Check out this review of the Pioneer Elite VSX-49TX !

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Chip E, Jan 12, 2002.

  1. Chip E

    Chip E Screenwriter

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    Topic: Reviews of the new Pioneer Elite VSX-49TX THX Ultra2 Receiver:
    Found this over at the Spot. [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    For those interested in this new flagship receiver, there is favorable test report in the February, 2002, issue of SOUND & VISION. Additionally, DVDPhdD.com has the following review:
    "To elevate yourself to the level of dominant competition has always been the task; to raise yourself above your competition is nearly impossible. With each passing year since the advent of DVD, consumer electronic companies, specifically digital sound companies such as Dolby and DTS, have strived to out do each other, with every new line of major receiver. We have seen pro-logic become Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital become Dolby Digital EX, and DTS become both DTS-ES Matrix and DTS-ES Discrete. With THX processing, we have seen THX 5.1 elevate into THX EX, and more recently with the Denon 4802, THX EX for 6.1 Discrete. Now, with multiple now processing and digital sound schemes on the horizon, one company has become an AV Receiver phoenix; rising from the ashes of past lags in technology to become a new powerhouse in receivers….Pioneer brings you the new VSX-49TX.
    To grand to describe a battle primarily fought the last few years between Denon, Onkyo, Yamaha, and Pioneer? Not when you consider the impact the technical decisions made for these pieces make on the Consumer Electronics market. Last year, the Denon AVR-5800 set the standard as the true reference AV receiver, with DTS ES discrete processing, and THX EX. This year, the new 49TX from Pioneer includes all of the aforementioned goodies, but ups the ante with 96/24 DTS, THX post processing for DTS 6.1 discrete, and the new THX Ultra 2 processing. However, hands down most impressive, the new MCACC automatic calibration system. This is something that must be seen, rather heard, to believe.
    Out of the box, this is one big ass piece of home theater equipment. "Seventy three pounds-careful!" reads the UPS shipping label. Upon setting this beast on top of one of our review racks, I was astonished in the shear beauty that was emanating from such a rock of a piece. The Uroshi finish, prominent on all Elite pieces, shines like a new car. The finish alone will satisfy your wife in ways you haven't since college.
    The back of the unit reveals a whole gambit of connections. This one has everything you could want: three component in's, one out, multiple Svideo in's and out's, standard composite, RS-232, optical, coaxial, and one RF input. The unit also features one set of 8 channel in's, and a whole slew of pre-outs, including two sub outputs. Immediately, many will criticize the fact this piece has one 8 channel in compared to Denon's two, however, this is the way most new companies will be going, as to accommodate the fact that most new high-end players next year will have both multi-channel SACD and DVD-Audio. For the consumer who can't afford both, well, then one is practical if not extravagant, wouldn't you say?
    The unit's remote is pretty good in comparison to the problematic Aktis remote that ships with the Denon 5800, short of its lack of USB or PC connectivity. This is basically a souped up Home Theater Master, with a cool little stylus to boot. I was able to get most of my units in the lab functional by selecting their make and model, and others like TiVo I added in manually via the learning function. The unit is backlit, thank god, and the input labels are permanent and can not be changed other than applying a sticker or something to that effect. Memos can be added to each unit, for example, DVD becomes DVD Panasonic, or TV becomes TV Pioneer. Unlike the 5800, every function you need is one the remote, so your fat ass can get fatter and still enjoy all the features of your great new receiver.
    Let's talk power: this baby has 7x160 watts rated at 6ohms. That's a hair shorter than the Denon's, but it is also a difference in wording. Denon's power is subjective, as are all power ratings, to how they were initially measured. The unit never functions at that rating, and if it does, even the most demanding speakers would be doomed. Keep in mind, one important factor is the speaker itself, and its power rating. Our review lab has a great set of THX 150's from M&K, as well as a 350THX sub. We also use a pair of Martin and Logan's for testing music on the front end. The THX Ultra 2 standard allows for hook-up of 2ohms speakers to 16ohms, but don't switch them around. Don't go from a 4ohm speaker to an 8 speaker, of you'll like blow the amps. Going to 2 ohms from 4 isn't as much a problem, but you are better off sticking with one rating for all seven amps.
    The coolest feature of the 49TX is the MCACC automatic calibration system. A small mic is hooked to the front panel, and we placed the mic on a tripod at the listening point (a chair at ear level will suffice). The automatic calibration begins at a touch of a button, and the unit completely detects everything from sound level to speaker size, subwoofer, delay, and room acoustics. The room acoustics feature plays a tremendous difference in your sound quality, and can allow even the cyber-nerd with an apartment, a ten x ten living room, 65" HDTV, and this receiver to still enjoy good sound. After the 10 minute setup, you can manually compare your notes and measurements, but there isn't a tremendous amount of need. In comparison to my $8,000 acoustic meter, this thing was pretty damned good; good enough where I didn't change a setting. Now that's impressive!
    Every DSP and post digital sound scheme you could want is included for both DTS and Dolby Digital, including Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS Neo:6. Between the two, DPLII sounds much deeper on most two channel sources, but Neo:6 does sound pretty good with THX processing in comparison to how it sounds on the Denon. This unit can add THX to everything including a new THX Music mode, except for the 8 channel in. You can, however, add your MCACC adjustments to the 8 channel in, making any need for audio setup in the DVD-A menu obsolete. This is one of the most needed an impressive features of the unit. Unlike the current version of the 5800, this unit does post processing for DTS 6.1 Discrete, and it is an amazing difference. The opening sequence on the Gladiator SE sounded much more lifelike than without the processing. A lot of this has to do with the MCACC feature, again.
    Another nifty feature, a built-in video "scaler" which converts all your cables to component if you are using a component setup to your TV. All S and composite signals are converted smoothly over, and the video switching is flawless. This unit handles all HD signals like a champ. Not included, the controversial firewire input. Why? Pioneer doesn't support HAVI on its pieces at this point. DVI and VSB connections are not present, either.
    THX Ultra 2 processing creates two rear centers with Dolby and DTS tracks that are NOT EX or ES encoded. It uses two different methods for both stereo and monaural surrounds, and the result is impressive. The rear centers are not as in-your-face as you would think, which is the way they needed to go with this one. It makes a noticeable difference on atmospheric soundtracks. The 5.1 Dolby Digital track on Xbox's Halo smoked with Ultra 2, and added to the creepy Sci-Fi feel of the soundtrack. In comparison to Logic 7, the Ultra 2 sounded much more like an original track, and not something re-created for HT. Also included are a whole slew of DSP environments and a great 7 channel stereo setting. Unlike the Denon, this unit does not offer a pure direct featuring, enabling multiple DAC's per channel; is this a disappointment? Definitely, but overall this unit rocks.
    Now to what everyone wants to know: how does the 49TX handle in comparison to both the 5800 and 989 from Onkyo? Features: no question goes to Pioneer. In side by side comparisons of all three units, the 49TX sounded the most lifelike and robust of the three. Power differences were not noticeable at all, and both the Denon and the Pioneer were smooth and quiet (unlike the excessively loud Onkyo). The Denon did sound great with Pure Direct on two channel sources, but even without the "pure direct" feature, the Pioneer's ability to use MCACC on the 8 channel input, as well as engaging your rear centers either as a new created channel, or as emulating the surrounds, make the decision easily go to Pioneer.
    Should you plop down four grand on this beast? Most definitely if you are in the market for a high-end piece that rivals, if not outdo, most separates today. Pioneer has raised the bar for Denon; next year should be interesting!"
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  2. Bob_A

    Bob_A Supporting Actor

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    Did you see the power numbers on this machine?
    Output at clipping (1kHz into 8/4 ohms)
    1 channel driven........154/289 W (21/24.5dBW)
    5 channels driven (8 ohms)...148 W (21.75 dBW)
    6 channels driven (8 ohms)....144 W (21.5 dBW)
    Wow...this seems like a definite player! [​IMG]
     
  3. Terrell

    Terrell Producer

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    Hmm, sounds like Pioneer has made great strides, because they used to drag up the rear behind the likes of B&k, Denon, and Yamaha. However, I still think B&k's AVR-307 is the best receiver in terms of pure sound and power. Also has the best build quality. But this sucker does sound nice. But my brother is looking for a new state of the art receiver, and he's waiting to see if B&K is going to come up with to replace the AVR-307.
    But Pioneer looks to have done an awesome job. It would be interesting to see how this stacks up to the far less expensive, but comparable new Yamaha DSP-AZ1.
     
  4. James D S

    James D S Screenwriter

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    Too bad it is not possible to get it in champagne like the AX10.

    What issues what I be looking at if I imported one?
     
  5. Chip E

    Chip E Screenwriter

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    Terrell,

    How much is the new Yammy? The 49TX can be had for $2600.00 all over the place on the web. About $2900.00 locally.

    James,

    I have a B&K 307 now....had it for roughly a year..

    Bob,

    Can't wait for my issue of Sound&Vision to get here..
     
  6. Kelly Scott Rickards

    Kelly Scott Rickards Stunt Coordinator

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    The Yamaha RX-Z1 has an MSRP of 2799 which means the street price will be under 2 grand.....perhaps as low as $1600...
     
  7. Trevor Schell

    Trevor Schell Supporting Actor

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    Nice reveiw.

    The Pioneer incorporates the Burr Brown 192 khz /24-bit DAC's.

    I am sure this plays a part in the sound quality.

    The upcoming Denon 5803 will incorporate these as well.
     
  8. Marcelo T

    Marcelo T Stunt Coordinator

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    I just checked out the Denon 5800 review from S&V and the performance are:

    Output at clipping (1 kHz into 8 ohms)

    one channel driven 187 watts................................ (22.5 dBW)

    five channels driven 138 watts............................... (21.5 dBW)

    Therefore the 49tx puts out more juice than the denon, even though they advertise less power.
     
  9. Bob_A

    Bob_A Supporting Actor

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    Chip, $2600! Wow...this thing lists for $4200! It's a pretty nice review in S&V [​IMG]
     
  10. Chip E

    Chip E Screenwriter

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  11. steve paul

    steve paul Stunt Coordinator

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    I paid $2900 from my dealer for the 49th AFTER owing the denon 5800 and trying out the B&K for a few days. I did NOT like the B&K and build is better on the pioneer. Not that the B&K is bad by any means, I just feel the 49tx is better in all aspects. ESEPCIALLY in movies. B&K MAY have a SLIGHT almost unoticable edge in 2 channel but thats it.
     
  12. Terrell

    Terrell Producer

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    I have to disagree with you there Steve. The B&K has by far the best build quality. 3/8ths inch thick aluminum front panel. 13 guauge steel chassis. The buttons feel more solid on the B&K. The overall fit and finish is the best in the industry. No other receiver comes close in these areas. However, it also has incredible internal and external parts quality as well. That's not to say the 49TX is bad. It is good. But clearly from what I've seen, especially in fit and finish, as well as chassis construction, the 307 is the best. The 49TX is brand new. But we'll have to judge when whatever replaces the 307 comes out. As for arguing in favor of the B&K, I'm not doing that because I own one Steve. I actually own Proceed seperates. I'm just going by what I've heard and read. I do like to keep up on the latest receiver info though.[​IMG]
    Eh, I screwed up the model number on the Yammy I was talking about. I meant the RX-Z1.
     
  13. Chip E

    Chip E Screenwriter

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    Yeah, i'm switching to the 49TX shortly... If it is heavier guage than the 307 that'll surprise me. The faceplate alone is thick as all hell. Having had the 307 for a year and shortly going to the 49TX, i'll reserve any quick judgements untill i've had sufficient time to evaluate the 49TX. It has huge shoes too fill. Features are nice but, sound quality is paramount .
     
  14. Terrell

    Terrell Producer

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    My comments were steered directly at the fit and finish of the 307 being the best. The faceplate, the chassis, the construction, the guage of the steel used in the chassis, etc. As for internal processing and switching parts, I'd imagine they're comparable.
     
  15. Chip E

    Chip E Screenwriter

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    I knew exactly what you ment. [​IMG]
     
  16. steve paul

    steve paul Stunt Coordinator

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    But you said you were judging by what you have heard..I owned BOTH, ,felt both, and LIFTED both. 49tx is 70lbs or so...B&K is what? 40?

    The build on the 49 is eqally as good as the B&K, and in my room, on my system, sounds better to boot. The 49 may not sound better in your room with yoru speakers but it does in mine. PLUS the B&K got a LOT hotter than the 49 does. The Denon 5800 stayed the coolest.

    Im using monitor audio GR60's up f ront and the sound from each reciever was very different..

    Denon 5800 - Sharp, tight, forward sound. Great power, great detail. Pure direct mode is sweet, crystal clear detailed sound. Movies are great but a tad to sharp sounding. Just a tad.

    B&K 307 - Soft, warm, not as much oomph as the denon. Not as big of a soundstage, Detail was lost compared to the Denon. Didnot like it at all for DVD's compared to Denon...

    49TX - Soundstage came back, a tad smoother than the Denon but not as smooth as the B&K - kind of in between which is what I needed. Power seems as good as the 5800 even though it is rated at less. Direct mode is somewhat better than the denon...midrange sounded better, but maybe not quite as detailed. Movies rule..best yet.

    All in all, all recievers are built great. There shouldnt be any problems in that respect. I know there are a lot of B&K lovers out there and it is a GREAT reciever. One of the top three in my opinion, but I like teh 49tx better for me, in my room. My room is 10X24..so its kind of narrow.

    Extra things for the 49TX that clinched it was teh amazing auto setup. It was dead on and worked like a charm. The auto EQ made my speakers sound amazing with movies. I disable it for CD's. It also has 5 channel stereo like the Denon and some DSP modes which Im sure Ill never use. Pro Logic II works great and DTS ES Discrete which the B&K does not even have yet works OK. I only tested it with a rear center channel with Gladiator.

    If I ever do upgrade anything I will maybe add a high power amp to the 49TX to deliver even more juice to my fronts. For $2900 it would make one of the best pre amps in that price range, with an added set of amps as a bonus.

    When someone else gets to try one in their home, post a short review...Im curious if its just me...

    When do you get yours Chip??
     
  17. Chip E

    Chip E Screenwriter

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    I thought i would've had it by Jan 1st. For whatever reason, it didn't happen. My guy at Tweeter will call me when he gets it...soon i hope.

    BTW, the Pioneer Elite VSX-49TX weighs 64 pounds. The B&K AVR-307 weighs 55 pounds.

    Steve,

    just out of curiosity, how long did you actually spend with the Denon 5800 & B&K 307?
     
  18. steve paul

    steve paul Stunt Coordinator

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    I had the Denon for 8 months..B&K I only tried out for 3 days.

    I watched two DVD's on B&K and listened to various CD's..
     
  19. Chip E

    Chip E Screenwriter

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    Steve,

    How adjustable is the crossover on the 49TX? What increments? My B&K is adjustable from 40 to 120 in increments of 5.
     
  20. Terrell

    Terrell Producer

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    Sorry Steve. You didn't hear the AVR-307 I did. The detail was amazing. As for not enough oomph, the AVR-307 has more oomph than any receiver I've heard, even the Denon 5800. Go read the reviews on it. As for build quality, does the 49TX have a faceplate as thick as the B&K? Is the chassis constructed of a heavy guage steel the way the B&K is? I also hope you don't judge quality solely by weight. Every single new top of the line receiver gets heavier. I haven't seen the transformer in the 49TX, but is it a very large toroid like the 307? It is widely known that the best amps use toroid transformers, as they are generally regarded as better and more efficient. You can bet that whatever new B&K receiver replace the 307 will be quite a bit heavier than the 307. As for heat, that has absolutely nothing to do with build quality. Nothing. The reason the 307 got hotter was because it uses Mosfet outputs, which have always been know to run hotter than bipolar outputs. Some of the best amps on the planet get a lot hotter than the ones in the 49TX. I wouldn't think you'd suggest that means they're not as good as the 49TX.

    The 49TX is fantastic. Nobody is bringing it down. But in terms of fit and finish, the 307 is the best. I think the 307 is better than the 5800. A number of reviews think so also. Doesn't mean there aren't some that think the 5800 is better. But I felt that the B&K was the best. And when their new receiver replaces the 307, then we can get a fair comparison.
     

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