I guess this should be more like a vote count since I know two people with each receiver respectivelly and they each swear by their purchase. However, I wonder what the real experts in this forum could say about either. But don't forget to cast a vote for either should you wish to comment on the receivers listed. Thanks....
I haven't heard the Pioneer, but I own the H/K AVR-320 and am very pleased with its performance. I have owned it for over two years now with no problems. Although the AVR-320 rates it wpc as 55, I can testify that it sounds louder and cleaner than my previous integrated amp that was rated at 100wpc.
the h/k is not bad, i have one similar that i used before i got into 2ch hifi (which sounds way better for music)
imo the pioneer is a little thin and bright, i like the h/k out of the two, but if i were you spending $500+, id look at nad, marantz & b&k (probably used)
These will also be rated lower than you are used to seeing, but they will be more powerful and dynamic. I am using a Nad integraded rated at like 45wpc and it blows the doors off my old HK 65wpc and a Pioneer 100wpc!!!
a quality receiver will handle 8, 4, and some even 2 ohm loads! look below, the NAD puts out 175 wpc at 2 ohms, this tells you there are quality high current amplifiers / power supply on board, which means better sound... i have seen this on the net for as low as $449
Those were great comments made on both brands. I always thought that the Elite line of Pioneer was considered as it's name suggests, elite. However, HK's reputation as a great sounding receiver has been around for ages. Keep those comments coming if you please and yes I have had a look in the NAD, Marantz and even B/K but found them to be a bit more than the $500 budget challenge of the Pioneer vs HK receivers.
I'm a happy owner of Pioneer VSX-D2011 which is the European equivalent of Elite 45TX. I'm not sure about the 43TX, which I guess the equivalent of VSX-D1011. If so, I wouldn't consider it. Because, though they have basically the same amplifier and much of the same circuits, the D1011 lacks the auto MCACC (only manual), no phono input and does not support component video switching (US 43TX may differ).
BTW, 45TX's phono input has the option of using it as line input too by menu selection. Its 6th and 7th channels can be configured for passive bi-amplification of the main speakers. It also supports second zone.
On the other hand if you do decide on NAD, you'll have the advantage that "you'll never walk alone" afterwards, as the net is swarming with NAD owners complaining and searching help about various problems (because of poor design and low quality internal components) they have.