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Pioneer VSX-LX505 (with Dirac) Unboxing and Overview

greenpsycho

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Hey all,



I recently picked up a Pioneer Elite VSX LX 505 and wanted to share some impressions and a half baked video review for you. I haven’t seen much media on these new Pioneer/Onkyo devices with Dirac, as they are pretty new and pretty hard to find. This unit will be making its way to Amir come 2022 for measurements, but until then, feel free to post any questions and I’ll try my best.

Below are some quick pros and cons for me personally. Obviously feature set will vary person to person, so you’ll have to determine this for yourself. Most of the “pro’s” are stuff I’ve found different from my XMC-1. I know I’ve taken for granted how quick switching inputs could/should be, and how CEC and eARC should just work (but often times, never did on my XMC-1)



Over the course of a weekend I pulled together some rando videos and TRIED (but failed) to make a congruent video showing off some of the stuff I thought was important. This video…is not good, and the quality is all over the place, but I’m trying to squeeze into these 15 minute intervals I have while wrangling a baby. Anyways, I hope maybe it will help at least someone. You don’t have to watch it, its cool.




Pros

-CEC is great. I can turn on the receiver and my TV all thru my nvidia Shield remote. Volume and power across the board just work. I can’t emphasize how important this is in a household where others just need something to work properly and can’t be fussing around with 3 different remotes

-video quality looked really different (and I didn’t have upscaling turned on). It seemed higher resolution/sharper a bit, but the colors just seemed wider and deeper. Same HDMI cables. I had the 4k hdmi upgrade board on the XMC-1, so it should be doing all the same color/resolution stuff, but the Pioneer looks so much better.

-can do almost everything with Dirac in the app and using the built in mic. Advanced users can use a calibrated mic and use Dirac 3 on a laptop for greater control.

-really good amount of hdmi 2.1 inputs (first 3 are full bandwidth for 8k60)

-firmware update thru app via network connection (didn’t brick, didn’t have to plug in a usb stick. Again, this SHOULD be the norm….but I had an XMC-1)

-Nice OSD

-If you do the Dirac using the included mic and the Pioneer app, you can do a 3 measurement “quick” adjustment (great for us busy dads). ALSO: in both the mobile app and the desktop Dirac software, you can choose which nodes you want to measure. Again, this should be standard, but in Dirac v2, you had to do the whole shebang and you couldn’t choose which nodes you wanted to measure in your preferred order.





Cons

-
no USB type B input on back for digital input/dsd DoP (only plays usb storage devices)

-one coax/one optical

-analog video inputs for….reasons?

-absolute garbage speaker terminals

-music server will play DSD and hi bitrate but only thru a music server? Nothing seems addressable in Roon via LAN (aside from chromecast endpoint)

-has a phono input, but unclear documentation anywhere as to if its MM/MC, and no adjustability. Its buried in the specs at the end of the manual, but it seems to be an afterthought.

-The Dirac setup via the mobile app is finicky. It wanted me to up the gain on my subs during the volume calibration portion, but when it took measurements, it couldn’t proceed and asked me to turn them down again.

-Its not clear where MCACC ends and Dirac begins. I did an initial MCACC setup, which added delay and level adjustments to my speakers. But this seemed to have carried over and effected the Dirac calibration process. I ended up resetting it and proceeded with Dirac and it was fine

-No real separation of the dual sub outputs. In level adjustments and Dirac, it just appears as one, so even though I’m using both, its juts a 3.1 setup to the unit

-They seem to be really pushing the MCACC. Its labeled as the default room correction, and it seems to make you complete the MCACC calibration first before the Dirac (which seemingly caused some confusion on my unit). They also label Dirac for “advanced users” which seems misleading as Dirac is fairly simple to use and much much better than pretty much anything else out there

-The stock mic can be used for Dirac, but I have no doubt it’s a substandard mic and it got confused by low frequencies which causes me to have to redo the Dirac setup a bunch of times. The standalone process with Dirac on a laptop and UMIK worked flawlessly the very first time







Overall, I’m pretty impressed with the unit and just how seamlessly everything seems to work. As I mentioned, I was coming from an Emotiva XMC-1 and while I may still upgrade that unit to an XMC-2, I really just need something that is a bit more simple, a bit less “half baked” and integrates into my home theater. While the Emo unit may be a bit more “tuner friendly” (ie lots of stuff you can tweak/adjust/etc), the OSD was garbage, the switching was a frickin’ nightmare (super super slow), and frankly, the measurements for the Emotiva pre/pro units on this site just haven’t shown to be worth the upcharge over the venerable Denon’s (and hopefully this unit).



https://jp.pioneer-audiovisual.com/manual/vsxlx505elite/en.pdf
 

abdo123

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Thank you for the thorough description and review.

It’s a pity about the subwoofer output, and idk why they would keep the old room correction system.
 

dlaloum

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The Pioneers keep MACC - and the Onkyo and Integra cousins, have the rebranded MACC, labeled "AccuEQ"...

It is the default room EQ across the entire range (all three brands) - with the flagship models, additionally receiving DIRAC - with its licencing costs.

So anyone familiar with the base models, can set up the flagship models as well, using the familiar process and interface.... but there is also the more complex DIRAC alternative as an option.
 

gmoney

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I use it's little brother the VSX-LX305 and never even bothered with the native room calibration and skipped straight to Dirac. Had no idea you're suppose to use both.

Mine has a pretty annoying hum from the rear of the unit (transformer hum?) that is audible from my listening position in a small room with no music playing. It's kind of driving me crazy.
 

valerianf

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Thank you for the review.
How is the sound quality of the LX 505 for music?
 
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greenpsycho

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skipped straight to Dirac. Had no idea you're suppose to use both.

Mine has a pretty annoying hum from the rear of the unit (transformer hum?) that is audible from my listening position in a small room with no music playing. It's kind of driving me crazy.

I don't THINK I was supposed to use both? But when I plugged in the mic it kinda led me in that direction. I honestly have no idea, I vaguely remember when the xmc1 first came out, you had to configure your speakers and make sure the levels were about the same in the unit and THEN do the dirac stuff, but there isn't a whole lot of documentation as to the mcacc/dirac interplay. If someone can figure it out, I'd love to know.

As for the hum....hmmm. Only thing I can think of is the IEC plug was ungrounded (ie it only had 2 holes on the receiver end, which I thought was weird). I would make sure to use that cable, and if so, maybe return it. Sounds like something might be up.
 

temps

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The one thing MCACC does that Dirac doesn't is auto-set speaker distances. My ancient Pioneer did it with quite a bit of precision, too.
 

JBH129

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Is it correct that these AVRs have a universal crossover rather than individual crossovers?
 
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greenpsycho

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Is it correct that these AVRs have a universal crossover rather than individual crossovers?
I actually think it's worse than that. You can specify large or small for your speakers and then there seems to be a whole system crossover that's either 50, 80 or 100 Hertz. You have very little control over everything.

Overall, I'm just not a fan of listening to music on this system. I can't seem to figure out how to get it to play through my 2.1 channels without expanding to my center.
 
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greenpsycho

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Okay I got things working a little bit better now. I don't quite understand how the system is setting up all these trim adjustments and they seem to appear differently on each input. So I have to check every single one and make sure my subwoofer isnt clocked down -8 DB. I will also add that while I wish I could play to the device via roon without having to go through Chromecast( for higher res and DSD formats) the integration via Chromecast so seamless. In terms of how the volume, the various remotes, and the Google home devices work, I'm definitely going to keep it as is. I feel like in the past 4 days ive listened to four times the amount of music that I've listened to in the past 4 months. It's just so easy
 

Flak

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The one thing MCACC does that Dirac doesn't is auto-set speaker distances. My ancient Pioneer did it with quite a bit of precision, too.
Dirac Live does auto-set speaker distances... worth noting that it sets the acoustical distances as the physical distances are usually incorrect with modern subwoofers as they often have DSPs that introduce a time delay
 

abdo123

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Dirac Live does auto-set speaker distances... worth noting that it sets the acoustical distances as the physical distances are usually incorrect with modern subwoofers as they often have DSPs that introduce a time delay
Are there any plans of getting Dirac live bass control accessible to the average consumer?

Either with the standalone client or as an add-on premium on more affordable receivers?
 

Flak

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Are there any plans of getting Dirac live bass control accessible to the average consumer?

Either with the standalone client or as an add-on premium on more affordable receivers?
There are rumors here:
 

abdo123

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There are rumors here:
I know we're a small fish to even consider frying but i really hope this feature ends up on more humble receivers or on the standalone windows client.

I can't in good conscious buy a receiver with 12 channels only to use 3 of them.
 

Flak

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I know we're a small fish to even consider frying but i really hope this feature ends up on more humble receivers or on the standalone windows client.

I can't in good conscious buy a receiver with 12 channels only to use 3 of them.
Sure... it may take time but I expect that it will happen :)
Also, the Bass Control option for standalone Windows and Mac is planned but we are busy working on a completely new feature for Dirac Live that will be announced at CES... all I can say is that it addresses a completely different aspect so that it complements Dirac Live and Dirac Bass Control

thumbnail_CES-rocket-rectangle.jpg
 
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feadin

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Overall, I'm just not a fan of listening to music on this system. I can't seem to figure out how to get it to play through my 2.1 channels without expanding to my center.

Hi - first, thanks for the great video! I'm in Canada, so don't have the 505 yet, although planning to get one as soon as it's available in our market.

Regarding this comment about music, have you tried turning 'off' the Center Spread? Check p. 137 of the manual.
 
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greenpsycho

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So I'll admit I don't really understand all the various pioneer settings. But after setting up my system for 3.1 channels that option along with the virtual speaker option and some of the other various sound options are not available to me. So I'm guessing it has to do with different setups?
 

dlaloum

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I believe that the Loudness Management setting is only applicable to Dolby processed streams....?
 
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greenpsycho

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It would appear so, but like why? I've had other pre/pros that have a universal loudness button (Fletcher Munson)
 
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