Pioneer SC-LX56 review

Best home cinema amplifier £700-£1500, Awards 2012. Excitement, top tech and amazing sound Tested at £1300

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

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


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    Direct, precise sound

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    weighty, defined bass

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    top-notch dynamics

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    intuitive menus

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    wired and wireless music streaming


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    Nothing at this price

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

Smoking, biting our nails, TOWIE… we all have a habit or two we’d like to put to rest. But the last thing Pioneer should do is kick its habit of creating stonking home cinema amps above the £1000 mark.

Every year it seems to be able to go one better than the last, adding a new features and setting new benchmarks. The Pioneer SC-LX56 is such a machine, and builds on the success of last year’s Award-winning SC-LX55.

PIoneer SC-LX56: Performance

The precision and swiftness with which it dispatches surround effects through your speakers is second to none. During Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, as Ethan and IMF’s Secretary are ambushed, the punch of the strike has you jumping out of your seat.

As their car careers off the road and plunges into the river below there’s weighty, well-defined crash-cum-thud as car meets water and hits the riverbed below. Bullets whiz around the sound field as the Pioneer gives the impression they’re missing your head by millimeters.

The ‘LX56 presents the effects in a clear, spacious surround field, uncovering the subtlest details and dynamic shifts as the action moves below the water’s surface.

Pioneer SC-LX56: Music playback

The Pioneer’s agility allows for an entertaining musical experience too. Spin The Hives’ Wait A Minute and the amp has no trouble punching out the drum beat.

Splashes and crashes are conveyed with vim and vigour, but the Pioneer doesn’t stumble with more testing beats either, as a quick foray into the world of jazz highlights the amp’s confident rhythmic ability.

Pioneer SC-LX56: Connectivity

Supplementing the Pioneer’s powerful sound is a raft of connectivity options and features. High-def kit can be plugged into one of seven HDMI sockets on the rear and an additional one lurking behind the hinged front panel, while twin outputs cater for different displays.

Pioneer SC-LX56 rear

Pioneer SC-LX56 rear

The Pioneer can act as a music hub too, as DLNA certification means you can stream music over a home network via a wired Ethernet connection. The supplied wireless network adaptor will also help you get online and experience internet radio stations courtesy of the built-in vTuner.

Pioneer SC-LX56: Control apps

The ‘LX56 is also backed up by two fabulous control apps. The AV navigator software works with iOS devices or your home PC and helps to ensure all your sources and speakers are connected correctly.

The company’s iControlAV12 app for iOS and Android gives you full control over speaker settings, audio decoding and picture processing so you can tailor the amp to your requirements.

In all, then, the SC-LX56 is an excellent all-round proposition. We think it’s great.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test