Pioneer BDP-LX88 Blu-ray player review

Inside CI 5 Rating

What does this mean? Find out how we rate products.

posted on Saturday, 7th November 2015 by Steve May

Blu-ray  Invision UK  home cinema 


I’m not a little in awe of the BDP-LX88. Sure, streaming may have monopolised the video mainstream, with Kaleidescape a high-ticket niche alternative, but if you want the best possible sound and vision performance from physical media, Blu-ray remains the defacto format. And if you’re looking for a truly premium player, I reckon Pioneer’s current flagship is nigh on unbeatable.

Pioneer BDP-LX88: Build quality and features
Everything about this model impresses. For example, the build quality is phenomenal. To combat resonance, the deck adopts a double layer design, with a 1.6mm base reinforced by a 3mm thick plate; a 1mm thick steel top plate provides extra protection. This is Hulkbuster grade armour. It also means it weighs a whopping 13.4kg. Given that so many mainstream Blu-ray players are light to the point of insignificance, this Pioneer inspires serious confidence.

Beneath the lid is a three chamber structure that separates the power supply, and digital signal and audio blocks. To ensure no errant electrical signal interference sabotages your Michael Bay marathon, both the power supply and processing block are enclosed in their own shield casings.

Bdp -lx 88_construction _1140902l

Analogue and digital power supply paths are kept separate to minimise interference, and the board is populated with cherry-picked capacitors. Even the copper plated shield case has random embossing, which apparently helps reduce standing waves within the confines of the chassis itself. Anti vibration paint (obviously of extra terrestrial origin) is used liberally inside. The thing is over-engineered to the point of glorious insantity. 

Fittingly, the player offers a wide roster of connectivity. There are two HDMI outputs, coaxial and optical digital audio outputs, and both balanced and unbalanced analogue audio outputs. There’s no integrated Wi-Fi, but you obviously get Ethernet, plus front and rear-placed USB ports.

The Main/Sub HDMI outs can drive both a panel and a projector, or deliver separated sound and vision. There’s also a Pure Audio mode, where the only output is audio via the Sub HDMI.

Unusually, there’s also a Zero Signal terminal. The idea is to connect it to an unused phono input on an AV receiver and harmonise the GND reference level between the two devices. Does it make a difference? Not to my ears, but it’s fun to try. The IR is a controller in the bluntest sense of the words. No one would ever want to pick it up, it’s so button heavy. 

Pioneer -bdp -lx 88-black Crop

Pioneer _bdp _lx 88_3  Rear

Pioneer BDP-LX88: Performance
Picture quality is fabulous. There’s an enormous amount of image processing technology on board, yet the output never looks over-worked or artificial. The brand’s Precise Pixel driver combines HD detail enhancement with Triple HD Noise Reduction. There’s also block, Gaussian and mosquito noise reduction. 

If you really want to fine tune the image, there’s clever texture enhancement available from the Super Resolution tool in the deck’s Video Adjust menu. Here some 13 different items can be manipulated. There are also six presets, optimised for panel and projection display - Digital Cinema, Digital Film, Live and Reference mode.  As a result, the player makes the most of DVD and positively shines with Blu-ray. More often than not, it’s simply a case of selecting the mode to best suit your display – the FPD digital cinema option is a good bet for most installs.

It’s BDP-LX88 is well suited for use with a 4K display – the clarity is remarkable. The player upscales content to 2160p resolution with full 4:4:4 chroma sub-sampling. Pixel dense images are smooth yet supremely detailed. 

Don’t expect to find too much in the way of connected services though. There’s no BBC iPlayer on board, or Netflix for that matter – just YouTube and Picasa. Given the ubiquity of services on other devices this shouldn’t be a problem. It plays nice with DLNA sources and has broad file support, including MKV, AVI, WMV and MPEG video files, as well as MP3, FLAC and DSD. A Stream Smoother can be used to reduce block and mosquito noise on low bitrate sources.

Disc loading times are on the slow side though, probably a consequence of the heavy duty disc tray mechanism, which is acoustically dampened. 

The BDP-LX88 isn’t just a terrific video player. It has the chops to equal any audiophile CD player. Left and right channels are served by an ESS Sabre Reference DAC ES9018. To eliminate jitter at the analogue audio output stage, a dedicated High precision clock IC has been used to inform the Master Clock in the Sabre DAC at the input stage, thereby providing optimum D/A conversion. 

While you might normally opt for an analogue feed for two channel listening, this player sounds great through HDMI as well. Owners of compatible Pioneer AVRs can take advantage of PQLS (Precision Quartz Lock System) over HDMI, to minimise timing errors. 

In addition to CD, BD and DVD support, the player is compatible with DVD-Audio and SACD discs. An onboard Audio Scaler offers Hi-Bit 32, Up-Sampling and a Digital Filter processing modes. Hi-Bit 32 aims to increase the dynamic range of disc media, from CD or Blu-ray by requantizing 16, 20 and 24-bit PCM to 32-bits. Upsampling reduces noise in the audible range, with variable Off, 2x or 4x sampling rates, while the Digital Filter can be used to eliminate pre-echo. Set it to Sharp to emphasise transients or Slow for a warmer sound.

Set Up Menu (1)

Web Contents

Pioneer BDP-LX88: Verdict
There’s no shortage of high performing Blu-ray players out there (from the likes of Arcam, Cambridge, Oppo and Panasonic), but if you spec the BDP-LX88 you can be confident you’re putting in the best player available. It offers excellent disc support and best in class playback performance. Overall, we rate this a stunning piece of hardware.

The Pioneer BDP-LX88 is available now
Price: £1299
The Pioneer DBP-LX88 is available through Invision UK. For more on Invision’s product portfolio and services, visit our partner page here.

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology specialist who also writes for T3TechRadarHome Cinema Choice, Trusted Reviews and The Luxe Review.

Share this!

Have your say...

Sorry guests can't post comments.

Please Login if your an existing member or Register a new account.