Pioneer SP-EFS73 Floor standing Loudspeaker review

Pioneer SP-EFS73 Floor standing Loudspeaker review
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Last Updated on by Daniel Lawrence

Among the best Atmos floor standers we’ve seen for the money, the Pioneer Elite SP-EFS73 is pleasantly surprising in its capacity for music.

It’s been an exceptionally good run for him, whether he’s a fan of the film or not. ELAC Debut F6 (Jones’ current gig) and Pioneer SP-EFS73 floorstanders (reviewed here, one of Jones’ last endeavors before departing Pioneer) are two of our favorite speaker brands headed by Mr. Jones.

Until Andrew Jones came along, the words “high-end speaker” and “Pioneer” didn’t belong together, but the SP-EFS73 is a fine example of his work. At an equivalent price, there are models with bigger bass — like the SVS Prime Towers or PSB X2T — but the SP-EFS73 has a deft touch that says “hi-fi.”

This year Jones proved he is a man of his word by championing value for money in hi-fi. The Debut series from ELAC and the midrange Atmos range from Pioneer are some of today’s best value loudspeakers. Pioneer’s bookshelf speakers, the SP-EBS73-LR, are even more affordable but the SP-EFS73 provides a greater sense of scale and even finer details. In comparison with their “high-end” competitors, these tower speakers are still relatively inexpensive at $1,400 per pair.

Pioneer SP-EFS73 Floor standing Loudspeaker: Design and features

pioner floorstanding speaker

Pioneer’s floor-standing SP-EFS73 is compatible with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, providing you have compatible source material, Blu-ray players, and AV receivers. The three-way floorstander features two sets of 4-inch concentric tweeter and midrange drivers. The forward-facing driver of the CST system reproduces the height effects of Atmos by bouncing the sound off your roof, while the ceiling-facing driver is designed to reproduce Atmos height effects.

The speaker stands a little over 3 feet tall, and its seven-inch width is attributed to its three 5.25-inch bass woofers. Jones’ Pioneer speakers have an 8.7-inch depth that reduces internal reflections. Spikes on the bottom of the speaker add about an inch in both directions. Moving the speaker away from walls will reduce the possibility of boominess since both the midrange and bass chambers are rear-ported.

Pioneer SP-EFS73 Floor standing Loudspeaker: Setup

flooring standing speakers

As part of the Pioneer Elite System, we tested the speaker with a pair of the aforementioned SP-EBS73-LR bookshelves, an SW-E10 10-inch subwoofer, and a Marantz NR1605 AV receiver.

The entire 5.1 system was straightforward to set up and calibrate. Manual speaker calibration involved running the SP-EFS73 towers “full-range” and adjusting the SP-EBS73-LR bookshelves’ and SP-EC73 center channel speakers’ crossovers to 80Hz with the NR1605’s bass management. Both crossover points were successful at 100Hz as well.

Performance

Initially, we were very impressed with Elite’s sound, and the more we listened, the more we liked it. The sound from our movies or music remained neutral, adding nothing or taking anything away from it. This is not to say that it was perfect, but the Pioneer Elite system sounds better than other highly regarded speaker/subwoofer systems we’ve listened to over the years.

The Imagine X2T towers, which we lauded for their “uninhibited dynamics, solid bass, and wide-open imaging,” are excellent, but side-by-side comparisons with the SP-EFS73 towers show a significant difference in overall clarity. The SP-EFS73’s presentation had a sense of urgency, while the X2T pulled back and glossed over the details. 

The bass on the SP-EFS73 was leaner, but more articulate; the X2T was more richly balanced, yet dulled the excitement on the White Stripes’ “Under Blackpool Lights” concert DVD. Despite both towers being powerful, Meg White’s drum kit sounded more dynamically alive over the SP-EFS73s. The X2Ts produced a large and spacious soundstage, but the SP-EFS73s’ soundstage was better focused and had a greater depth.

Listening to the “Life of Pi” Blu-ray, we compared the SP-EC73 center-channel speaker with the PSB Imagine XC Centre speaker.

On both speakers, the narration of the title character (Suraj Sharma) sounded similar, but the SP-EC73 was a little clearer and more open. Since the XC Centre has a fuller sound, the growls of the tiger from the boy’s boat were a bit more threatening. Taking a closer look at the complete system for the scene during the thunderstorm, we felt the extreme dynamics of the drenching and surf more viscerally over the Pioneer Elite system.

When we turned the heat up even more with the train derailment scene on J.J. Abrams’ “Super 8, the SW-E10 subwoofer’s considerable power really shone through. CNET’s listening room has never heard explosions as powerful and deep as this one. As we played the scene again with the volume turned up even louder, the Elite system never faltered; its ability to deliver maximum home theater thrills was never in doubt.

We would prefer to focus on the effortless clarity of these speakers instead of picking apart their sound because that’s what truly sets apart the Elite system from other similarly priced systems. The sound does not have an exaggerated “detail” or brightness, it just sounds clearer than most other speaker systems.

We were more than happy with the Elite system’s ability to deliver room-filling audio, whether playing 5.1 surround or soundtracks from the few Atmos titles available (plus one video game). Although Atmos sounds enveloping, it may sound so good in 5.1 that you don’t even care about height information.

THE GOOD

Pioneer’s Elite SP-EFS73 delivers startling clarity, precision surround-sound imaging, high contrast dynamics, and solid low bass extension. The speakers are well-built and look even more expensive than they are. Playing Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks will prove useful in the near future.

THE BAD

Discs encoded with Dolby Atmos or DTS:X that take advantage of the Elite system’s Dolby top-mounted Atmos drivers are still scarce. In fact, even poorly recorded material can be exposed by these speakers.

Summary

With a price tag above $1K, Pioneer enters a very competitive market populated with some excellent-sounding speakers. With an attractive design and a sound that provides a sense of ease and neutrality, the Pioneer Elite SP-EFS73 managed to compete. For the money, these Pioneer bookshelves are our favorite floor-standing speakers of the past few years. While we’d recommend the cheaper Pioneer bookshelves for the budget-conscious, the SP-EFS73 are still one of our favorite floor-standing speakers of the past few years.