Elsewhere in these pages we run one of Pioneer Electronics’ flagship AV receivers, the SC-LX86, through its paces. Less than one quarter of that model’s price and half its mass is this VSX-527, the company’s entry-level network receiver. This unit clearly demonstrates that you don’t need to be rich these days to enjoy a fine home theatre experience. And more than that, you get a bunch of cool network abilities, including one that was a somewhat high-end feature last year.

As a budget receiver, Pioneer has culled plenty of non-essentials. You get only get five power amplifiers, but these are proper 100W jobs. And you do get support for 7.1-channel sound because there is a pair of pre-amp outputs. If you have a pair of active speakers (or a separate amplifier to drive passive ones), then you can have rear surround speakers (with either native or Dolby Pro Logic IIx 7.1 sound) or front height speakers (via Dolby Pro Logic IIz).

There are no component video nor S-Video inputs, but there’s a bit of legacy support with three composite inputs (one on the front panel, associated with the USB, for iPod video playback). Instead you get six HDMI inputs, all on the back panel. The receiver supports the Audio Return Channel from a TV.

There are only two S/PDIF digital audio inputs, one optical and one coaxial, but in addition to the USB socket you get Ethernet at the back. There is also a proprietary Pioneer adaptor port at the back, into which you can plug the optional Bluetooth adaptor ($119).

The new media support is remarkably strong here, with Apple AirPlay, high resolution audio format support both via USB and DLNA, and internet radio.

Thank you for searching out Sound+Image Magazine’s equipment review of the Pioneer VSX-527 originally published in Sound+Image September / October 2012.

This equipment review is available as a low-resolution pdf version of the original magazine pages - it looks nicer than us throwing a load of words up the screen here.

You can download it here: Pioneer VSX-527 Review.pdf