Pioneer VSX-LX51 AV Receiver - Pioneer VSX-LX51

By Danny Phillips
Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Pioneer VSX-LX51 AV Receiver

Summary

Our Score

9/10

Review Price free/subscription

With a Pioneer BDP-51FD connected to the LX51's HDMI input, we played the Blu-ray version of 300 and the Pioneer delivers a breathtaking rendition of its Dolby TrueHD track. It has the punch and power to turn the film's brutal battle scenes into a truly visceral experience, with the clanking swords, furious effects and stirring score pumped out with real aplomb.

What's more, the speed and drive with which it zips from effect to effect is stunning and makes for a truly thrilling listen, but it remains in steadfast control at all times. The soundstage never feels muddy or boxed in - it's admirably open and expansive, and with more intimate dialogue-driven scenes, the Pioneer renders speech with effortless clarity.

The LX51 ekes out every last bit of detail from the disc too, reproducing even the subtlest background sounds with pin-sharp clarity and adding an extra hint of gruesome detail to the sound of spears squelching through flesh. High-frequencies are amazingly crisp but never sound harsh or bright, while at the other end of the spectrum the bass is full bodied but extremely well controlled.

The LX51 is also tremendously musical, gracing delicate jazz CDs with a deftness of touch that you wouldn't have thought possible after hearing it pound the hell out of 300. But it also does a classy job with up-tempo material like John Legend's Evolver, relaying its rhythms with plenty of vigour.

Verdict

Pioneer has plenty of wildly expensive high-end receivers under its belt that deliver benchmark audio performance, but the VSX-LX51 is proof that the company can also work wonders at a lower price point. Film soundtracks sound fantastic, music is a real treat and the unit is packed with more features than you'll probably ever use. If we're being picky, we're not convinced that the Pioneer shows enough of an improvement over cheaper amps like the Marantz SR6003 to justify the extra cost, but that's a minor criticism - if you go for the Pioneer we guarantee that you won't be disappointed.

Scores In Detail

Performance
9/10
Value
8/10
Features
9/10
Design
9/10

Our Score

9/10
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Gdub

January 25, 2009, 8:44 am

Nice review Danny Boy, but nobody goes to the trouble of loging in just to laud out praise :) It would be nice if you would mention what speakers you are using to review this receiver and it would be even better if TrustedReviews would review a couple speakers from different manufacturers. And maybe it's just me but 3 HDMI inputs is not a "definite highlight" its merely meh, even if they are deep colour compatible, 4 would be a highlight.

vijay reddy

January 25, 2009, 1:08 pm

Please give a comparision with similarly priced Onkyo a/v receiver please

Chris Beach

January 25, 2009, 1:51 pm

At this price and the current market, I would agree 4 hdmi's would be a must.



Orinj

January 25, 2009, 5:06 pm

Pioneer seems to be the only company excelling in every AV product at the moment. I'm impressed with their KURO TVs, the LX-61D DVD Recorder and even their lower spec DV410S DVD player that I've recently bought. This amplifier is tempting but I don't think I can justify the extra prive over the excellent Yamaha DSP-AX863SE.

Danny P

January 26, 2009, 4:35 pm

Gdub - thanks for your comments. I was actually using the Pioneer S-81 speaker package, which people are bundling together with this receiver and the 51FD player. I'll be reviewing the speakers soon. And I think three HDMI inputs is a decent amount, but I guess if you've got Sky HD, a PS3, a Blu-ray deck and an upscaling DVD deck it wouldn't be seen as a 'highlight'.

Gdub

January 27, 2009, 2:02 am

Danny P my good lad ~ I hate it when people say “there are two types of people in the world” but there are two types of people in the world. Those that see 3 HDMI ports on a 𧼱.04 receiver and think “Oh that’s plenty” and those that see 3 HDMI ports on a 𧼱.04 receiver and think “Oh the humanity!!!”. I am the latter and it appears you are the former. But please allow me to explain.





As far as I know, a PS3 is still a very capable Blu-ray and DVD player. Furthermore all Blu-ray players can upconvert DVDs, feel free to correct me on this is if I’m wrong, so having a PS3, a Blu-ray player, and an upscalling DVD player would be…uh what is the word….Bullocks. But having Sky HD, an Xbox360, and a Blu-ray player is a far more legitimate possibility for filing 3 HDMI ports.





Now, If John Archer finds it a disappointment for a 𧽂 Toshiba Regza TV to “only have only three HDMIs when most premium sets provide four these days” then why should a similarly priced AV receiver not be held to the same standard?





I think it is even more essential to have a minimum 4 HDMI ports on an AV receiver than it is on a TV because if you are willing to spend the extra money for an AV receiver, speakers, speakers stands or mounts, wiring, and the endure the headache of setting it all up then you are also likely to be the kind of chap that: (a) has a large collection of videos on his computer network that he’d like to view on his big plasma or LCD via a HTPC (Home Theatre PC) or similar device ; (b) might consider buying a camcorder like the Canon HG20 or the Panasonic HDC-SD100, both of which won the coveted TrustedReviews “Recommended” rating and both of which sport a HDMI output; or (c) would enjoy the everlasting comfort associated with knowing he has one free HDMI port on his AV receiver should some unexpectedly delicious technology arrive that would make use of said HDMI port.





The Pioneer VSX-LX51 is undeserving of a 9/10 for features when AV receivers from Onkyo or other companies feature 4 HDMI ports for similar prices and therefore undeserving of the TrustedReviews “Recommended” rating. The VSX-LX51 may give excellent performance, but it lacks in features and value.





5.1 and 7.1 surround setups are more popular than ever. I’d love to see TrustedReviews review more AV Receivers. Head to head comparisons of receivers of similar prices from different manufacturers would be most enjoyable.





Keep up the good work TR ;)



Danny P

January 27, 2009, 3:50 pm

Gdub - I was actually conceding that you had a point!

SteveB

March 30, 2009, 4:36 pm

Looks very nice....but out of my price range. I have opted for the 1018AH model.....it has no tuner but still has Kuro Link and most of the features this one does....which is good enough. Albeit only 2 x HDMI in though.


Can we have a review on this? What HiFi have given it a good review.....and ths sales guy in my local shop said it was good too.


Cheers guys

MSHughes

June 8, 2009, 11:45 pm

The number of HDMI ports is, to a certain extent, moot as you can always use a, um, don't know exactly what they're called properly but essentially an HDMI Hub/Switch. After all, how many inputs would you be using a t o n c e ?

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