Pioneer & Onkyo Corp. this week began offering its Elite VSX-LX503 9.2-channel network AV receiver, billed as the first Elite-branded AVR carrying the new “Works with Sonos” certification for multi-room audio playback.

The Elite VSX-LX503 ($999 retail price) is also compatible with the DTS Play-Fi and FlareConnect multi-room audio platforms, giving users a range of easy to use options to connect with supporting wireless speakers and other devices.

The VSX-503 offers 120 Watts of power (8 ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, THS 0.08%, 2-ch driven, FTC) and supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based surround-sound with speaker configurations up to 7.2.4 channels.

The company said the Elite VSX-LX503 also features the Pioneer Direct Energy amplification, which is particularly useful with object-based soundtracks. This technology delivers pure high-output signals to all speakers simultaneously.

According to P&O Corp., this results in “shortened signal paths and clean grounds” that enable accurate performance, in addition to dynamic bass response.

“Signals for the surround, center, and height speakers are treated the same as the Front L+R channels, with high driving power creating an immersive and perfectly balanced sound-field to unlock the full 3D spatial effect of DTS:X and Dolby Atmos,” according to a company descriptor on the technology.

As for the “Works With Sonos” certification, the Elite VSX-LX503 must be connected to a Sonos Connect devices in order to send music or source signals from a Sonos mobile device app to the receiver. Through the app, the receiver can be grouped to other Sonos devices on the network or used independently. The capability can be added now via a recently available firmware update, the company said.

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Users have the flexibility to set up a variety of surround sound speaker layouts from the 9.2-channel receiver. These include: 5.2.4-ch and 7.2.2-ch object-based audio. The receiver is equipped with a quad-core 32-bit Aureus floating-point DSP chip.

Alternatively, a 7.2.4-ch surround-sound setup is possible using an external stereo amplifier connected via 11.2-ch pre-outs.

For wired audio to additonal rooms, the Elite receiver offers Zone 2 and Zone 3 powered audio playback, with four surround back/zone speaker outputs capable of driving stereo speakers each remote zone, while running a 5.2-ch setup in the main home theater room, or a 5.2.2-ch layout with Powered Zone 2 distribution.

As well as analog audio, multiple DACs support digital source playback in up to three zones simultaneously with content selection and control via a Pioneer Remote App.

For video, the Pioneer VSX-LX503 has one front and six rear HDMI inputs that support HDCP 2.2 content protection, up to 4K/60p resolution with 4:4:4 chroma subsampling, 24-bit and BT.2020 color and high dynamic range (HDR) including the HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision profiles. On-board Super Resolution 4K upscaling technology can upscale Full HD video to near native 4K quality. It is also equipped with two rear HDMI outputs.

In addition to Dolby Atmos and DTS:X 3D-surround sound playback, the Elite VSX-LX503 also supports DTS Neural:X. Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X upmixing solutions remap legacy movie and game soundtracks, for an immersive experience through the multi-channel speaker layouts. Both technologies are cross-compatible with a variety of common movie and game audio formats.

The Elite receiver is equipped with Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration System (MCACC), helps to automatically calibrate sound levels to dynamics of each listening environment, automatically compensating for differences in speaker size, level, and distance, while equalizing response for clarity. The system also finds the right subwoofer level to provide an impactful, yet realisticaly deep bass.

The company said it has also developed a solution to resolve phase-lag between the subwoofer and front L+R speakers; Phase Control compensates for bass delay at the viewing position to improve sound synchronization. Consequently, low-frequency effects are made to sound more dynamic while facilitating clearer reproduction of sound in the mid- and high-frequency bands.

For greater music clearity and depth, the VSX-RX503 is compatible with a wide range of standard and Hi-Rez audio formats including SACD via HDMI (5.6 MHz/2-ch, 2.8 MHz/5.1-ch) and digital files via network and USB input. Supported formats comprise 192 kHz/24-bit FLAC, WAV (RIFF), AIFF, and ALAC; Direct DSD 11.2 MHz (native playback) and 5.6 MHz/2.8 MHz; and Dolby TrueHD to 192 kHz/24-bit.

The network AV receiver also incorporates 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi receiver, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay,

Built-in DTS Play-Fi technology helps to simplify multi-room audio delivery of music streamed from compatible mobile devices to the Elite VSX-LX503 and other supported audio systems. Different sources can be streamed to different speakers at the same time from the free Pioneer Music Control App*6.

Also built into the Elite VSX-LX503 is the Google Chromecast platform, which enables streaming and controling favorite music apps on iPones, iPads, Android phones and tablets, Chromebooks and the Chrome Web Browswer. In addition, owners of devices supporting Google Assistant input can connect those products to the receiver to control music on the Elite VSX-LX503 by voice.

Support for yet another multi-room music platform, FlareConnect, is also included to share audio from network and external audio input sources between compatible components. The system enables playback and multi-room distribution of LP records, CDs, network music services, and other sources with supported components and speaker systems.

For high-fidelity sound, the Elite VSX-LX503 incorporates a high-grade 384 kHz/32-bit DAC (AK4458) from AKM. The DAC is said to produce clear, precise audio using “a unique” digital filter to enable low distortion and excellent signal to noise performance.


By Greg Tarr


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