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Pioneer VSX-LX505 AVR Review

Rate this AVR:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 163 66.0%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 45 18.2%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 34 13.8%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 5 2.0%

  • Total voters
    247

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Pioneer VSX-LX505 ELITE 9.2 Channel AV Receiver. It was kindly drop shipped to me by a member and is a refurbished unit. Normal cost is US $1699.
Pioneer Home Theater AVR VSX-LX505 Surround Atmos 4K HDMI Review.jpg


As you see, the front panel is the same old interface from decade+ back. The on-screen menus though were speedy so perhaps the engine underneath is more modern. Back panel is also a sign of things long past with component and composite video inputs:

Pioneer Home Theater AVR VSX-LX505 Surround Atmos 4K HDMI back panel Review.jpg


I forced a factory reset (came that way anyway) and check for firmware updates. None were available so I trust it is up to date

Attractiveness of this unit is due to availability of Dirac Room EQ as otherwise, the base capability is quite lackluster.

The menus from the unit were unstable on my (computer) monitor. Maybe there is something wrong with my setup but I suspect there is an issue with the AVR. This did not impact the audio performance though.

Testing is focused on Front Right & Left channels -- either through pre-out for DAC performance and speaker terminals for amplifier.

Peering inside, the heatsink is extruded which is good although the fins are quite thin. There is a fan on top which never came on. If it did, it would mostly cool the center of the unit rather than the amplifiers on either side of it. Likely there to pass regulatory tests.

Pioneer VSX_LX505 DAC Measurements
For this test, I feed the AVR either HDMI or Toslink digital input and measure the output using "PRE OUR" RCA terminals. I worked to optimize the pipeline to remove the effect of internal processing and adjusted the volume control to get 2 volts nominal out. This required setting the volume control to +2 dB.

Pioneer Home Theater AVR VSX-LX505 Surround Atmos 4K HDMI Measurements.png


This is reasonable performance for an AVR:

Best Home Theater AVR Review 2023.png


I also tested Toslink which produced same performance although with less spurious tones:

Pioneer Home Theater AVR VSX-LX505 Surround Atmos 4K Toslink Measurements.png


I continued testing Toslink (except for Multitone) as it avoids the issue of downmixing with multichannel HDMI in my setup. In case you are wondering about the performance at different output levels, here they are:

Pioneer Home Theater AVR VSX-LX505 Surround Atmos 4K Toslink THD+N vs Level Measurements.png


I was positively impressed by lack of clipping here that we routinely see in other AVRs that do NOT have an option to turn off the amplifiers. Turns out this comes at a cost of another major subsystem. See the amplifier tests later.

Here is our SNR:
Pioneer Home Theater AVR VSX-LX505 Surround Atmos 4K Toslink DNR Measurements.png


IMD test shows good levels of distortion but by 2-channel stereo systems, we have fair bit to go as far as noise floor:

Pioneer Home Theater AVR VSX-LX505 Surround Atmos 4K Toslink IMD Measurements.psd.png


Multitone test shows the low levels of distortion again:
Pioneer Home Theater AVR VSX-LX505 Surround Atmos 4K HDMI Multitone Measurements.png


Linearity is again, good for an AVR:
Pioneer Home Theater AVR VSX-LX505 Surround Atmos 4K Toslink Linearity Measurements.png


Jitter performance was poor for either digital input but for different reasons:

Pioneer Home Theater AVR VSX-LX505 Surround Atmos 4K Jitter Measurements.png


DAC reconstruction filter shows lackluster attenuation of out of band noise:
Pioneer Home Theater AVR VSX-LX505 Surround Atmos 4K Toslink DAC Filter Measurements.png


Frequency response is good enough though:

Pioneer Home Theater AVR VSX-LX505 Surround Atmos 4K Toslink Frequency Response Measurements.png


Overall not a bad showing for an AVR as far as its DAC is concerned.

Pioneer VSX-LX505 Amplifier Measurements
First in testing the amplifier is whether the analog and digital inputs perform the same. If the DAC is much better than the amplifier, then they should be the same and that is what we see here:

Pioneer Home Theater AVR VSX-LX505 Surround Atmos 4K Toslink Measurements.png


Pioneer Home Theater AVR VSX-LX505 Surround Atmos 4K Analog Amplifier Measurements.png


This makes testing easier as I can compare the results to other external amplifiers we have tested. Here is how the SINAD compares to other AVR amplifiers:

Best home theater amplifier review AVR 2023.png


So rather weak and inline with other Pioneers I have tested.

Frequency response in Pure Direct is nice and wide:
Pioneer Home Theater AVR VSX-LX505 Surround Atmos 4K Analog Frequency Response Amplifier Measu...png


I was disappointed to see the levels drop though when I took it out of Pure mode and subject the pipeline to digitization. Another disappointment was crosstalk:
Pioneer Home Theater AVR VSX-LX505 Surround Atmos 4K Analog Crosstalk Amplifier Measurements.png


Multitone performance lands in the same domain as SINAD:
Pioneer Home Theater AVR VSX-LX505 Surround Atmos 4K Analog Multitone Amplifier Measurements.png


Here is our SNR/dynamic range:

Pioneer Home Theater AVR VSX-LX505 Surround Atmos 4K Analog SNR Amplifier Measurements.png


Turns out the measurement on the right is understated as you see below.

At this point I ran my 8 ohm power sweep and was stomped to see that there was so little power available (red lines):
Pioneer Home Theater AVR VSX-LX505 Surround Atmos 4K Power 8 ohm limiting Measurements.png


The unit is rated at 120 watts and I was just getting 20 watts! No amount of reading the manual and searching showed any kind of "eco mode" that would limit power. After trying many things I remembered the same issue in other Pioneer AVRs such as VSX-LX303. That AVR would limit its output power after 30 seconds or so:
index.php


I repeated the same test, picking 44 watts of output and monitoring the amount of distortion. If the amp pulled back, that would be in clipping region and hence distortion would shoot way up just as above. And that is what it did:

Pioneer Home Theater AVR VSX-LX505 Surround Atmos 4K Analog Power Limiting Amplifier Measureme...png


As we see, it pulls back around the same time. This time the AVR was running pretty cool indicating this limiting is time based, no environment. You only have your maximum power for 35 seconds after which, power is limited until you power cycle the unit!

During my DAC testing, I went past the 35 seconds with volume cranked up causing the amplifier to run in power limiting. This explains why DAC performance was not dragged down with higher output voltages.

Because of this power limiting, I could not run my max and peak power ratings as that test forces the amplifier into clipping back and forth which obviously does not work. But here is the standard sweep:
Pioneer Home Theater AVR VSX-LX505 Surround Atmos 4K Power 4 ohm limiting Measurements.png


This is a total fail in my book. An amplifier rated for 120 watts should be able to produce that dynamically without pulling back by a factor of 5. To have a timer of sort to reduce power is just wrong, especially since no notice is given to the customer either in the unit, or sales material.

Conclusions
The VSX-LX505 produces average performance in DAC department for an AVR. But fails on multiple fronts in amplification. No way should an AVR amplifier have any kind of timer to reduce power. This is the third Pioneer AVR I have tested to do this and is totally unacceptable. I can see this helping them with power dissipation and unit reliability but it better be told to the potential customers. FYI when my own Pioneer AVR did this, I sent a link to the review to the support line of the company and did not receive any response. So I am not hopeful that they care either.

I cannot recommend the Pioneer VSX_LX505 unless you are using it as a processor and find a way to force the unit to go into power limiting.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
Last edited:

Doodooeater

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Thank you so much. I have been a lurker for a year, I own an A07 and pioneer c22 from your reviews.
I want to build a home theater. From my understanding I could use this with external amplification and not run into the pre-outs having any limiting issue?
Being that denon has downgraded I don't want my first large audio purchase to be something so downgraded.
I would plan on getting buckey nc252 amps to pair with this.
Would that work without having to do constant power cycling to maintain full power on the pre outs?
 
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Hart

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Made by Mattel? I think it would be interesting to follow up with the owners who graciously donated their equipment only to see that, in some cases, the unit measures really badly. I had a Carver 1.0m that was heralded in it's day. I was going to send in to be refurbished, and then sent to ASR, but after seeing the Carver tests I sold it. The newer Carver Tube amps are really shockingly bad. The insides of the Carver 275 reminded me of a cheap walkie talkie I had in the 70's. Obviously just a money grab.
 
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testp

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I sent a link to the review to the support line of the company and did not receive any response. So I am not hopeful that they care either.
They better care, this is serious law issues waiting to happen,
customer has not been made aware of the limiting factors of this unit prior (meaning the price was not for half-working product aka -discount),
so customer did not get a product that has been promised for a given price,

all one has to do is file a complaint with the countries consumer rights.., it's their job to protect your rights, put the ball rolling so to speak.. (it's usually good idea to start by contacting reseller first, try to deal with them, see if they aknowledge your problem & what do they suggest)
 

Doodski

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They better care, this is serious law issues waiting to happen,
customer has not been made aware of the limiting factors of this unit prior (meaning the price was not for half-working product aka -discount),
so customer did not get a product that has been promised for a given price,

all one has to do is file a complaint with the countries consumer rights.., it's their job to protect your rights, put the ball rolling so to speak.. (it's usually good idea to start by contacting reseller first, try to deal with them, see if they aknowledge your problem & what do they suggest)
In Canada if I am getting down with it I would fax the CFO of Pioneer Canada and advise that I will be suing in 3 working days if I don't get a refund. It's worked everytime I've made the promise to major corporations... I imagine they would hate hiring a lawyer or sending a representative to the city I file the court file number at so they can attend small claims court.
 

Hart

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In Canada if I am getting down with it I would fax the CFO of Pioneer Canada and advise that I will be suing in 3 working days if I don't get a refund. It's worked everytime I've made the promise to major corporations... I imagine they would hate hiring a lawyer or sending a representative to the city I file the court file number at so they can attend small claims court.
Consumer rights offices get thousands of complaints and they have a very small budget. They won't do anything, especially since they can't test equipment. Class action and as much media coverage as you can muster will show results however.
 
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valerianf

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Onkyo/Pioneer/Integra need to change the way that the output protection works.
Let us hope that higher end Avrs are coming with a better protection unit design!
 

GXAlan

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“Pioneer” was one of the first mainstream AVR companies to adopt Class D. They were first (along with Samsung) with ICEamps in their AVRs.

This is the “new” Pioneer that is pretty much Onkyo, which is really Sharp/VOXX.

“Klipsch” once attempted to bring combine their speakers with high end audio, acquiring Mondial (Aragon/Acurus) but they struggled with the 2008 recession and were acquired by Audiovox.

Indy Audio Labs took over the Aragon and Acurus brands and are still in business, so I assume that are small but profitable.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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If the behavior shown is "thermal throttling", why doesn't the fan come on before it happens? :oops:
As far as I can tell, none of these fans are there to operate during "normal" use. Instead, they are there to pass UL testing for temperature rise where I assume all the channels are driven for good while.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Is the power limiter a real issue under intended use?
I don't know enough to quantify it. On one hand it is limiting after just 35 seconds with 44 watts per channel. This was the same amount of time the LX303 took to shut down. That unit got pretty warm, this one did not. So it seems to be having a time vs power type of logic. If so, you could easily hit this if you play loud for a 30 seconds. And loud is defined as > 20 watts or so.

The big issue here is that it doesn't reset without power cycle.
 

GXAlan

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Is the power limiter a real issue under intended use?

If you are listening at reference level with inefficient speakers in a US sized living room that supports a 75” type TV, for sure.

20 watt limiter;
Assume LS50 speakers, 84.25 db/2.83V


Can pick any number of scenarios.

On the other hand, if you listen at lower volumes or you have efficient speakers, it’s not that bad — that’s why people “get away” with tube amplification.
 

Putter

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I have 2 problems here. First does this 'limiting' only occur at 4 ohms or will any sustained power surge trip this limiter. Second as was pointed out this may be consumer fraud although it's unclear what the receiver is rated for, given the back lists it as suitable for 4 -16 OR 6 - 16 ohm speakers.
 

gvl

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I don't know enough to quantify it. On one hand it is limiting after just 35 seconds with 44 watts per channel. This was the same amount of time the LX303 took to shut down. That unit got pretty warm, this one did not. So it seems to be having a time vs power type of logic. If so, you could easily hit this if you play loud for a 30 seconds. And loud is defined as > 20 watts or so.

The big issue here is that it doesn't reset without power cycle.

The typical sound is not constant level, perhaps every dip below some threshold resets the timer and it’s not really an issue with real audio material and listening levels, even with inefficient speakers? Continuous output above 44W for 35 seconds is not very realistic, but perhaps not impossible.
 

DavidMcRoy

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Pioneer VSX-LX505 ELITE 9.2 Channel AV Receiver. It was kindly drop shipped to me by a member and is a refurbished unit. Normal cost is US $1699.
View attachment 255469

As you see, the front panel is the same old interface from decade+ back. The on-screen menus though were speedy so perhaps the engine underneath is more modern. Back panel is also a sign of things long past with component and composite video inputs:

View attachment 255470

I forced a factory reset (came that way anyway) and check for firmware updates. None were available so I trust it is up to date

Attractiveness of this unit is due to availability of Dirac Room EQ as otherwise, the base capability is quite lackluster.

The menus from the unit were unstable on my (computer) monitor. Maybe there is something wrong with my setup but I suspect there is an issue with the AVR. This did not impact the audio performance though.

Testing is focused on Front Right & Left channels -- either through pre-out for DAC performance and speaker terminals for amplifier.

Peering inside, the heatsink is extruded which is good although the fins are quite thin. There is a fan on top which never came on. If it did, it would mostly cool the center of the unit rather than the amplifiers on either side of it. Likely there to pass regulatory tests.

Pioneer VSX_LX505 DAC Measurements
For this test, I feed the AVR either HDMI or Toslink digital input and measure the output using "PRE OUR" RCA terminals. I worked to optimize the pipeline to remove the effect of internal processing and adjusted the volume control to get 2 volts nominal out. This required setting the volume control to +2 dB.

View attachment 255471

This is reasonable performance for an AVR:

View attachment 255472

I also tested Toslink which produced same performance although with less spurious tones:

View attachment 255473

I continued testing Toslink (except for Multitone) as it avoids the issue of downmixing with multichannel HDMI in my setup. In case you are wondering about the performance at different output levels, here they are:

View attachment 255475

I was positively impressed by lack of clipping here that we routinely see in other AVRs that do NOT have an option to turn off the amplifiers. Turns out this comes at a cost of another major subsystem. See the amplifier tests later.

Here is our SNR:
View attachment 255474

IMD test shows good levels of distortion but by 2-channel stereo systems, we have fair bit to go as far as noise floor:

View attachment 255476

Multitone test shows the low levels of distortion again:
View attachment 255477

Linearity is again, good for an AVR:
View attachment 255478

Jitter performance was poor for either digital input but for different reasons:

View attachment 255479

DAC reconstruction filter shows lackluster attenuation of out of band noise:
View attachment 255480

Frequency response is good enough though:

View attachment 255481

Overall not a bad showing for an AVR as far as its DAC is concerned.

Pioneer VSX-LX505 Amplifier Measurements
First in testing the amplifier is whether the analog and digital inputs perform the same. If the DAC is much better than the amplifier, then they should be the same and that is what we see here:

View attachment 255483

View attachment 255484

This makes testing easier as I can compare the results to other external amplifiers we have tested. Here is how the SINAD compares to other AVR amplifiers:

View attachment 255486

So rather weak and inline with other Pioneers I have tested.

Frequency response in Pure Direct is nice and wide:
View attachment 255487

I was disappointed to see the levels drop though when I took it out of Pure mode and subject the pipeline to digitization. Another disappointment was crosstalk:
View attachment 255488

Multitone performance lands in the same domain as SINAD:
View attachment 255489

Here is our SNR/dynamic range:

View attachment 255490

Turns out the measurement on the right is understated as you see below.

At this point I ran my 4 ohm power sweep and was stomped to see that there was so little power available (red lines):
View attachment 255493

The unit is rated at 120 watts and I was just getting 20 watts! No amount of reading the manual and searching showed any kind of "eco mode" that would limit power. After trying many things I remembered the same issue in other Pioneer AVRs such as VSX-LX303. That AVR would limit its output power after 30 seconds or so:
index.php


I repeated the same test, picking 44 watts of output and monitoring the amount of distortion. If the amp pulled back, that would be in clipping region and hence distortion would shoot way up just as above. And that is what it did:

View attachment 255497

As we see, it pulls back around the same time. This time the AVR was running pretty cool indicating this limiting is time based, no environment. You only have your maximum power for 35 seconds after which, power is limited until you power cycle the unit!

During my DAC testing, I went past the 35 seconds with volume cranked up causing the amplifier to run in power limiting. This explains why DAC performance was not dragged down with higher output voltages.

Because of this power limiting, I could not run my max and peak power ratings as that test forces the amplifier into clipping back and forth which obviously does not work. But here is the standard sweep:
View attachment 255498

This is a total fail in my book. An amplifier rated for 120 watts should be able to produce that dynamically without pulling back by a factor of 5. To have a timer of sort to reduce power is just wrong, especially since no notice is given to the customer either in the unit, or sales material.

Conclusions
The VSX-LX505 produces average performance in DAC department for an AVR. But fails on multiple fronts in amplification. No way should an AVR amplifier have any kind of timer to reduce power. This is the third Pioneer AVR I have tested to do this and is totally unacceptable. I can see this helping them with power dissipation and unit reliability but it better be told to the potential customers. FYI when my own Pioneer AVR did this, I sent a link to the review to the support line of the company and did not receive any response. So I am not hopeful that they care either.

I cannot recommend the Pioneer VSX_LX505 unless you are using it as a processor and find a way to force the unit to go into power limiting.

------------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Appreciate any donations using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
This review sort of hits home since I'm running a similar Pioneer VSX-LX503 as a Dolby Atmos processor, feeding HDMI to it from my Apple TV4K and Sony Bravia 65X90J TV via eARC. I've always been pleased with the sound, having always used a combination of outboard amplifiers and active speakers and subs via the pre-outs. I believe it's circa 2019 and I bought it used for about $300. (I know, crazy.)

There appear to be key differences between the two AVRs, key among them that the 503 lacks DIRAC, but with the 503 supposedly sporting an AK4458 384 KHz/32-bit DAC, so that's a good thing. I've always wondered whether the unloaded built-in power amps were compromising the pre-outs. Hopefully they share the trait of doing no harm like the 505, but who knows? If they do cause issues, I'm blissfully unaware.

Any time I run pink noise through the 503 (to perform independent DSP room correction tests,) via analog, HDMI, Bluetooth or WiFi from my iPad, Apple TV4K or any other source I've tried it'll shut down after a while, which is really aggravating. Not after 35 seconds but after many minutes of operating at moderate levels, used only as a processor with no speaker load on the amplifiers (at about "-20dB" on the Pioneer's front panel display.) I recently added the Dolby Atmos-compatible test app to AudioTools and that app automatically pauses any test signals for a few seconds every so often, and that tricks the Pioneer into staying powered up. I don't "think" the 503 has ever shut down under normal use, but the Sony TV has more mysterious shutdowns with accompanying reboot requirements than any other electronic device I've ever encountered. Sony once apparently sent a firmware update via local over-the-air broadcast TV streams (Portland, OR is heavily into ATSC 3.0 NextGen TV) that crippled any audio between the Sony and the Pioneer until I unplugged both units from the wall and plugged them back in. Fun times. I lay that episode at the feet of Sony.
 
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