This weekend I picked up a VSX-80 from Best Buy.
I went in with a budget of ~$500 and had my list narrowed down to Onkyo NR636 (Atmos!), the Denon x1100w and the VSX-44.
My current setup is a Harmon Kardon AVR 247 from ~2007. 2xHDMI 1.3 inputs isn't enough anymore and I'm tired of moving cables around all the time.
Other components of the system include a 51” Samsung PN51E7000 Plasma, Samsung 3D Blu Ray player, Comcast Cable STB. 5.1 Speakers: DefTech Studio Monitor 350 Bookshelf, DefTech ProCenter 2000, HK 8” Sub, 2x HK Rear Surrounds
While in the Magnolia room, one of the sales people informed me the VSX-80 was on sale for $550 - the same as the Onkyo - so I went ahead and bought it even though I'd only researched the VSX-44.
When the guys were ringing me up, the manager informed me it didn’t have wireless. I was a little bummed and was going to pass on it and go back to the Denon X1100w but he said they’d go ahead and throw in a Netgear N300 Universal WiFi Adapter ($45 ethernet cable included) so I figured what the hell and brought it all home. I could always return it.
Setup was a little trickier than expected. The sparse ‘quick setup’ guide wasn’t very informative on setting up a 5.1 system. It had guides for much more complicated systems including a 5.1 HDZone (5.1 plus a second zone) but nothing for a basic 5.1. So I had to pop in the included CD and download a manual. Normally I have already downloaded and read through manual for products before I buy them, but this was more of an impulse (very unlike me).
It was a little frustrating so if you decide to get one of these, first:
1. Download the manual, read it and have it handy.
2. Install the iControlAV5 app installed on your tablet.
2. Had familiarity with the AVnagitor web server/setup concept
About the iControlAV5 app - this thing is awesome. Although Pioneer hasn’t done much with the OSD graphics and UI the app is awesome.
Sound quality is great! I don’t know if it’s the DAC or just being able to use Dolby TrueHD/DTS Master but there really is better sound coming from my movies now. One thing I haven’t figured out is how to get the best Stereo sound for music. The AVR defaults to Stereo and has some ‘advanced’ surround modes; Action, Drama, Classical, Rock etc. But I’ve never used those on other AVRs. For now I’m just doing Stereo and leaving it at that. It’s easy enough to use the iControlAV5 app to change settings. It’s just a matter of finding a sound I like.
Compared to the HK, movies sound much better. The dynamic range is more controlled so I don’t have to constatntly turn up the volume during dialogue and then back down during action scenes. The VSX-80 handles it very very well. Plus the VSX-80 has the latest Dolby/DTS sound modes. I liked HK's Logic 7 processing. But I'll live without it.
The iControlAV5 app - have I mentioned how great it is to geek out on? So fun being able to go through the Sound Explorer and change settings, or to go to Balance and use your finger to move the slide the L/R/F/R balance around. There’s also a (if I recall correctly) a 9 Band EQ, Bass/Dialogue Emphasis slider and a Status section which simply shows the settings for Phase control, your speaker settings, and a few other options. Of course there’s also a volume control and a quick way to switch between the various surround modes (not directly but by ‘clicking through unfortunately). And many other geeky little features my wife will never use. There’s also a direct link to the AVNavigator (which loads the web server built into the VSX-80 through your web browser.
The Remote: My first impression of the remote is: "Too many buttons!". After using it for a day or two I still feel like it has too many buttons. However, once I got used to it, some of the buttons are really useful such as the channel level, Audio and Video Parameters etc. But the rows and rows of numbers can just go. I guess Pioneer thought we'd want to use this remote to control our TV or something using CED. Meh. I'll likely use my Harmony most of the time anyways.
I haven’t had a chance to go through the AVNavigator and do the MCACC setup again but I wouldn’t mind and it seems like it will do a good job tailoring the system to exactly what I have hooked up.
Truthfully the VSX-80 is more than I need for my little system. The Onkyo is the most future proof. And I’ve since considered going back and spending another $50 for a Marantz NR1605 (on sale for $599).
Really nice system.
I'm not an expert but if anyone has any questions feel free to ask.
Last edited by boondongle; 11-04-2014 at 04:05 PM.