The Pioneer VSX-923’s feature list is excellent, addressing most of the latest technological trends – particularly when it comes to smartphones and tablets. We’ve already mentioned MHL and USB support for Apple devices, but when hooked up to a network through the Wi-Fi dongle or Ethernet, there’s loads more to get your teeth into.
Not only does the VSX-923’s support AirPlay, making it easy to play music from Apple devices, but it’s also the first AV receiver with HTC Connect certification. This lets you to beam music wirelessly from compatible HTC phones like the HTC One.
The Pioneer VSX-923 is DLNA certified, which means you can stream your own music files from networked devices and PCs, with Windows 8 and Play To support ensuring wide compatibility.
In terms of format support, AIFF and Apple Lossless have been added to the list, alongside MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV and FLAC. There’s even 192kHz/24-bit playback for AIFF, WAV and FLAC and gapless playback for Apple Lossless, AIFF, WAV and FLAC. These formats can also be played from connected USB drives if you prefer.
Completing the impressive array of network features is vTuner internet radio, which puts thousands of global stations at your disposal. It’s a shame there are no other services like Spotify to further widen your music streaming options, and while we’re in negative mode the lack of built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are also disappointing. They can be added with Pioneer’s optional adapters (AS-BT200 and AS-WL300, both around £50) but that’ll crank up the price considerably – Onkyo’s TX-NR626 offers both out the box.
The home cinema spec has also been upgraded. On the video side the VSX-923 now offers 4K upscaling and passthrough alongside the usual Full HD 3D, Deep Colour, x.v.Colour support and 1080/24p scaling. You’ll also find video conversion to HDMI, HD noise reduction and Pioneer’s Stream Smoother, which cleans up low-bitrate streamed video files.
The Advanced Video Adjust menu offers a range of display-specific presets (LCD, PDP, Projector) and a Memory setting that lets you adjust levels of detail, brightness, contrast hue, chroma and noise reduction.
On the audio side, the Pioneer VSX-923 bashes out 150W per channel (into 6ohms) and decodes Dolby True HD, DTS HD Master Audio and related legacy formats. On the processing side Pioneer welcomes DTS Neo:X into the fold, alongside Dolby Pro Logic IIz, both of which expand the soundstage to include front height channels (or front width channels in the case of DTS Neo:X).
The wide range of Advanced Surround modes includes Action, Drama, Advanced Game, Sports, Classical, Rock/Pop, Extended Stereo, Front Stage Surround and two Eco Modes that save power in operation and standby.
These are joined by a whole host of Pioneer technologies like PQLS, Sound Retriever, and the new Phase Control Plus. Input Volume Absorber allows you to set individual levels for different sources while keeping the master volume the same, preventing big jumps in loudness.