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Pioneer HTP-GS1 review: Pioneer HTP-GS1

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The HTP-GS1 uses Pioneer's Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration System (MCACC) system to easily let you calibrate the speakers depending on your room setup; this uses a small provided calibration microphone to adjust the exact position of each speaker for optimal sound. With an eye to the fact that not everybody in your living room may want cables snaking all around the room, the HTP-GS1 also offers a front "virtual" surround sound setting where you stack the rear speakers on top of the front ones. It's very simple to set this up and/or knock it down when you want to return to full surround sound glory.

We tested the HTP-GS1 with a variety of sound inputs, including naturally enough the Xbox 360 itself. Sound quality was generally very clear and certainly loud enough for gaming purposes, although we found that the preset game mode tended to be a touch on the tinny side for our taste. This wasn't a major problem, however, as the other presets handled our gaming needs nicely. We were particularly impressed with the quality of the front surround option, where you stack the rear speakers at the front. It wasn't groundbreaking, and we could pick the difference between it and true surround sound, but as a compromise position to keep cables from becoming tripwires and gaming sessions becoming grounds for divorce, it worked acceptably well.

The HTP-GS1's remote control is in theory meant to work as something of a remote control for your entire home entertainment experience, with the inclusion of the Xbox 360 specific buttons and DVD/TV remote control buttons to boot, although our testing of these was somewhat uneven. On the plus side, the majority of the Xbox 360 controls worked very well, and we were impressed that we could even run some Xbox Live Arcade titles purely through the remote. In fact, we found that Lady Luck tended to smile on us rather more in games of Texas Hold'Em Poker with the remote than with a normal controller, although that's possibly just coincidence.

On the minus side for the remote, although it features an Xbox 360 guide button, it only works in the quick press mode, meaning you can use it to bring up the Xbox 360 guide, but not power down the console itself; you'll still have to have a controller handy, or even worse, get up off the couch to power down the 360 after a hefty session of game playing or DVD watching. Likewise we had middling results with the DVD/TV integration, with a test Acer LCD TV refusing to take any inputs from the HTP-GS1 at all.

There's a specific but probably relatively small market for the HTP-GS1. It does emulate the visual style of the Xbox 360 well, and we had no complaints against its audio reproduction given the asking price. At the same time, you've got to actually want to have a living room with a distinctive Xbox 360 look and feel to it, and outside of, say David McLean (he's the Regional Director for Xbox in Australia and New Zealand), we can't see that many consumers, or the significant others of consumers rushing out to buy one specifically for its looks. The Xbox 360 integration is a neat addition, but at this price point there are plenty of options open to consumers looking for a good home theatre/gaming audio experience.

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