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Pioneer S31 AV review

David Ludlow
5 Aug 2010
Pioneer S31 AV
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
800
inc VAT

Handles Blu-ray soundtracks magnificently, but music playback is disappointing for such an expensive system.

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At £800, this speaker system is at the upper limit of what rational people might consider spending. It isn’t listed on Pioneer’s website but various retailers are selling this 5.1 system as the S31 AV, which comprises two S-31-LR floor-standing front speakers, two S-31B-LR bookshelf-style surround speakers, an S-31C centre speaker and an S-51W subwoofer. Bought separately, this combination costs around £1,000.

Build quality is excellent. The set looks suitably expensive, too, with its elegant curves and wood veneer. The all-black colour scheme with minimal decorative flourishes help it sit unobtrusively in the room, despite its size. It’s also available in a beech veneer, although the speaker covers remain black.

The subwoofer’s controls are limited to a volume knob and phase switch, leaving crossover frequency control to the AV receiver. The controls are mounted on the rear of the subwoofer, which might make it tricky to fine-tune the volume but also means it’s unlikely to be adjusted accidentally after set-up.

Pioneer S31 AV

These speakers put in a fantastic performance in our Blu-ray tests, with a sense of grandiose authority that will overwhelm all but the biggest TVs. The motorway chase scene in Transformers sounded immense.

The only snag is that you can get better at this price. In particular the subwoofer didn't have the trouser-flapping power we'd expect, and its surround sounds weren’t as accurately placed as we'd have liked. The centre speaker handled dialogue superbly, with a full-bodied tone and no hint that the subwoofer was helping out.

Music tests failed to illicit the same response. Sound quality could hardly be described as poor, but it lacked balance and detail. High frequencies seemed distant and indistinct, and became a little ragged at high volume.

We like the smart design of these speakers and its handling of Blu-ray soundtracks is breathtaking, but for £800 we expect a superb all-rounder. The Teufel Theater 200 costs £50 less and sounds significantly better, particularly for music playback. It's by far the better choice at this price.

Specifications

Rating**
Speaker configuration5.1
RMS power output750W
Power consumption standby0W
Power consumption on55W
Analogue inputssatellites: binding posts, subwoofer: mono phono
Digital inputsnone
Dock connectornone
Headphone outputnone
Satellite cable lengthsnone
Cable typereplaceable
Controls locatedsubwoofer
Digital processingnone
Tone controlssubwoofer controls: volume
Price£800
Supplierhttp://www.petertyson.co.uk
Detailswww.pioneer.co.uk

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