Pioneer’s flagship 9.2-channel AV receiver is blessed with luxurious build quality, a feature list as long as Mr Tickle’s arms and sound quality tuned by the legendary AIR Studios in London. It’s THX Ultra2 Plus certified too – the highest badge THX can bestow on an AV receiver – and with DLNA certification, AirPlay, built-in Spotify and extensive support for mobile devices, it’s the sort of multi-talented machine that AV enthusiasts will go nuts over. The catch? It’ll set you back around £1,500…
The Pioneer SC-LX87 is a gorgeous-looking receiver, boasting a sumptuous brushed black fascia as thick as some LED TVs, but it’s not for the faint hearted. Like most high-end amps, its big, bulky bodywork commands a huge chunk of space and at 18kg it’s like hauling an obese child round the cinema room.
Everything about it oozes quality, from the large, smooth-turning volume and input dials to the thick drop-down flap that conceals a multitude of buttons and sockets. The casing is super-rigid and well-ventilated to keep those all-important components cool.
The front LED panel is large and packed with information, most prominently the audio format being played. Dotted around it are the volume level, speaker layout and other icons, all of which can only be seen up close. Under the flap you’ll find buttons that control everything from sound modes and input selection to onscreen menus and more.
Also found under the front flap are a headphone output, a USB port (which supports all types of Apple device) and composite video input and a HDMI input, which supports MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link), allowing you to connect an Android smartphone and view hi-def videos on your TV.
This HDMI input is one of nine in total – on the back are eight more (so many that they ran out of devices to label them with) and three outputs, one of which can be used to output signals to a second zone. Naturally, Audio Return Channel support comes as standard.
There are too many sockets to list them in full, but let’s just say you’ll probably never run out of places to plug your kit, no matter how much your system expands. There are three sets of component inputs (and two outputs, one for zone 2); four digital audio inputs (two coaxial, two optical) and one optical output; loads of AV outputs, including sets for zones 2 and 3; 9.2-channel pre-outs and 7.1-channel analogue inputs. Of course you’ll also find an Ethernet port to access the network features and IR, trigger and RS-232 sockets for custom install use.
Completing the line-up is a USB port for the supplied wireless LAN adapter and a port for the asynchronous USB-DAC, which lets you directly connect a PC or Mac and play high-resolution music up to 192kHz/32-bit. It’s unique to this receiver and clear evidence of the Pioneer’s audiophile ambitions.