My New Pioneer Receivers!

As I eluded to sometime ago, I’ve upped my home theater game in several different areas. The part that I did something about was my receiver.

I had been rocking the Pioneer VSX-D812-K and while it has been a “loyal friend and true” for quite sometime, not having HDMI inputs or decoding for HD audio was starting to grate on me a bit. Honestly though, I never really made up my mind to change up the receiver but while I was at Worst Buy, I happened upon a receiver that made me cock an eyebrow.

The Pioneer VSX-90TXV
So this receiver was sitting out on a table of “Manager’s Specials” and was listed at $323 I believe. Immediately, the look of it caught my eye as do most of the receivers in the Pioneer Elite lineup. And of course being me the first thing I do is turn it around so I can drool over the connections in the back. Certainly it puts my old receiver to shame but I still had enough restraint to do some research that night at home to check out what it decodes and what it can do. I won’t hit them all up here, but if you’re curious click the link to go to Pioneer’s VSX-90TXV stats.

Pioneer VSX-90TXV

Fast forward to the next day and I went back to Best Buy and basically fought off another customer to get the receiver. Needless to say, I was grinning from ear to ear thinking I got something that looked really attractive and was indeed really special. That is… UNTIL I hooked my stuff up to it including my 360 and projector… How about – I COULDN’T GET ANY SOUND OUT OF THE RECEIVER. What gives you may ask? Well after many many minutes of research on the big G and forums I found out that if this receiver doesn’t pull audio for HDMI connections, it just passes it through (to say your TV).

I found this out and was just ticked off. What’s the point of having a receiver with HDMI connections if it can’t parse the audio!? The manual says that if you want digital audio, you have to make ANOTHER connection using an optical cord or something… AND SO I needed to find a new receiver.

Enter the Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K!
Over on the AVS Forums, I found out that people who didn’t especially like the 90-TXV went over to the Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K. Sure it doesn’t look AS nice, but the features are really spectacular for its price point. (And I think I managed to snag it at $4-$500 w/ an employee discount). Again, hit the jump to check out all the VSX-1018AH-K specs but some highlights are HD Audio decoding, HDMI connections, and *drumroll* video upconversion!!! That last one is huge because I wasn’t feeling running tons of cables to my projector so being able to put everything through on ONE HDMI cord was pretty choice.

Pioneer VSX-1018-AH-K

Since hooking things up, I’ve been very happy with the receiver. Things look just great on it and sound even better. Unfortunately, I didn’t take in to account the fact that I live in a townhouse with slotted stairs… Yeah you guessed it, the sound just travels throughout the whole place COMPLETELY unabated. So.. If the wife is sleeping, I can’t crank it too much, but even when it’s on a little it sounds FAB U LOUS.

Home Theater in a Box

I’m a home theater enthusiast.

That’s to say that I love tinkering with my home theater setup, I love improving it when I can, and I love learning about the technology.

I bought my first home theater system in 1997. That’s just about 10 years ago. I can’t believe that. 10 years ago. Looking back at my first setup, I’m amazed at how smart or lucky I was to get a halfway decent system from a box.

Let me explain.

Home Theater Systems in a Box

Recently, people seem to be coming to me in droves asking me how to get started with home theater. And they always ask me what I think about this system or that system… And regardless of what system they’re referring to, the system always seems to come from a box. I don’t let that deter me and I always go ahead and check out the system. But more often than not, I come to the conclusion :

The system sucks!

Where Have the Receivers Gone?

Every home theater package that I see has at its center a DVD player. What the devil is that about?! MAYBE 10 years ago that’d be ok, but now we just have too many things that we can get great audio from! Cable, MP3 players, DVD players, video game systems are just a few examples.

And if you have a DVD player as the heart of your system, seriously – How many things can you hope to plug in at one time?! And even if you ARE able to plug multiple things in, a DVD player probably won’t be able to decode all the surround sound formats that are on DVDs.

Hello!? Why would you want to set yourself for disappointment by getting a system that’s not able to intelligently let you listen to the multi channel audio that’s in everything nowadays? I just don’t get it.

Check out the Connections

I am in no way in expert in home theater especially not at the moment, but I can still give you a great tip when buying home theater systems from a box. First, get a system with a receiver. And before you actually buy it, turn it around and look at the connections. Make sure there’s plenty, and make sure it has component. (Since currently you be hard pressed to find one with HDMI connections).

After that, just enjoy your $300 system or however much it cost. Now that you have some speakers and a receiver, you can update things in stages as you go forward all the while enjoying some fantastic sound!

Any of you looking to get a home theater or already have one? Or maybe a better question, anyone bought a home theater system from a box to be disappointed with it later?