Prices: S-81 floor-standing fronts: £1,800, S-81C centre: £630, S-81B-LR surrounds: £650, S-81W-MK sub: £999
Today we bring you the third part of our Pioneer home cinema trilogy with the S-81 speaker package, which many of Pioneer's customers buy together with the BDP-51FD Blu-ray deck and VSX-LX51 AV receiver. We've been using these speakers in our reviews of those products, and were so impressed we thought they deserved a review of their own.
The Series 8 range comprises the S-81 floor-standing fronts, the S-81C centre, the S-81B-LR surrounds and the S-81W-MK subwoofer, and they're available separately in a black gloss or whitewashed ash finish (plus the surrounds are additionally available in walnut). The ethos behind the range is to ‘bring out the audiophile in you', and just a glance at the spec sheet tells you they're going the right way about it - each component is packed with loads of proprietary Pioneer technology that's designed to deliver sensational sound quality.
But of course the first thing that jumps out is their absolutely stunning design, particularly the ash finish of our review samples. Standing at over a metre high, the floor-standing fronts are magnificent beasts, sporting an elegant round-shaped cabinet to improve rigidity and eliminate unwanted sound from enclosure diffraction, plus there's a sturdy metallic base fitted with spikes to aid stability. A particularly nice touch are the magnetic baffle boards, which do away with pins and screws to further eliminate unwanted rattling.
The centre speaker shares the flawless rounded construction of the fronts, and sits snugly in a supplied black stand, while the bookshelf-style surrounds can be mounted on optional CP-81B stands. As for the S-81W-MK powered sub, it's a downward-firing, closed design with a power output of 300W and is finished in matt black with cubic silver feet. But while it's undoubtedly stylish, the funky, modern look feels incongruous with the more classic look of the ash-finished speakers and feels like it's from a different range entirely - it's much better suited to the gloss black finish.