Pioneer has been a leading producer of minimally priced, high value receivers for several years now, and with multi-channel home theater continuing to become more popular and accessible, it’s great to see a company making receivers for such that are not exorbinately and unnecessarily expensive.
The front interface panel is pretty basic but has all of the important stuff that most people want or need. Distinct features worth noting are three different listening mode buttons (auto/direct, stereo, surround), the sound retriever button which according to the manual ostensibly improves compressed audio sound somehow, and the input for an included setup mic that utilizes Pioneer’s proprietary software, called MCCAC (Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration System), to automatically tune the connected speakers to the room.
The back panel is also about as minimalist/basic as it can get, but once again has all the important inputs that most people will ever need, and is nice and simple for the people who are newer to the whole world of audio/video. Some people might want more hdmi and rca slots, or other additional inputs, but the VSX-834 has what’s needed for any basic/starter 7.2 home theater system.
Binding posts for all the speaker terminals is ideal, as opposed to the basic spring clips the VSX-834 has for the surround speakers, but there’s nothing technically worse about a spring clip connection than any others – it’s just a bit more of a pain to deal with. It would be nice if the spring clips weren’t so crammed together though.
You can always get inexpensive banana plug adapters, which is a lot better than shelling out a few extra hundred bucks to get something different with all binding posts instead of spring clips:
The amplifier is rated at 135 watts per channel (at 6 ohms, 1% THD), which is plenty of power for like 99% of potential systems. On the small chance that you would need extra power you could use the Zone B pre-out to hook up a separate amplifier.
Pioneer receivers, including this one, are pretty heavy, bulky, and dated looking, but, most people don’t care if it’s cheaper than the slicker looking competition. Just make sure the unit has enough room to breathe – heat is an enemy of a/v electronics, and bulkier receivers with more space between the components tend to fare better over time.
All in all, the VSX-834 is a great inexpensive, high value option that skips extraneous features and will get the job done running any basic 7.2 home theater system. More involved setups with niche/specialty equipment might call for a different receiver with more input options. Check out the links below for alternative recommendations.