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Pioneer SC-LX85 AV receiver

Pioneer SC-LX85 9.2 AV receiver with AirPlay

An amp for all seasons

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Network streaming has fast become an integral component of the modern AVR. So naturally, the SC-LX85’s H.M.G (Home Media Gallery) can stream MP3, WMA, WAV, AAC, FLAC and Ogg from PC or LAN; it also displays album art when available. However, compatibility isn’t as comprehensive from USB. FLAC, Ogg and AAC files all fail to play from a stick.

Pioneer SC-LX85 AV receiver

No skimping on remote functionality



There are no caveats about the receiver’s audio performance though. The LC-LX85 is ripped like a Spartan. Beneath the lid you’ll find nine channels of audiophile grade ICEpower Energy HD digital amplification, each rated at 190W (into 6Ω).

Thankfully, pointing all this power in the right direction isn’t too difficult, due to Pioneer’s MCACC room calibration tool. This correctly placed all the speakers in my listening room in terms of size and distance, and exhibited no phase errors. You can even view the results on Pioneer's free iControlAV2 app for iOS and Android devices.

All the requisite sound decoding formats are on hand, plus height and width indulgences for DTS Neo X and Dolby Pro-Logic IIz. Recognizing that few can accommodate this beast in full nine channel mode, you can also elect to run it multi-room. A variety of channel assignment patterns are available, including 5.1 in one location with two sets of stereo feeds going elsewhere.

Pioneer SC-LX85 AV receiver

Tired of two-channels? Perhaps its time for a multichannel makeover

As a movie machine, the SC-LX85 delivers in spades. To ensure both sweetness and visceral cinematics, the AVR has been tuned by engineers from AIR Studios and certified Ultra 2 Plus by THX. Huge dynamics crack with whip-like precision, while action effects are panned with ease. The receiver delivers scale without distortion.

The SC-LX85 is not just about box-office thunder; it also sounds wonderful with multi-channel music. The skittish percussion and rhythmic chanting which opens Symphonic Suite Akira (Victor Entertainment, Japanese import), a 96kHz/24-bit 4.1 DVD-Audio recording of the iconic anime score, is made all the more extraordinary by the surgical precision of the SC-LX83’s delivery.

Verdict

RH Recommended Medal

Beautifully engineered and lavishly equipped, Pioneer’s SC-LX85 is a lust-worthy new member of the AV elite. I suspect niceties such as AirPlay and network streaming will have long time enthusiasts pondering an upgrade, while it’s audio performance might even tempt two-channel audiophiles. I’d rate the likelihood of a better sounding AV receiver being released this year as slim to none. ®

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90%
Pioneer SC-LX85 AV receiver

Pioneer SC-LX85 9.2 AV receiver with AirPlay

Lavishly appointed 9.2 channel AV receiver with Apple AirPlay.
Price: £2000 RRP

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