Pioneer BDP-LX55 review

A welcome return to form for Pioneer Tested at £350

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Our Verdict

A lovely player, but its limited smart features put it at a clear disadvantage in comparison with its rivals

For

  • Quality build
  • well-designed smartphone remote app
  • detailed and agile picture

Against

  • Lean sound
  • lacks the inbuilt streaming functionality of several key rivals

Once, Pioneer’s Blu-ray players were among the best available, but lately the company’s newer models have been a disappointment, falling some way behind the class leaders in terms of both specification and performance.

However, the new BDP-LX55 looks a great deal more competitive than some of its forebears: indeed, Pioneer describes it as "a return to the winning formula" that once spawned such highly regarded decks as the BDP-LX52 and BDP-LX71.

Translation? Unlike some of its recent Blu-ray players, the BDP-LX55 is a Pioneer through and through, rather than a badge-engineered version of another company’s product.

Certainly anyone familiar with the company’s early Blu-ray players (or indeed its oft-acclaimed DVD kit) will find the BDP-LX55 familiar. Its metal fascia and sturdy build forms a classy first impression, as does its hefty, AV receiver-esque remote handset.

Universal disc player

The specification makes good reading, too: a universal disc player, the Pioneer can spin older formats most price rivals eschew, including DVD-Audio and SACD.

There’s no wi-fi included (although an AS-WL300 adaptor is optionally available) but twin USB inputs suggest a promising flexibility with digital media.

For video, Marvell’s increasingly ubiquitous QDEO scaler is on hand to administer 1080p-quality finesse when needed, and of course, the Pioneer is 3D capable.

By virtue of its twin HDMI outputs (one of which carries only audio information) it’s also suitable for use with older AV receivers that don’t support 3D: you simply use two HDMI cables, one to pass audio to your receiver, and one to send video to your display.

Alternatively, should you want to link the BDP-LX55 into a Pioneer AV receiver (such as the Award-winning VSX-LX55) you’ll be pleased to note that it includes the latest iteration of Pioneer’s long-standing PQLS (Precision Quartz Lock System) technology.

Pioneer BDP-LX55

Pioneer BDP-LX55

PQLS eliminates jitter

When the two components are linked together via HDMI, PQLS allows the AV receiver to take control of the Blu-ray player’s digital ‘clock’, which, Pioneer asserts, eliminates jitter during signal transfer.

We’ve noticed the system’s beneficial effects with older products, particularly with CD: now, in its most sophisticated third-generation form, PQLS is capable of supporting all forms of audio including bitstream (ie: Dolby TrueHD and so forth).

That said, not all Pioneer’s receivers include the feature as standard: for the full PQLS monty, you’ll need a VSX-1021 or better. Cheaper models in the range must make do with PCM audio support only.

Exceptional picture quality

In action, the BDP-LX55 is a positive delight. With both DVD and Blu-ray and in 2D or 3D, its picture quality is exceptional, with richer colours and more distinct, accurately defined detail than others in its price class.

Shadow detail is properly nuanced, while blacks are at once dense and, where appropriate, invested with texture and insight. Motion is stable and seamless too. All in all, it’s delightful – all the more so because rivals offering similar standards of picture performance cost at least £150 more.

Sonically there’s much to admire too. Connected via its analogue audio outs (supported by a 32-bit/192kHz DAC), the BDP-LX55 exhibits Pioneer’s trademark agility, excitement and speed, making it a surprisingly enjoyable CD player or music streamer.

Pioneer BDP-LX55

Pioneer BDP-LX55

Lean, fast, attacking sound

Link it to your AV receiver via HDMI and, of course, the sounds you’ll enjoy depend greatly on the relative quality and tonality of the receiver in question. All the same, the Pioneer’s presentation still carries over some of that leanness and fast, attacking character. That’s not a criticism – more an interesting observation…

What of weaknesses? Well, there are a couple. Compared with the class-leading Panasonic DMP-BDT500 and Sony BDP-S790, the Pioneer has a less substantial sound.

More critically, the BDP-LX55 lacks the range of embedded streaming services you’d find in an LG, Panasonic, Samsung or Sony Blu-ray player.

Yes, it can access Picasa and YouTube – but they’re a poor substitute for the likes of Acetrax, the BBC iPlayer or LoveFilm.

Return to a winning formula

However, we’ve no such complaints over the Pioneer’s media-replay capabilities: it’ll handle the likes of MKV and FLAC, and includes proprietary Stream Smoother Link and Sound Retriever Link technologies aimed at optimising your viewing and listening experience with streamed media. Add in Pioneer’s iControlAV2 app – which works especially well on the iPad – and you’ve a compelling proposition by any standards.

Verdict

We tested the BDP-LX55 as part of a home cinema package in our March 2012 issue, and we were impressed. The lack of online video content is a glaring omission given that rivals pack in much more for the same price, but this remains a highly capable player with impressive build and a great picture.

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Specifications

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General Information

Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.eu.onkyo.com
Brand NamePioneer
Product TypeBlu-ray Disc Player
ManufacturerOnkyo & Pioneer Corporation
Manufacturer Part NumberBDPLX55
Product NamePioneer BDP-LX55
Product ModelBDP-LX55

Miscellaneous

Package Contents
  • BDP-LX55 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
  • Remote Control
Country of OriginChina
DLNA CertifiedYes
Environmentally FriendlyYes
Environmental CertificationWEEE

Interfaces-Ports

HDMIYes
Digital Audio Optical OutYes
USBYes

Audio

Audio FormatsCD-DA, SACD, DVD Audio, MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC
Sound SystemDolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS-HD High Resolution Audio, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital EX, DTS, DTS 96/24, DTS-ES, DTS HD

Technical Information

FeaturesInternet Streaming, BD Live
3D Type3D
Number of Discs1
Media FormatsBD-RE, DVD+RW, DVD-RW, CD-RW

Network and Communication

EthernetYes

Physical Characteristics

Width43.5 cm
Depth25.2 cm
Weight Approximate3.50 kg
Height9.3 cm
Dimensions9.3 cm (H): 43.5 cm (W): 25.2 cm (D)

Video

Scanning ModesProgressive Scan
Video FormatsBD Video, DVD Video, DivX Plus HD, AVCHD, DivX, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, WMV, MKV, TS, AVI, M2TS, M4V, FLV, MOV, 3GP, MPEG-2 AAC, MPEG-4 AVC

Warranty

Limited Warranty1 Year