Pioneer VSX-S520 Slim Home Audio and Video Receiver - Black
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- SLIM DESIGN. A slim, low-profile design fits in with your current audio set up and blends in with your décor. Bringing quality sound and the latest features in a slim and stylish design, thanks to the highly-efficient Class D amplifier. 2.76”.
- DOLBY ATMOS. Dolby Atmos Height Virtualizer provides an immersive listening experience, creating a virtual surround and height effect without employing additional surround or height speakers. 5.1.2ch Dolby Atmos.
- ULTRA HD. Ultra HD lets you take advantage of the highest-quality video source for viewing on a 4K TV. With support for HDCP 2.2, you can enjoy premium content such as 4K videos with digital copy protection on a compatible display.
- BUILT IN WIFI. Enjoy your favorite music and internet radio stations from Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify, TIDAL. Built-in dual band Wi-Fi supports 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz frequency channels. By using the 5 GHz band, you can enjoy steady and uninterrupted audio.
- GOOGLE CHROMECAST. Built-in Chromecast lets you use your mobile device to stream your favorite music, radio or podcasts. Control playback with Chromecast-enabled apps from your iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet, Mac or Windows laptop or Chromebook.
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From the manufacturer
The VSX-S520 comes with Chromecast built-in, so you can use your mobile device to stream your favorite music, radio, or podcasts to the receiver. You can control the audio from anywhere in the house using Chromecast-enabled apps running on your personal device—iPhone, iPad, Android phone and tablet, Mac and Windows laptop, and Chromebook. Discover Chromecast-enabled apps at g.co/cast/audioapps.
Built-in Dual Band Wi-Fi
Enjoy network features such as audio streaming via wireless LAN connection. The built-in Wi-Fi is dual band, supporting both 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz frequency channels. By using the 5 GHz band, you can enjoy steady and uninterrupted streaming of audio files.
Ultra HD (4K/60p/4:4:4/24-bit) Upscaling/Pass-Through with HDCP 2.2
The feature lets you take advantage of the highest-quality video source for viewing on a 4K TV. With support for HDCP 2.2, you can enjoy premium content such as 4K videos with digital copy protection on a compatible display.
Pioneer VSX-S520 Slim Home Audio and Video Receiver. Bringing quality sound and the latest in a slim and stylish design, thanks to a highly-efficient class D amplifier. The slim, stylish design and efficient power makes the VSX-S520 an ideal addition to any home Cinema, it is 120v. FEATURES: Dolby Atmos Enabled. Built-In Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Wireless Technology. Chromecast built-in. Ultra HD (4K/60p/4:4:4) upscale/pass-through. Highly-efficient class D amplifier driving 80 W/Ch (4 ohms, 1 kHz, THD 1.0 %, 1Ch Driven FTC). 50 W/Ch (4 ohms, 1 kHz, THD 1.0 %, 2Ch Driven FTC). Current5.1 Ch network A/V receiver featuring MCACC room calibration.
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I haven't purchased a new receiver in 15 years. I live a very digital life. Haven't used my old Sony receiver in a long time. It was failing anyway. Technology has moved on. Too hard to play new digital content on the old receiver.
Time to purchase a new receiver. This receiver is an amazing step up.
- Sound is great. I love MCACC. Beautiful balanced sound.
- Tons of options for speaker configuration maxing out at 5.1. I ended up using 2.1, 4.1, 5.1 configurations while I slowly attached speakers. Sounded great in all configurations.
- There are apparently tons of standards in the audio/video space. Ultimately it creates a confusing mess for consumers. I'm sure most don't understand or tweak all the available settings. The complexity isn't Pioneer's fault. Its just a complex space. Most of it works great. I have all the internet based TV devices attached to the receiver. Apple TV, Fire TV, Roku 4k, Chromecast. I have CEC configured to allow the TV and receiver to talk. If I turn if on or off or adjust volume from any remote, the receiver power on and off and volume works as expected. It's seamless.... after a ton of setup with the TV and making sure all he HDMI cabling is up to the latest standards. I also have ARC (audio return channel) enabled on my TV. That took some futzing. Turns out my HDMI cable didn't support it and my TV only supports it on one HDMI port.
- Class-D. It build one for my senior college project for my Electrical Engineering degree. Class-D allows the amplifier to run cool regardless of output power. There are claims that it can result in more distorted output. I'm not sure what to listen for, but in a variety of listening tests I cannot discern any distortion with this receiver. Sounds great at high or low volume, with all sorts of music and all sorts of frequencies.
- Lots of ways to provide digital music to this receiver. List is almost too long to mention, but to sum up, it includes Airplay, Chromecast, a bunch of HDMI inputs, HDMI ARC (audio return channel from the TV), USB stick, WiFi accessible server, bluetooth, and a ton of built in services including things like Pandora, Tidal, Amazon Music, etc.
- Phono input: Most receivers no longer have this as an option. I still have my old record player and am glad to see it return in case I try to use it.
- iOS app: Had trouble finding the right app. Pioneer has apps out there that do not work with this unit, but the Pioneer Remote app does work and works pretty well.
Overall, I'm thrilled with the receiver. Sounds fantastic. Extremely versatile. Tons of ways to get digital music to play through it.
However, there are some rough edges. Some are minor that Pioneer could easily fix. Some seem like things are just broken. Some may be harder to fix.
- As I mentioned, I've using every major type of internet TV. With CEC enabled throughout, its now great that I can use any remote and have it control the TV and receiver to power on/off and volume. And all the current remotes work via bluetooth instead of infrared. So I don't have to worry about clear line of sight and can be 30 feet away or so and still have it work. Thats awesome. But with all this bluetooth awesomeness, why, why, why did Pioneer make the receiver's own remote infrared? Still has to be line of sight and close range.
- Some of the "Net" services don't work. This is the biggest issue. It's a combination of bugs, almost fraudulent claims of things working when they're not implemented, and what appears to be underpowered hardware.
- Chromecast: For the most part does not work. This is a huge issue as I see it as one of the primary ways I had envisioned using the receiver. Try it from most iOS apps and the receiver seems to hang or become unusably slow. I have seen it work. Google play music on iOS or Chrome on the Mac "seems" to work unless you confuse it and the receiver goes back to being hung and/or very slow.
- Spotify: Doesn't exist despite being featured as a built in app. Trying to launch the app in the receiver doesn't do anything. Try to launch it from Pioneer's remote control app and it launches the iOS native Spotify app which does nothing specific for the receiver. I'm guessing they intend you to use Airplay.
- Tidal: Very temperamental. Many of these "Net" services in the receiver are abysmally slow. Might need faster hardware. They may be pushing beyond the limits of what the processor in the receiver can handle.
- Pandora: Seems to work pretty well. Can up/down flag songs. Still slow to react but seems pretty stable.
- Amazon Music: Like Pandora. Works well. A very nice addition. Still slow.
- Airplay: I haven't had any issues with it. Works well.
- Chromecast: I'm bugged that this doesn't work reliably or worse can cause the receiver to become essentially non-responsive. I had hoped to use Chromecast's queuing scheme to queue up songs to play.
- Power: I haven't pushed the limits yet. I have a powered subwoofer where most of the power is needed. I've had it loud enough watching a movie to have earth shattering kabooms etc. In this configuration, the power of the receiver seems fine. I have not maxed it out. However, I find some of the specs misleading making me question their trustworthiness. The specs at one point claim up to 250 watts output from 6 channels. However the max input power is only 60 watts. You can't get more power out than you put in. Doesn't add up. Class-D amp design should be able to easily handle much more power. I don't understand why this unit is made so weak. But in my listening its been fine. I had debated and continue to debate getting the VSX-832 which is currently almost a hundred less expensive with more power and lower distortion with all the same digital features, but I like the idea of Class-D. This amp is half the height and less than half the weight and runs cool. Class-D is a more modern, digital-like technology so I think I'm ok spending the extra money for the underpowered receiver that still sounds great and allows me to play music from every way I can imaging.
Bottom line, great receiver with some caveats.
Upsate: I knocked a star off. I just had a case of a software bug. Somehow the receiver got into a state with no sound. Everything else working. Could switch video inputs. Net working. Acted like it was playing. Just no sound. Powering off and back on didn’t fix it. I was about to conclude it had broken. I had to unplug it. Wait a little bit and plug it back in to really reboot it. Then it was fine. Not cool at all. They need to make the software more reliable. This indicates an unstable architecture. It should have been designed to be able to recover even if a subsystem had issues.
Update: I gave it a star back. I've now tried many/most of the speaker configurations. I started with just 2, then 2.1, 4.1, 5.1. Then unrelated event, the power amp in the sub died. I bypassed the sub's amp. Turns out this receiver is one of the few that can directly power an unpowered sub. I hooked it up with fingers crossed worrying if it would generate enough power and if it would sound good enough because of no crossover at all.
To my relief it sounds GREAT! Presumably MCACC is doing its magic. The sub sounds at least as good as it did before. I've belted out some pretty loud movie tracks. Sound is clear, crisp, great tonal balance. No distortion that I've noticed. And the beauty of a class-D amp shown through. After listening to an action movie loud enough to have the house rumbling often, the receiver was completely cool, not noticeably warmer than it usually is when sitting at idle.
So its a very flexible great sounding class-D amp, but with some rough edges and complexity in its software.
Edit (7/5/19): Now the Game HDMI port quit working, so now I'm using the BD/DVD port to watch TV. The STRMBOX port is still working for Roku. I'm beyond disgusted with the cheap quality of this inferior receiver! AVOID THIS RECEIVER AT ALL COST! DO NOT BUY!
Edit (5/29/19): I'm taking this down to 1 star. The Cable/Satellite HDMI port suddenly quit working. Unplugging it and plugging it in again after waiting a minute or so doesn't resolve this. I had to plug the cable box into the Game port to watch TV. Even if this gets fixed through a software update, it's highly unlikely this will see 5 stars again. I'm disgusted and very disappointed in Pioneer, who normally puts out great sound systems.
Edit (5/12/19): I'm taking this back up to 5 stars, because the update from right after Christmas seems to have resolved the issue reported back in December. I wanted to wait a few months to ensure that it seemed to be resolved before I upped the rating.
Edit (12/22/18): I'm reducing this from 5 stars to 3 stars, because I have to unplug and re-plugin the receiver about once per month. I have to do this when I can no longer access the USB drive, and I cannot get into the system settings. When I unplug and re-plug the system, everything works as it should...for about a month, but then I need to redo it again when it inevitably happens again. Maybe a software update/patch can resolve this. Until then, my review will remain the same.
WOW! Amazing! At first, I thought, "What a piece of overpriced garbage!"; that was until I found the manual equalizer! Once I set that to my liking, the audio was no longer muffled and came to "full-color" life! I can now hear ALL the treble highs and bass lows. I still gave it 5 stars, even though you can only shuffle USB music per folder instead of all music from all folders. Also, I would've liked to have had the option to have the speakers still on with headphones connected.
However, there is a workaround - connect your headset/headphones to your TV's headphone jack (you'll still connect your cable/satellite box via HDMI to the stereo receiver), press the Home button on the stereo remote, go to System Startup, go to Hardware, go to HDMI, and then choose Audio TV Out to "On". The only negative side effect is that in that mode, the audio is relegated to the factory setting, and the manual EQ settings are overridden, leaving the volume bland. I hope that was clear and made sense.
To manually set the audio EQ to your liking when not listening to headphones from your TV headphone jack, press Home on your remote, choose MCACC, choose Manual MCACC, choose EQ Adjust, then choose the channel to adjust the audio highs and lows (must be done to each audio channel separately) by hitting the Enter key, then arrowing over to each band (each of the 9 "bars" adjust the audio from the far left which are mainly bass and lows, all the way to the right which are gradually more treble and highs). I hope all that made sense, too.
Once I was able to set the audio to my liking, this unit had me sold! If anything changes, or if I have anything happen (similar to what the negative reviews have stated), I'll surely be back on here to update my rating and review accordingly.
Top international reviews
As for the unit; streaming was an issue until the latest firmware was installed & that seems to have solved the connectivity issues. Other than that, A/B speaker switching and a "AM" radio band would have been bonus. Overall pleased with the purchase.