Pioneer VSX-830 Review
THE VERDICT:
The 830 has really good overall sound quality. The AV Navigator and iOS app also give you multiple ways to adjust settings on the receiver without having to access the main menu. With its low price point, the Pioneer VSX-830 is one of the best bargains in home theater.

See Price on Amazon
Design7.5
Features 7.5
Value8.9
Performance8
The Good
  • The Pioneer VSX-830 pumps out heavy amounts of detailed and accurate bass. The iOS and Android app is great for adjusting audio settings on the fly.
The Bad
  • The VSX-830 has a limited amount of analog inputs with only 2.Treble sometimes sounds slightly restrained.
8.5Overall Score

Pioneer VSX-830 Review

Externally, the Pioneer 830 looks nearly identical to last year’s 824. If not for the VSX-830 stamped on the front of the receiver you’d be hard pressed to tell them apart. The 830 has a brushed aluminum front panel with very little button clutter. The remote that comes included with the receiver is serviceable, but like Onkyo’s remotes, it’s a little cluttered. Pioneer also touts a new graphical icon user interface as a main selling point this year. It’s better than most interfaces that are slapped on AV receivers however, it’s not quite as beautiful as Sony’s. It gets a passing grade though.Pioneer VSX-830 Remote


RELATED: Pioneer VSX-831 Review


Connectivity

The back of the Pioneer VSX-830 is one of the cleanest I’ve seen on an AV receiver. However, that’s not necessarily a good thing. The big reason why the rear looks so tidy is that Pioneer has virtually eliminated analog inputs on the 830. In fact, you’ll only find two. As far as digital inputs, the VSX-830 gives you 1 optical, 1 digital and 1 USB input (on the front). Six HDMI inputs are present on the rear as well as one output. Unlike last year’s VSX-824, the 830 has two HDMI inputs which are HDCP 2.2 copy protection compliant so you shouldn’t experience any problems with the 830 handling 4K encoded video. Rounding out the inputs/outputs are 2 subwoofer pre-outs and one ethernet input.

Pioneer VSX-830 Connectivity Options

Wireless Options

Last year Pioneer opted not to include WiFi or Bluetooth on their entry-level and mid-range offerings which was a mistake since they lagged behind some of their competitors. This year the Pioneer VSX-830 includes both built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. The rear has two dual band antennas which provide a solid stable connection.

 

Multiple Ways to Enjoy Your Music

Once you boot-up the VSX-830 you’ll see that it gives you some pretty good internet streaming options such as vTuner, Pandora and Spotify. It also supports AirPlay and is HTC Connect Certified. During my time with the receiver, internet radio worked flawlessly on my WiFi network with no drop-outs. Bluetooth was also a snap to initiate and use. Interestingly, audio via Bluetooth sounded slightly better than AirPlay which is a little odd. Tunes via AirPlay didn’t have the same punch and seemed to be missing something in the mid-range. Of course, a direct wired connection surpassed both in overall sound quality. Hi-res audio files are your best choice for music playback and the Pioneer 830 can decode 192 kHz 24-bit AIFF, WAV, FLAC, Apple Lossless up to 96kHz 24-Bit and DSD (SACD).

 

Pioneer VSX-830 Calibration & Setup

To get the Pioneer VSX-830 on your WiFi network you have a couple of options. You can either setup the connection manually, or if you have an iOS device, you can copy your WiFi settings directly to the receiver. The process involves accessing the Network/Bluetooth menu on the receiver and then plugging the iOS device directly into the amp via the USB port on the front.

 

The setup takes a couple of minutes to do, but truth be told it’s probably easier and faster to manually setup the WiFi on the receiver. It’s a good concept but the execution needs to be simplified a bit for it to really be useful. Also, be prepared to consult either the online manual or the manual that Pioneer provides you on disc. Copying the WiFi settings over to the Pioneer VSX-830 isn’t an intuitive process and is something most people won’t be able to tackle without consulting the manual.

 

A recent trend with AV manufacturers is to simplify the setup process. The AV Navigator that Pioneer has for their receivers is designed to make setting up the receiver easier and less intimidating.  After you get the Pioneer VSX-830 on your network, you can access the receivers settings via a web browser by simply typing in the IP address. This will automatically launch the AV Navigator. The Navigator will help and walk you through the speaker and input connection process. You also have access to the various network settings of the receiver. All-in-all it’s not bad and can be a useful tool.

Pioneer AV Navigator

Pioneer AV Navigator

 

Along with the AV Navigator, Pioneer has a control app available for iOS and Android devices that allows you to control most of the receivers functions. You can not only control the basic receiver settings, but you can also adjust the amps various audio parameters too. In fact, the app lets you adjust the equalizer settings on the fly as you’re watching a movie so you can customize your listening experience.

Pioneer iControl AV5 App

 

Calibrating the Pioneer VSX-830 is a cinch. Place the supplied microphone in your listening area and the 830 will send out a series of test tones thru your speakers. Based on the results it will then adjust your speaker output settings accordingly. As usual, I always recommend that you go in and double-check the settings. It’s not unusual for calibration systems to mis-label speakers as large or have the speaker distances slightly off.

 

Performance

Live Free or Die Hard on Blu-ray proved a good test for the 830. When John McClane rescues the movie’s protagonist from a crew of professional hit-men, bullets seem to zip and ricochet around the listening area.

 

At the end of the scene the apartment is blown to bits by an explosion resulting in a palpable the low-frequency thump. Later in the movie when McClane’s police vehicle is riddled with bullets, the sound of broken glass came thru with amazing clarity.

 


Captain America: The Winter Soldier
also showed that the Pioneer VSX-830 was a heavy hitter as every punch and kick landed with a powerful thud. Heavy on-screen action gave the surround channels a good work out proving that the 830 was capable of creating a wide sound field. On the negative side, sometimes the VSX-830’s dialogue reproduction and treble response wasn’t as focused as it needed to be which resulted in both sounding slightly recessed. A quick fix, was to use the iOS app and manually lift the dialogue and adjust the equalizer settings slightly to get them where I wanted.

 

Conclusion

The Pioneer VSX-830 is a good little receiver. For a relatively low price you get a capable amp that delivers in the sound department and is 4K ready. On the downside, the 830 has a limited amount of analog inputs which could be a deal breaker for anyone with older equipment.

 


Where to Buy:

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