Pioneer VSX-933 Review: Absolutely neutral, comfortable and even

Tech Week Score
- Dimitri Sokolov

The Pioneer VSX-933 AV receiver has a 7.2 configuration (7 channels of amplification plus outputs for 2 subwoofers), in installations with 3D Audio support it will be transformed into 5.2.2, where the middle figure indicates the number of ceiling speakers (or special modules radiating upward and installed on regular speakers). Two “extra” channels can also be used for bi-amping connection – useful for those who value high-quality music reproduction than three-dimensional sound in a movie.

The built-in Wi-Fi adapter works in two bands (2.4 / 5 GHz), which means it can establish a stable wireless connection even in a large apartment building packed with access points.

Based on the presence of two antennas, data rates of up to 300 Mbps are possible – enough to reproduce stereo audio streams up to 192 kHz / 24 bit (AIFF, Apple Lossless, WAV, FLAC) or multichannel FLAC or WAV 48 kHz / 24 bit (over a wired Ethernet network – up to 96 kHz / 24 bit). Moreover, continuous playback (gapless) of tracks is possible – this is necessary for albums recorded without pauses. Bluetooth with aptX support for high-quality music playback from smartphones and tablets.

A critical opportunity for those who keep part of their collection on a smartphone.

The network functionality of the receiver is implemented almost in full: it can work as a DAR (digital audio renderer), that is, a passive playback device that receives streams from a mobile application or an audio server installed on a desktop computer.

And also as a network player with a graphical menu display on the TV or text information on its own display and control from the remote control or a mobile application. There is an Internet radio receiver based on the vTuner service, which has an extensive collection of stations of various topics from around the world. So the VSX-933 owner won’t need a separate network player.

The video path of the receiver is designed to work with modern TVs and projectors: it supports 3D, is capable of not only passing 4K signals with a frame rate of 60p, color subsampling 4: 4: 4 and a bit depth of 36 bits, but also upscaling any input video streams to this level.

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There is only one HDMI output, with an audio return channel (ARC) and an HDMI CEC control bus. There are six HDMI inputs, and one of them supports MHL mode for playing content from Android devices. The USB interface is designed to connect Apple technology and drives with media files, as well as to recharge mobile devices.

There are even analog video interfaces: one component input and two composite inputs. Analog stereo audio inputs – four pairs of RCA. But there are no line outputs (apart from two subwoofers) – perhaps this is the only thing missing here. I mean the stereo output, which feeds the mix of all channels – it may be needed to integrate the receiver into an existing stereo system with a high-quality amplifier (final or integral) for sharing the front speakers.

However, now absolutely all manufacturers supply such outputs only to older models of receivers, for example, they appear in the Pioneer LX-series.

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There are two digital audio inputs: optical and coaxial, they allow using the receiver as an external DAC. There is also a Phono input. There is no USB type B connector for decoding digital streams from computers, but this can hardly be considered a disadvantage, since a network player, which is essentially a VSX-933, is also not required to be a USB converter.

Of all the home theater components, the AV receiver is the most complex to set up, connect, and control. And as the manufacturers have long understood, this can scare off potential consumers, so everyone is trying to the best of their ability to make the management of the most complex equipment as simple as possible. It is hardly possible to do this by standard means, using the remote control and the receiver’s graphical interface.

Traditional remotes are not able to fit all the necessary keys and buttons on themselves, even if they are made “two-story”, as before, and the receiver processor is busy with its duties, and it does not have additional computing power that could be used for a simpler and more humane user control. Not surprisingly, Pioneer’s developers have relied on mobile apps.


The first of these, Start-up Navi, is an interactive setup and connection assistant: it provides step-by-step instructions and tips to resolve possible problems, for example, when connecting to the network. After the receiver is online, it is possible to use the main application iControlAV5, which can also be used to control Pioneer Blu-ray players.

The program can do almost everything, including control of all receiver functions, selection of presets and DSP modes, switching inputs and outputs, playing tracks over the network, from USB-drives and the smartphone or tablet itself, etc. etc.

In terms of its capabilities, it is many times superior to a traditional remote control, and this largely compensates for its congestion and “blindness” – the captions to the buttons are made in light gray on a black background or dark gray on a light gray, and therefore are difficult to read, especially in low light , even the backlighting of the keys does not help. Most likely, it will be used only in emergency cases – when the smartphone is busy with a phone conversation or you forgot to charge it.

The most important part of the setup, the acoustics calibration, is made very simple thanks to the MCACC PRO system: the most difficult thing is to fix the supplied measurement microphone to the listening position. The system only works for a few minutes, and the result is impressive. If desired, you can compare the initial and final graphs and charts in a special section of the menu.

I must admit that the musical abilities of the Pioneer VSX-933 receiver were pleasantly surprised: it plays absolutely neutral, comfortable and even. Does not emphasize secondary details and at the same time is quite informative.

It adequately conveys the emotional charge of the music, rhythmically accurate. If I didn’t know that amplifiers work in class D, I would never have guessed about it from the sound. I would have decided that this is the good old class AB. Although it is clear that with an analog amplifier, the receiver would be heavier and more expensive.

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