Pioneer is a reputable audio company that makes a wide variety of A/V and home-theater equipment, and in particular they make a lot of very solid products that are competitively priced in the budget category. The popular SX-10AE is one such product, and for years has remained one of the best deals for an audio receiver.
Has a nice feeling volume nob and a 6.35mm headphone jack, which could easily work with a more standard 3.5mm plug with a simple adapter on it. The input selection buttons correspond with RCA terminals in the back. There are buttons to customize the tone, but odds are you won’t need to use them if you have decent speakers and/or a subwoofer. You can also adjust the left/right balance if the room doesn’t permit a symmetrical set up. Though the display screen might look like a cd tray that opens up, it is not. A separate CD player would need to be plugged into the receiver if you wanted to use that medium.
This is what’s really great about the SX-10AE – the inputs/setup are about as simple as it gets. The speaker terminals can simply screw onto stripped copper speaker wire, or they can accept a banana plug through the middle. Adding banana plugs to speaker wire is definitely worth it because it just makes everything so much easier. You can do a two speaker set up by using either the “A” or “B” terminals, or you can do a total of four speakers by using both. Any source inputs can connect with a simple RCA cable, including a subwoofer via the sub-out input. One thing worth noting is the power warning:
Few people will actually use 4 ohm speakers, much less any beginner (non-professional speakers are almost always 6-8 ohm), but the warning is saying this receiver can handle two 4 ohm speakers, but not four at once. If someone were to attempt that it would cause clipping and inevitably break the speakers.
Otherwise, a 2x 100 Watt per channel receiver is plenty to power pretty much any non-professional set of speakers. You might run into issues if you’re powering four higher end speakers and cranking the volume way up, but that’s pretty unlikely.
Receivers get hot and need to disperse heat, so it’s important they can breathe. Cheaper units tend to cram components together which makes them more vulnerable to damage. The components inside the SX-10AE look nice and spaced, and the circular stands give it about 3/4 inches on the bottom to breathe as well. Worth mentioning: don’t put anything on top of a receiver – the vent is there for a reason and you don’t want to inhibit air flow.
Pretty basic, mainly so you don’t have to access the actual front panel, takes two AAA batteries. Most people will hardly need to use it though since the 10-AXSE has Bluetooth. A lot of audio products now have digital remotes in the form of apps, but this one appears not to. Still, it’s easy enough to control with a smart phone using an on-board music App like Spotify.
Overall Take, As Compared to the Competition
Truthfully, pretty much any receiver from a reputable brand will power most non-commercial speakers fine, and you should just get the cheapest one available that has all the features you want. Put as much money as you can towards the actual speakers. That said, the SX-10AE has been the pretty clear entry-level budget choice for a few years running – it’s easy to set up and has the all important basic features for a low price that remains unbeaten.