Below are my (lengthy) thoughts and impressions of the LX500, paired with the SC-LX901 receiver.
NAD M17 processor
NAD M27 multi-channel amplifier
Revel Concerta2 + SVS SB-2000 Limited Edition (5.2)
Isotek EVO3 Aquarius
From the moment you lift the LX500 out of it's box the quality of materials used and the impeccable build is impressive. The machine is very solid with great heft and no plastic as far as I can tell. This is a reassuring piece of kit even before you plug it in! That alone is exciting! I dare not imagine how the bigger and far more costly LX800 stand up in this regard. For the record, in terms of build the standard versions of Oppo often left me a bit wanting, at least compared to other similarly priced players by Denon and Pioneer. An elegant minimalistic design is also a plus. It matches visually (in most respects) to Pioneer receivers and begs to be partnered with one.
I used HDMI (single, not split/separated) for Blu-ray's and analogue RCA for CD and 2-channel SACD. Also connected a single RCA cable in order to test 'Zero Signal', claimed to minimise potential grounding issues. Omitted analogue multichannel outputs is not an issue for me.
Start-up is quick. Set-up menu is kept simple and intuitive. Uninspired background splash-screen perhaps but that is hardly a biggie. The disc tray is wonderful with reassuringly smooth motion (you can hardly hear it sliding in and out). I appreciate the rubberised topside of the tray, making discs land firmly in place. Details like that matter. This oozes quality! Loading speed for Blu-ray discs is slower than Oppo but not by much. I'm glad to report there have been no glitches or hick-ups with my sample - everything is smooth sailing! It's even been able to read a couple of lightly scratched discs that the Oppo refused, which came as a surprise (FYI: I'm not to blame for those scratches... my 4 year old nephew is! lol).
One stupid thing I noticed is that the dimming functionality of the display and illuminated power button don't dim in the same manner as the SC-LX901 receiver. For people pairing these machines together that is an unfortunate design flaw. Hopefully something Pioneer can address in a firmware update. I like the idea of pairing matching machines but for that to work perfectly small details such as these are essential.
The remote is a standard Pioneer affair but very well thought-out with direct-buttons for just about everything you might want to use, including back-light. Fairly comfortable to hold, although it's a bit front-heavy for some odd reason, even after the batteries are installed on the opposite side.
I wish there was a memory-function for automatic switching to 'Pure Direct' whenever the player senses a CD or SACD. As it is now, you have to activate that manually each time and then turn it off before watching a movie since the function shuts off picture circuits. Bit annoying.
The machine spins discs fairly quietly. Only during total silence in my room can I sometimes hear it while playing Blu-ray discs. But it's faint. LX500 is one of the better ones I've owned in this respect.
Stable. Sharp. Natural. Depth of field is excellent. Colors are gorgeous and realistic. Blacks and shadow detailing is spot-on. I notice no strange behaviour or artefacts. Switching back and forth between the LX500 and Oppo UDP-203 (connected via the SC-LX901) took a bit of juggling since I do not have double copies of my movies to run them simultaneously. Anyway, I haven't noticed any discernible differences between the two as far as I can tell. Terrific performers without a doubt. Resolution set to 'Source Direct' on both and no picture tinkering to speak of (I always prefer to deliver the picture as it is on the disc as much as the player will allow me to). Honestly, since I'm no expert there isn't much more to write about here - everything that should be here is delivered with pure excellence. Zero complaints! The LX500 delivers everything I was expecting. I think if a person is coming from a regular Blu-ray player a few years old they would probably appreciate the qualities offered by any of the higher end UHD BD machines of today. My personal choice would be this Pioneer, but for other reasons than picture quality. Let's face it, most players deliver in this area.
With bitstream over HDMI everything is as expected; highly detailed and dynamic with great ambience and flawless placement of effects. High resolution and crystal clarity from top-to-bottom. Surprisingly I find myself appreciating both features 'PQLS' and 'Zero Signal', for whatever they are worth. I'm experiencing less background noise emitted through my speakers with the Pioneer duo compared to my NAD Master Series separates with the Oppo player. This is a nice plus. No humming or annoyances. Naturally this is in conjunction with the SC-LX901 receiver so that is how I'm judging everything. Reading the data sheet 'PQLS' seemed like clever marketing, but it seems to be doing something. I did always prefer to keep it switched on. Sadly this function is only possible while CEC is active, which has always been an annoying feature in my book. With 'PQLS' I appreciate how the sound field seems a tad more fluid and unified. Switching it off and replaying the same sequences made me fairly certain it had a mildly positive effect. Nothing major however and certainly nothing I couldn't live without. But any potential help in minimising jitter over HDMI is welcome as long as it doesn't take anything away.
Analogue audio via RCA is what surprised and pleased me the most however. Set to 'Pure Direct', I'm truly enjoying the lively musicality of this player with CD's and 2-channel SACD's alike. Instruments have real weight to them and voices are fairly realistic in tone and texture. I also love the width and depth rendered on good recordings. It's exciting enjoying my favourites again! A feeling I've regrettably seldom had with the Oppo's. LX500 may not be the most neutral or transparent player but it's certainly fun!
So far during this test I've had a wonderful glitch-free experience with the LX500. Smooth like butter I would say. I'm impressed. Not surprised by this however, having owned Pioneer laserdisc and dvd machines in the past which never faltered. I'm not gonna recommend folks rush out and purchase this player. Investing in an expensive machine (some would say over-priced) like this one is something you do for more than simply getting picture and sound. You pay for the experience. You also pay for reliability and the feel of the player itself; every detail involved - the materials used, the assembly, the robustness, the setting up, the smoothness of operation. Some folks are willing to pay extra for that, others not. On top of that there might be minor performance details that add to the value of the extra investment.
Picture and sound with movies is for the most part very similar to what I experience through my Oppo UDP-203. Sure - 'PQLS' do indeed seem to bring a little something to the table, however minuscule a contribution. Can't prove that obviously but since my ears always preferred it switched on who am I to argue with them? I trust those ears of mine - they are what I use to enjoy audio after all. Simple. When it comes to CD's and SACD through analogue RCA I'm liking LX500 more than the Oppo. The 'sound character' of the LX500 appeal to me. Enjoyable for hours on end, disc after disc.
I'd like to add that the combined experience of the LX500 and SC-LX901 in my home theatre is a very positive one. They have proven to be a dynamic tour-de-force! I wasn't prepared for how well the combo would mesh with my current speaker system. In some respects the Pioneer duo triumphs my trusted (and costly) NAD Master Series separates with Oppo as a source. That's difficult to admit. The Pioneers are overachievers as far as I'm concerned. Now, if only Pioneer could embrace Dirac Live room correction! They did sign a deal with Dirac back in 2016 so what is taking them so long?!