A very capable entry-level receiver
- Great range of inputs, good functionality
- No HDMI, difficult speaker connection, no HD format decoding
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.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
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!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 HTC U11 phone: Full, in-depth review
- 2 Gigabyte Aero 15 corporate gaming laptop review
- 3 Huawei P10 smartphone review
- 4 Huawei P10 Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- 5 Motorola Moto G5 smartphone review
Latest News Articles
- Plex Cloud is now open to all paid users
- YouTube launches streaming TV service with 40 channels and unlimited cloud DVR storage
- Up next for Apple TV: 4K streaming reportedly in the works
- Apple’s original TV shows are almost ready for prime time
- Apple snags Amazon Fire TV exec to lead Apple TV efforts
PCW Evaluation Team
The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.
Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- MSI GL62M 7RDX gaming laptop review
- Alcatel A3 XL phone: Full, in-depth review
- Sony X9300E 2017 TV: Full, in-depth review
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTInternal Recruitment Coordinator - ITOther
- FTIT PMO OfficerOther
- FTSystem Engineer - Data Centre - TelcoVIC
- FTBusiness Analyst - TelecommunicationsOther
- FTPresales Solution Architect - NetworksNSW
- TP.Net Developer - Australian Government ICT ContractorACT
- FTJunior Java developerACT
- FTSAP ABAP DEVELOPMENT LEAD- NSW GovernmentOther
- FTProject Implementation ManagerOther
- CCBusiness AnalystNSW
- FTDesktop Engineer - Level 1 and 2Other
- FTSenior Recruitment Specialist |Other
- FTSAP Environment LeadQLD
- FTSEO SpecialistNSW
- FTIT Program SchedulerOther
- FTNetwork Capacity PlannerOther
- FTSenior Business Analyst, Investment FundsNSW
- FTProject CoordinatorACT
- FTWintel EngineerSA
- CCSenior Network Architect l CCNP/CCIE R&S l Cisco ACINSW
- CCHelpdesk Support - L2VIC
- FTASP.NET DeveloperNSW
- CCSenior Internal Security Consultant - TelcoVIC
- FTBusiness Systems AnalystOther
- FTIntegration Architect- NSW GovernmentOther