo sound in two other rooms at the same time. Madness.

THX Ultra 2 Plus (SC-LX85) and THX select 2 Plus (SC-LX75, VSX-LX55 and VSX-2021) certification means the device has been super-approved for home cinema listening. Remember the big THX logo that comes up at the start films in the cinema, before the sound explodes your glasses and ruptures your ear-drums with sonic awesome? That’s these guys, and they approve.

The Hi-bit 32 and hi-sampling audio processing promises to revive the original sound of audio files by smoothing out distortion. We’re always dubious of these technologies, however, and would recommend giving it a listen before being sold on this feature.

All four AV systems have impressive Apple integration. They’re all “Made for iPod/iPhone/iPad”, and include a USB/video cable for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices, enabling plug and play capability with no dock required.

Users can then playback audio, video and photos stored on their devices, while charing them. There’s also full support for the iPad, including 2.1A battery charge facility via the USB port – making the Pioneer range the only AV systems on the market to do so.

There’s also full Apple AirPlay support, which lets music be streamed from iTunes or iDevices straight to the system. Album art and song information are displayed on a connected screen. You’ll need an adapted to do this on the VSX-2021, although a wired connection is supported straight out the box.

Streaming music content to the new Pioneer receivers can also be done through Bluetooth or DLNA – the AV receivers can play music up to 192kHz/24-Bit, and there is special software to improve the sound of Bluetooth-streamed tracks.
Pioneer has also developed two iPhone apps for the product, the first being social-playing Air Jam. The app allows up to four users to cue songs for playback from their phones (AS-BT200 Bluetooth adapter required). Each device displays the list of songs added by all users and the device each song will play from.

The other app, iControlAV2, lets users control of volume, bass, balance and room settings – as well as equaliser information – from a mobile device.

Each device also boasts vTuner Internet radio, accessible from the on-screen display. Then there’s the HDMI (v1.4a with 3D and ARC) connectivity for 3D playback, HDMI Standby Through for passing audio and video from a set top box through the AV receivers without the need to turn on the component, and auto level control technology to ensure a consistent listening experience, compensating for fluctuating volume levels across digital audio tracks, television channels and commercials. We’d buy it just for that.