Pioneer VSX-528 review

Pioneer’s budget amp is an impressive balance of sound and features Tested at £285

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Our Verdict

Pioneer’s budget amp is an impressive balance of sound and features

For

  • Balanced, articulate and detailed performance
  • Good features

Against

  • Sound could do with more power and scale

If you don’t want to choose between performance and functionality, here’s a good option.

The Pioneer VSX-528 is a 5.1-channel AV receiver that slots in just below the start of the firm’s 2013 range. It offers a good balance between sound and useful features.

Pioneer VSX-528

Pioneer VSX-528

Audio performance

After a simple set-up, we load up a Blu-ray of robots-vs-monsters-fest Pacific Rim. The Pioneer’s sound is good for the price.

During an ocean-based fight scene, the crashing waves and sounds of crunching metal sweep across the room to give a good sense of atmosphere. It’s a clean sound, and speech is clear.

The tonal balance is good, with no part of the frequency range given undue attention. Bass is prominent but not overpowering, and the top end offers crisp detail without hardening up.

It’s a neutral sound that gets the job done with minimal fuss. A good level of agility also helps.

The sense of scale is decent, but it’s not the massive, enveloping sound we get from the Yamaha RX-V375. It doesn’t punch quite as hard as we’d like either, and struggles a little with dynamic shifts. Volume isn’t an issue – it just doesn’t sound that dramatic.

Overall, it’s a capable, functional sound that needs more punch to be great.

Connectivity and features

Pioneer VSX-528

Pioneer VSX-528

When it comes to connections, the VSX-528 is fairly well equipped. You get six HDMI inputs, which handle HD and 3D pictures, as well as 4K pass-through.

There’s also a USB port, one each of digital optical and coaxial inputs, as well as three sets of analogue inputs.

There’s no wi-fi on board, but you do get internet access via ethernet. The Pioneer is DLNA-certified, which means you can stream music from a networked computer or storage device.

Internet radio is an option too, or you can wire up with an old-school antenna for FM radio.

Pioneer VSX-528

Pioneer VSX-528

Pioneer seems to have taken the stance that smartphones and tablets are integral to the AV experience. As such, mobile connectivity is here in a big way.

The HDMI input at the front of the machine offers MHL 2.0 connectivity, which lets users play high-definition content from compatible devices.

Apple support includes iPhones and iPods with the old 30-pin plug as well as the new Lightning connector. These are handled by the front USB port, which also charges the devices.

Pioneer VSX-528

Pioneer VSX-528

Alternatively, you can stream wirelessly via AirPlay, which uses your home network to send music from Apple devices to the Pioneer.

Don’t have an Apple device? The Pioneer also supports HTC Connect, which lets users of compatible HTC phones (including the HTC One) play music and control the volume wirelessly. Bluetooth isn’t built-in, but there is a port for an external dongle.

There’s also a free remote control app for iOS and Android. It’s not the full iControlAV2013 app we know and love, but the simpler Pioneer ControlApp, which offers basic control and content-browsing options.

Verdict

We like this amp. It doesn’t offer the final word in sound or specs, but it does occupy a comfortable spot in the middle ground.

If you want good surround sound with a handful of features, this Pioneer is a very good candidate.

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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, iRadio, HTC Connect, Spotify
3D Type3D Ready
Maximum Frequency Response1 kHz
Total Harmonic Distortion THD1%
Impedance6 Ohm
Internet StreamingYes

Network and Communication

EthernetYes

Video

Upscale Scan Format4K UHDTV

General Information

Product NamePioneer VSX-528
Product ModelVSX-528-K
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.eu.onkyo.com
Brand NamePioneer
Product TypeA/V Receiver
ManufacturerOnkyo & Pioneer Corporation
Manufacturer Part NumberVSX-528-K

Power Description

Operating Power Consumption450 W

Miscellaneous

DLNA CertifiedYes
Environmentally FriendlyYes
Package Contents
  • VSX-528-K A/V Receiver
  • Remote Control
Country of OriginChina
Environmental CertificationWEEE

Physical Characteristics

Weight Approximate8.50 kg
Width435 mm
Depth331.5 mm
Height168 mm
ColourBlack
Dimensions168 mm (H): 435 mm (W): 331.5 mm (D)

Audio

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

Tuner

Frequency BandAM, FM

Warranty

Limited Warranty1 Year