Upgrade Review of Pioneer VSX 520 k [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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04-12-2011, 01:36 PM
Well the upgrade bug was nipping at my heels, due to knowing that I was not getting the full HD sound from my older Pioneer VSX 411, by the way has been a great starter system AVR for the Bedroom. So I kept in that same mindset and went looking for something in the under $150 range, but wanted HDMI in/out. I found the 520 K that fit the bill just right. This is a year old model, but gives much of what I needed for the bedroom. Having the 3 HDMI in provided me with full 1080i/p for the cable box and BDP and being able to enjoy True DD HD and DTS Master. Saving me input space to have the Squeeze box back on Coax. The Pioneer patented Sound Retriever mode is a big plus for my compress audio collection. And if you are one of the Ipod fans/phones with tons of music on it this has a blue tooth adapter (sold separate from $30-80 online) so you can stream your music or just plug it in the front 3.5mm port, I used my Samsung Jack and the bluetooth worked flawlessly. Setup was a breeze for me, having been using pioneer gear for ever, but the set up menu can throw you off if not careful. I use the new Tron as my test disk and WOW, maybe its that new toy sense, but it seem to bring out the smallest sounds that I may have missed before. The HDMI pass through was great with no obvious sign of degradation of the video or TV signal. The Rated 110 Watt per Channel is more than I need for the bedroom, but for those on their first AV system or thinking of moving up to HDMI and the new audio formats this is hard to pass up. I needed to add this last point, the HDMI is 1.4 and I paid $135 for the unit online.


Part of Review from Audioholics

Pioneer brags about a few other features with their Pioneer VSX-520-K including Bluetooth ready (with an additional purchase of the $129 AS-BT100 Bluetooth adapter). There is an Auto-Level Control and Advanced (http://forums.audioreview.com/#) Sound Retriever (trying to make MP3s sound better) but these didn't interest us as much as the fact that the Pioneer VSX-520-K decodes ALL the major audio formats including Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD. This is practically unheard of at this price point. Most entry-level receivers won't even accept audio over HDMI, opting instead to function as HDMI switchers.
So, what are you giving up? On screen display, analogue to digital video conversion, and don't even hope for 1080p video upscaling. This means that you'll need to use the small screen on the receiver for control, you'll need to match the cable types for each input (HDMI to HDMI, Component to Component, etc.), and your display/source will have to do the upconversion. While the OSD will be missed, at this price point, you weren't getting the others anyhow. The Pioneer MCACC is also missing. This is the proprietary auto setup/room correction system Pioneer uses. Out of all of the corners cut, this is probably the one that will be missed the most. At entry level is where users are most likely to need a auto-setup function. Still, we'll take HDMI audio support over MCACC any day.

Pioneer seems to be pushing the envelope of what we can expect in an entry-level receiver. We really think they have cut the right corners with the Pioneer VSX-520-K. While we think a lot of users will miss the MCACC auto setup, we think the inclusion of audio (much less HD audio native decoding) over HDMI is well worth it. As an entry level receiver goes, this one has a lot of expandability. You can add surround back/height channels, Bluetooth control, and it is ready for 3D. For $229, this may be the new defacto standard for budget receivers.
For more information, please visit www.pioneerelectronics.com (http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Products/HomeEntertainment/AV-Receivers/PioneerReceivers/ci.VSX-520-K.Kuro).
Check out AV Rant for an interview with Dave Bales of Pioneer Electronics (http://www.avrant.com/?p=1282) about their new line of receivers.

04-13-2011, 01:03 PM
wow, that is a lot of bang for the buck. CONGRATS.
These things get any cheaper and they will be in cereal boxes.
PIONEER always looks cheap and is sometimes built cheap, but they always sound great,
which is whats important, having beat mega-buck amps in double blind comparos.