Price (RRP): $3499
AV receivers often seem to fall into two categories: those that pander to the predilections of the audio-videophile elite, and those that offer all the latest whiz-bang technology and features. Why can’t we get one that does both? One that has that crazy one million plugs on the back, Bluetooth, USB, internet radio and other 21st Century gew-gaws, but also produces incredible sound and audio?
Obviously, the Pioneer SCLX83 is such a beast.
Features? How long do you have for us to go through them? How about we just say this receiver does everything, and highlight a few of the more impressive aspects. Let’s start with connectivity – there are six HDMI inputs (all 1.4 and thus 3D ready) and two HDMI outputs. That means you can rig the SCLX83 to a projector and a TV at the same time and flick between them with the remote, shaving valuable frustrating setup time from your next movie night.
There’s an internet radio receiver, but you’ll need to connect to a router or WiFi bridge via an Ethernet cable. Jumping on the network also allows you to control the SCLX83 via an iPhone app, which is much more elegant than the frankly confusing main remote.
The amp itself is a D-class, using a design Pioneer calls Direct Energy HD ICEpower. In short: superior audio quality and lower power consumption than traditional amps capable of pumping out the SCLX83’s 7 x 190 watts. It’s a 7.1 channel amp on the face of it, but you can add a pre-amp module and turn it into a 9.1 channel, with support for front-height and rear-height speakers as well.
The whole audio-video setup is enough to get the receiver THX Ultra2 Plus certification. You could use this thing to run a cinema in a converted wing of a motel in a country town…
Pretty much anything else you can think of, the SCLX83 has it. Special circuitry for handling compressed audio (called Sound Retriever Air), 1080p upscaling of everything (natch), an optional A2DP compliant Bluetooth module… on and on it goes.
Pioneer’s setup system is called MCACC (Multichannel Acoustic Calibration System – sic) and like many other AV receivers, involves placing a microphone at your preferred seating position. The receiver then configures the speakers for the best acoustic performance in your listening room.
A couple of niceties include the way the SCLX83 can identify certain consumer electronics, automatically labelling its HDMI inputs ‘T-Box’ and ‘PS3’.
There are roughly nine hundred thousand other controls on the remote, but you don’t need to fiddle with any of them to get excellent results out of the box – the default settings are well suited to both film and TV. However, it is good to know you can tweak away to your heart’s content.
For this kind of money, and with these kinds of features, the SCLX83 is hard to beat. Not only will it justify the purchase of a $10,000-plus speaker system, it will even make your $1000 speakers sound better.
Audio is exemplary, with real character and presence, but be warned: if you don’t already have a $10K speaker system, the SCLX83 will sorely tempt you to buy one.
The only nagging feeling we have is that today’s TVs and projectors don’t do this receiver justice. Video is excellent, yes, but it doesn’t eclipse the competition to the same degree that the audio does. But we just don’t think that’s the SCLX83’s fault.
Yes, the remote is about four metres long with a thousand buttons and its own LCD, and you’ll probably only use three or four of those buttons on a regular basis, but that’s where the iPhone remote app comes in. It’s lean and elegant and will enrage your friends because you’ll want to tinker with it for hours instead of just watching the movie.
Why wouldn’t you buy this? If you see yourself as the kind of person who spends five figures or more on core components. Otherwise, the Pioneer SCLX83 is simply the AV receiver to own if you love complex tech of exceptional quality. It’s not for the tone deaf, and it’s wasted on many speakers (though again, it will make them sound as good as they can), but if this is in your price range, mind you don’t get crushed in the inevitable stampede.