REVIEW: PIONEER VSX-932 AV RECEIVER
It’s been almost two years since we reviewed Pioneer’s VSX-930. At the time we were impressed how much technology could be built into AVR with a $1,349 asking price. Here we are, two years and two product generations later, with the $1,099 VSX-932.
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7.2 Channel Network AV Receiver
t’s been almost two years to the day since I reviewed Pioneer’s VSX-930. At the time I was impressed how much technology could be built into AVR with a $1,349 asking price.
Here we are, two years and two product generations later, with the $1,099 VSX-932.
This time Pioneer has pushed the envelope even further, with the VSX-932 not only coming in $250 cheaper but offering more features than the VSX-930.
Like most, I’m always happy to stretch my dollar further, but I must admit my inner cynic was in high gear. At $250 cheaper than its predecessor and offering more features, you have to wonder, what has been sacrificed?
Like its predecessor, the VSX-932 is a 7.1 channel AVR. It can power two front speakers, a centre speaker, and four rear speakers. Alternatively, two front speakers, a centre speaker, two rear speakers and two overhead speakers for Dolby Atmos/DTS: X.
It that’s a little too much for your tastes, and you would prefer a 5.1 setup the VSX-932 can also be bi-amped.
Like its predecessor, the VSX-932 will decode True HD/Dolby Digital Plus, DTS-HD Master Audio/DTS-HD High-Resolution Audio/DTS 96/24/DTS-ES/DTS-HD Express, and Dolby Atmos. However, unlike its predecessor, the VSX-932 adds DTS:X/DTS Neural:X to the list.
A network AVR, the VSX-932 has a comprehensive range of home networking features, including Spotify, Deezer, Tidal, Pandora, Chromecast, DTS Play-Fi, Fire Connect, Internet Radio and Apple AirPlay Certification.
Compatible with the Ultra HD/4K video standard, the VSX-932’s four HDMI inputs offer Ultra HD Pass-through with HDCP 2.2 and support HDR10 and BT.2020. The VSX-932 also adds Dolby Vision compatibility to its list of supported video formats.
What’s in the Box?
Practically identical in appearance to the VSX-930, the VSX-932 is housed in an aluminium chassis. The front panel has a brushed metal finish with a large LED display and is flanked by two large dials providing direct access to source selection and volume control.
A group of buttons located directly below the display provides access to the VSX-932’s more commonly used functions and acts as alternative means to access its on-screen menus.
The front of the unit also hosts a USB input, headphone input and MCACC MIC input for speaker setup and calibration.
Around the back, the VSX-932 has a decent amount of inputs for the price-point, including: 4 assignable HDMI inputs, one HDMI (ARC) output, 1 USB input, 2 composite inputs, 1 phono input, 1 digital coaxial input, 1 digital optical input, 2 subwoofer outputs and an AM/FM antenna.
The layout of the VSX-932’s speaker binding posts has been dramatically improved since the VSX-930. In the past, I have critiqued Pioneer for using two rows of binding posts (red above black). The VSX-932 however, uses a single row of binding posts (red next to black), for all but the two rear back/presence speakers, so it’s much easier to connect your speakers.
Rounding out the inputs is a LAN port, but the VSX-932 can alternatively be connected wirelessly to your home network.
Also included in the box is the MCACC calibration microphone and remote. The remote has also been redesigned and now has fewer buttons. It’s also much cleaner in appearance with larger buttons that are easier to locate.
The absent buttons, which have been relegated to the onscreen menu fall more into the camp of ‘set and forget’ controls, so chances are they won’t be missed.
The VSX-932 is a breeze to set up. I chose to use it in the 5.2.2 configuration that I typically use in my home theatre.
Connecting speakers and source devices are relatively straightforward, thanks in large part to clearly marked inputs.
A quick press of the menu button produced a clean and easy to work through setup menu.
This is an area that Pioneer has obviously put significant work into since the VSX-930, and it shows. The onscreen menu is both far nicer to look at and easier to work with.
After a quick to test to ensure the speakers and source devices were properly connected, I connected the microphone and let the automated calibration process take over.
If you’re not familiar with MCACC, it’s Pioneer’s Multichannel Acoustics Calibration System. You simply place the supplied microphone on a tripod in your listening position and follow the onscreen prompts.
MCACC produces a series of test-tones that will detect the size of your speakers, their distance from your primary listening position, and then it applies room correction via DSP based on your listening environment.
In my experience, and just like every other room correction system, MCACC did incorrectly set some of my speakers to ‘large’. However, it was simple enough to change this in the setup menu. The only caveat is the VSX-932 is unable to set individual crossover points, so you will need to settle on one crossover for all your speakers.
Having a universal crossover for speakers may be ‘the norm’ at this price-point; nonetheless, it’s going to create a challenge for many Atmos/DTS:X home theatre owners. Setting a universal crossover for the main speakers may not be an issue, however, in a Dolby Atmos system, the ceiling speakers usually have a higher crossover point.
This leaves you with the rather unpalatable choice of either setting a crossover which is too high for your main speakers, or too low for your height speakers.
It’s worth noting that while the VSX-932 does offer dual subwoofer inputs, Pioneer accomplishes this via an internal ‘Y’ adapter. What this means is that signal sent to be subs is ‘summed,’ and distance level and room correction applied accordingly. If you’re using dual subs, you are going to want to pay close attention to their placement.
When it comes to features, Pioneer hasn’t cut any corners. Of course, this doesn’t mean much if the VSX-932 can’t deliver sonically and manufacturers have been known to reduce power supplies to cut costs and add features.
Questioning the ability of the VSX-932’s internal power amplifiers, I started my testing with George Miller’s Mad Max Fury Road. Both the Blu-ray and UHD versions of the film feature a very dynamic Dolby Atmos soundtrack.
Connected to a mix of 4 and 6-ohm speakers the VSX-932 did an excellent job of reproducing the dynamics found in Fury Road. What’s more, it did so at decent enough volume levels to create an engaging home theatre experience which is something I often find lacking in my setup with AVR’s at this price-point.
Bass performance was strong, but not as controlled as I have to come to expect from my Denon X4300 AVR and Rotel RMB-1075 power amp combination. While my usual setup does a better job of taming my challenging listening environment, it does come in at around five times the cost of the VSX-932.
Moving onto more familiar material, it was time to load The Wolverine Blu-ray. The Wolverine’s DTS-HD soundtrack also has its fair share of dynamics. However, there’s also an abundance of scenes filled with subtle environmental cues.
The VSX-932 did an excellent job of reproducing The Wolverine’s quieter moments, turning in a performance that was both detailed, yet didn’t draw unwanted attention to itself.
During the bar scene found near the beginning of the film, there’s a lot of subtle sonic information placed precisely around the soundstage. While the VSX-932 couldn’t quite capture the sense of soundstage or precise placement that I have come to expect, it turned in a very admirable performance for its price-point.
To round out my listening test, I cued up John Wick Chapter 1 on my Oppo UDP-203. Once again, the DTS-HD soundtrack found in the Blu-ray release can be quite aggressive. And once again the VSX-932 proved to me that it had enough power to turn in a decent sense of dynamics.
A final word on vocal performance. This is another area that I didn’t encounter any problems regardless of what was unfolding on screen. The reproduced speech was both clear and intelligible.
With the lack of independent crossover points aside, the VSX-932 easily equals or betters the performance of the VSX-930.
Many AV Receivers at this price-point sound somewhat stifled and a little forward in their sonic presentation. The VSX-932 however, has none of these characteristics, instead offering a classy sound that reminded me of Pioneer’s more expensive ‘LX range of receivers.
Match it to some more amplifier friendly speakers, and you will have a very capable home theatre system.
All in all, it appears Pioneer has pulled a Houdini with the VSX-932. Not only is it cheaper than its predecessor, but it also has more features and performs equally, if not better than the VSX-930 reviewed in 2015.
For more information visit Pioneer.
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.