Almost two years ago, Pioneer introduced its monstrous new flagship receiver, the Susano, and while it was very well received many people baulked at its 10 grand price tag. So then, we were quite excited to hear of the new "Son of Susano", a step-down model priced at the much more affordable AU$3699. It may miss the Susano's full-colour screen and even-more-towering size, but as we found, this is still an outstanding piece of equipment.
The Pioneer SCLX82 receiver is a mighty black slab., you might say. In fact, it was way too large for our equipment rack with a standing height of 200mm — most receivers top out at around 180mm.
The design is a familiar one with a large LED display, two knobs for volume and source selection respectively and a drop-down door enabling access to further functions such as a USB port and menu buttons.
The remote is neat and looks straightforward, though some buttons have three or four functions, which means the real estate around them can get cluttered with text. It's also partially backlit, though not the source keys unfortunately.
The SCLX82 is a 7.1 receiver which rocks a high 140 Watts per channel output. The Pioneer is ostensibly an audio receiver and not video focussed, so while you do switching and analog upscaling to 1080p it s definitely not the aim of this receiver. The SCLX82's audiophile roots show through in its inclusion of high-grade audio components including both Wolfson and Burr-Brown DACs.
Pioneer has had a long-running relationship with George Martin's AIR studios and as a result the SCLX82 has been tuned in to the company's facilities — further strengthening the audio heritage of the receiver.
The SCLX82 uses a "full-colour" Graphic User Interface (GUI) but it's not the most attractive around. It features a brushed metal look but doesn't use the full screen real estate. It's functional but nowhere near as friendly as Sony's Xross Media Bar.
Like many competitors, the Pioneer shows a high degree of connectivity, with an Ethernet port allowing access to a wealth of content including DLNA streaming from your network via Home Media Gallery and internet radio.
The Pioneer supports all nature of formats with the standouts being DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD and even FLAC — via Ethernet only. However, support for "software" formats like FLAC and MP3 seems a little piecemeal, as if different people on non-speaking terms were responsible for the USB section and the Home Media Gallery respectively. For starters, the use of the word "Gallery" is a misnomer — you can't view either photos or movies with it — it's music playback only. The receiver will also support image files but strangely only via the USB slot. Streaming video isn't supported at all.
Like thewe reviewed some time ago, the SCLX82 features iPod connectivity, this time via the front-mounted USB port. The Pioneer also features a digital link between the iPod and the receiver, which means the SCLX82 uses its Wolfson DAC to replay your music instead of the inferior converter on your iPod. Win! The company includes an iPod cable that also incorporates a separate video connector, but seeing as it's plugged in the front it looks a little untidy as the white casing clashes with the austere piano-black finish of the receiver.