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We rigged up the Sony BDP-S500 Blu-ray deck to the system's HDMI input to test the Dolby True HD performance, and were blown away by its reproduction of Spider-Man 3. The extra sonic detail can be clearly heard in the scene where Mary Jane sings on Broadway - the strings and vocals sound crisper and silkier than ever, and even the most subtle effects are reproduced with crystal clear sharpness, demonstrating the benefits of this marvellous new format.
Multi-channel performance gets a clean bill of health then, but a blast of Portishead's Dummy reveals the LX01 also has a real talent with stereo music, making this album sound more dark and atmospheric than ever.
Just like Pioneer's standalone DVD/HDD recorders, the quality of recordings is flawless. Presented with a range of bright and garish daytime TV shows (recorded onto the hard-disk in XP mode), the deck reproduces the strong colours with consummate ease and a complete lack of block noise. Picture quality remains superb until you drop the recording mode to LP or lower, when the lower bitrate makes the image look fuzzy and fast-moving objects look untidy - but if you don't over-scrutinise the image then these lower-quality modes are perfectly watchable.
And the good work continues with DVD playback. Armageddon looks punchy, full of detail and free from noise, even during the tricky dark scenes on the asteroid. There are no discernable flaws or problems with the 1080p upscaling, resulting in DVD pictures that aren't far off hi-def in terms of sharpness.
The system's performance as a media hub is also faultless. DivX, MP3, WMA and JPEGs play from disc, HDD and USB with no stuttering, while tracks ripped in LPCM sound every bit as good as the original CDs. Our only complaint is that you can't select individual tracks to rip - it's the whole album or nothing.
We've got nothing but praise for the LX01 system, which delivers a dizzying array of features and sensational performance - all wrapped up in a stylishly low-key design that makes it the perfect match for Pioneer's Kuro plasmas. We would have been even more impressed had the price tag been lower (it's not called a premium home cinema system for nothing) but even at this lofty price point we think the LX01 does enough to stop you feeling short-changed.
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