Pioneer SC-LX56

Tested at £1300

Best home cinema amplifier £700-£1500, Awards 2012. Pioneer has the recipe for success at this price – and we're sure you'd like a taste



I bought this multi-channel receiver to pair with my floorstanding B&W CM9s, mainly for stereo music listening (cue audiophile ridicule for not choosing a stereo amp!). I choose the Pioneer, because of reviews saying that despite being a multichannel device, it handled music pretty well. Why didn't I choose a stereo amp? Simple - connectivity and convenience - I have 5 digital media sources all with HDMI outputs, plus we listen a lot to internet radio and iTunes, so integrated Airplay was a big attraction.

The automated set up with the mic seemed to deliver noticeable sound benefits. The amp does sound 'exciting' as the reviews say. There's lots of musicality.

For music via Airplay, I wasn't disappointed - at least not at first. I was amazed at how good even a poor quality internet radio sounded, thanks to 'Sound retriever' function of the receiver.

However, I soon ran into the dreaded 'slowing down' problem, which is somehow related to the network connectivity (Google for ‘LX56 owner’s thread’ to read more).  Basically, the receiver becomes progressively more temperamental in establishing the network connection. Firmware update and wired ethernet connection don't help. Front panel source control becomes very unresponsive. Problem goes away with forced re-start (holding front panel on/off for 10 seconds), but comes back. Eventually factory reset required - thereby losing all the settings (speaker calibrations, source inputs, favourites stations, etc.). Not prepared to do that once per week, especially in view of price.

Emailed Pioneer support, but they took a week to reply, by which time I had contacted my dealer to return, in order not to miss the return time limit. Anyway, Pioneer simply recommended returning to dealer!

In summary, this is a great receiver, and delivers in many aspects (which I haven't covered here). The free iPad apps really are nice and helpful. However, a seemingly small software problem - i.e. network connectivity problems - was actually a deal-breaking issue for me, since Airplay is central to my set-up. For that reason, I had to return the receiver. (I am now looking for a good stereo amp, together with Airport Express and external DAC)

The only other suggestion for improvement to Pioneer would be to be able to save all your receiver settings locally (i.e. to PC), so that they can easily be re-initialised. This is currently not possible. Had it been, I may have considered keeping what is really a nice sounding, powerful and feature-loaded amp.


I have a pretty old system: set of Ruark Speakers - Epilogue - Rear , Prologue - front, Dialogue - Centre and Log Rythm sub which are matched to my old arcam alpha10Dave Amp 5.1 system. Does anyone have any idea if this amp will work well with them as I wish to upgrade to a more modern platform to match in with new TV and take advantage of internet. Also what DVD would you recommend.



Hi, can you recommend a speaker package to go with this amp, I have about £1000, I also noticed in your reviews you stated that you have to be careful partnering speakers because of the bright sound, any suggestions?



Hi, from experience,  packages at around £1000 aren't really going to be good enough to make the most of this Pioneer. A good partner would be something like KEF's R100 5.1(£2750). If you can't stretch that far, give Dali's Zensor 5 5.1 (£1300) a go.

Dear WHF,please give us a wee bit more info on the overall sound i.e is it the same as 85/86?Does it need careful partnering with speakers as mentioned with the higher models?Thanks.

Did you ever get an answer? I've got B&W 685x6 (!) HTM61..getting worried!

Last years  LX55 wasn't an SC model as mentioned in review. I thought more would have been mentioned with regards to implementation of class D3 amps like the SC-LX7/86,in this SC-LX56 vs. the class AB of last years VSX-LX55 TBH. How less dynamic is this compared to the SC-LX86 for the price? Thanks.Smile

Is it as "bright" and forward sounding as other Pioneer receivers?

Edit: oops didn't see someone has already asked. Great minds...

Is this as bright as the top of the range models (which you've referred to in the reviews for the 86 & the 85)?


Many thanks


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