Bookshelf Speakers

Pioneer SP-PK52FS 5.1 Speaker System and VSX-822-K A/V Receiver

ARTICLE INDEX

Design of the Pioneer SP-PK52FS 5.1 Speaker System and VSX-822-K A/V Receiver

This system comes in five speaker boxes. I opened the center channel first. The build of the center speaker is very solid, although slightly lighter than I thought it would be (given my expectations). Knocking on the cabinet of the speaker yields a solid wooden thud with a nice low harmonic emanating from the ports. Speaker wire binding posts on the speaker are of high quality. This is always a bit of a relief. While it's becoming less common, I'm always a bit wary of budget speakers, fearing they may come with the dreaded "spring clips".

The "stand" for the center channel is ingenious: The upper and lower surfaces of the speaker are curved. Thus the speaker would rock front to back if you just lay it on a hard surface of any kind. Included are two thin rubber strips each curved to match the cabinet curvature. Simple. Easy. Effective.

The build quality is the same for the entire set. The front towers are especially impressive: solid, quality construction, dual ports... I had to keep reminding myself that this is a budget system, as I unpacked everything. One slight oversight with the towers was the omission of spikes. I have carpeted floors in my HT room, and would have appreciated a set of spikes to give the towers a more stable, solid footing. As it is, they have a nice wide platform, but they feel a bit wobbly on carpet. That said, one nice new touch for this year's model is that all five speakers have a removable grille for those who prefer the "naked speaker" look once in a while.

Aesthetically, the SP-PK52FS speakers fall a little short. The black faux wood grain finish of the speakers is acceptable, but nothing to write home about, and the speakers themselves are all quite large. While this bodes well for sonic performance, it is cause for concern when thinking about how these will integrate into a room. The center channel especially is of concern, since it has to sit somewhere very close the TV. For smaller rooms that may have the TV sitting on a low stand or table, the center speaker may be more conspicuous that you'd like. Also Pioneer has gone the Henry Ford/Model T route for color choices with these speakers: any color you want, so long as it's black. A couple of wood color choices may have helped with the aesthetics.

All five speakers and the subwoofer feature a ported design. The towers have dual ports, while the other models have a single ported design. The cabinets are built from what appears to be MDF with a vinyl faux-wood finish. The sides of the speakers are curved, rather than the traditional box shape so many speakers have. Pioneer claim this gives the speakers more stiffness and thus better sound, as well as being more aesthetically pleasing. While I'm not convinced you couldn't design a rectangular or trapezoidal cabinet that was as stiff as these, I do agree that they look better than a typical rectangular box design. The curved sides could pose a bit of a challenge for some speaker stands though; many of which are designed to grab the (typically parallel) sides of satellite and bookshelf speakers.

The VSX-822-K receiver was fairly standard fare for the price point.

It's a very nice-looking receiver with a common black brushed front plate and glossy display. Around the back there were surprisingly few connections. Thankfully, nice binding posts for 5 amplified channels were among them, as well as six HDMI inputs, and a single HDMI output.

The weight of the VSX-822 was on the light side, as expected for a receiver at this price. The remote was decent, but not excellent. It was small and light, and the buttons were small and closely spaced. If I owned this receiver, I would replace it with my Harmony remote.