Best Pioneer Amplifiers

Updated November 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

21 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
385 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best Pioneer amplifiers

Last Updated November 2019

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.

Avoid using two-channel stereo receivers with your TV, because they often make it difficult to distinguish the dialog from the music and sound effects.

Key considerations

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.

Are you buying a Pioneer amplifier for a home theater or mainly to listen to music?

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. 

How big is the space for your Pioneer amplifier?

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.

How many components and devices will you be connecting to your Pioneer amplifier?

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.

The foundation of a perfect home theater

If you’re looking for one of the biggest, most powerful home theater amplifiers available, this is our favorite option. It’s got a whopping 230 watts of power, it supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, and it’s even got multi-zone capabilities, so you can use it to power multiple speaker sets throughout your home. The VSX-LX503 can handle anything from high-frame-rate gaming consoles to 4K Blu-ray players, and it makes them all sound amazing.

Pioneer amplifier features

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.

EXPERT TIP

Most Pioneer amplifiers come with a small microphone that you can use during setup. By following the instructions to use the microphone, you can take advantage of your amplifier’s auto-configuration features and let it handle everything for you, so the audio settings are perfectly tuned to your listening area.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Many Pioneer amplifiers have front-facing USB ports that work with iPods and other iOS devices. When you plug in an iOS device, you’ll be able to navigate and play music from your amplifier’s on-screen menus and remote control. Just keep in mind that the ports don’t work with other devices like Android phones or external file storage.


Staff  | BestReviews

Pioneer amplifier prices

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.

A 9.2 speaker configuration means the amplifier can create a Dolby Atmos environment that includes two subwoofers and two overhead Atmos speakers (in addition to seven channels of standard surround sound). You can add a separate amplifier to add two more overhead channels for the best Atmos configuration available: 7.2.4.

Tips

  • Look for a Sonos-compatible amplifier. If you own Sonos speakers, get a compatible Pioneer amplifier. Some Pioneer amplifiers work with the Sonos family of audio products, so they can use features like multiroom audio. In other words, if you get a Pioneer amplifier that’s got Sonos included, it’s like getting a pricey Sonos speaker for free. Whether you want to be able to tell your amplifier what music to stream from the web or set up a multiroom system so your amplifier plays the same music as your other Sonos speakers, getting a receiver with Sonos inside is the best way to do it.
     
  • Make navigation easier. Connect your Pioneer amplifier to your TV to make the setup menu navigation easier. When you first unbox your Pioneer amplifier, you’ll be able to set it up using the built-in LCD display, but it’s also possible to go through the process using the included remote control and your TV. Using your TV is a lot easier because you’ll be able to see more information at once, like which menu you’re on or what your options are.
     
  • Check for updates. When you first power on your Pioneer amplifier, connect it to your WiFi network and check for firmware updates. Just like your phone or tablet, Pioneer amplifiers get firmware updates, too, and they can add impressive features. Plug your amplifier into the wall, then consult the manual to determine how to check for available firmware upgrades.

Heavy on features, low on cost

The Pioneer VSX-832 is a modest amplifier designed for people who don’t have a lot of room but still want to experience high-quality surround sound. It’s a 5.1-speaker model, so it’s perfect for an apartment or a medium-sized den, and it can be configured so it uses the speakers to create small Dolby Atmos environments. If you’re looking to dip your toe into the water of home theater audio, the VSX-832 is the perfect high-value, low-risk option.

Other products we considered

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.

If you’re mostly going to be watching TV from a cable TV box or streaming box, you can get away with a 5.1 Pioneer amplifier. Amplifiers with 7.1 or more channels work well with Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray movies but are overkill if you don’t watch a lot of movies on disc.

FAQ

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.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Jaime
    Jaime
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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