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To take the stress out of the setup procedure, the VSX-LX51 features Pioneer's unique Advanced Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration, which automatically tunes the sound quality to suit your room using a nine-band equaliser - simply plug the supplied microphone into the relevant port on the front and let the automated system do its thing. Incorporated into MCACC is Phase Control, which corrects frequency delay and aligns the phase within each speaker.
The VSX-LX51 musters 7 x 150W of power and supports every audio format under the sun, including lossless Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio. It's also THX Select2 Plus certified, which makes it best suited to rooms with a listening distance of between 10 and 12 feet, as well as ensuring that the product meets THX's stringent quality criteria.
There's also a staggering array of surround modes which can be used in conjunction with regular surround sound decoding, or to boost two-channel material up to 5.1. Highlights include a virtual surround back mode, which adds a phantom speaker between the rears, Advanced Cinema/Concert, which use signal processing to replicate different listening environments and Real Phantom, which creates a virtual centre channel for people who don't want a centre speaker in their system.
But we've barely scratched the surface. The USB port on the front enables you to connect a portable audio player and listen to MP3 or WMA files, plus the Advanced Sound Retriever boosts the quality of these compressed audio formats. Additionally, if you don't fancy rigging up rear speakers, the Front Stage Surround Advance mode generates virtual rears from the speakers positioned at the front of the room. Add other wizardry like Dialogue Enhancement and digital noise reduction into the mix, and it's clear that the LX51 makes a formidable audio epicentre.
It's also worth mentioning that despite its vast array of features, the unit is fairly easy to use. The setup menu can be viewed on your TV via the video outputs, and uses a crude-looking but straightforward menu system that enables you to make all the usual tweaks like assigning inputs or changing the sound settings. But if you're not hooked up to a TV then you can use the front display. The remote is generally well laid out and you can navigate the basics with ease, but many of the buttons are labelled with confusing abbreviations that will take you some time to figure out.