Pioneer VSX-01TXH vs Onkyo TX-SR705
As a long time Onkyo AVR user I recently switched to Pioneer (a 3 day user). I have the Pioneer Elite VSX-01TXH and since both receivers are fairly tight in specs and price I thought it might be interesting to put my thoughts down on each model and to compare the +s and -s. The comparative notes do not reflect the new Onk 706 which may be a closer match yet.
Please excuse the winbag approach. I probably could have table formatted the comparison but that's a bit dry.
I set up the new Pioneer VSX-01TXH this past weekend. Some observations, likes, dislikes and a comparison to my Onkyo 705 that I have had for some time.
Likes & Onk Comparison:
I set up my Motorola cable box to go into the Pio with component and out of the AVR via HDMI. My Moto cable box is set to output HD @ 1080i and SD material @ 480i. I felt the SD up-conversion and output to the TV was very good, better than native. Of course, some channels are garbage but there's little I can do about that. The use of component to HDMI on HD material showed little if any difference in comparison to a direct connection of Moto HDMI to the TV. I was switching back and forth using the TV input selector, especially if I thought I was seeing artifacts or softness. Both connections had the same results. Bottom line, very good handling of the TV signal.
The Onk 705 up-conversion was little more than a joke. The most it would output from an analog signal up-converted to HDMI was 720p (even if the source was 1080i!!) which rendered the connection scheme used above a no go. It did pass HDMI to HDMI fine so its best effort was as an HDMI switch which meant no benefit from the Faroudja chip and it made the OSD non-functional over HDMI. Bottom line: Good marketing, non-functional performance, poor show.
MCACC vs Audyssey
I ran the quick version of MCACC. I liked the fact that it runs a number of different tests/tones to specifically test for different parameters. I thought it did a good job with the quickie set up option. The quickie set up is a one microphone position system vs Audyssey that uses multiple microphone positions and one set of test tones at each position. MCACC distances were accurate, as were intial levels IMO. MCACC did set all speakers to large (as does Onkyo's implementation of Audyssey).
MCACC is very tweak-able and very visible, much different than Audyssey, even to the extent of being able to upload data into your PC and viewing the results in graphic format. I will get more into the intricacies of MCACC as time goes on. Bottom line: Out of the box initial/quickie MCACC setup = OK, no major issues.
The Onk 705 comes with Audyssey MultEQ XT that utilizes up to 8 microphone positiions. Different than MCACC, you would position the microphone, it runs a low to high chirp through each speaker and then you reposition the microphone to the next seating area. This repeats until you have done a minumum of three up to a max of eight positions. What Audyssey does with the info is unknown to me as you use it or not. No accessibility to its EQ or parameter data, curves, etc. I've always liked what it did and I suspect that Audyssey's algorithms are probably pretty sophisticated, especially for opening up the sweet spot. Bottom Line: Good product, different approach than MCACC. Call it a tie Audyssey vs MCACC. This may change one way or the other as I tinker with MCACC.
I don't pretend to have critical listener status, just a couch potato. Both AVR's sound fine to me, I'll leave the "detailed", "warm", "bright", etc to others with better or more discerning hearing. BTW, I'm running a 6.1 set up until I finish some speaker repair.
Both receivers come with more DSPs/listening modes than one could possibly know what to do with. Some are different, Onk has a bunch of Onk designed DSPs more inclined to 2 channel stuff (don't use 'em) and Pio has a bunch of coloration schemes called Advanced Surround Mode that let you add effects/emphasis to movies, games, music, etc. Big list. Probably won't use 'em.
Both Pio and Onk handle DD THD, MCH PCM, DTS HD MA and the rest of the DD and DTS DSPs. Both will allow you to create back channels for just about any source, including MCH PCM. Both have a Pure mode and a semi pure or direct mode. Both have THX DSPs.
I don't play loud so any egregious sins such as clipping or or excessive distortion at the top end of the dB scale weren't noticed. Bottom line: Pio '01TXH and Onk 705 serve my audio needs fine.
General & Other & Small Change:
I wish I had a nickel for every mention of (excessive) heat regarding Onkyos. The worst I can say about the Pio VSX-01TXH and heat is if you place your hand on it you can barely tell it's on. To Pioneer +++++
The Pio still uses Large and Small speaker settings and the crossover setting is universally applied to all small speakers. With the Onk each speaker or speaker pair can have its own xover setting starting at 40hZ and going up in increments of 10hZ. To Onkyo +++++
The Pio Elite is better looking, I like the amber display. To Pioneer ++
The Onk 705 allows for presetting listening mode based on source material and the input you have selected. For example you can tell it to always use DD PLIIx for all DD 5.1 material when watching/listening to DVD. You can tell it if DTS comes on via the DVD port to use Neo:6, etc. Or you can set it to use the last mode you selected if valid. Very useful. I haven't found the equivalent in the Pioneer. To Onkyo +++++
The Pio has a USB port on the front panel that will accept a USB memory stick. I used it to run some speaker tests with .mp3 files of sine wave tones from 5hZ to 22khZ. You get full functionality, forward-reverse-pause-random, etc. Just like playing via a CD player, but more convenient. A lot easier than burning CDs. To Pioneer +++++
Both the Pio and the Onk come up a little short in the functions that are available without having to drill down in a Menu. On the Pioneer I'd like to see things like Dialog Enhancement available with a Harmony button push instead of having to go into Audio Parameters when the wife says she can't hear what they're saying. I note that the IR codes and Pronto codes are available on the Pio website (that do include Dialog Enhancement). All I have to do is figure how to get them in my Harmony? Guess I'll call Harmony for help.
The Onk has the ability to control start up volume. On AVR startup you can preset a volume level. Very useful when you turn the system on when everyone else is sleeping. Onkyo +++
Both the Onk 705 and the Pio '01 have the ability to be firmware upgraded. Both use a CD for DSP updates and both use the serial port for Main firmware. Both companies keep user available upgrades to themselves and use service centers for the actual upgrades if available. Firmware for the Onk has been widely "leaked" and there have been many user performed upgrades. I haven't read where any Pio firmware has been made available to users, over or under the table.
Both AVRs use a 32 bit Renesas Main CPU. The Onk uses an NEC chip for video/HDMI and the Pio uses another Renasas variation. Both AVRs use the excellent SI 9134/35 HDMI transmitter & receiver. This chip set has an excellent reputation in the HDMI anti-jitter campaign. I believe the Faroudja chips are identical, if I recollect correctly.
The Pio remote is hard to use at first although there is a plethora of options, impossible to use in dim lighting. Ditto to the Onk. No biggee, Harmony user, just a PITA.
Customer & Technical Service
Onkyo CS & TS are legendary. They are so bad that they have to be trained in this way. Their shoddy and arrogant treatment of customers is perhaps the main reason for jumping product lines even though I feel I have spent a great deal of time learning and understanding the 705 operations.
My initial experience with Pioneer Customer Service started out poor. I had ordered A VSX-1018AH-k direct from Pioneer with a promo coupon ($389). I received absolutely no feedback on ship date. Emails went unanswered for weeks. Poor show. Finally after a couple of weeks Pio contacted me and said they had over sold the 1018 but for $20 they would upgrade me to the VSX-01TXH for $20 and they had them ready to ship. Right thing to do. Getting it out of their warehouse took a few days but I think they did a stand up job of eventually taking care of their customers. Pioneer +++
Once again sorry for the wind. I'm still learning the Pio '01 so if any glaring errata is noticed, my apologies, and please set me right.