Supports 7.2.2 Dolby Atmos speaker configuration and can be upgraded to 7.2.4 with an additional amplifier. Supports multiple zones and works with Sonos devices for flawless multi-room audio. Everything from music to TV sounds incredible.
It’s fairly expensive. The button layout on the included remote is a little confusing. It can run hot if you leave it on for hours at a time.
It’s one of the most affordable Atmos-enabled amplifiers available. It supports Dolby Vision and 4K HDR, and it even has Bluetooth.
Home theater purists may prefer an amplifier that supports 7.1 or 9.2 channels. It might not be loud enough for larger home theaters.
Affordable. Includes built-in apps so you can get started streaming from Pandora or TIDAL right away. Works with 4K TVs and can even handle Dolby Vision content.
The included 5.1 system is good, but a 7.1 or higher system would sound much better. It’s got 165W of power, which may not be enough for moderately sized rooms.
Supports up to 3 zones of audio at once, so you can play different music in different rooms. Has features found on pricier models (like built-in Chromecast functionality) at a lower cost.
It’s got 200W, which is enough for a medium-size room but not for a proper home theater. It doesn’t support Dolby Vision pass-through.
Includes Pioneer’s MCACC system for configuring itself for optimal audio quality. Supports Apple’s AirPlay 2 tech for easily playing back music from iPhone or iPad over WiFi. Has phono preamp for connecting to a turntable.
Many of the best features require a firmware update, which can be a pain to install. Multi-zone playback can be finicky.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Whether you’re a casual listener, audiophile, or home theater enthusiast, sooner or later you’re going to need an amplifier: the big box that connects to all of your components and powers their audio through speakers. Amplifiers have been part of the equation since the very first radios; in fact, because they include hardware for getting radio broadcasts, they’re commonly referred to as receivers.
Nowadays, it’s easy to find amplifiers for every use case, and one of the biggest names in the business is Pioneer. Pioneer makes quality amplifiers for everything from multichannel home theaters to small vinyl listening stations, and they’re all made to last for ages.
Finding the right Pioneer amplifier can be a little tricky, however, because they have so many options, and there’s a lot of terminology to decode, but that’s what we’re here for. Here’s everything you need to know to find the best Pioneer amplifier for your audio setup as well as some of our favorites.
If you’re not sure where to start your shopping, answer these three questions. They’ll help you rule out the features you don’t need and focus on the ones you do.
If you’re looking for an amplifier that will mainly be used for music, you can focus on Pioneer’s stereo amplifiers, the ones that are designed to work with two speakers. Stereo amps are less expensive, but they still sound incredible. If you’re setting up a home theater, you’ll need to make sure the amplifier you buy supports additional surround sound channels.
When it comes to Pioneer amplifiers, it’s easy to find a good value, but that also means it’s easy to buy more power than you need. If you’re buying one for a small- to medium-sized den, anywhere between 150 and 175 watts will be more than enough power. If you’re setting up a larger room or full-size home theater, you’ll need an amplifier that provides at least 200 watts.
Make a quick list of all of the things you’ll be connecting to your Pioneer amplifier, and be sure to include everything from your cable box to your video game consoles. Then make sure the Pioneer amplifier you buy has enough ports for all of them.
Pioneer makes dozens of different amplifiers, and they can be hard to tell apart. Here are the features that make the biggest difference.
Bluetooth: If you listen to a lot of music on your phone or tablet, it’s a good idea to get a Pioneer amplifier that supports Bluetooth so you can easily pair and stream your music to your speakers.
Phono preamp: If you have a turntable, you’ll need to buy an amplifier that works with it, which means you should limit your search to models that include phono preamps. If you’re not sure if a given model supports record players, look at images of the back. If you don’t see an input labeled Phono, it won’t work unless you purchase a separate external preamp.
Apps: Some Pioneer amplifiers have built-in apps so you can use music streaming services like Spotify or Pandora. Using built-in apps is perfect for listening to all of your favorite artists and playlists through your speakers at home without having to use your phone.
4K HDR: If you’re going to be hooking up your Pioneer amplifier to your 4K TV, you need to get one that can work with the full resolutions of your devices. The good news is that most Pioneer amplifiers that work with 4K TVs also support HDR passthrough, so you can continue to enjoy your 4K content in beautiful HDR.
Dolby Atmos and DTS:X: The latest innovation in home theater sound is object-based audio: additional ceiling speakers that work with other surround sound speakers to create incredibly lifelike effects that are placed in specific locations throughout a room. In addition to an amplifier that supports it, you’ll need at least nine speakers and a subwoofer to make either Dolby Atmos or DTS:X a reality in your home theater, but we definitely think it’s worth the money.
Inexpensive: Pioneer’s entry-level receivers cost between $200 and $300. The models in this price range are outstanding values, especially if you don’t need a lot of power. You’ll find surround sound models that include high-end features like 4K passthrough support but for smaller contexts like apartments or typical living rooms. If you’re just looking for a basic Pioneer amplifier that sounds great and won’t break the bank, you can easily find good options in this range.
Mid-range: Pioneer’s mid-range amplifiers cost anywhere between $400 and $500. The extra money buys more power and support for more speakers. If you need enough power to fill a larger home theater, or you just want to rattle the windows with your music, this is the price range to keep in mind.
Expensive: Pioneer’s top-of-the-line models start around $500 and go up from there. The most expensive amplifiers have enough wattage to support playing music in multiple zones, and they support high-end audio formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. If you’re building a large home theater, you’ll find some great values in this price range, but the price tags will still be hefty.
If you’re open to checking out what other brands offer, start with the Yamaha RX-V385 5.1-Channel AV Receiver. It’s an interesting combination of high-end features for smaller spaces. It’s got full 4K HDR support, but it’s limited to 5.1 surround. We love that it’s got Bluetooth and works with every video format around, including Dolby Vision, and the entry-level price point isn’t bad either. We’re also big fans of the Denon AVR-S540BT Receiver. It’s a similar combination of luxury features for smaller spaces, and it includes support for Denon’s HEOS multiroom audio system. It’s a 5.2 system, so you can set it up with two subwoofers, and it’s even got a front-facing USB port, so it’s super easy to connect an iPod for listening to music.
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