Pioneer VSX-517K AV Receiver Preview
|Power||110 watts x 5 channels
||2 Coaxial/1 optical
|Front Panel Inputs
||16 1/2 (W) x 6 1/4 (H) x 14 (D)
Let me guess, you've got a buddy that got some new A/V component for Christmas and now he's looking for a great A/V receiver that can handle high definition video but does not cost too much. The bad news is that this situation always involves making compromises. The good news is there are receivers like the Pioneer VSX-517 out there that offer a great list of features for very little money.
If you are willing to settle for a nice little home theater room with a 5.1 speaker system and you aren't looking for something that can decode high-resolution audio from HDMI-equipped source components, this receiver could be a great fit for your needs. It offers a total of 3 HD-capable component inputs and 3 assignable digital audio inputs (2 coaxial and 1 optical). It also offers 3 composite video inputs, but no S-video inputs. While it does not offer you any access to the sparsely-available new 7.1 channel formats, it does offer plenty of surround decoding options for 5.1 surround including Dolby Digital, DTS, DTS 96/24, and the popular Dolby Pro-Logic II.
It also offers some nice features for music lovers as well. The Direct audio option is great for 2-channel stereo listening to bypass all the surround sound processing and send pure signals straight through to your speakers. Multi-channel (5.1) music is also able to be received via the external analogue inputs on the back panel. The receiver also offers Pioneer’s Sound Retriever, which improves the sound of compressed digital music files when paired with the optional Pioneer IDK-01 iPod dock/charger and remote. It lacks some of Pioneer's nicer ease-of-use options. At this price, however, the lack of automatic setup and on-screen display should not be expected. The presence of 5-way binding posts is a nice touch that will make set up a little quicker and more flexible. The remote is very lackluster, with no backlight and buttons that all look and feel the same. Using this remote in the dark will be tough, though this is not uncommon for an entry-level product.
This entry level receiver could be a great option for anybody that does not require HDMI connectivity and is happy with a 5.1 speaker surround system. It offers plenty of power, features, and connectivity options to meet the needs of most people setting up their first home theater or upgrading to high definition video sources.
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