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Pioneer Elite VSX-45 and VSX-90 AV Receivers Preview

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Summary

  • Product Name: VSX-45 and VSX-90
  • Manufacturer: Pioneer
  • Review Date: June 15, 2015 00:00
  • MSRP: $450 Elite VSX-45; $700 Elite VSX-90
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
  • Buy Now

VSX-45

  • Channels:  5.2
  • Power Output: Watts per Channel (20 Hz – 20 kHz, THD 0.08 % @ 8 ohms FTC):   80 Watts
  • Power Output: Watts per Channel (6 ohms 1 kHz 1 % 1ch Driven):   140 Watts
  • HDMI Input / Output:    6 (5 Rear, 1 Front) In / 1 Out
  • MHL2:   1 (Rear)
  • Wi-Fi Built-In:     Yes
  • Bluetooth Built-In:           Yes
  • Digital Inputs / Output:  2 In (Optical 1, Coaxial 1)
  • AirPlay:  Yes
  • HTC Connect:   Yes
  • Made for iPhone and iPod:      Yes
  • iOS/Android Remote Control APP:      iControlAV5
  • vTuner Internet Radio:  Yes
  • Pandora Internet Radio:       Yes
  • DLNA 1.5 (DMR):   Yes
  • W x H x D (inches):  17.1 x 6.6 x 13.1
  • Weight: 19.2 lbs.

VSX-90

  • Channels:   7.2
  • Power Output: Watts per Channel (20 Hz – 20 kHz, THD 0.08 % @ 8 ohms FTC):  100 Watts
  • Power Output: Watts per Channel (6 ohms 1 kHz 1 % 1ch Driven):  165 Watts
  • AirPlay:  Yes
  • HTC Connect: Yes
  • Made for iPhone and iPod:  Yes
  • iOS/Android Remote Control APP:  iControlAV5
  • vTuner Internet Radio:   Yes
  • Pandora Internet Radio: Yes
  • DLNA 1.5 (DMR):  Yes
  • HDMI Input / Output: 7 In (6 Rear, 1 Front) / 2 Out
  • MHL2: 1 (Rear)
  • Wi-Fi Built-In:  Yes
  • Bluetooth Built-In:  Yes
  • Component Video Input / Output:    1 In (Assignable)
  • iPhone / iPod:   Front USB
  • USB Memory Input: Front USB
  • Ethernet Input:  Yes
  • Composite A/V Input / Output:  2 In
  • Analog Audio Inputs / Output:    3 In
  • Digital Inputs / Output:   2 In (Optical 1, Coaxial 1)
  • Pre-Amp Outputs:  0.2 ch
  • Headphone Output:  Yes
  • Front A/V Input:  USB & HDMI
  • W x H x D (inches):  17.1 x 6.6 x 14.3
  • Weight: 21.6 lbs.

Executive Overview

Pioneer recently released two VSX Elite series of AV receivers for 2015. The VSX-45 and VSX-90. We’re curious to see how the recent merger between Onkyo and Pioneer will affect new products, but initially we're pleased to see that they remedied problems with previous features such as lack of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. One of the biggest changes in Pioneer’s Elite line is the revised rear panel layout that’s easier to read and a new icon-based GUI and wireless application to simplify setup. With all these features, plus 4k Ultra HD video ready in a price point starting below $500 for their VSX-45 these two receivers really grabbed our interest.  The VSX-90 steps it up with Dolby Atmos for $700 making it one of the most affordable AV receivers with the latest immersive surround sound support.  But Pioneer hasn't specified if it will also support DTS:X which is DTS flavor of Immersive Sound.

Elite VSX-45

We would consider Pioneer's Elite VSX-45 a value-packed, 5.2-channel receiver. With 80 watts per channel (20 Hz – 20 kHz, THD 0.08 % @ 8 ohms)—400 watts total—the VSX-45 will definitely deliver power, connectivity and wireless convenience for their high-definition home theater. Advanced features like Ultra HD (4K/60P 4:4:4) Pass-through, HDCP 2.2 compatibility, built-in Wi-Fi and a new wireless setup app make this one versatile, easy-to-use receiver.

VSX-45front

HDMI and HDCP 2.2

The VSX-45 features full-bandwidth HDMI Ultra HD Pass-through (with 4K/60p upscaling). New for 2015 is HDCP 2.2 (High-Bandwidth Digital Copy Protection), ensuring compatibility with current and upcoming 4K UltraHD sources and televisions. With six HDMI inputs, the VSX-45 handles 4K2K Ultra HD video at 60 frames per second—four times the resolution of 1080p—relaying the highest quality picture available today, plus 4:4:4-based 4K2K 60P content, offering up to 18GBPS throughput.

Wi-Fi

The VSX-45 has built in dual band 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz Wi-Fi. With a dual-antenna setup on the rear panel, the VSX-45 becomes a wireless control center for your home entertainment system. Two antennas provide maximum signal strength, and supporting both bands means higher throughput and greater Wi-Fi range.  Speaking of Wi-Fi, the VSX line also features a brand-new Wi-Fi setup application for iOS and Android make it easier to connect your Pioneer AV receiver to your home Wi-Fi network. It even transfers the Wi-Fi settings from your smartphone to your receiver. Physical cable connections are simpler, thanks to rear panel features like black-on-white graphics, with text that is larger and easier to read. Speaker connections are labeled for easy hookup.

VSX-45_back

Built-In Bluetooth

The VSX-45 also allows you to enjoy wireless Bluetooth audio from many A2DP profile Bluetooth device. Play your music wirelessly from your iPhone, Android, PC, laptop or almost any other A2DP profile Bluetooth-enabled source.

Simpler Set-Up

An updated on-screen graphical user interface can be displayed in seven languages. The GUI features a simpler menu structure—with fewer words and more icons—that is easier to set up than ever before. And because the display is icon-based, it’s also easy to follow and easy to use.

GUI_image

Custom-Install

The VSX-45 offers both RS-232c interface and full IP command set, providing compatibility with the most popular home automation systems. For custom-installed home theater solutions, it offers multi-zone capability for audio and video support. Home theater in one room and listen to analog music in the other.

Worldwide Music

The VSX-45 also features Internet Radio. Not only can you enjoy thousands of Internet radio stations around the world with vTuner, you can also access your favorite music from Pandora and Spotify, complete with on-screen album art and music information.

Easy Setup

The VSX-45 features AVNavigator, a built-in system that simplifies the setup process. AVNavigator is designed to help you connect the VSX-45 to your network and launch your favorite web browser on many devices. The AVNavigator will walk you through the connection and setup of your new receiver. You can even explore new features of your AV Receiver using the Interactive Contents section. Just push a button on the virtual remote control and AVNavigator will activate the feature and explain what it does.

easysetup

The Start-up Navi App is special app to help you easily set up the AV receiver via Wi-Fi with your smartphone. After opening the package, scan the QR code on the Quick Start Guide with your iPod touch/iPhone/iPad or Android device connected to your home network, and download the Start-up Navi app. Then, in coordination with the AVNavigator, the app lets you do all the initial settings of the AV receiver.

setup_navdi

Ready to Connect

The VSX-45 lets you enjoy AirPlay connectivity, offering the latest “Made for iPhone” certification for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. As a networked receiver, it supports Apple’s AirPlay mirroring technology, allowing you to enjoy your favorite music from iPhone, iPod or iTunes anywhere in the house.

In addition, the VSX-45 still supports HTC Connect for streaming music wirelessly from select compatible HTC smartphones. There’s no need for a separate app; HTC Connect is built right into your phone’s music player and streams high quality, WAV-format files.

The VSX-45 is Windows 8.1 Certified, and also supports DLNA 1.5 media streaming, which lets you access your favorite music from a DLNA server or computer connected to the same home network. Not only are compressed music files such as MP3, WMA, and AAC supported, but also high-resolution files, such as FLAC, WAV, AIFF, and Apple Lossless.

Ultimate Control App

Whether controlling volume, switching inputs or exploring all of the new features of your receiver, Pioneer’s iControlAV5 remote-control app for iOS and Android allows full control of the VSX-45. You can even play back music stored on your smartphone using our Push Player feature. Available at no charge from the App Store for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, the app is also available in Google Play (www.GooglePlay.com) for Android devices.

Power and Finesse

Five discrete amplifiers each produce 80 watts of power (20 Hz – 20 kHz, THD 0.08 % @ 8 ohms) for 5.2-channel surround. The VSX-45 supports formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.

Fine-Tuned Room

Pioneer's Advanced Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration system still allows you to fine tune the receiver for your particular room. By using a small microphone placed at the main listening area, MCACC provides a multi-channel listening experience calibrated and customized specifically to your room by measuring every speaker's connection, and noting size and distance from the listening point, sound levels and timbre. Using measurements from every speaker’s connection, it gives you a calibrated and customized multi-channel listening experience. The receiver is also enhanced with another Pioneer exclusive, Advanced Sound Retriever, filling in areas in compressed audio files like WMA, MP3 and AAC, where minute details were left out during the compression process.

Audiophile Files

The Pioneer VSX-45 delivers the high-resolution music playback audiophiles demand, with support for 192 kHz 24-bit AIFF, WAV, FLAC, and Apple Lossless up to 96kHz 24-Bit. Compressed formats, such as MP3, WMA, and AAC are also supported. Stream these files from your home network, tablet, or even the front USB. Serious listeners will appreciate DSD direct playback via network or SACD disc playback via HDMI.

Green and Easy

The VSX-45 features an energy-saving ECO Mode that, when enabled in Standby, is supposed to achieve a power consumption of only 0.1 watt. With a host of convenience features, including Network Standby and HDMI CEC support, ECO Mode analyzes your sources in real time, adjusting power consumption accordingly to meet demand. Or you can manually select the power-saving settings that are best for you.

Elite VSX-90

The VSX-90 is a 7.2-channel receiver that delivers 100 Watts per channel (20 Hz – 20 kHz, THD 0.08 % @ 8 ohms) with all the connectivity and ultimate wireless convenience you need to create a high-definition home theater. The VSX-90 features Ultra HD (4K/60P 4:4:4) Pass-through, HDCP 2.2 compatibility, DSD Playback via Network, Subwoofer EQ, built-in AVNavigator application and Wi-Fi connectivity, and it’s Spotify and Roku Ready. The Elite VSX-90 features all the bells and whistles that the VSX-45 has to offer plus a few more...

VSX-90front

Enhance the Experience

Unlike the VSX-45, the VSX-90 incorporates Dolby Atmos technology. Meanwhile, Dolby Surround Upmixer (aka. DSU) is said to bring Atmos realism to even your existing content enhancing CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs.

dolby_SpeakerPlacement_620

Dolby Atmos Set Up with Atmos-Enabled Speakers

The VSX-90  has seven internal amplifiers and no preamp outputs so it will only support either 7.1 or 5.1.2 meaning you can only do Dolby Atmos with a single pair of height speakers.  Pioneer is showing a typical speaker diagram used for this receiver with front height speakers. We suspect a better solution to front Atmos-enabled speakers would be a pair of discrete in-ceiling speakers located in the middle of the room. 

Room Requirements
Using the Pioneer Elite Dolby ATMOS Enabled Speakers you will need the following in order to use the Dolby ATMOS-enabled capability of these speakers, the listening room ceiling should have horizontal flat hard surface (for audio reflection) and a height of 8’ to 14’.

Equipment Requirements
In addition to a Dolby ATMOS compatible speaker set up, you must have a Dolby ATMOS compatible receiver/processor and Dolby ATMOS encoded content.

Power

The Elite VSX-90 does pack some serious power into this AV receiver. It boasts seven discrete channels of direct energy amplification to deliver 95 Watts (20 Hz – 20 kHz, THD 0.08 % @ 8 ohms) for 7.2-channel surround. In addition to being Dolby ATMOS compatible, the VSX-90 supports formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.

VSX-90_back

Subwoofer EQ

Besides the custom calibrations of the VSX-45, the VSX-90 also includes Subwoofer EQ to establish the distance and characteristics of your subwoofer, and makes adjustments using four different frequency parameters and an extremely low-latency DSP to reduce phase and timing errors that are often found in other room calibration systems.

Conversion

The VSX-90 now incorporates the ES9006 Sabre Premier audio DAC (Digital-to-Analog Converter). Typically found on AV receivers twice the price, this state-of-the-art DAC is said to provide superior Digital-to-Analog conversion with far less jitter than other DACs. 

Conclusion

It’s always exciting when a company releases a new model with features that pique your interest. With issues like lack of Blue Tooth and Wi-Fi fixed in this new Elite series of receivers, and the addition of upgraded user interface options and 4k Ultra HD video, Pioneer has once again shown why they are a serious contenders in the budget and mid-range market. We’re really looking forward to a possibly reviewing the VSX-90 Atmos AV receiver in the near future. In the meantime, these AV receivers are hot ticket items for those wanting to update their home theater systems on a modest budget.

About the author:
author portrait

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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Recent Forum Posts:

Seth=L posts on October 06, 2015 14:54
surajkandukuri, post: 1099040, member: 76516
Will i be able to use Elite VSX-90 as a preamp to outlaw 7700 or emotiva xpa-7 ??

No, the VSX-90 does not have preouts.

hk2000
These seem under powered, no? And to me, not to include Pre-outs is a deal breaker. The VSX 90 IMO includes everything one would want in a preamp, if only you could use it as such.

We are the niche, not the majority. Most people buy a receiver to use it exactly as featured.

Bizarro_Stormy
Looks as though they're diluting the Elite name at that price point…

Probably trying to gain the market share that Denon, Marantz, and Onkyo hold in the mid-fi receiver market. Even a top model standard Pioneer will get looked over when next to these brands to the casual consumer who thinks of Pioneer the same way they do about Sony. Slap the Elite on the receiver and suddenly you can tack on an extra $100 and gain that market share. How much you want to bet that we start seeing Pioneer Elite at your regular Best Buy stores?
surajkandukuri posts on October 06, 2015 11:57
Will i be able to use Elite VSX-90 as a preamp to outlaw 7700 or emotiva xpa-7 ??
Bizarro_Stormy posts on June 17, 2015 02:54
I'm a huge Pioneer fan, but… they both seem kinda “blah”…

$450 for an “Elite”?
Looks as though they're diluting the Elite name at that price point…

Plus, I'd much rather have DTS:X than ATMOS…


and what's the deal with airline food..?
hk2000 posts on June 16, 2015 12:20
These seem under powered, no? And to me, not to include Pre-outs is a deal breaker. The VSX 90 IMO includes everything one would want in a preamp, if only you could use it as such.
gene posts on June 15, 2015 01:12
We were able to get a look at Pioneer’s Elite VSX-45 and VSX-90 receivers today and were pleased with what we saw. With these new receivers being 4k video ready and having networking features like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi as well as interface upgrades they're loaded with features to modernize your home theater. The VSX-90 comes with Dolby Atmos on board for those wanting to dive into the latest immersive surround format for just under $700, though its limited to only two height channels.



Read: Pioneer Elite VSX-45 and VSX 90 AV Receivers Preview

Do you think it's worth having Dolby Atmos in a receiver that can only support two height channels or would you use it in a standard 5.1 or 7.1 configuration?
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