Pioneer VSX-920-K review
The VSX-920-K is a fairly expensive AV receiver and it's one the most sophisticated we've seen. There are nine 140W speaker outputs, giving 7.1 surround plus stereo in another room. All video sources can be fed to the HDMI output, which simplifies cabling when using analogue devices. There’s an Ethernet port to feed the internet radio function, plus a port for an optional Bluetooth audio receiver.
The front panel houses analogue AV inputs plus a USB port that can read MP3s and WAV files (but not AACs) from mass storage devices. The remote control and front panel display make light work of browsing folders on the disk. A cable is included to connect an iPod or iPhone to this USB port, with an integrated composite cable for video playback from the player.
Track selection is either via the receiver’s or the player’s controls. A dock would have been tidier than a cable, though. There are seven phono inputs, but we’d settle for fewer if it allowed for an additional, front-mounted HDMI port. There’s only one coaxial S/P-DIF input but that’s still one more than most people will need.
Sadly, the VSX-920-K’s sophistication comes at the expense of ease of use. The remote is overpopulated with buttons, many of which have multiple labels. There’s a large dial on the front panel to switch input sources, but it’s not as convenient as individual buttons. Setting up to send different sources to the two zones was convoluted.
Sound quality of the amplifier stood up well in isolation but comparisons with the Onkyo SR608 and SR308 revealed slightly harsh high frequencies and less of a sense of space in stereo music tests. Blu-ray soundtracks fared better, with a detailed surround soundstage and plenty of oomph.
This AV receiver is well equipped for modern listening habits with its internet radio, USB, Bluetooth and iPod support. However, at this price it’s frustrating to have to accept a comprise in sound quality, however small.
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