The Pioneer VSX-53 belongs to the higher end of the Elite series lineup of 2011. The VSX-53 features the highest standard of engineering and manufacturing for most immersive audio and video experience.

This high-end AVR offers a host of connectivity, Marvell and Qdeo technology. The VSX-53 has the latest AVNavigator for easy set-up.  As an extended feature, you will have more integrated technologies for custom controls.

Pioneer VSX-53

Pioneer VSX-53

Design and Connectivity

This Elite VSX-53 is the epitome of connectivity. It allows almost all machines and devices to be ‘Plugged and Played’. First off, it is Apple Ready. Any iPhone/iPad/iPod can be connected and content will be transferred seamlessly to your display. The AirPlay feature will allow you to push music directly to the receiver as soon as you are ready. The iControlAV2 App is available from the App Store for control of this receiver. You can control room settings, volume, bass and balance.

If you are an Apple fan, you will appreciate the Pioneer Air Jam App. This is an application for you to share music with up to 4 Apple devices. These devices can be connected through Bluetooth for you to stream music. You will also be able to interact with friends who are connected to you.

DLNA certification is a feature that will help connect certified devices for ease of delivery of content. You can connect a video game console, camcorder, projector or even a printer seamlessly. You do not need to convert your content just to have it play on your CD/DVD player.

Internet radio has already found its way to homes before internet TV hit mainstream. Services like Pandora, Rhapsody, Sirius XMRadio and vTuner will allow you to have high quality radio streamed through the VSX-53. It supports MP3, WMA, WMA Lossless, FLAC, WAV, Ogg Vorbis, AAC, 192kHz and LPCM. You can get firmware updates through the Ethernet Portor the USB.

You will get 7 HDMI ver 1.4a Inputs and 2 Outputs. There are 2 USB Inputs, with 1 on the front. The USB inputs can support MP3, WMA, WAV and JPEG formats. There are 2 sets of component video inputs, 4 Composite AV Inputs, 2 Analog Audio and 5 Digital Inputs. If you want to use your own external amplifiers 7.1 Pre-amp outputs are provided.

There are 9 sets of speaker terminals for the 7 channels of amplification. This model supports pre-outs for Zone 2. Only audio is supported in Zone 3.

Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.

Pioneer VSX-53 Back Panel

Pioneer VSX-53 Back Panel

Video & Audio Features

The Pioneer VSX-53 has the ability to convert your analog and digital signals up to 1080/24fps. The Marvell Qdeo processor will ensure that your viewing experience is rendered at optimum picture quality. This receiver also has the THX Select 2 Plus Certification. This means you will get the most immersive sound quality possible. The best viewing distance will be between 10-12 feet.

This model is a 7.1 Channel receiver and pushes 110 watts per channel. It uses an Advanced Direct Energy for its amplification design. This design handles ultra high power output. It creates a wide range of frequency that is suitable for high-resolution audio formats. This form of amplification also features a low impedance and high current circuit design. This is to render highest performance during the output stage.

Tuning your sound to your room is made easy with the Advanced Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration (Auto MCACC). This will give you a customized audio and video performance while digitally balancing any acoustic discrepancies. Subtle calibrations can be made. You will also be able to save room tuning settings with this feature.

This Elite model can support a range of the latest decoders and formats. You will have Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Pro Logic IIz and DTS-HD Master Audio. The engine that makes the Digital Sound Processing possible is the TI Aureus by Texas Instruments. This latest processor has about 50 percent improvement in performance compared to the previous generation of Aureus.

This receiver converts analog and digital format at 192K/24-bit. It also has the capability to upscale standard definition video to the HDMI output as well.


To test the video performance, we used the 3D version of Beauty and the Beast which has one of the most consistent 3D imagery we’ve seen. Depth were clearly conveyed and the rich colors were rendered in correct hues. In a scene where trees appeared in the foreground, surrounding forests and mountains plunged into the distance for an astonishing 3D effect. Carts and houses lining the streets in Belle’s scenic French village retreated into the background while the Beast’s servants spun and leaped through a grand three-dimensional castle.

3D has the tendency to make the film darker but in this instance the film itself has never looked more vibrant, more alive due to the contrasty blacks and whites. There was no graying of either color. The impressive Qdeo video processor provided quiet, natural video free of noise and artifacts.

Audio wise, the enveloping DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack provided a solid backdrop to the surreal visuals. Dialogue did not only stay in the center channel, it merged well with the potpourri of sounds in the surround ambience. Voices had the right chestiness, shouts and whispers were clear, and every chiming clock, flickering flame, clinking dishware and tinkering teapot was masterfully prioritized. These were accompanied by a bold and weighty LFE channel while Alan Menken’s melodic music flooded the soundstage.

To give the audio circuitry a further workout, we used Chris Botti Live in Boston on blu-ray. We were very impressed with the clarity and balance. Vocals, together with the orchestra, created an exceptionally wide soundstage.  The spatial dynamics made it very immersive and realistic. We felt like we’re in the 12th row of the Boston Symphony Hall.

The 7.1 Dolby True HD audio track sounded full and clear. The mids had an immersive feel, while the highs were clear and clean. The basses were deep and well defined but do not overwhelm the vocals.

Directionality was clear and you can hear each instrument group transition from each other. The front sound stage was wide and created a soothing spatial envelope. The overall performance was well balanced and exquisite. The VSX-53 definitely drew us into the concert with every track that was played.


The Pioneer VSX-53 covers the core functionality of an AV receiver well. It has great audio and video quality and offers a respectable amount of connectivity. It is a competitive model with its new networking functionality and user friendly Apple support. It lacks Wi-Fi, but has other features that will give you good coverage. The price will hit the sweet spot if you are looking for an all-rounder with good build quality!

Discontinued by Manufacturer