I know the Onkyo 809 has Burr-Browns, so how do you think the audio quality of the 809 would stack up to the VSX-52?
I went to the Pioneer website and I saw press releases stating that Pioneer has done extensive R&D with Burr Browns for their Blu-Ray players as well as other products, but I did not see anything that stated specifically that Pioneer paired with Burr Browns for the Elite's.
I would not really have it as a concern (Pioneer produces Quality and would not throw any low quality DAC's into their receivers) but if it was that important to you,
a quick call to Pioneer would set you at ease. Their number is: 1-800-746-6337 (Their in Pacific Time Zone)
I called them twice in the last two days and I got right through to them.
Their prompts will direct you to their website but there is also a prompt if you cannot reach the web and a rep will chat with you.
On paper the Onkyo looks on Par with the Elites less a number of features.
One of those Features is the "Home Media Gallery" you can look in the OP Manual to see what that is all about.
Another few missing Feature's is "Air Play" and "Air Jam" as well as No I-Pad support.
I also did not see support for Android's which is a big thing these days.
Your best bet is to download the OP Manual for each product that you are interested in and just do a quick walk through as to it's Connections and Features.
This way you can compare them Apples to Apples or in this case Apples to Oranges because of the vast differences between them.
Then you need to evaluate for YOURSELF the importance or not of what each has to offer or not offer.
If you search backwards through this post you will find the Brochures for the Elite VSX 52 and 53 as well as a link for the OP Manual.
Also go to the Onkyo 809 thread here at AVS, I am sure that there is one and see what they have to say...has there been any issues so far with the 809.
Onkyo has not been perfect with their excessive heating issues and some are a bit skiddish on Onkyo.
I will say that the Pioneers run very cool to warm which is good when placed into and on a shelf in a entertainment center or component stand.
The Elite VSX 53 has two HDMI Outs (like the 809 has) and is priced the same as the Onkyo 809 on paper but unlike the Pioneer Elites which Cannot be purchased online,
the 809 can be found on-line and for roughly the price of a VSX 1121.
I have seen post after post from people that have listened to many different receivers from many different manufacturers that have always commented on the sound quality of the Pioneers.
In a good and positive way.
I think that Sound quality is in the EAR of the beholder! LOL!
There are very discerning Ears and there are some that will do with a $200.00 receiver of whatever good deal can be found!
My parents do not even understand connecting their TV to a Receiver and will gladly sit and watch a 27" CRT from the TV's speakers! LOL!
So the gambit runs from there up to where we are here.
I would like to say unequivocally that you would not be disappointed, but then again..I do not have your ears!
Best Buy "Magnolia Home Theater" stores have both the Elite's and the Onkyo's with a myriad of Speaker choices in listening rooms...Get your Ears over there and give them a listen!
That's my best advice!
Good Luck on your Quest!