Pioneer VSX-43 7.1 Elite A/V Receiver


The Design of the Pioneer VSX-43 Elite Receiver

Most mainstream audio companies are turning out new receiver models every year. Every year they up the ante adding more new whiz-bang features while keeping the prices relatively low. The VSX-43 is the entry model into Pioneer's Elite series of receivers and being an "Elite", I had some high expectations for it. It comes in the traditional black with gold lettering and the display is amber with a few blue light indicators. Esthetically, it looks clean and uncluttered from the front panel. The power button has a blue ring that lights up around it when it is powered on, yellow in stand-by. Because it has Eco-Mode features, it will burn less than .1 watt in stand-by. Thanks to MCACC (Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration), setup with the supplied microphone was a snap, even for a novice. Various factors are evaluated like the distance and size of the speakers along with the timbre and sound levels.

Since it is a network receiver, it also connects by way of Ethernet to your router. Thus you can stream from you iPhone via Airplay or for you Droid users, HTC Connect. For a small additional fee you can purchase a dongle and stream via Bluetooth devices through Air Jam (Apple). Also, Windows 7 and 8 users can stream content even without iTunes installed since DLNA 1.5 is supported. Finally, included are vTuner Internet Radio and Pandora. vTuner allows you to access hundreds of internet radio stations that can be selected by genre, both domestic and abroad.

The front panel is cleanly laid out and sports a headphone jack, a USB input and HDMI port with MHL, so getting pictures from your portable device while it recharges is easy to do. On the back we have 5 HDMI inputs with labels below to give you an idea of what to hook up. There are also a number of composite video and analog audio ports should you need to set up older components for your home theater system.

Many newer receivers are dropping these. A powered Zone 2 is also available for music in another room of your house. A 12-volt trigger is included for turning on a projector or a remote amplifier. The 5-way binding posts are closely packed together for the 7 channels and spring clips are provided for zone 2. The spacing of the posts did not allow for dual banana connectors, so I had to opt for (gasp!) bare wire connections. Single-ended bananas work fine. The remote includes everything you need to operate this receiver from your command chair. I am not a big fan of this remote as I found it to be too crowded with the same sized buttons that were not back lit, but do glow in the dark.

Also, in order to select the functions for MCACC, you have to hit the receiver button, which is located under the top button that is also labeled receiver. The difference is the top button powers the receiver on/off and the one under it "selects" the receiver mode. It took a bit of using it to figure it out. I should mention here that Pioneer gives a simple "quick start" guide on paper for reference, but the full set of instructions are on a CD ROM.

I guess you can safely assume that if you have a "network receiver", you must have a computer somewhere in your house. In all fairness, you can print out the full instructions which make referencing everything easier, too.