Pioneer SC-LX85 AV Receiver review: Pioneer SC-LX85 AV Receiver

Review Sections

Video

The receiver has very classy video processing, including excellent upscaling and progressive scan conversion for all sources. You can even exercise manual control over the progressive scan processes involved via the "Video Parameter" key on the remote.

This key does not invoke an on-screen menu, though. Nor does the Audio Parameter key. You make those adjustments while paying attention to the front panel of the unit. The "Home Menu" screen gives you access to an on-screen display with more fundamental settings, but this simply replaces whatever video was showing, rather than overlaying it. All this is a bit disjointed and primitive. It isn't really a problem, but it might take a while longer to learn how to take full control of the unit, compared to receivers with better-integrated control systems.

iOS devices

Your iPod/iPhone/iPad will work very nicely with this unit. It comes with a USB/composite video cable designed for iPods. Using this, the unit can play its contents, and show video from those supporting it (albeit with the limitations of such low-resolution content).

However, if you have a network-aware device, then Apple AirPlay is the way to go. This push system allows you to take control of the receiver from, say, your iPhone, and make it play the music that you want (again, switch off that "Restorer" process).

That's probably the best way to access such content, because Pioneer provides no way of navigating rapidly through the long lists with which new media formats are usually encumbered. It took a considerable time to scroll through the DLNA listing of 441 albums that are held on our computer, and through the very long lists of internet radio stations supplied by vTuner, and, indeed, through iPod menus for a physically connected device.

The unit is said to support FLAC, but only via DLNA; not from USB, which seems strange. What is supported from USB are JPEG photos, with are displayed at the same dreadfully poor-quality levels as on the Marantz and Denon receivers. Did all three companies get their JPEG renderers from the same source? Aspect ratio wrong? Check. Jaggies showing regardless of output resolution? Check.

Overall

But, again, we must stress that such features as photo display aren't what a home-theatre receiver is all about. For core functionality, the Pioneer SC-LX85 is a powerful, effective brute of a receiver. The iOS app to control it is also particularly nice.

If it could navigate through lists of content in a reasonably effective way and provide FLAC over USB, it would also be among the best for new media.

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