Pioneer VSX-534 vs Yamaha RX-V385 5 Channel AV Receiver Comparison – Which is Better?

HiFi audio and home theater has become much more accessible, even in just the last few recent years, and a big reason why is that there are more affordable components to choose from than ever. Yamaha has been producing some of the most competitively priced speakers and receivers for many years now, and Pioneer, while they’ve been around for a long time now, has more recently become an industry frontrunner in producing the least expensive receivers available.

Enter the VSX-534 and RX-V385:

Pioneer VSX-534 Home Audio Smart AV Receiver 5.2-Ch HDR10, Dolby Vision, Atmos and Virtual Enabled with 4K and BluetoothYAMAHA RX-V385 5.1-Channel 4K Ultra HD AV Receiver with Bluetooth

click to see zoomable images on Amazon (affiliate links)

They are both around five years old, yet are still two of the most popular AV receivers on the market, enough so that a lot of people ask: how do they actually measure up to eachother? and is one decidedly better than the other? We have fully reviewed both of these products and will answer those questions here in this comparison article.

What Are The Important Differences Between the Pioneer VSX-534 and Yamaha RX-V385?

If you look at most comparison engines on the big e-commerce sites, you will get a lot of specs and information that can quickly overwhelm the layperson. Here we’re going to focus on any differences that will actually have significant importance to most users, and we’ll explain why other seemingly notable differences probably won’t actually matter to most users.

Pioneer VSX-534 Home Audio Smart AV Receiver 5.2-Ch HDR10, Dolby Vision, Atmos and Virtual Enabled with 4K and BluetoothYAMAHA RX-V385 5.1-Channel 4K Ultra HD AV Receiver with Bluetooth

VSX-534 vs RX-V385 input back panels
click to see zoomable images on Amazon (affiliate links)

The Pioneer VSX-534 vs Yamaha RX-V385 are honestly similar for the most part, and basically the same thing on a fundamental level: an inexpensive and relatively minimalist way to power and run a 5.2 audio and/or home theater system.

There are a few differences worth discussion though:

Binding Posts

The Yamaha RX-V385 has 5-way binding posts for all of the speaker terminals, while the Pioneer VSX-534 only has two binding posts for the main left and right speaker terminals and spring clips for the center and surround channel speakers.

Are spring clips worse than binding posts? Spring clips are definitely more finnicky and annoying to connect, but, assuming they are connected correctly, there’s no actual difference between the quality or perceptibility thereof of a speaker wire connected to a spring clip or a binding post.

There’s also the option of purchasing a cheap spring clip to banana plug adapter, or something similar, if you really want to be able to use your speaker terminal of choice.

Related FAQ: What’s the “best” speaker connection type?

Subwoofer Inputs

The Pioneer VSX-534 has two dedicated sub-out inputs and can support dual subwoofers, whereas the Yamaha RX-V385 only has one sub-out input and can only support one subwoofer.

We don’t think this actually matters in *most* cases, since most people will only ever run a single subwoofer and most people won’t ever perceive a noticeable positive difference with two (or maybe more?) subwoofers.

Power Output

The Pioneer VSX-534 has a slightly higher power output per channel (80 W vs 70 W) and slightly lower total harmonic distortion (.08% vs .09%) when using the same 20 – 20k Hz @ 8 ohm testing benchmark.

These differences are negligible in our opinion, for a few reasons:

One, most people will rarely ever come close to driving ~70 W of power to any of their speakers in a home theater setting.

Two, the human ear can’t hear an effective .01% increase in harmonic distortion.

And three, you have to take any company’s self reported specs with a grain of salt, because they’re usually just averages, and different testing methods/environments plus sheer randomness can certainly change the results of a test by a margin of error greater than .01% THD and 10 watts/channel.

Coaxial Inputs

The Yamaha RX-V385 has two coax inputs while the Pioneer VSX-534 only has one. We don’t think this matters too much since most people with standard home theater setups won’t need more than one (or any) coax inputs.


Yamaha has a two year limited warranty on its AV receivers, which is decent coverage for budget products; while Pioneer only has a one year limited warranty on its AV receivers, which is the more common and standard bare minimum. So you get a little more risk mitigation with the Yamaha unit.

Which Should You Choose Between the VSX-534 or Yamaha RX-V385?

For most people with basic 5.2 systems, either the Pioneer VSX-534 or the Yamaha RX-V385 will work fine for powering and running them. Neither has any significant features or advantages that would make it sound or otherwise perform noticeably better than the other. In our opinion, just go with whatever has the better price at the time. Maybe you’re willing to pay a little extra for the Yamaha if you want a longer 2 year warranty.

The only real situational exception is if you want to run dual subwoofers, in which case only the Pioneer unit would be able to do that for you. Most people won’t ever really need more than one subwoofer though.

Get the Pioneer VSX-534 5.2 channel AV receiver on Amazon (affiliate link)

Get the Yamaha RX-V385 5.1 channel AV receiver on Amazon (affiliate link)

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