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Review and Measurements of Pioneer VSX-LX303 AVR

invaderzim

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#41
...I wonder how those old, retired Japanese Pioneer audio engineers feel when they see poor performing gear bearing their proud company name?
Probably a bit like I do every time my boss replies to one of my complaints about something being bad for customers with a sentence that starts with "people don't care about..."
 

Tircuit

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#43
If you can be without it for awhile, I encourage you do send it in.

These AV products seem more underwhelming than I expected. I tested best I could an earlier Marantz pre/pro which wasn't terrible, but not really befitting its original price. I tested an Emotiva pre/pro which was basically a broken design. But you couldn't say it didn't meet spec because Emotiva doesn't publicly disclose any specs for the device. Indicating they knew how it performed in my mind. Maybe Yamaha is an honest company in the AV world. I'd like to find someone who is. I have a 15 year old mid level Harmon Kardon which basically equals these very expensive Marantz bits of gear, and beats this under-performing Pioneer Elite. But it doesn't have all the new formats and features. At one time Pioneer Elite gear was really very good. Now they are hoping you'll buy the name before realizing it is name only these days.

Thank you Amir for a site like this. It is so badly needed.
I just took a peek inside the Yamaha and it looks almost identical. Similar board layout, transformer, and, disappointingly, the same flimsy heatsinks. It still might measure better, who knows, but it is 7.2, so not really comparable to the one under review.

It replaced a monster Yamaha RXV-870, which iirc was their second from the top AVR when it came out. Weighs 3X as much and the custom transformer is massive. I really only replaced to get the HDMI connections. I guess you need to spend 4 figures to get anything close to this quality now.
 

amirm

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#44
I just took a peek inside the Yamaha and it looks almost identical. Similar board layout, transformer, and, disappointingly, the same flimsy heatsinks.
I found a Sony AVR with identical heatsinks. I wonder if they are all buying these amps from the same company. Alternatively someone is making all the guts of these AVRs and these companies are just putting their UI and room EQ on them.
 

Blumlein 88

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#45
I found a Sony AVR with identical heatsinks. I wonder if they are all buying these amps from the same company. Alternatively someone is making all the guts of these AVRs and these companies are just putting their UI and room EQ on them.
Seems fairly possible. Not very good news if true. Might mean getting a stellar AVR or pre/pro is not really possible.
 

amirm

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#46
Here is the Sony:

1557642330989.png


It has Sony caps so maybe the board is not generic. But they sure all have fallen in love with these heatsinks due to weight or cost.
 

peng

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#47
DAC Audio Measurements
There is no line output so I resorted to using Zone 2 output to test the DAC.
First of all, I just registered and would like to thank you for including measurements in your reviews. I have been scanning some AVR service manuals that are available online and noticed that the recent year models typically use a separate DAC for zone 2, 3 and sometimes USB and network also.

Then you most likely tested the lower grade DAC that is typically used in the secondary zones. According to Pioneer, the DACs are:
384 kHz/32-bit D/A Conversion with AK4458 (AKM) & PCM5101 (TI)

The AKM DAC (main zone) is 15 dB better in THD+N and 9 dB better in DR/SNR on paper. It would great to see you measure at the pre out of some D&M and Yamaha AVRs.
 

amirm

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#48
Good point. I meant to note that in the review but forgot. Regardless, I don't think it makes a difference as the PCM5101 is rated at 91 dB THD+N and we are seeing just 74 dB in this AVR. So the analog stage is adding tons of distortion well above what the DAC does.
 
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#49
Thank you @amirm for these measurements, found this forum recently and it is incredibly enlightening.

In regards to AVR measurements here, I would guess most people are using the HDMI inputs/speaker outputs combination (aside from Stereo Direct modes) in their setups; would be cool to see measurements not using the internal ADC converter, and not using the Zone 2 out, as I would speculate with cost-cutting at its max only the most used signal path might see decent results.

Maybe there are reasons not to measure this path (HDMI/SPDIF/Lossless Built-in Streams->Speaker outputs) I am missing?
 

amirm

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#51
Thank you @amirm for these measurements, found this forum recently and it is incredibly enlightening.

In regards to AVR measurements here, I would guess most people are using the HDMI inputs/speaker outputs combination (aside from Stereo Direct modes) in their setups; would be cool to see measurements not using the internal ADC converter, and not using the Zone 2 out, as I would speculate with cost-cutting at its max only the most used signal path might see decent results.

Maybe there are reasons not to measure this path (HDMI/SPDIF/Lossless Built-in Streams->Speaker outputs) I am missing?
Oh, no disagreement at all with respect to the need to measure HDMI. The issue is one of test fixture. My Audio Precision analyzer needs to see an ASIO interface for any audio device to control it. In this case, for some reason the HDMI audio from Nvidia card I have never shows up in the list of devices to select in ASIO4ALL wrapper I use. That puts me out of commission almost completely. I can do manual testing but it is more tedious and I can only test a few things.

There is also some hassle factor. I have to disconnect my monitor and route the output of the graphics card to the AVR and then back to my monitor. So laziness sets in and I skip the test. :)

Finally, once there is a major weakness in a product, I lose interest to exhaustively test the rest of the feature.

FYI, I returned this unit to Amazon.
 
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#52
Oh, no disagreement at all with respect to the need to measure HDMI. The issue is one of test fixture. My Audio Precision analyzer needs to see an ASIO interface for any audio device to control it. In this case, for some reason the HDMI audio from Nvidia card I have never shows up in the list of devices to select in ASIO4ALL wrapper I use. That puts me out of commission almost completely. I can do manual testing but it is more tedious and I can only test a few things.
Ah ok, I was going to suggest FlexASIO but I did a quick search and seems you've already tried this.

Finally, once there is a major weakness in a product, I lose interest to exhaustively test the rest of the feature.
Understandable. Just read the Marantz engineer's replies to the slow filter as well, disappointing. I'm considering buying a Denon X3500H but if it has the same strange design choices then I'm back to not knowing what to get, although for dual-sub bass-management it's potentially still a bargain. I wish there was a sort of open-source AVR where one could just tweak and update things without having to buy new metal.

In any case, with or without the HDMI testing, these reviews are quite revealing.
 

Bill S

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#53
I just bought the VSX-LX303 and it appears the heat sinks at the front end are noticibly thicker guage metal than what the photo above is showing. Maybe it's been upgraded. So far my receiver performance is great, but in an abundance of caution and after reading this review, I bought an AC Infinity rear exhaust fan to keep the receiver cool at higher volumes in my cabinet. So far, I am enjoying this receiver.
 

Bill S

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#55
Do you mind posting a picture of the heatsink?
Sorry but it's inside my a/v cabinet with all my connections and an exhaust fan on top of it. Too much to move to get a photo. You may want to see if one of your subscribers has a newer unit.
 
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#58
I just took a peek inside the Yamaha and it looks almost identical. Similar board layout, transformer, and, disappointingly, the same flimsy heatsinks. It still might measure better, who knows, but it is 7.2, so not really comparable to the one under review.

It replaced a monster Yamaha RXV-870, which iirc was their second from the top AVR when it came out. Weighs 3X as much and the custom transformer is massive. I really only replaced to get the HDMI connections. I guess you need to spend 4 figures to get anything close to this quality now.
the Yamaha has very low pre out volatage. Thus, it may not drive a ext amp to full power. This was described by audioholics review. I also dont know which avr to recommend..
 

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