Clearly then, the DCS-580 is a good performer visually. However, it’s with sound quality that the DCS-580 really excels – the system delivers a powerful, coherent and expansive soundstage, making Hellboy’s Dolby Digital 5.1 track sound sensational. Dialogue is delivered with lucidity, while the subwoofer’s bass is tight and nimble, replaying explosions with a visceral punch without sounding too boomy or overbearing. And the quality of the supplied speakers is evident in the abundant top-end detail and full-bodied midrange.
This also translates into electrifying music playback, with the system achieving a delightfully open presentation and a nice balance across the frequency range. It lapped up everything from Blue Note jazz-funk grooves to house, making each style sound more grown up and invigorating than some of the all-in-one systems we’ve tested recently. We also plugged in a USB stick containing WMA, MP3, AAC, WMV and JPEG files and the system played each one without any problems whatsoever.
While Pioneer's DCS-580 doesn’t quite live up to the LX01’s incredibly high standards, it does provide a very impressive alternative for almost a quarter of the price. It’s stylish, well-built, plays a wide range of formats and offers the sort of sound quality you’d expect from a more expensive system. On the downside, picture quality is good rather than great and the remote needs tweaking, but on the whole this is yet another top-notch system from the Pioneer stable.