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We like the fact that Blu-ray players have already become remarkably affordable. But we also welcome the fact that some manufacturers, such as Pioneer, clearly believe there should be a premium market for Blu-ray players, as well as a budget one. Pioneer's high-end BDP-LX91 may cost around £1,750, but it's a cracking machine.
The BDP-LX91 towers over your average Blu-ray player like Goliath over David. But, this time, Goliath is going to have a rather more successful day on the field of battle. The BDP-LX91 is also astonishingly heavy and well-built. It's made from solid aluminium.
The BDP-LX91's size isn't just for show, either. It allows space for the separation of the deck's audio and video components -- something that's essential to delivering a truly premium AV performance, as it reduces the potential for cross-interference.
While we're on the subject of internal components, we should also mention that the BDP-LX91 employs ultra-high-spec digital audio converters from the legendary Wolfson stable; Pioneer's proprietary Precision Quartz Lock System for super-precise playback of CDs via the deck's HDMI output; and 14-bit digital-to-analogue converters for both high- and standard-definition video sources.
The BDP-LX91 also caters for pretty much every audio format you could imagine, including the new Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio ultra-high-bandwidth formats. It can play DivX, MP3, WMA and JPEG files too. That's the sort of multimedia capability that you don't always find in high-end AV circles.
The BDP-LX91's connections provide more evidence of its premium nature. It has analogue 7.1 outputs, for lossless analogue delivery of the decoded 7.1-channel HD audio streams now appearing on a growing number of Blu-ray discs. There's also an Ethernet port, which allows you to connect to the Internet and enjoy anyfunctions your discs may offer. The BDP-LX91 also sports a hefty cache of built-in memory, saving you from having to use an external USB drive to store downloadable BD-Live features.
Wrapping up the BDP-LX91's premium credentials are high-quality upscaling of DVDs to 1080p; a surprisingly flexible degree of video output adjustment; 48-bit 'Deep Colour' output; and Pioneer's ever-dependable 'PureCinema Progressive Scan' circuitry, which has regularly proven itself to have few, if any, peers when it comes to getting the absolute best motion clarity from any source material.