Pioneer VSX-1018AH review

A solidly competitive, capable multichannel receiver that will decode all available forms of surround audio from your disc collection Tested at £500.00

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Our Verdict

Despite its demotion to four-star status, the Pioneer still has an attractive sonic character and some neat features

For

  • Forthcoming sound
  • dynamically strong
  • iPod connectivity and full control

Against

  • Not as refined or natural-sounding as class-leaders
  • no upscaling
  • only two HDMI inputs

Pioneer's VSX-1018AH is a unique piece of kit. Firstly it's THX Select2 Plus-certified. It also has an onboard WMA9 (Windows Media Audio) Pro decoder, allowing you to decode coaxial or optical digital audio sent from a PC.

If you're an iPod owner, you'll want to pay particular attention to the USB input on the front panel. Plug in your iPod and you can bring up a display on your TV that mimics the one on your MP3 player.

Now you can navigate your iPod's menu using the receiver's remote control. Some might say these are minor features, but they could quite easily sway your buying decision.

Besides these features, the Pioneer benefits from similar specification to the other products in this test, including high-definition audio decoding, bi-amping of your front speakers in a 5.1 set-up, Deep Colour and x.v.Colour compatibility.

There's also Pioneer's own automatic set-up wizard: the nine-band Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration System. Just two HDMI inputs seems a bit mean, and the receiver is limited to video upconversion (it won't upscale), but these are our only gripes.

Powerful, pacy performance
The Pioneer sounds robust and capable of delivering power and dynamics in spades. The mechanical crash, bangs and wallops of Transformers are enough to shake your sofa to its very foundations.

Unlike older generations of Pioneer receivers, it doesn't sound overly bright at the top end, although we'd still advise you refrain from partnering the receiver with a bright-sounding speaker package.

Music is delivered with vigour and pace, whether you're listening to a CD or AAC-encoded tracks on an iPod. Kings of Leon's Sex on Fire, while not exactly refined, displays real get up and go.

The Pioneer is the second receiver in this test to drop a star in the space of a couple of issues. Of course, its sonic character hasn't changed overnight, nor has its list of features, it's just that it's surrounded by receivers that offer amazing value for money.

Specifications

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General Information

Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.eu.onkyo.com
Brand NamePioneer
Product TypeA/V Receiver
ManufacturerOnkyo & Pioneer Corporation
Manufacturer Part NumberVSX-1018AH-S
Product NamePioneer VSX-1018AH
Product ModelVSX-1018AH

Miscellaneous

Package Contents
  • VSX-1018AH A/V Receiver
  • Remote Control
Energy StarYes
Environmentally FriendlyYes
Environmental CertificationENERGY STAR

Interfaces-Ports

Number of Digital Optical Outputs1
HDMIYes
Number of HDMI Inputs3
Number of Digital Optical Inputs5
Number of HDMI Outputs1
Number of Analog Audio Inputs7
USBYes

Audio

RMS Output Power130 W
Sound SystemDolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS HD, DTS-ES, DTS 96/24, DTS Neo:6, THX

Physical Characteristics

Width420 mm
Depth433 mm
Weight Approximate13.15 kg
Height173 mm
ColourSilver
Dimensions173 mm (H): 420 mm (W): 433 mm (D)

Technical Information

Total Harmonic Distortion THD0.1%

Tuner

Frequency BandAM, FM

Warranty

Limited Warranty1 Year