We also slipped in the Silicon Optix HQV Benchmark Blu-ray disc and it blitzed all of the tests, with the most impressive achievement being its flawless suppression of jaggies during the rotating bar patterns – the stepping effect you get on several other players is completely smoothed out, testament to the superb video processing inside. Also remarkable is the film resolution loss test in which the camera pans across an empty stadium – we’ve never seen the rows of red seats looking sharper or steadier.
The LX71 treats DVDs with the same level of care and attention that it lavishes on Blu-ray discs, producing sharp, artefact-free playback with a wide range of movies. The DVD version of the HQV disc revealed the same assured performance as the hi-def version, marking this out as a remarkable DVD upscaler.
The LX71 gets a clean bill of health in the audio department too, offering an open and finely detailed presentation of Transformers’ Dolby True HD track through the analogue outputs. With the climactic showdown between Optimus and Megatron, its dynamic and expansive soundstage helps deliver the sense of grandeur and excitement that this scene deserves, and you can almost feel the deck savouring every gunshot, explosion and clank of metal. We also piped the signal in bitstream and PCM form to our Onkyo receiver over an HDMI connection and were equally blown away by what we heard.
Finally the Pioneer delivers one of the best music performances we’ve heard from a Blu-ray player, making Miles Davis’ ”Kind of Blue” sound wonderfully organic and detailed though the dedicated analogue stereo outputs.
If you’re serious about movies and want the very best Blu-ray performance, then look no further than the BDP-LX71. Its image quality is the best we’ve seen so far, beating even the best decks from Panasonic and Sony and leaving you in no doubt as to where that extra money has gone. It’s also a dab hand with DVDs, which is good news if you have a big collection of standard-def discs that you don’t want to replace.
What’s more, its build quality is immaculate, it looks gorgeous and its advanced picture adjustments make it a videophile’s dream deck. But don’t let its many positives make you lose sight of the fact that its feature set is far from perfect – the Profile 1.1 spec (with no chance of upgrading) means it will never let you enjoy the complete Blu-ray experience, and the lack of decoded DTS HD Master Audio from the analogue outputs – however limited its appeal may be – should have been included from the box at this sort of price.
Score in detail