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Pioneer VSX-520-K review



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Pioneer VSX-520-K
  • Pioneer VSX-520-K
  • Pioneer VSX-520-K
  • Pioneer VSX-520-K
  • Pioneer VSX-520-K
  • Pioneer VSX-520-K


Our Score:



  • Stylish, uncluttered look
  • Compatible with 3D
  • Muscular, engaging sound


  • Some harshness to sound
  • Setup can be fiddly
  • Less accomplished with music than movies

Key Features

  • 5 channels, with 130W each
  • 3D-ready
  • 3 HDMI inputs
  • Dolby TrueHD and HTD HD support
  • Manufacturer: Pioneer
  • Review Price: £249.95

The VSX-520 is one of three 5.1-channel receivers at the lower end of Pioneer’s current range, sandwiched between the cheaper VSX-420 and higher-specced VSX-820. Naturally, the VSX-520 adds a few extra features not found on the VSX-420, chief among which is the ability to pass through 3D signals thanks to its HDMI v1.4 sockets.

Aesthetically the VSX-520 offers few surprises but it is effortlessly attractive, sporting an eye-catching gloss-black finish, large informative display panel and bulky black dials in the lower corners for volume and input selection. Despite being covered in buttons (controlling sound modes and the built-in radio features) the overall darkness of the front panel keeps them concealed and makes the unit appear uncluttered. Unfortunately, this minimal look is also brought about by a lack of front-panel connections, except for a headphone jack and input for the auto calibration microphone.

On the back, you get three HDMI v1.4 inputs and one output, which doesn’t leave a lot of room for expansion if you’ve already got a PS3, Blu-ray deck and Sky box hooked up, but at this price it would be greedy to expect more. As mentioned these will pass on any 3D signals it receives from Blu-ray players and Sky+HD boxes, and is a pleasing feature to find on such an affordable receiver.

Elsewhere the rest of your components are well catered for. Audio connections comprise two optical digital audio inputs and one coaxial, six sets of analogue stereo inputs and three outputs (one of which can be used as pre-outs when adding surround back or front height speakers), and a subwoofer pre-out. On the video side, you get four composite video inputs and two outputs, plus two sets of component video outputs and one output.

The speaker terminal arrangement is unusual. For the front pair you get banana plug compatible plastic binding posts but the surround and centre channels connect to springclip terminals. This mix 'n' match approach is no doubt a cost-cutting measure but the springclips make it a tricky task to connect thick speaker cables.

Completing the line-up are FM and AM antenna sockets and an adapter port for connecting Pioneer’s AS-BT100 Bluetooth adapter, which allows you to stream music wirelessly from Bluetooth-equipped mobile phones, PCs and so forth. This gizmo will set you back between £60 and £100.


September 10, 2010, 2:22 pm

Any chance you'll be getting any of the higher end models in this line in for testing? I'm specifically looking at any of the following: VSX-920-K, VSX-1020-K and VSX-2020-K, and the SC-LX73 and SC-LX83


September 11, 2010, 12:05 pm

Can't they make it smaller?


January 4, 2011, 10:36 pm

Im not sure which vsx 520 you guys reviewed...because the vsx 520 does NOT have the Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration (MCACC) mode.that is only on the vsx 820.sorry...now i cant TRUST these trusted reveiws...bet you wont publish this comment either!


January 6, 2011, 4:25 pm

@John McLean:

Hopefully we should be, though I couldn't say when.


Don't you know bigger is better?

Seriously though, aside from all the large components inside, not to mention all the connectivity on the back panels, cooling is one of the reasons these machines tend to be as big as they are.


That's odd, because if you look at Pioneer's official spec-page, it lists MCACC as one of the primary features... {http://www.pioneer.eu/uk/pr...}

So do trust our reviews - and you lost that bet :)


July 7, 2011, 1:51 am

Hi Folks,

I own one in the States and it doesn't have MCACC. Maybe the Euro version does. I also looked at the link you provided and I can't find it. I was going buy to another brand that did, and I stumbled upon the 520 at a reduced price because it was an open box item.


November 30, 2012, 2:18 pm

@kraig: i never undestood why people who don't posses a certain object comment upon them. i have this receiver and can confirm that it has MCACC!!!!!!!!!!!!
i have to specify that i am not autistic and i don't have any mental illnesses that could influence my way of perceiving reality

Harrison Ford

July 10, 2016, 5:03 pm

For guys with BD players and a surround system, I suppose this is a fine amplifier - for music it is pathetic. The hoops one has to go through just to get almost *almost* the actual sound from the sound source is hilarious and then you'll never get it untouched, because it's "advanced surround" effects will *never* turn off.

This dumb product is only for people who think HDMI is an important feature on an amplifier, and then only those who don't have much money. You get what you pay for, steer clear of this one. Pathetic.

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