Review: Pioneer SC-LX59 AV Receiver
The VSX-930 we recently reviewed turned out to be a very capable receiver for its price point, but it did leave me wondering how one of Pioneer’s higher end receivers would sound in my home theatre.
Pioneer offers a range of nine different AVR’s, from the entry level VSX-530 to its flagship SC-LX89, with the SC-LX59 (RRP $3,299) we review here, sitting two rungs below its top level SC-LX89. In addition to supporting Ultra HD video through its 4K/60fps HDMI 2.0 inputs, Dolby Atmos decoding is also included. The SC-LX59 is ‘DTS X’ ready, with the new audio format becoming available via a future software update (currently slated for February 2016). Much like Dolby Atmos, DTS X is an ‘object based’ surround sound format, with provision for overhead/ceiling speakers.
What’s in the box?
The SC-LX59 is housed in an aluminium chassis and available in either both black or silver. The front of the unit is finished in brushed metal, with input/volume dials located to either side of the LED display. All of the buttons and front panel inputs (with the exception of the power button) are located behind a large pull-down flap. With excellent build quality and attention to detail, it’s immediately obvious that the SC-LX59 is a quality unit. My only reservation, personal preference of course, the silver ring around the input/volume dials.
The rear of the receiver provides 7 HDMI inputs (six of which are assignable, the last for HDMI/MHL). Ultra HD pass through is supported (HDCP 2.2) and the SC-LX59 can scale 1080p to Ultra HD. Legacy connections are not ignored with assignable coaxial and optical inputs, as well as component and composite inputs. The SC-LX59 offers 11.2 channel pre-outs (should you wish to use external amplification) and connections for two (independent) subwoofers. Network connection can be accomplished either by ethernet cable, or wirelessly.
The remote control provided with the SC-LX59 is identical to the remote that came with the VSX-930. Although quite functional and easy enough to navigate, the remote buttons are a little on the small side - I would have preferred something more substantial at this price point. The box also includes a CD-ROM (with full user manual), microphone for MCACC setup (Pioneer’s automated speaker setup) and quick start guide.
As with the VSX-930, there are a number of ways to complete setup of the SC-LX59. The quick start guide contains instructions on how to setup the receiver with a networked laptop or PC. With this method, you will be guided through the setup procedure with on screen instructions, covering everything from speaker connection, connecting source components (bluray players etc.) and input configuration. If you would prefer to use your smartphone or tablet, the Pioneer Startup Navi app (available for both Android and Apple devices), will guide you through the setup procedure.
The SC-LX59 has a total of 11 rows of speaker binding posts (22 in total). With this number of binding posts, Pioneer has opted for opted for top/bottom (red above black) placement of the binding posts, rather than a single row. This means you’ve got less space to work with when connecting speaker cables, so it’s important to make sure everything’s nice and neat and there’s no exposed wires touching each other, or the chassis.
The setup menu of the SC-LX59 is divided into three categories Network, MCACC and Setup. I did experience a little lag from time to time in the setup menu and it froze on two occasions, but this was fixed by exiting and re-entering the menu (it’s common to encounter small glitches like this with new technology and I imagine it will be remedied with an update).
I opted to use a network connected laptop to setup the SC-LX59, which guided me through every aspect of setup, including calibration. Pioneer’s MCACC software is able to detect the type of speakers in use (small/large), set channel levels, crossovers and apply room correction. I mounted the calibration microphone on a tripod, placed at listening height in my primary listening position. Connecting the microphone to the SC-LX59 automatically brought up the MCACC menu and the onscreen instructions guided me through the calibration process. The calibration took a little over five minutes to complete and I confirmed that channel levels and speaker distances were set correctly with a sound pressure level meter.
While it’s common for receivers to provide dual subwoofer outputs, this is often accomplished by using an internal ‘Y’ adapter, particularly in the case of entry level receivers. This results in both subwoofers being fed an identical single and being calibrated as a ‘single entity’ which in turn results in less than optimal performance. This is not the case with the SC-LX59, which calibrates each subwoofer independently.
As the owner of Adelaide based ‘Clarity Audio & Video Calibration’, Tony is a certified ISF Calibrator. Tony is an accomplished Audio-Visual reviewer specialising in theatre and visual products.