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Pioneer VSX-535/VSX-835 Atmos AV Receivers Sacrifices for Budget?

VSX-535 VSX-835

VSX-535 VSX-835


  • Product Name: VSX-535, VSX-835
  • Manufacturer: Pioneer
  • Review Date: April 30, 2024 00:30
  • MSRP: $379 - VSX-535, $499 - VSX-835
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool


CHANNELS:      5.2 (5 amplified)
POWER OUTPUT:      80w (20-20kHz, 0.08% THD, 2ch @ 8 ohms - FTC)
HDMI I/O:      4 In / 1 Out (eARC)
HDMI CAPABILITIES:         8K/4K Ultra HD, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HDCP2.3, HDMI2.1a VRR, QFT, Dynamic HDR, ALLM, DSC, SBTM
AUDIO INPUTS:               4 HDMI, 3 RCA, 1 Opt, 1 Coax
AUDIO OUTPUTS:           Zone B Stereo RCA Lineout, 2 Preout subwoofer
SURROUND MODES:      Dolby Atmos, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualizer, Dolby Surround


CHANNELS:       7.2 (7 amplified)
80w (20-20kHz, 0.08% THD, 2ch @ 8 ohms - FTC)
     Class AB
HDMI I/O:       4 In / 1 Out (eARC)
HDMI CAPABILITIES:     8K/4K Ultra HD, Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HDCP2.3, HDMI2.1a VRR, QFT, Dynamic HDR, ALLM, DSC, SBTM
AUDIO INPUTS:      4 HDMI, 3 RCA, 1 Opt, 1 Coax
AUDIO OUTPUTS:      2 Preout Subwoofer, Zone B Stereo RCA Pre/Lineout, Power Zone B
SURROUND MODES:     IMAX Enhanced, Dolby Atmos, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualizer, Dolby
Surround:     DTS:X, DTS Virtual:X, Neural:X

We’ve seen some outstanding feature-packed receivers from Pioneer in the last few years. In fact, we called the Pioneer Elite VSX-LX805 11.2CH AV Receiver a “Poor Man's Integra”. For under $2,000 The Elite VSX-LX805 gave you 11.2-channels rated at 150 watts per channel (with 2 channels driven at 0.08% THD) and offered many of the same features as the Integra DRX-8.4 AVR, but for $200 less. The LX805 comes with the 32-bit ESS Sabre DAC chips. Denon fans would need to shell out $6,500 for the Denon AVR-A1H, and Marantz fans would need to pony up $4,500 for the Cinema 30 to get this level of DAC.

Now, Pioneer has released a pair of budget friendly immersive audio A/V receivers;  the VSX-835 (MSRP: $499) and VSX-535 (MSRP: $379). On the video side, both receivers support up to 4K/120 and 8K resolution and offer the latest in HDMI processing including 4K 120Hz pass through.  Both units also have support for HDR (High Dynamic Range) video including HDR10, HLG, Dolby Vision, and BT.2020. Additionally, 4:4:4 color space is also supported. On the back of the unit, connections for 4 In and 1 Out (eARC) HDMI I/O, ARC-ready MAIN OUT, and SUB OUT pass 4K/60p and HDR video from player to compatible TVs and projectors; and all terminals are HDCP 2.2 compliant. 

Pioneer Amplifier Power Sacrifices

But, what is the catch at this price? What is missing or lacking from these new budget AVRs from Pioneer? Features aside, you give up some beef in the power supply and amp sections. Both Pioneer receivers are rated at 80 watts/ch (2CH) driven per FTC but it's a sure bet the power goes down significantly with all channels driven. Current drive is another area that budget receivers suffer. Since neither unit has preamp outputs, you can't simply supplement for more power down the road if you choose low-impedance power demanding speakers. We would recommend using speakers with a nominal impedance of 6 ohms or higher IF your planning on powering your system with either of these AVRs.

VSX-535 5.2 AV Receiver


For $379, the VSX-535 supports Dolby Atmos capabilities and Dolby Surround, HDMI 2.1, and Bluetooth streaming. Pioneer says that the VSX-535 can be setup as a 5.2 or a 3.2.2 configuration. A 3.2.2  setup is not the best use of your money, but like rooms that don’t support in-ceiling speakers you might have no choice but to go with bouncy-house up-firing speakers. In this case, if your room doesn't support rear speakers this is another option and an incredible value to get people started in an immersive sound home theater.


Both receivers comes with Pioneer’s MCACC auto room tuning software. Auto Room Tuning MCACC (Multi-Channel ACoustic Calibration system auto room tuning uses a custom microphone to automatically compensate for differences in speaker size, level, and distance, and equalizes response, so you get the even sound you’re supposed to. It’s no DIRAC or Audyssey, but I’ve used it and it does a decent job of calibrating your room based on the sound in the room. At the very minimum, it gives you a starting point for channel level and trim settings for those that aren't handy with an SPL meter and tape measure.

VSX-835 7.2 AV Receiver

VSX-835 front

The VS835 upgrades to 7 channels of amplification and can be set up as a 7.2 or 5.2.2 system.  The VSX-835 also comes with and IMAX Enhanced mode for MAX digitally remastered content—just as the filmmakers intended. Pioneer’s IMAX Enhanced Mode is optimized to adhere to strict performance standards around color, brightness, contrast, and audio fidelity.

VSX-835 rear

The VSX-835 supports DTS:X and uses DTS Virtual X to automatically adapt audio to existing channels and speaker setups, so no specific speaker layout is required. We’ve played around with the Virtual X technology ourselves. It doesn’t substitute for a true 5.2.2 or 7.2.2 system, but it does do an amazing job of adding layers of sound throughout the room without speakers. 

2 Sub Outputs - NOT Independent 

Let's be clear about the dual sub preouts on both of these units. Both theVSX-535 or 835 dual sub outputs are in parallel so you can't adjust delay or level for each of them independently. Understandable for this price class of AVR so if you need independent delay/level control for your dual subs, you're gonna have to add a mDSP or choose subwoofers that have level/delay features built in for you.

DTS Virtual:X adds nuanced, three-dimensional sound without height or rear speakers. Dolby Atmos Height Virtualizer also allows you to experience immersive sound without the additional speakers. So, no matter which format your media uses, you’ll get the enveloping sound experience.


The VSX-835 at $499 and VSX-535 at $379 is currently shipping through authorized retailers and www.pioneerhomeusa.com. For more information about the Pioneer VSX-835 and VSX-535 and other Pioneer products, please visit:


Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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Tony is our resident expert for lifestyle and wireless products including soundbars. He does most of the reviews for wireless and streaming loudspeakers and often compares soundbars in round ups and helps us cover the trade shows.

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