Pioneer VSX-23TXH

Among Pioneer’s four new additions to their Elite receivers is the mid-priced Pioneer VSX-23TXH. It comes with a host of new features like ‘ICE Power’ amplification and iPhone control. It has some significant improvements over last year’s lineups. Inclusion of the excellent Anchor Bay VRS processing in this Elite receiver is one of them.

Pioneer VSX-23TXH A/V Receiver

Pioneer VSX-23TXH A/V Receiver

Design & Build Quality

Pioneer makes beautiful AV receivers. The famous piano gloss black finish of the Elite series has been known to make even grown men go weak in their knees. The Pioneer VSX-23TXH continue that tradition of alluring aesthetics. The large input selection knob is on the left and the rugged-feeling volume control on the right. The front panel display readouts are clear even from a distance. It displays information like input audio format, channel info, volume levels, radio stations, input source, and even the precise audio decoding format.

A row of buttons with red selection lights and a blue light makes the unit glow like a mothership in the dark. The power button is conveniently located near the top. Apart from this the unit is clear of clutter and looks breathtakingly sleek in this high gloss finish.

As with prior models, the front has a small panel that opens to allow access to some front inputs. There’s a setup microphone jack, one HDMI, mini connector and USB input for portable drives and devices like camcorders and digital cameras. This front HDMI input is a duplicate of the No.4 HDMI on the rear of the receiver, not a true fifth input. When you use the front HDMI input, the rear input is defeated. So it’s best not to connect your primary source device like your blu-ray player to input #4.


The VSX-23TXH comes with 4 HDMI inputs behind, one HDMI input in front, two HDMI outputs, and provides distribution for three rooms. It is the only A/V receiver in this price class to sport dual HDMI outputs. The abundance of connectivity makes this an extremely flexible system, and one that will work well with any room that has a projector plus a TV display like I do. I watch blu-ray movies on the motorized projector screen that comes down in front of the TV and retract it when watching regular TV programs on the 52-inch HDTV.

Layout on the back panel is quite standard among receivers. The 4 HDMI inputs and 2 HDMI occupy the top row. Two sets of component video inputs are also conveniently located towards the left side of the back panel. Speaker outputs occupy the bottom center. The neat layout lends itself to easy connectivity. Each of the inputs can be re-assigned during setup as needed to facilitate your particular system.


Pioneer has always placed strong emphasis on how their equipment sound. So there’s no surprise here that the VSX-23TXH comes certified as one of the first THX Select2 Plus AV receivers and supports the newest high resolution audio formats. The VSX-23TXH is capable of 7.1 channels of digital audio and features Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding. Each of the 7 channels delivers up to 110 watts of Direct Energy Amplification. Unlike regular Bi-Polar transistors, Pioneer’s efficient Advanced Direct Energy (A.D.E.) MOSFET amplifier produces high-end sound quality with equal amplified power for each channel to ensure consistent sound quality. According to Pioneer, this advanced circuitry is designed to offer high stability combined with low energy loss and ultra linear amplification. Pioneer’s proprietary PQLS technology promises ‘jitterless’ audio for a near-perfect transmission when connected to a blu-ray player via HDMI.

On the video front, Pioneer has selected the excellent ABT1015 video processing chip by Anchor Bay Technologies. The ABT1015 features Anchor Bay’s proprietary 10-bit Precision Video Scaling engine that can independently scale an image horizontally and vertically to achieve an outstanding picture quality for Deep Color video displays up to 1080p resolutions.

Pioneer’s proprietary MCACC room calibration and Auto Level Control-Multi maintains broadcast playback at a consistent volume so commercials won’t suddenly blast at a louder volume. Certified for ‘Works with iPhone’, they are also both XM and SIRIUS Satellite Radio ready.

It is also supplied with a connector cable that handles audio and video from an iPod or iPhone.

Setup & Performance

The VSX-23TXH has a new user interface that is like a hybrid GUI-text interface. The graphic designs are nice and pleasing to the eye. A very useful feature is the MCACC speaker system calibration. Set the included mic at your center listening position, press start, and wait for 5 minutes. The receiver runs through a battery of tests on each speaker and sets everything up. It does a good job of properly calibrating your room acoustics based on the configuration of your listening space. You can then go in and review the setup and tweak each speaker to suit your preference if you like.

One drawback though is the remote is just partially-backlit so expect to fumble your way through the plethora of square and rectangular buttons in a darkened room.

Even on a large 120 inch screen the video quality is excellent with lots of details. Colors are natural and rich. The black levels are solid throughout. Flesh tones are accurate and details are remarkable in close-up scenes. There is no over-sharpening or noise, no jaggies or judder, just a crisp, film-like picture from start to finish. It also did a good job upscaling DVDs, delivering sharp artifact-free images.

On action movies you get sound that is deep and punchy. On the Transformers – Revenge of the Fallen blu-ray disc the VSX-23TXH did a great job rendering missiles, gunfire and explosions. The special sound effects will satisfy even the most ardent enthusiast.

For surround and 2-channel music playback you get airy highs and enough weight in the bass. Imaging is spacious you will enjoy a truly enveloping experience on multi channel surround. There is no glare and hardness in the sound even at high volumes.

If you own an iPod or iPhone you are in for a treat! The album artwork and song and artist info are displayed on your TV and you can control the iPod with the Pioneer remote.


There is much to like about the Pioneer VSX-23TXH receiver. It is solidly built with ample power and lots of inputs and an additional HDMI output. However some might view it as somewhat lacking as it dos not have any networking capabilities. If you have no need for that, then you are looking at a very competent receiver and a tour-de-force in sound and video reproduction.

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