Inside the subwoofer/receiver is an equally impressive range of audio features, chief among which is its ability to decode Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio soundtracks, allowing you to hook up a Blu-ray or HD DVD deck and enjoy hi-res movie sound. Needless to say it’ll also decode Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS, plus it offers Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS NEO:6 processing for stereo sources.
This DVD/HDD unit features a fairly limited set of connections, including an HDMI port with 720p, 1080i and 1080p video output, two SCARTs (both RGB-enabled, which means you can record in the best-possible quality) and two sets of RF inputs/outputs for the digital and analogue tuners. The front sports two USB ports (one of which is a type B connection for connecting a printer) and a DV input for dubbing camcorder footage in pristine quality.
On the subwoofer you’ll find three HDMI inputs and one output, plus analogue stereo and two optical digital inputs for feeding in external sound sources. The main unit links to the sub with a single system cable, while the colour-coded speaker wires plug directly into the sub. Meanwhile, the display unit, which connects to the subwoofer using two different control cables, features a socket for connecting an iPod dock and a 3.5mm minijack input for other MP3 players.
Because of its many features and unusual design, the LX01 is more complicated to setup and use than your average all-in-one. The whole system is controlled using one universal remote, which features a backlit touchscreen control panel with different layouts for the various functions. It’s bigger, heavier and more complex than most remotes, but its clever layout means you can master it quite quickly.
Configuring the system is made easy by MCACC, an automatic sound calibration mode that sets the channel levels, delay and other parameters using a microphone and series of noises emitted from the speakers. It takes a while to complete but it’s hugely convenient and the results are spot-on. The onscreen menus are up to Pioneer’s usual high standards, and are still among the most logical, intuitive and attractive we’ve encountered.
The system’s sound quality is immense. We tried it out with the 5.1-channel Dolby Digital soundtrack on the ”Armageddon” DVD, and the force and intensity with which it delivers the big action sequences is unbelievable. But amid the crashes and bangs, it displays enough sensitivity to convey dialogue clearly and pick out subtle effects.
The omni-directional aspect of the satellite speakers works extremely well, competently placing dialogue in the hole where a centre speaker would normally be. Surround effects are also sharp, smoothly steered and diffuse beautifully into the room, meaning that all of the channels gel together nicely into one coherent whole. It’s topped off by a rousing performance from the dual-drive subs, which deliver rich and tightly controlled bass that adds beef where needed without compromising the clarity of the other channels.