Review: Pioneer VSX-930K 7.2 Dolby Atmos AV Receiver
Being involved in almost every facet of the AV industry, Pioneer Electronics is a company that needs little introduction. During their 77-year history, Pioneer has also helped develop new technologies such as compact disc (CD), laser disc, DVD, plasma display and OLED displays. As a professional ISF calibrator, I’m quite familiar with Pioneer’s video products (such as the now discontinued and much venerated Kuro plasma TV), and I was keen to see if their new VSX-930 AV Receiver would offer similar levels of performance.
Pioneer offers a range of nine different receivers, from the entry level VSX-530 to the flagship LX-88K, the VSX-930 (RRP $1,349) occupying the lower-mid end of the range. In addition to supporting Ultra HD video through its 4K/60fps HDMI 2.0 inputs, Dolby Atmos decoding is also included. If you’re not familiar with Dolby Atmos, it’s an object based surround sound format, with provision for overhead/ceiling speakers.
What’s in the box?
The VSX-930 is housed in an aluminium chassis, the front sporting a brushed metal appearance. The front of the receiver hosts a large LED display, with buttons located directly below it providing access to its features and setup menus. There’s also a USB and HDMI input located on the front panel for quick and easy connection to components.
The rear of the receiver offers 6 HDMI inputs (five of which are assignable), the sixth being a HDMI/MHL connection. Ultra HD pass through is supported (HDCP 2.2) and the VSX-930 can scale 1080p to Ultra HD. In addition to optical and coaxial audio inputs, there’s support for legacy connections, with composite and component video inputs available.
While a LAN input is available, the VSX-930 is a wireless receiver and as such there are two antennas located on the back of the receiver.
Speaker binding posts are of a decent enough quality for a receiver at this price point. The VSX-930 is designed to be an affordable home theatre solution, as such there are no pre-outs for connection to external amplifiers.
Also included in the box, is a simple to use hard button remote, installation CD and microphone for MCACC setup (Pioneer’s automated speaker setup).
Initial setup of the VSX-930 can be accomplished in a number of ways. The user manual (accessed via the CD-ROM shipped with the VSX-930), contains instructions on how to setup the receiver via a network connected laptop or PC. Using this method, you will be guided through the setup procedure with on screen instructions, covering everything from speaker connection, connecting source components (bluray players etc.) and input configuration. If you would prefer to use your smartphone or tablet, the Pioneer Startup Navi app (available for both Android and Apple devices), will also guide you through the setup procedure. With an abundance of easy setup options at my disposal, I of course chose to disregard them all and dive straight in …
The VSX-930 boasts a total of nine rows of speaker binding posts (18 in total). This large number of binding posts takes up some serious real estate, so Pioneer has opted for top/bottom (red above black) placement of the binding posts, rather than a single row. This means you’ve got less space to work with when connecting speaker cables and it pays to spend some time here to make sure everything’s nice and neat.
It’s becoming commonplace to see dual subwoofers in home theatres (and there’s some compelling reasons to use multiple subs in your home theatre), so dual sub outputs are a welcome inclusion. Connecting sources (bluray players, game consoles & DVR’s etc.) is a simple affair, thanks to clearly labelled connections.
The setup menu of the VSX-930 is broadly divided into three categories Network, MCACC and Setup. Clearly labelled menus (and sub-menus) made connection to my home network and designating inputs for source components relatively straight forward.
It’s now common for AV receivers to offer automated speaker setup and room correction and the VSX-930 is no exception. Pioneer’s MCACC software is able to detect the type of speakers being used (small/large), set channel levels channels, crossovers and apply room correction. Using a tripod, I placed the included microphone at ear height in the primary listening position. Connecting the microphone jack to the front of the VSX-930 brought up the MCACC calibration menu and with minimal prompting the calibration was under way. The whole process took five minutes to complete and I found that channel levels and speaker distances were set correctly.
As the owner of Adelaide based ‘Clarity Audio & Video Calibration’, Tony is a certified ISF Calibrator. Tony is an accomplished Audio-Visual reviewer specialising in theatre and visual products.