Deciding which receiver to buy might seem difficult. The reason is there are several models that cost well under $700 these days. One strategy you can try is to look at the most expensive receiver that doesn’t exceed your expectations and work down from there. For instance, if don’t need anything more than a 5.2-channel receiver and you feel like going for a Pioneer brand, you would encounter the recently announced Pioneer VSX-830-K. Depending on the store you check out, you might even spot the older Pioneer VSX-824-K which may cost less. But one of the main features of the Pioneer’s 2015 lineup is to simply forget about past models because receivers like the VSX-830-K bring some significant features.
About the Pioneer VSX-830-K
The VSX-830-K is Pioneer’s cheapest 5.2-channel home theater receiver retailing at $399. It is positioned above the VSX-524-K giving you more HDMI inputs (6 in total) and networking capabilities. While Pioneer keeps the power output at 140 watts, the new improvements are enough to take on other budget home theater receivers.
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Comparison with the Pioneer VSX-824-K
The Pioneer VSX-830-K really makes the VSX-824-K an obsolete product. This is because the receiver comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities right out of the box. This means that you don’t have to buy any separate adapters to use these features making the receiver a lot easier to set up. But Pioneer wasn’t satisfied with matching the competition as other home theater receivers have similar wireless features. Rather than having just one antenna, the VSX-830-K comes with two allowing you to place the receiver further from the router. This dual band approach also lets you use 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz bands. If you will keep the wireless router near the receiver, it is still best to use an Ethernet connection especially if you plan on streaming local music.
Not everyone is willing to go through the minor trouble in setting up the receiver for wireless action but the Pioneer VSX-830-K makes the process quite simple thanks to the Pioneer Start-up Navi app. In the Quick Start guide, there is a QR code that your iOS or Android device can scan so you can immediately download the free mobile app. Once loaded, the app will take you through a simple step-by-step procedure in getting receiver to connect to your router. It even leads you to the iControlAV5 which is another smartphone app designed to configure the rest of the receiver.
Connecting your home theater components to a basic 5.2-channel receiver should be pretty easy since there are fewer ports to worry about and the VSX-824-K is no exception. But Pioneer slightly improved the rear side of the VSX-830-K by adding some highlights to the groups of connections to make them easier to spot and making the labels a bit bigger. For some odd reason though, all 6 HDMI ports are now found on the back. The older model had an HDMI input on the front.
Pioneer even went as far as redesigning the entire user graphical user interface of the Pioneer VSX-830-K. The home menu looks very simple now consisting of just three large icons. You can use the networking functions, calibrate the receiver or open the system setup which takes you to the various settings for your home theater experience. You can also change the language to 6 other languages aside from English.
One of the minor problems of the Pioneer VSX-824-K and many other receivers released in 2014 was the lack of HDCP 2.2 support. While these receivers felt 4K ready because of the HDMI 2.0 portsand 4K passthrough support, HDCP 2.2 is a necessary specification to allow playback of copy-protected 4K Ultra HD sources. These sources currently don’t exist but the specification is set in stone and content providers are expected to adopt this. The VSX-830-K is all set for HDCP 2.2 so you won’t have to worry about upgrading hardware once 4K becomes mainstream.
Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.
The Pioneer VSX-830-K is also the most affordable Pioneer receiver with networking features. Whether you use Wi-Fi or Ethernet, you can take advantage of the AirPlay, HTC Connect and DLNA 1.5 support for playing back audio files stored in other devices. High-resolution formats including FLAC, Apple Lossless, WAV and AIFF are all supported as well as DSD files found in a networked DLNA system. Streaming from a mobile device is easy with the PushPlay feature of the iControlAV5 app. That same iControlAV5 app provides its own mobile-friendly interface allowing you to remotely change the settings of the Pioneer VSX-830-K. If you prefer listening to your music online, the VSX-830-K can directly connect to Pandora, Spotify or vTuner. Album art and other music information can be shown on the screen too while track is being streamed.
The VSX-830-K uses Pioneer’s MCACC or Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration system. The cheaper VSX-524-K has this feature too but the Pioneer VSX-830-K has the Advanced version which uses a 3D equalizer rather than a 2D one. It also has a subwoofer equalizer along with some other exclusive features including auto phase control, speaker polarity check and standing wave control. Basically, MCACC Advanced optimizes the room acoustics better than generic calibration technologies.
The VSX-830-K can handle big action movies like Guardians of the Galaxy 3D quite well. Using the MCACC was fast as you only need the mic in a single position and the results were pretty accurate. The sound felt balanced and maintained its consistency when playing back jazz and upbeat music. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise considering the fact that the VSX-824-K has similar specifications. Performance is even equal to the VSX-45 which bears the “Elite” label and costs $50 more than the Pioneer VSX-830-K. Only consider the VSX-45 if you need a custom-installed solution.
• Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are finally integrated.
• Full 4K and HDCP 2.2 support means no reason to upgrade unless more power is required.
• Nice improvements to the interface, setup process and rear panel.
• No front HDMI input.
• Limited selection of online streaming services.
If you don’t plan on setting up a 7-channel speaker system or don’t need any multi-room setups, the VSX-830-K is a perfect fit and only sets you back $399. If you are okay with the limited selection of streaming services, you don’t have to look at any other models.