A good starting point for home entertainment systems could be the Pioneer VSX-919AH-K, which has been well received. So let’s look at the good, the bad and the ugly of this unit so you can consider whether this is the start you were looking for.
Home cinema entertainment systems are the latest must have. An integral part is the AV receiver, but when you look at the sheer volume on the market how on earth do you decide which receiver is the one for your living room? If this is your first foray into the work of home cinema then the first tip is stick to under $500. You can pay literally thousands for one of these units, but unless you are a technical genius then it is really not sensible to head up to the top end as the set up gets harder and the options get bigger!
Pioneer VSX-919AH-K Receiver |
We have yet to see a Pioneer that doesn’t feature the 2 dial buttons on the front, which are a neat styling feature. Another trademark of Pioneer is the front panel which tends to always feature a fake veneer that gives the look of two units stacked together; however, there is always just the one unit in behind. This is neater than some of the Pioneer units on offer, as the screen at the front is large and has certain clarity. The other buttons and ports have been kept to a minimum, which makes it clean and crisp and a delightful piece to have on the entertainment unit shelf.
Actual user review:
“You can pay 3 times more and not get a better receiver then this Pioneer. After a month of using I am still amazed at the sound! I would get this just for the sound clarity. The auto tune really does a fine job – better then when I brought the professional sound equalizer in. I even noted a cleaning up of the SD video coming from the sat- box. To test I took the 2 component video feeds from satellite one to the tv direct and one to the receiver to allow A-B testing on an older TV avoiding the HDTV that I know worked well. The VSX919 was better! Pioneer really tryed to get it all in. This box really hits the sweet spot for all critical video while keeping the sound as 1st priority. The clarity of sound, and control avail. make this box – and if you can live with 3 rather then 4 HDMI, save $ from off the VSX1019. Manual hard to read, but quite complete. Prepare to send some time getting to know all you can do with this unit.” – V.McOmber (CA,USA)
Pioneer had a cracking idea, which is now standard in many of their units, and this is the ability to connect an iPod or iPhone device straight out of the box with no added extras that you have to purchase. This means that you can plug straight in and use the contents of the phone or pod. As well as this the unit will also charge your device, and if using the iPhone will automatically mute when a call is received so you won’t miss a call or have to change your iPhone over to airplane mode before connecting – seamless technology!
Added to this are all the features you would expect to find on an AV receiver. The Pioneer VSX-919AH-K offers an excellent audio performance. The receiver delivers 7 channels of 120 watts power to each of the seven channels. Whether this is the output from your iPhone device or your favorite CD, the depth of sound is brilliant and there are options to control the mood of music you are playing. Whether you want to emphasize the orchestral strings or relax with gentle beach sounds as you meditate its all there at the click of a button.
The VSX-919AH-K supports a wide variety of surround sound formats including Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio and Neural-THX Surround, so you’ll be able to hear the smallest detail in the soundtrack. Additionally, you can fine-tune the sound with features such as Advanced Multi-channel Acoustic Calibration, Symmetric EQ, Standing Wave Control, and Phase Control. And when combined with the Pioneer BDP-320 Blu-ray player, Precision Quartz Lock System (PQLS) synchronizes the receiver and Blu-ray Disc player for near jitterless CD playback.
The VSX-919AH-K supports the latest HDMI video technologies such as x.v.Color and Deep Color for outstanding picture quality so your Blu-ray Disc® movies and other high-definition sources will look great on your HDTV. Even your DVD collection benefits, because the VSX-919AH-K features Pioneer’s exclusive PureCinema video processing for smooth video with less noise.
The initial out of the box set up did not provide too many challenges. It was easy to follow the instructions and handled all the speakers in the set. When it was tested there was a bonus of a full color screen display which is another strong selling point of the Pioneer VSX-919AH-K, and certainly a nice touch. It made light work of the Blu-ray tests, the images were stable and crisp, and the sound was good. The Dolby setting worked well, and overall the verdict was extremely positive with the Pioneer VSX-919AH-K sailing through the basic tests set for it.
There is the added bonus piece of technology that comes in the form of the HDMI video conversion which combines incredibly well with the Pioneer technology Pure Cinema, and together they make light work of dealing with a video input and effortlessly process the images and feed them back out in full high definition glory, making that a top score for handling all types of media.
And with Pioneer’s exclusive Advanced Sound Retriever technology lost data in compressed music files is restored. What this means is that when you’re playing music from your iPhone, iPod or other MP3 player, you’ll have music that sounds more like the artist originally intended. And with Auto Level Control, the VSX-919AH-K makes sure volume stays where you want it from song to song. We found this feature extremely useful as variations in volume between songs can be very annoying which happens if you are ripping MP3s from different sources.
Based on what was seen, the Pioneer VSX-919AH-K is one of the best models they offer in the mid-range price band, and actually this is at the bottom end of the mid range so it is definitely worth a second look. You need to remember that when you are spending money in the lower classes of technology you are going to come across something, whether it is minor irritations on the levels of performance that the unit offers or missing functionality that you would find on a more expensive unit. But, that is to be expected. Sometimes a product breaks through onto the market that just seems to have none of the issues you would expect to find, and this may well be the suspect here. There really wasn’t anything to be annoyed with, there was no missing functionality for the price bracket, and to be honest the overall impression was good. This is definitely worth the money for what you get in the way of kit.
Average User Rating:
- “I recently purchased the Pioneer VSX-919AH-K, which replaces an older Pioneer receiver without HDMI connections. The new receiver seems to be every bit what I expected from the folks at Pioneer. It has enough clean power to fill my living room and more. It has 7.1 channel surround sound, which goes well with my Premier Acoustic speakers. The auto MCACC calibration was easy to use and I am happy with the result. This receiver has a lot of bells and whistles which I will never use, such as the ipod and Sirius capabilities; also the 7.1 channel analog audio input. If I had a complaint, it would be that this receiver tries to be all things to all people. If the rear panel were cleaned up a little, the speaker binding posts wouldn’t be so cramped for space. I purchased a new 42 inch lcd tv along with this receiver and hooked them both up together. Adding my Pioneer DV400 Dvd player, all with HDMI connections, and the result is nothing short of spectacular, both audio and video are beyond my expectations. Way to go Pioneer!” – D.Adams (WV,USA)
- “This AVR sounds at least as good as the Denon using it bi-amped with my ancient Polk SRS3.1tl front speakers. Features and drawbacks have been well documented by others. The manual is virtually worthless, but most of the functionality is intuitive, the rest just takes a little patience and luck. I can’t believe you can get this much AVR for so little money. I figure if I really need that fourth HDMI I’ll buy a twenty dollar switch. They’re just cables, they aren’t magical.” – J.Green (CA,USA)
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