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Pioneer VSX-520-K review

Ben Pitt
1 Aug 2010
Pioneer VSX-520-K
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
300
inc VAT

Competent, but the better-sounding Onkyo SR308 makes it seem overpriced

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The VSX-520-K isn’t Pioneer’s cheapest AV receiver, but its three HDMI 1.4a inputs plus decoding of Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD MA soundtracks makes it more appealing than the 420-K, which costs £50 less but only has two HDMI 1.3 inputs and can’t decode these advanced formats.

We’re pleased to see the inclusion of a microphone and corresponding input for automatic speaker calibration - something that's often missing from budget AV receivers. However, you only get the one zone for speakers, so you can't pipe music into another room.

An Adapter Port is designed for an optional Bluetooth audio receiver, the AS-BT100. This is perfect for playing music wirelessly from a smartphone, laptop or iPod Touch, but set-up was a little unwieldy and the connection was dropped every time we selected a different input. The AS-BT100 is expensive at around £85 too. The Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver is simpler to use and costs just £25. It can also be used with any amplifier, so you can move it around the house as you see fit.

Pioneer VSX-520-K

The remote control is friendly, with space to make the most important buttons bigger than the others. The front panel of the receiver looks elegant but we would prefer buttons rather than a dial to cycle through inputs. The lack of front-mounted inputs could prove frustrating, too.

It is sound quality that really counts, but the VSX-520K wasn't quite as good as we'd hoped. We found that it sounded slightly harsh, and music seemed a little flat where it had more space and depth on the other receivers. The difference was small and certainly much less than the differences between rival speaker systems.

Ultimately, it’s hard to recommend the 520-K when the Onkyo SR308 generally matches it for features, provides better sound quality and costs significantly less. The automatic calibration is one argument in the Pioneer’s favour, though, and may ultimately lead to better results when optimal speaker placement is impractical.

Details

Price£300
Rating***

Connections

HDMI inputs3
HDMI outputs1
Component inputs2
Component outputs1
Output resolutionsPAL (576i), 720p, 1080i, 1080p
Total SCART sockets0
SCART socket typeN/A
S-Video input0
S-video output0
Composite inputs4
Composite outputs2
Stereo phono inputs6
Stereo phono outputs3
Coaxial S/PDIF inputs1
Coaxial S/PDIF outputs0
Optical S/PDIF inputs2
Optical S/PDIF outputs0
Multi-channel inputno
Headphone output1/4in
Speaker configuration5.1
Main unit end speaker connection typespring terminals and binding posts
Speaker end speaker connection typeN/A
Other connectionsSubwoofer line out, calibration mic input, Adapter Port
Wired network portsnone
Wireless networking supportnone

Playback

Surround sound formatsDolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS, DTS-HD HRA, DTS-HD MA
Optical driveno
Region freeN/A
Supported playback disc formatsN/A
Audio format supportN/A
Video playback formatsN/A
Image viewing formatsN/A
RadioFM, AM

Speakers

Speaker configuration5.1
RMS power output650W
RMS power centre130W
RMS power front230W
RMS power surround230W
RMS power subwoofer0W
Wall mountableno
Centre speaker cable lengthN/A
Front speaker cable lengthN/A
Surround speaker cable lengthN/A

General

Extrasremote control, calibration mic, FM antenna, AM antenna
Size420x348x158mmmm
Subwoofer dimensionsN/A
Centre speaker dimensionsN/A
Front speaker dimensionsN/A
Surround speaker dimensionsN/A
Power consumption standby0W
Power consumption on45W

Buying Information

Price£300
Warrantyone-year RTB
Supplierhttp://www.forumhifivisual.co.uk
Detailswww.pioneer.co.uk