Receivers

Pioneer VSX-32 7.1 A/V Receiver

ARTICLE INDEX

Design

The VSX-32 comes equipped with all the new features we look for in a receiver in 2010: Six HDMI 1.4a inputs, a front HDMI input, an iPod interface and app for control, 1080p scaling by Marvell, Internet radio, web control, and even optional Bluetooth. Of course, it also has the features that we expect from everything, including room correction (Pioneer's MCACC, which I personally prefer to Audyssey), TrueHD and DTS-MA HD support, an amplifier that can support 7 channels of audio, binding posts that accept bare wire or banana plugs, and transcoding of analog video to HDMI so you only need a single cable to run to your display. The VSX-32 even supports the Audio Return Channel, so if you use the digital tuner in your display, you no longer need to run an optical cable back to the receiver for audio.

The Pioneer also has a few features that allow it to be more versatile than many other receivers: 7.1 preouts, 12V triggers, DSD over HDMI, and independent input settings for the video scaler and triggers. This lets me add on an amplifier and use the VSX-32 as a preamp if I decide I need more power in the future, and the triggers let me automatically have that amplifier turn on and off. As someone who still uses SACDs on a regular basis, being able to send DSD over HDMI lets me get the SACD bitstream to the receiver in it's native format. This is useful as different players can convert from DSD to PCM at different resolutions, or possibly not at all. The receiver will have to eventually convert it to PCM for it's DACs and bass management..

If you've used an Elite receiver from Pioneer, then you're going to be familiar with the look and finish of their line, and the VSX-32 continues that with the gloss black front and amber display. The remote hasn't really changed from last year in design, though I found it easier to use than before, perhaps related to using a lot of Pioneer gear over the past couple of years. One nice little touch is that Pioneer uses a detachable power cable, which makes it easier to hook up the receiver and to buy a replacement power cord for the correct length to help keep my cabinet wiring under control.