This new category recognises something many lounge rooms have been begging for — an amp that can properly handle both music and TV audio. The definitions balloon is truly burst by Pioneer’s $1199 slimline SX-S30 — a stereo amplifier but also an HDMI hub, with four HDMI inputs and an output with ARC to your TV, decoding movie formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio for delivery in two-channel. There’s even a microphone for room EQ adjustment. 

So you might call this a smart stereo AV receiver - ‘smart’ because it also has the networking abilities of the rising ‘FireConnect powered by Blackfire’ platform, which includes Chromecast, AirPlay, TuneIn internet radio, Spotify, Deezer and Tidal, with network streaming able to handle high-res PCM and DSD files. There’s Bluetooth for local streaming, and what you’d expect to find in a normal amplifier - optical and coaxial digital inputs, and three analogue inputs, which includes phono for your turntable. There are even FM and DAB+ digital radio tuners. All this feeds the amplifiers, which delivered a satisfying 2 × 85W to your speakers. A brilliantly modern product. More please!

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