Pioneer used its recent Rome product launch to show tech.co.uk a prototype of its forthcoming LX01 home cinema system.

Not available here until October, the LX01 comes in the same glossy-black as Pioneer's 8G plasmas . It's these pretty-boy looks that have led Pioneer to dub the LX01 the 'haute couture' system.

The LX01 is more than just a monolithic sub-woofer and some swish, space-saving satellites. Also on the spec sheet is a digital terrestrial tuner, 3x HDMIs with 1080p scaling, and iPod connectivity. But the highlight here is the integrated 250GB HDD/DVD recorder.

First off, this lets you record TV programmes (scheduled via the Showview EPG) and play back CDs and DVDs. Secondly, you can also transfer music to the hard disk, either by ripping CDs manually or transferring tracks via a USB connection.

Any CDs you have can be copied to retain the original Linear PCM. The LX01 will auto-add track/album details using an integrated Gracenote CDDB database. If it gets the information wrong, you can even plug in a USB keyboard to manually edit the data.

Sounds virtually perfect

You'll notice we don't mention a centre speaker as part of the LX01 package. There's just the subwoofer-receiver and a set of four wedge-shaped satellites. The lack of a dedicated centre speaker is due to the fact that Pioneer's satellite speakers are designed to be omni-directional.

The unique dodecahedron design drives audio from the top, front and side faces of the speaker to create a full 3D sound field. It's not quite a traditional surround sound setup, nor is it exactly a virtual solution.

Pioneer explained that while conventional speakers generate directional sound, the LX01's speakers generate sound fields in all directions. The demo of the LX01 certainly filled the room we were sitting in with convincing bass-dominated jazz. The effect, Pioneer proudly claims, is like listening to a CD but hearing what amounts to a live music performance.

Whether you believe Pioneer or not, the LX01 is shaping up to be a versatile home cinema system. Last, but not least, if you plug the new Pioneer BDP-LX70 Blu-ray player into one of the three HDMI ports, the system can act as a fully-fledged amp. Like Pioneer's newly-launched VSX-LX50, the LX01 will support Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD audio formats.

No pricing has been announced by Pioneer for its LX01 - it's still in the prototype stage. But considering that Pioneer used its recent Rome event to reposition itself as a 'premium' product seller (more so than it was before), don't expect this 'haute couture' system to come cheap.