Pioneer VSX817S

A very capable entry-level receiver

  • Review
  • Specs
  • Images
  • User Reviews
  • Buy Now
Pioneer VSX817S
  • Pioneer VSX817S
  • Pioneer VSX817S
  • Pioneer VSX817S
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Great range of inputs, good functionality

Cons

  • No HDMI, difficult speaker connection, no HD format decoding

Bottom Line

If you’re a home theatre enthusiast or have the time to read a manual, the VSX817S should be easy enough to use. It offers a large range of inputs and plenty of functionality, and is only slightly hindered by its inability to decode HD formats and lack of HDMI inputs.

Would you buy this?

Pioneer's VSX817S is an entry-level 7.1 channel A/V receiver that does a good job considering its low price-point. It doesn't support high-definition audio formats like Dolby TrueHD and doesn't have any HDMI capability. However, it has a plethora of other features that make it a solid option for anyone considering creating a home theatre.

This receiver is able to drive 90 Watts to each of its seven channels as well as having a dedicated pre-out for a powered subwoofer, making it a fairly powerful surround amplifier for the price. These measurements are taken at 0.09% total harmonic distortion, so you can be assured that even at full volume the VSX817S is capable of producing clean, undistorted audio. Indeed, we couldn't find any significant issues with the sound quality from the unit — it's more than capable for any non-audiophile's home theatre system.

After unpacking the receiver, we plugged it in and it started without any issues. The real drama for any home user will start when connecting any other devices to the receiver — no audio or video leads are bundled. Unless you have a dedicated A/V rack in which to put all your home theatre components, you may end up having to buy new cables to stretch the distance to the receiver.

Plenty of inputs are offered, with three component and S-Video connectors as well as four composite inputs. Audio is handled by two digital optical or coaxial inputs, or six analogue connectors for 5.1 channel DVD sound. Output is handled by a similar set of component, composite and S-video ports.

One annoyance became apparent when we attempted to connect a set of Liverpool Series MS5LX speakers using standard speaker wire. The speaker connections at the rear of the VSX817S have obviously been designed with professionally-built banana plugs in mind, with bare speaker wire connection as an afterthought. The terminals don't completely unscrew and it's very fiddly and time-consuming to insert wire into the small port available. Repeating this process five or seven times certainly leads to painful fingertips.

Once everything is connected though, the unit is relatively simple to use. We connected a Samsung BD-P1000 for watching Blu-ray movies and an Onkyo DV-L55 for watching DVDs and listening to CDs and ran a series of tests. As an output, we used an Liverpool Series MS5LX for sound and a Sharp Aquos LC42D83X for video.

We were able to drive the amplifier to extremely loud levels and we're confident that the majority of speakers would start to distort before the amplifier reached full volume. There were certainly no impediments placed by the amplifier on sound reproduction, with the speakers free to create rich, clear sound.

The VSX817S is able to handle all the standard DVD audio codecs, ranging from standard Dolby Digital to DTS Neo:6 and DTS 96/24. It can't support the newer high-definition formats like DTS HD and Dolby TrueHD, but users who have yet to make their setup high definition ready will find little use for those anyway. Plenty of other features are included, with 12 distinct surround sound modes, as well as miscellaneous tweaks like dialogue enhancement and 'night' modes.

Automatic room calibration is also possible, with a bundled MCACC microphone. We found in a previous review of the Pioneer VSX-LX60 that the MCACC adjustments were very useful. It's a definite bonus, especially coming with an entry-level receiver.

The unit's remote is capable enough, meaning you won't need to get up to manually change inputs. It's not a universal remote but it's small and easy to use, operating from across a large room without any difficulty.

If you can handle the setting it up and don't mind the lack of HDMI or high-definition audio support, the VSX817 is a very capable unit for anything but the most extensive home theatre setups.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?