Techradar: Back in 2008, Pioneer launched the SC-LX81 and we liked it. We liked it so much, in fact, it won awards and everything. It used ICEpower Class D amplification developed by B&O and it was the best-sounding implementation of the technology we had heard. It scooped all the Oscars for style and was festooned with must-have widgets, too.
A year later came the equally good and stylish SC-LX82, but by this time the peer group had caught up in sound quality and surpassed it on sheer features. ‘Righty-ho’, said Pioneer’s engineer’s (albeit in Japanese), ‘prepare to be blown away by 2010′s SC-LX83.’
Out with the black
At just shy of £2K, the SC-LX83 is not cheap, but you know you have bought something special. It is a huge, superbly appointed box, and is still the most alluring AV beast on the market, even if its once piano black fascia is now a more conservative brushed satin.
The core power amplifiers remain unchanged, being the same Direct Energy HD ICEpower devices as its forebear. This is no bad thing, as Pioneer’s implementation of them not only sounds great, but also claims to use a frugal amount of electricity – about a third of traditional Class A/B amps, in fact.
The brand’s PQLS anti-jitter system has been further advanced and now works on bitstream signals, as well as LPCM multichannel and plain old, standard stereo PCM. With a compatible PQLS Pioneer Blu-ray disc-spinner, digital jitter over the HDMI interface is all but eliminated, resulting in a cleaner and more accurate audio transfer from player to amp.
Add to this a new suite of 32-bit DACs prior to amplification and the LX83 has all the potential to be a sonic diva with high-resolution material. Even if you are listening to compressed formats such as MP3, WMA, A2DP transfer Bluetooth audio or even old school, DVD-based Dolby Digital or DTS (ah, how passé…), Pioneer’s latest Sound Retriever Air system is on hand to rekindle some depth and vibrancy to the sound.
And it comes as no surprise that this baby offers the full gamut of HD-audio decoding, 3D-compatible V1.4a HDMI connections and upscaling of any video to 1080p. Interestingly, it remains a stoically seven-channel amplifier, even though it features Dolby ProLogic IIz decoding for front height channels.
Instead, the rear-back output can now be assigned to front height duty, and there is a 9.1 channel line-level output suite should you fancy going for the full complement of rear-back and height channels.
Like its forbears, this is a top-spec THX Ultra2 Plus certified machine, complete with all the associated post-processing suites, and is fine tuned by Air Studios. But this receiver really excels on its controls and connections.
Yeah, everyone does Ethernet and USB networking, but the LX83 adds a fully A2DP-compliant Bluetooth dongle for wireless music streaming and control. Pioneer’s genuinely revolutionary iPhone/iPod/iPad iControlAV App will also operate the bulk of this receiver’s day-to-day functions. Moreover, it does so with a grace and animated style that makes traditional remote controls look like objects for the Antiques Roadshow.
The iControl AV software is inspired and allows your i-whatever to speak to the LX83 either directly over the Bluetooth dongle, or via your Wi-Fi router and hardwired Ethernet to the amplifier. Either way, it works seamlessly, offering genuine two-way communication, has informative videos and is simply the coolest thing in AV since Ice Age 3.