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Review and Measurements of Pioneer VSX-LX504 AVR

restorer-john

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#81
This is why the people comparing these AVRs to older stereos are totally off the mark in pricing comparison. These are very different beasts and the amount of resources needed to develop, update and support the bells and whistles of these units also need to be taken into account. It is like comparing smartphones to flip-phones of the past.
Consider the metalwork in a 1970s 2 channel receiver and the sheer cost of satin finish solid knobs, switches, and anodizing would easily exceed the entire cost of a modern plastic front panel AVR.

The modern AVR is iterative, evolutionary and the manufacturers are hardly developing their own silicon and innovative circuit designs like they did in the past.
 

audimus

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#82
Consider the metalwork in a 1970s 2 channel receiver and the sheer cost of satin finish solid knobs, switches, and anodizing would easily exceed the entire cost of a modern plastic front panel AVR.

The modern AVR is iterative, evolutionary and the manufacturers are hardly developing their own silicon and innovative circuit designs like they did in the past.
With all due respect, I suspect you are very unfamiliar with the economics of software development or its complexities in its role relative to hardware in modern AVRs (or any of the modern software driven electronics).

The material costs of these things (or the older generations) are marginal compared to the total cost of these units. Just the support and maintenance costs alone for the huge number of bells and whistles where users run into problems should dwarf the material costs.
 
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restorer-john

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#83
With all due respect, I suspect you are very unfamiliar with the economics of software development or its complexities in its role relative to hardware in modern AVRs (or any of the modern software driven electronics).
Quite possibly unfamiliar when it comes to the modern version of "software development". :) I'm old school when it comes to High Fidelity equipment and the "economics of software development" are just an excuse for yet another delay, cost, bug ridden and bloated firmware "upgrade" for a product that should have never seen the light of day in the first place.

Let's see, we have gear that needs a firmware update as soon as you unpack it, to ameliorate an "issue" or bunch of "issues". We've got amplifiers that shutdown in the face of normal operation. We've got "menus" to dig down to the most basic of functionality because someone wanted to save the cost of a dedicated tactile switch. Hell, we've even got "reset" buttons on HiFi gear because they go AWOL so frequently. So the "software development" is just poor workmanship, bad coding, a lack of understanding and a desire to make one job last as long as possible and cost as much as it can.

Micro controlled HiFi came in the 1970s and 80s and it was (and is) 100% reliable with zero bugs. Code was either hard or ROM/NVRAM and an off the shelf 4 bit Toshiba or NEC micro could run full display duty, remote control and input relay control on a sophisticated preamplifier, all with no glitches, lockups or strange behaviour requiring a "reboot".

When you've seen as much "let's stick a microcontroller in it" gear as I have, which has failed prematurely and expensively, maybe you'll understand.

AVRs were always consumer toys, regardless of the price. They were never targeted at audiophiles. The trouble was, the audiophiles died off, stopped buying 2 channel gear (because they already owned the best they could get) and everyone else with a job or a credit card wanted a "home theatre" experience and a big-ass screen.
 

audimus

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#85
The above sounds exactly like the lunch table comments from the core hardware guys hurled at the software guys across the table in any mixed development shop even today. :D

Eventually, the argument boils down to yes I know I can’t do all of that without complex software that I don’t understand but “real” users don’t need all those features anyway. ;)
 

Timbo2

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#86
The above sounds exactly like the lunch table comments from the core hardware guys hurled at the software guys across the table in any mixed development shop even today. :D

Eventually, the argument boils down to yes I know I can’t do all of that without complex software that I don’t understand but “real” users don’t need all those features anyway. ;)
As an end user I'll take 10 features that work reliably over 20 features that barely work any day of the week. However, marketing doesn't like that and the pressure to release something and fix it later now seems to be the norm.

I used to be bleeding edge person - not anymore. Life is too short to be perpetually fiddling with electronics to get the to do what they were supposed to do in the first place. Also, if the device doesn't do what you want it do now don't buy it. Never believe that the feature you want is coming "real soon" in a firmware update.
 

Tks

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#87
I dont know much about AVR's but it seems they're all quite.. uh bad?

Also, what a great review, such depth and new stuff I grasped due to the wealth of ways these things can be used.
 

audimus

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#88
I dont know much about AVR's but it seems they're all quite.. uh bad?
That is over-generalization.

They get a bad rap because the mass-market companies which get the modern connectivity and multi-channel capability features more or less right typically compromise on sound quality and the companies whose focus has been sound quality don’t always get these features right.

The search for the right balance continues.

The cross-generation debate about new-fangled things that nobody needs and don’t work have existed since electricity was harnessed if not before.
 

JJB70

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#89
I remember a few years ago at the technical committee of one of the large marine classification societies there was a discussion of new rules for alarm management. There was a big problem because engineers on-board were being swamped with alarms and information, the vast majority of which was utterly pointless, to the point that identifying important stuff was becoming difficult and /or they were just ignoring things (and I don't say that as a criticism, it was a reasonable response to badly designed systems). A VP from one of the big marine automation specialists stood up and said "asking why a designer includes all these alarms is like asking why a dog licks its balls - because it can". I thought that summed things up perfectly.
 

anmpr1

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#90
Consider a fully restored and benchmarked SX-1980 will easily sell north of USD$5000. All 270W/ch and 34Kg of it.

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...
I recently came across an 8 part U Toob video on an SX-1980 restoration. The original unit was pretty sad. He took it all down and did what was necessary. I guess someone asked him if he made any money on it, and he laughed. Said you don't do it to 'make money'. More a labor of love.

He had a little problem aligning the front end and getting the dial to match. And once he had everthing assembled he found another electrical problem in the amp module, and had to go in again. But the end result was very impressive.

I know Pioneer and others make high priced home theater receivers. But in 40 years is anyone going to care about them? I can pretty much guarantee that in 40 years an SX-1980 will still be valuable.
 

Tks

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#91
That is over-generalization.

They get a bad rap because the mass-market companies which get the modern connectivity and multi-channel capability features more or less right typically compromise on sound quality and the companies whose focus has been sound quality don’t always get these features right.

The search for the right balance continues.

The cross-generation debate about new-fangled things that nobody needs and don’t work have existed since electricity was harnessed if not before.
But even the high end ones from Marantz and such also measure pretty abysmally?

If anything, the massmarket variants perform better.
 

JJB70

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#92
The mass market affordable ones offer audibly sufficient performance and good functionality for a very modest price. The expensive ones offer audibly sufficient performance and good functionality for $$$$$$$$$$s. So in this case I suspect it probably is better to buy cheaper.
 

Sal1950

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#93
So in this case I suspect it probably is better to buy cheaper.
Very possibly.
I'm taking a toilet break and reading the October Stereophile that just came in the mail yesterday.
They're reviewing the Accustic Arts Audio Mono II amplifier that retails for $24,900 the pair.
Power rated at 300 WPC into 8, 500 into 4, and 700 into 2, all at 1% THD+n.
Atkinson measures them and gets, [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected] ???
Manufacturers Comments in short, "we been experimenting for 9 months to optimize the power transformers and your set got the wrong transformers, sorry." ????
So we have a $25k power amp, going out for review and testing, and no one even bothers to check if they meet spec. ?????
For that kind of money I would think each pair would be tested before being sent to ANY customer, let alone one I know is going to be scrutinized.
Does any one else smell a little fish in that story? :facepalm:
 
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JJB70

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#94
I have only just started seriously looking at amplifiers and speakers after a long time and I have to say I am somewhat disappointed by a lot of what I see.

On the positive side we have access to terrific functionality and things like wireless connectivity. I think good audio performance has never been so accessible and in most regards I think that the audio chain up to the speakers has been commoditised.

On the negative side I think build quality and attention to detail has nosedive and information on product performance is dubious.

Maybe I am being unfair in judging modern gear against the good products made by companies like Pioneer, Sony, Marantz etc in their 80's and early 90's pomp but when companies understood basic things about heat management, board layout, assembly and used good components and provided detailed and pretty reliable data on products 30 years ago and built stuff to last it begs the question why so many are unable or unwilling to do the same today?

I can't say how disappointing it is to see some of the stuff peddled by Sony, Pioneer, Denon and Marantz when I remember what they once made.
 

Soniclife

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#96
Maybe I am being unfair in judging modern gear against the good products made by companies like Pioneer, Sony, Marantz etc in their 80's and early 90's pomp but when companies understood basic things about heat management, board layout, assembly and used good components and provided detailed and pretty reliable data on products 30 years ago and built stuff to last it begs the question why so many are unable or unwilling to do the same today?
Because so few customers would be prepared to pay the cost, imagine the inflation adjusted prices of that old kit, would you pay that now?
 

Soniclife

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#97
Bose generally don't publish any data, a policy also adopted by Samsung for some of their speakers. The power ratings of some of the Devialet speakers look very optimistic.
I'd love to see these things tested as well, but I expect they are even harder to test than a passive speaker, as I expect the best ones are not simply linear devices.
Regarding specs of active speakers only acoustic output matters, not things like amp power, so continuous SPL is the relevant figure, something you see specified in the pro sector.
 

JJB70

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#98
Because so few customers would be prepared to pay the cost, imagine the inflation adjusted prices of that old kit, would you pay that now?
That is true to a degree, but some of the issues I see these days are down to poor design which wouldn't cost anymore to do right as to do badly if manufacturers took their job seriously. Especially when for quite a few of these products design pretty much comes down to implementing the project manuals of module OEMs such as Hypex and ICE.
 

restorer-john

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#99
it begs the question why so many are unable or unwilling to do the same today?
They don't have the engineers they once had. They've all retired or died. Matsushita had to find two old retired engineers and bring them back to build the new turntables several years ago. They don't have massive R&D budgets to hire the best in the business. The competition between brands to produce the world's best is not there anymore. That is what I miss the most.

Consider it was a different world- guys who had overseen 30-40 years of incremental improvement, technology advancements and a laser-like focus on measurable performance, build quality, longevity and user satisfaction. The Japanese were unstoppable, that is, until the crash of ~1991.

Realistically, Japan has never recovered. They have the highest debt (as a % of GDP) of any nation on earth now and all those giant companies are essentially shadows of their former selves. HiFi rates but a speck on their balance sheets and commands little in terms of respect like it once did.
 

restorer-john

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Because so few customers would be prepared to pay the cost, imagine the inflation adjusted prices of that old kit, would you pay that now?
If I was buying my first serious system or components, absolutely 100%, yes. And with the benefit of hindsight, I made the right decision to do so back then.

Back in the day (late 80s), after messing around with 2nd hand and low-med range gear, I ordered and bought a Sony CDP-338esD CD player, based on hands on, loving the build quality and componentry and having some absolutely stellar reviews. It was the 2nd top model. The CDP-X7esD was AUD$2799 at the time whereas the 338esD was $1399. That was a ton of money in 1989/90.

Then I ordered from Sony Australia a pair of rare SSG-333es speakers (home market), obtained matching stands ($700 on their own), then the cassette deck, tuner, preamplifier, power amplifier, DAT recorder etc etc. It took many years to amass all the pieces and some had to come via secondary channels (2nd hand from an ex-Sony state manager- I had a large timber crate made in our factory in Sydney, shipped it 1400km to SA and another 2000km back to me with a mint TAN77es, TAE77es and another (I had one already) CDP-X7esd in it). That cost me several K for the gear and a carton of beer to the freight company- they put the crate on a pallet, shrink wrapped it all and placed it high up on pallets of our flat pack furniture- a forklift put it in the back of my car at the freight depot as the crate and the gear was around 100Kg.

Thing is, I still have all that Sony ES gear. It's still the finest entire range of gear ever produced by one company in my opinion. I have tons of Yamaha, Pioneer, Accuphase, Akai, Sansui, JVC, Onkyo, every brand under the sun, but none went all-out to build the best of everything the way Sony did. Thing is, although it was expensive, it wasn't ludicrously so.

Much of the gear these days is ludicrously overpriced, of dubious quality and these tinpot brands have one or two hero products and nothing else.

Frankly, it's boring.
 

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