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Review and Measurements of Pioneer VSX-LX504 AVR

Sal1950

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#42
Needless to say, I can't recommend Pioneer line of AVRs. Hoping other brands don't have such restrictions.
Thanks Amir for another AVR review, mucho appreciated!
Let me be the devils advocate for a bit here. Just for one example, this is a $1000 AVR that supplies how many channels of DAC, 11 or 12? Our cheapest "recommended" Topping DAC is $100 for just 2 channels. Times all the rest of the functions this complete AVR offers? Then there's the software licenses of things from Dolby/DBX HDMI, etc etc etc. Add to that the fact that these guys go obsolite nearly every year as the newest lastest surround codec's are released and so much more.
I wonder if we're not missing a bit of the big picture with these things. If Joe Sixpack gets 5+ years service from one of these $1K HT boxes before it fails or he's looking for something newer, he's probably got his money worth. Resale value in that time is about zero.
Want a top knoch Pre/Pre? Trinnov's cheaper basic Altitude 16 will only cost you around $17,000
I'm not supporting poor engineering, just trying to calculate in bang for the buck.
Yep, times have changed since the heyday of stereo receivers. But I think I paid right at $600 for my Marantz 2270 with it's walnut case in 1974. In today cash that's damn near $3k, for simple stereo. ;)
 

JJB70

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#43
Thanks Amir for another AVR review, mucho appreciated!
Let me be the devils advocate for a bit here. Just for one example, this is a $1000 AVR that supplies how many channels of DAC, 11 or 12? Our cheapest "recommended" Topping DAC is $100 for just 2 channels. Times all the rest of the functions this complete AVR offers? Then there's the software licenses of things from Dolby/DBX HDMI, etc etc etc. Add to that the fact that these guys go obsolite nearly every year as the newest lastest surround codec's are released and so much more.
I wonder if we're not missing a bit of the big picture with these things. If Joe Sixpack gets 5+ years service from one of these $1K HT boxes before it fails or he's looking for something newer, he's probably got his money worth. Resale value in that time is about zero.
Want a top knoch Pre/Pre? Trinnov's cheaper basic Altitude 16 will only cost you around $17,000
I'm not supporting poor engineering, just trying to calculate in bang for the buck.
Yep, times have changed since the heyday of stereo receivers. But I think I paid right at $600 for my Marantz 2270 with it's walnut case in 1974. In today cash that's damn near $3k, for simple stereo. ;)
Very fair points, if considering that these components are essentially multiple amplifiers plus DAC plus signal processing plus streaming it puts the price into perspective and indicates that it would be remarkable if performance and build quality was anywhere near the same level as a vanilla 2 ch amplifier at the same price point. And these days even the economics have changed. A few years ago AVRs leveraged economies of scale relative to niche 2 ch audio amplifiers but AVR and speaker packages have been squeezed out of the mainstream market by soundbars. I suspect that whatever the measurements indicate that the vast majority of customers buying these AVRs will find the audible performance to be fine. None of which excuses poor design or build but even in 2 ch it seems difficult to find gear built with the same attention to detail and quality as older gear. I have been considering finally replacing my old system and so far no amplifier I have looked at gets near the tactile feel and quality of the old dinosaur I have. On the other hand I also think that there are plenty of cheap amplifiers which sound fine and with a lot more functionality.
 

amirm

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#44
The question is whether there are other AVRs at similar price point without the same compromises. Hopefully we will find one at some point.
 

AudioSceptic

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#47
Basically, once early AV receivers went from 2 channel receivers with additional lower powered surround channels, to 5 channels onboard, the rot set in. By 1991/2, the demand for equal power across the main channels (L/C/R) meant quality fell off again. Then Dolby digital hit and all of a sudden equal power for all channels was a requirement. Receivers of any type and price became utter junk. Not one I've ever seen can do a full power FTC test across all channels without overheating and shutting down or blowing up.

I've got some vintage monster AVRs in my collection, but none of them hold a candle to big 2 channel, 70s receivers, in terms of continuous high power delivery, noise, and behaviour into difficult loads.
Is that a fair comparison? 70s receivers (always more popular in the USA than in the UK but I don't know about Aus) were a combined stereo amp and FM tuner, and that's all. Having both in one box saved a lot of space and there was zero-to-minimal performance hit.

AVRs are something else. They have to include video (first analogue, then digital) and multiple amp channels (initially 5.1, then 7.1 and sometimes 9.1) along with processing to split the channels, and now all sorts of digital processing. Playing stereo music was never the main purpose, and this reflected the shift of the mass market away from music towards video/home cinema.
 

AudioSceptic

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#48
Thanks Amir for another AVR review, mucho appreciated!
Let me be the devils advocate for a bit here. Just for one example, this is a $1000 AVR that supplies how many channels of DAC, 11 or 12? Our cheapest "recommended" Topping DAC is $100 for just 2 channels. Times all the rest of the functions this complete AVR offers? Then there's the software licenses of things from Dolby/DBX HDMI, etc etc etc. Add to that the fact that these guys go obsolite nearly every year as the newest lastest surround codec's are released and so much more.
I wonder if we're not missing a bit of the big picture with these things. If Joe Sixpack gets 5+ years service from one of these $1K HT boxes before it fails or he's looking for something newer, he's probably got his money worth. Resale value in that time is about zero.
Want a top knoch Pre/Pre? Trinnov's cheaper basic Altitude 16 will only cost you around $17,000
I'm not supporting poor engineering, just trying to calculate in bang for the buck.
Yep, times have changed since the heyday of stereo receivers. But I think I paid right at $600 for my Marantz 2270 with it's walnut case in 1974. In today cash that's damn near $3k, for simple stereo. ;)
Exactly. This is what I was trying to say earlier. Comparing this with dedicated stereo receivers which cost far more in real terms makes little sense.
 
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#49
Basically, once early AV receivers went from 2 channel receivers with additional lower powered surround channels, to 5 channels onboard, the rot set in. By 1991/2, the demand for equal power across the main channels (L/C/R) meant quality fell off again. Then Dolby digital hit and all of a sudden equal power for all channels was a requirement. Receivers of any type and price became utter junk. Not one I've ever seen can do a full power FTC test across all channels without overheating and shutting down or blowing up.

I've got some vintage monster AVRs in my collection, but none of them hold a candle to big 2 channel, 70s receivers, in terms of continuous high power delivery, noise, and behaviour into difficult loads.
I disagree.

There have been many good AVRs such as the NAD T752 (and it's siblings), along with others from Yamaha, Denon and Teac and HK to name a few.

If anything, some rot has developed in more recent years with some AVRs requiring 7+ channels along with all the additional hardware and licensing costs associated with those extra channels.

The average customer wants more for less basically, so something had to give somewhere.
 

pkane

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#50
The question is whether there are other AVRs at similar price point without the same compromises. Hopefully we will find one at some point.
I’m waiting for you to find one, as I want to replace my very old Anthem receiver. It still works, but is lacking some of the newer features that I desperately (don’t?) need. ;)
 

BDWoody

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#51
I’m waiting for you to find one, as I want to replace my very old Anthem receiver. It still works, but is lacking some of the newer features that I desperately (don’t?) need. ;)
I have an old Integra 80.3... Actually, I have both the AVR and the AVP (don't you hate it when you win two auctions, when you were only expecting one at best...anyway). They go used fairly cheap and seem to be pretty capable. I haven't used the AVR, but the AVP seems to work fine, and would be interesting to see how it measures.
 

JJB70

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#52
I think that one big issue for some AVRs is the silly power output ratings which are disingenuous at best in many cases and deliberately misleading. Part of this is driven by a more is better culture and grabbing onto the power output rating as a marketing hook. This happens in 2 ch stereo too but to nothing like the same extent as AVRs.
 

Timbo2

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#53
Consider a fully restored and benchmarked SX-1980 will easily sell north of USD$5000. All 270W/ch and 34Kg of it.

The SX-1250 is still the bargain, and in many ways a better receiver, although everyone wants the 1980.

Sorry you lost your SX-1980. Here's a picture of the last one I restored sitting on a dolly. People don't realize how big they are- that's a large turntable immediately to the right in the pic...
The potted toroidal transformer alone weighs around 18kg.
xraytonyb on YouTube recently spent many hours documenting his restoration of an SX-1980. According to him the power supply is its Achilles Heel. He had kind words to say about some enterprising soul who designed and sells a replacement circuit board that can be built with available modern components.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChTN8got77QeKPFRmTJ0teg/videos

Given the complexity of the restoration I can easily see why a properly restored unit can cost so much.
 

BDWoody

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#54
I think that one big issue for some AVRs is the silly power output ratings which are disingenuous at best in many cases and deliberately misleading. Part of this is driven by a more is better culture and grabbing onto the power output rating as a marketing hook. This happens in 2 ch stereo too but to nothing like the same extent as AVRs.
Agreed...a big part of why I just use the AVP. I trust my amps. While I haven't even hooked it up, the AVR weighs about 600lbs, so that's always a good sign.
There was a $500 difference in the original cost between the AVR and AVP I believe... I paid the same for both.
 

Sal1950

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#56
The question is whether there are other AVRs at similar price point without the same compromises. Hopefully we will find one at some point.
I'm all for that !!!

I think that one big issue for some AVRs is the silly power output ratings which are disingenuous at best in many cases and deliberately misleading. Part of this is driven by a more is better culture and grabbing onto the power output rating as a marketing hook. This happens in 2 ch stereo too but to nothing like the same extent as AVRs.
Oh yea, those not around forget we had serious problems with amp power ratings back in the "good old days". The use of terms and measuring techniques along the lines of PMP (Peak Music Power) was running rampant back in the late 60s and early 70s. In the US The FTC was forced to step in and set up the RMS both channels driven rule. We need something similar today,
A nice short read at Audioholics on the subject.
https://www.audioholics.com/audio-amplifier/amplifier-power-ratings
 

JJB70

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#57
I think that the wireless speaker segment also needs an honesty check. In most cases it is amazing just how little information manufacturers provide for their wireless speakers. They probably realised that saying nothing works for Bose and I suspect few of those buying them are interested anyway but some of the power ratings I see for wireless speakers and soundbars are rather eye brow raising.
 

amirm

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#58
It would be interesting to try an older AVR from Pioneer or Marantz. Were they ever any better?
Well, there was a time that AVRs were sold on the basis of how beefy they were and their amplifications. So I suspect on power basis, they were likely better.

Problem is compatibility with HDMI. The very old ones don't even have HDMI. The newer ones than those don't have proper version of HDMI and HDCP compliance. And definitely not 4K/UHD video pass through. Even my Pioneer SC-61 was problematic on that front as I went to upgrade my cable box to 4K as it was 1080p only.

I do have an Onkyo AVR from 11 years ago to test. It was not that good of a unit with a fan and ran super hot.
 

amirm

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#59
I think that the wireless speaker segment also needs an honesty check. In most cases it is amazing just how little information manufacturers provide for their wireless speakers. They probably realised that saying nothing works for Bose and I suspect few of those buying them are interested anyway but some of the power ratings I see for wireless speakers and soundbars are rather eye brow raising.
What are some examples you like to see tested?
 
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#60
I have an old Pioneer Elite VSX-49TX that was incredible. It was at the introduction of the THX Ultra2 certification, and had incredible sound. Sadly, it was pre-HDMI, and the pre-amp blew on mine. I can still use it in pure direct as an amp, and I do so for a few channels on my AV rack with my pre-pro. Many have said that post-Onkyo, the Pioneers are not the same. Several of my family members have been gobbling up the SC-9x series as a result. It would appear their concerns are justified. I have a SC-77 that I use in a secondary room, and am never disappointed in the sound, but I have never measured it.

Amir, did you ever measure your SC-61 before it died? I am curious if it is better/worse than what this new model shows.

The Denon midrange models often clearance out at quite aggressive prices. It would be interesting to compare them, and also see how they compare to their direct cousins, the Marantz. Of course as already mentioned, no one knows how Yamaha does, since they are the last of the 'big 5' that is still independent.

I have a Marantz AVP, and am pretty happy with it overall, but it pains me to think that its performance isn't what it should be. It's not like I have a lot of choice; many of the smaller brands (Emotiva, Monoprice, etc.) simply don't offer the same features, and I use them often (I use the HDMI matrix switching features in my house).
 

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