You’ll also find a set of 7.1-channel analogue outputs on the rear, which enable you to enjoy Dolby True HD and Dolby Digital Plus soundtracks in high-resolution on legacy amps without HDMI inputs. However you won’t be able to enjoy decoded DTS HD Master Audio or DTS HD tracks from these analogue outputs – instead it extracts the regular DTS core. Although this isn’t the end of the world, it is disappointing for a player at this price and means that you’ll need a receiver with HDMI input to enjoy both hi-res DTS formats.
But in its defence, this omission is not borne of nefarious intent – quite the opposite in fact. When designing the LX71, Pioneer changed the chipset found in the BDP-LX70 to an improved version that offers better picture performance and a greater range of image adjustments but lacks DTS HD MA from the analogue outputs. Pioneer felt the picture benefits were far more important, and rather than delay its launch by a few months to rectify the audio situation, it launched the player with the intention of releasing a firmware update later on, which is currently scheduled for February.
But in the meantime, those with suitably equipped receivers can pipe DTS HD Master Audio, Dolby True HD, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS HD in bitstream form to a receiver with the relevant decoding, plus it can decode these formats into high-resolution PCM and output them from the HDMI port.
Far more disappointing than its audio shortcomings is the player’s Profile 1.1 specification, which enables you to access BonusView content but not web-based BD Live goodies – a fact confirmed by the lack of an Ethernet port on the rear panel. With loads of BD Live discs now on sale, it’s amazing that a normally progressive company like Pioneer would release a premium player that can’t take full advantage of them, when there are players costing half as much that can.
But these niggles aside, the range of features is still pretty impressive. The deck plays DivX, MP3, WMA, AVCHD and most types of recordable disc, plus it cements its audiophile status with professional grade Wolfson DACs and a specially developed Precision Quartz Lock System (PQLS), which is designed to offer precise music CD playback via HDMI.
A rummage around in the setup menu confirms that this is a deck for serious Blu-ray aficionados. There are all sorts of tweaks and options that you simply don’t find on common or garden Blu-ray decks, including a bunch of options governing the behaviour of the HDMI output and a speaker setup screen for the analogue audio outputs.