As you might well expect from a receiver costing over a grand, the SC-LX76 is obscenely well specified. In fact there are so many features on board Pioneer supplied us with a 31-page booklet to guide us through them. Needless to say we can’t list everything in detail, but we’ll touch on the highlights.
Firstly the SC-LX76 has earned both THX Select2 Plus certification and ‘Monitor’ status from legendary producer George Martin’s AIR Studios, which signifies that it applies the principles of the studio’s monitoring methods. Audiophiles take note.
As you might have guessed from the THX badge, it’s mega powerful. Pioneer’s Class D Direct Energy HD amplifiers muster 180W from each of its nine channels (at 6Ω). Naturally it decodes every Dolby and DTS format under the sun, as well as offering Dolby Pro Logic IIz and DTS Neo:X processing, both of which create front height channels from any soundtrack, while Neo:X also adds front wide channels.
The LX76 is also equipped with a plethora of audio enhancements, designed to eke out the very best from any source. These include Hi-bit32 audio signal processing, a Digital Filter and several incarnations of Sound Retriever, Pioneer’s detail-restoring tech for compressed music formats. Among them is Sound Retriever AIR, the world’s first technology for improving Bluetooth music streaming. Meanwhile, Precision Quartz Lock System (PQLS) eliminates distortion caused by timing errors, while Phase Control improves sound synchronisation by eliminating phase lag.
Incredibly that’s only scratched the surface of the LX76’s audio technology – there are loads of DSP modes, enhancements and surround configurations to explore, making this an astonishingly versatile audio epicentre.
But the LX76 isn’t all about audio. There’s an enviable suite of video features too, including passthrough for 4K sources, Triple HD Video Noise Reduction, Precise Conversion for 24p upscaling (allowing you to watch any SD source in 1080/24p) and Stream Smoother, which tackles artefacts like block and mosquito noise on low-bitrate video (YouTube for instance). Advanced Video Adjust tweaks the picture according to the type of display being used, and uses the auto calibration measurement data to optimise the image for your viewing distance.
Next we come to network functionality. The stand-out feature is AirPlay, which allows you to stream music from Apple devices. DLNA 1.5 certification means you can use it as a digital media player, controller and renderer to search and stream music stored on media servers like PCs and NAS drives.
The list of supported files has a distinct audiophile slant, handling 192kHz/24-bit FLAC and WAV, alongside AIFF and ALAC (Apple Lossless) with to a free firmware update. The same update also enables gapless playback of those files, which is great when listening to live albums. You can also stream MP3, WMA and AAC.
Fans of hi-res music will also be pleased to see that the LX76 can also play DSD (Direct Stream Digital) files directly from USB devices – previously the format could only be played on SACD players.
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Unlike the latest models from Onkyo and Marantz, the LX76 doesn’t provide access to music streaming services like Spotify, but you can listen to internet radio through the built-in vTuner portal.