Pioneer VSK-527-K review

Inexpensive surround amp has AirPlay and Bluetooth, but lacks punch Tested at £300

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Our Verdict

We really wanted to like this Pioneer, but it just doesn't do enough in its core areas

For

  • Low price
  • detailed sound
  • good effects steering
  • Airplay and Bluetooth
  • easy to use

Against

  • Sound lacks body and punch
  • dynamics not great

Who says home cinema amps have to be expensive? The Pioneer VSX-527-K is a stripped-down 5.1-channel amp aimed at the starter end of the market, but it also does AirPlay streaming out of the box and Bluetooth via a £50 dongle.

Its socketry is fairly basic: terminals for five speaker channels, plus preamp outputs for surround-back or front-height channels, six HDMI inputs and one out, a smattering of analogue ins and outs, a couple of digitals and an Ethernet port.

Pioner VSX-527-K

Pioner VSX-527-K

Pioneer VSX-527-K: Sound quality

After a simple set-up, we set a Blu-ray of Star Trek spinning and are met by an immediately attacking sound that’s quite detailed at the price. Speech is clear, and the myriad of sci-fi beeps are steered atmospherically around our cinema room.

But we can’t help wanting more authority. The Pioneer struggles with large dynamic shifts, with its bass in particular feeling far too restrained. While the amp can go loud with relative ease, it doesn’t do so with the cinematic oompf we want.

Pioneer VSX-527-K

Pioneer VSX-527-K

Moving to AirPlay, a listen to Boards of Canada’s Roygbiv flags up more of the same. It’s a warm-sounding track, but has a fast, attacking drum sound – something that isn’t quite done justice here.

Pioneer VSX-527-K: Verdict

It’s a shame, really, because there’s no denying this amp’s value. You really can’t not be tempted by the idea of a quality £300 home cinema amp. The shame is this Pioneer just isn’t as absorbing as we’d expect, even at this money.

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Specifications

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Interfaces-Ports

HDMIYes
Number of HDMI Outputs1
Number of Analog Audio Inputs6
Number of Digital Coaxial Inputs1
Number of HDMI Inputs6
Number of Digital Optical Inputs1
iPod SupportedYes
USBYes

Technical Information

Streaming ServiceAirPlay, vTuner, iTunes
3D Type3D Ready
Maximum Frequency Response1 Hz
Total Harmonic Distortion THD1%
Impedance6 Ohm
Internet StreamingYes

Network and Communication

EthernetYes

General Information

Product NamePioneer VSK-527-K
Product ModelVSX-527-K
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.eu.onkyo.com
Brand NamePioneer
Product TypeA/V Receiver
ManufacturerOnkyo & Pioneer Corporation
Manufacturer Part NumberVSX-527-K

Power Description

Operating Power Consumption450 W

Miscellaneous

DLNA CertifiedYes
Environmentally FriendlyYes
Package Contents
  • VSX-527-K A/V Receiver
  • Remote Control
Country of OriginChina
Environmental CertificationWEEE

Physical Characteristics

Weight Approximate8.90 kg
Width435 mm
Depth342.5 mm
Height168 mm
ColourBlack
Dimensions168 mm (H): 435 mm (W): 342.5 mm (D)

Audio

Sound SystemDolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby Pro Logic II, Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, Dolby Pro Logic IIz, DTS, DTS-ES, DTS 96/24, DTS Neo:6, DTS Express, DTS-HD High Resolution
Audio Channels5.1

Tuner

Frequency BandAM, FM

Warranty

Limited Warranty1 Year