Pioneer turns over the price increase trend of many manufacturers simply: The Pioneer VSX-933 is superior to its predecessor VSX-932 (test in issue 9-2017) in terms of features, but costs 50 euros less, namely compared to the test competition cheap 550 euros. Happy to hear that.
The list of innovations is pleasingly long: DTS Play-Fi is now on board from the factory, to Google Chromecast now joins the Google Assistant for voice-controlled music playback via streaming. Also new is Amazon Music, which can only be accessed through Pioneer’s app. In addition to software solutions, the Japanese have also tinkered with the hardware and increased the connections of the Pioneer VSX-933: The number of HDMI inputs grew from 4 to 6, which are HDR-compatible from the factory to Dolby Vision. HDMI outputs, however, are still only one. In addition, there was a YUV image input, the analog stereo RCA inputs were expanded from 2 to 4. Also new are 2 preamp outputs for the passive sound of another listening area, but also active you can now control a second listening room via the power amplifiers of the Pioneer.
Pioneer: The medium-sized, clearly structured remote control gives keys plenty of freedom. Unfortunately, the lower corners are quite sharp.
Equipment and technology
The Pioneer VSX-933 has 7 power amplifiers for 5.1, 7.1 or 5.1.2 setups. More is not possible due to missing preamp outputs. Alternatively, free power amplifiers may be used for the bi-amping of the main speakers, the active or passive (via pre-outs) sound of a second listening room is possible as already mentioned. Nice is the phono jack to connect a turntable, but each a Toslink and coax interface are a bit tight, the USB ports on the back and front are practical.
Well equipped for a 7.2 entry-level model: All 7 HDMI sockets support the full 4K program including HDCP-2.2 and HDR. To 4 analog cinch couples join 2 S / PDIF sockets and a phono input for the turntable. The fixed antennas should ensure optimal Bluetooth and WLAN reception.
Not much has changed in the design, but the case is a bit bigger and the device a bit heavier. The plastic front imitates aluminum, which the receiver but only when touching is noted; the volume control is pleasantly full. With the almost invisible controls below the large dot matrix display, you can also control the receiver without a remote control. Speaking of remote control: It does not look very clear, the lower, sharp corners are also uncomfortable in the palm of your hand. Alternatively, the VSX-933 can be operated with Pioneer’s Remote App as well as the Music Control App, which also offers practical multiroom options.
Box setup: For 7.1 or 5.1.2 channels is over. Ceiling boxes can be placed in front, in the middle and in the back.
Pioneer VSX-933 decoder and sound tuning
Pioneer also sticks to the proven MCACC calibration system in the latest generation. Manual fine-tuning of the sound may be done with a 9-band equalizer, which only starts at a fairly high 63 hertz. The exception: The subwoofer can be controlled with 4 bands from 31 hertz. The levels can be optimized in 0.5 decibel increments, but the distances of the speakers can be specified only in 3-centimeter increments; desirable would be 1-centimeter units. Also not optimal: The bass relief filter (crossover) of all speakers can be set only once centrally between 50 and 200 hertz.
The MCACC calibration
While Pioneer uses the “MCACC Pro” automatic calibration system for its large AV receivers in the LX series, cheaper models like the VSX-933 with the slimmed-down version “MCACC” have to be modest. The latter offers hardly any manual possibilities to intervene in the measurement, which in turn considerably simplifies the operation for laymen:
After connecting the supplied microphone and setting the required speaker configuration, all speakers are calibrated fully automatically, with the Pioneer VSX-933 calculating only one EQ sound curve. In addition, there is an optimization of the phases of all speakers (“Phase Control”). Both filters can be called up or deactivated via the “AV Adjust” button on the remote control. The most important results of the calibration can be displayed in a separate submenu; but not the optimization curves of the automatic frequency response equalization.
The manual equalizer is part of the MCACC system and can be activated in addition to the calibration; He regulates with the exception of the subwoofer, however, only from a very high 63 Hertz.
“AV Adjust” menu: Here you can call up various sound filters, including “MCACC” and “Phase Control”.
On audio decoder built the Japanese Dolby Atmos and DTS: X and their Upcomers Dolby Surround and DTS Neural: X, which now also the cross-format upmixing – so the playback of Dolby sound via DTS decoder and vice versa – allow; so far this was not possible for license reasons with Pioneer. Own sound programs donated Pioneer 10 pieces. The “AV Adjust” button on the remote control can be used to activate a number of sound controls, including “Phase Control” for bass optimization, “Theater Filter” for subtle treble lowering, and “DRC” dynamic reduction for Dolby and Dolby speakers DTS sources works.
Cross-format upmixing is now also possible with Pioneer, here DTS-HD is played via Dolby Surround.
Video and multimedia
The video technology accepts 4K / 60p signals including HDCP-2.2 and HDR with HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision. The rudimentary scaler feature plus optional “Super Resolution” enhancement only expands 1080p signals to 4K resolution.
On the multimedia side there are in addition to the free web radio TuneIn also Spotify, Deezer and Tidal; Amazon Music is accessible only via App. With Chromecast, FlareConnect, DTS Play-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplay and DLNA, the receiver supports numerous streaming protocols. The media player also accepts high-resolution files such as FLAC, AIFF, ALAC and WAV at 192 Khz / 24 bits as well as DSD files up to 5.6 MHz sampling rate.
Pioneer VSX-933 Sound Quality
In the measuring lab, the VSX-933 almost consistently delivered similar low power levels as the previous year’s model; only in 5-channel operation at 6 ohms we measured with 71 watts just 3 watts more. Around 50 watts per channel (4 and 6 ohms) in the 7.1 mode also tear no trees, but are sufficient for medium-sized rooms.
In the listening test the Pioneer played round and loose, dynamic and with good fine resolution, without exaggerating it in the heights. Basses pressed clean, but also pretty strong. The calibration of all boxes took about 4 minutes and provided plausible results; but only for one measuring point. MCACC took the heights back slightly and gave the sound field more size and depth.
The “Phase Control” circuit added a hefty dose of bass. For Atmos trailers like “Amaze” the gravure was too much of a good thing for our taste, so we had to lower the woofer level by a whopping 12 dB. The synthesizers in the Atmos clip “Audiosphere” were perfectly locatable on the 2D-level, but at height we sometimes had the feeling to hear the sounds from the front instead of from above; when operating only 2 height boxes, this is not an unknown phenomenon and not to charge the receiver.
In stereo mode, the VSX-933 sounded neutral, dynamic and fine-resolution in pure-direct mode – bringing authentic music from pop to rock to classical music.
Pioneer’s VSX-933 is 550 euros a fifties cheaper than the previous year, but offers more features. Good sound, 4K video and many multimedia options complete the package. The fact that it ultimately only enough for a “satisfactory” is due to the low power reserves.
Pioneer VSX-933 vs Onkyo TX-NR686 – 7.2 Channel receivers blogger review