Pioneer’s gleaming, high-gloss black receiver is one of the more handsome home theater components we’ve seen. Auto speaker setup and calibration are featured on just about every A/V receiver nowadays, but Pioneer was in the vanguard of the technology so it was no surprise that the VSX-90TXV’s advanced Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration system (MCACC) proved accurate and a snap to use.
Although the MCACC system handles audio setup, you’ll still have to make your way through the VSX-90TXV’s dense on-screen menus to assign inputs, configure multizone options, etc. and we’re happy to report the menus are among the most logically arranged in the business. The receiver is Sirius and XM “ready” so you’ll need to just buy one or both companies kits to enjoy satellite radio. The VSX-90TXV is a THX Select2 certified design, and can be used with Pioneer’s optional iPod dock.
The receiver features 1080p HDMI pass-through, but doesn’t upconvert analog video (composite, S-video or component) sources to HDMI. And even when you use HDMI DVD or Blu-ray players, you still have to hook up a separate digital audio (coaxail or optical) cable between the player and the receiver. Bummer!
The VSX-90TXV’s sonic transparency was not only front and center on the acoustic tunes on Simon & Garfunkle’s Live 1969 CD [Columbia/ Legacy]—the receiver also revealed the electric tunes had muddier, more opaque mixes. The sound really shined on “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” where the piano in particular took on a majestic presence on that we don’t often get with A/V receivers. S&G’s voices were warm and natural.
The Blue Man Group’s new concert DVD, How To Be a Megastar Live! [Rhino] will humble lesser receivers, but the VSX-90TXV easily handled the band’s thundering percussion. Power wasn’t an issue and the crowd’s cheers and claps were portrayed with exacting precision over the surround speakers. The jungle scenes on The Thin Red Line, for example, felt so real I could feel the heat.
The VSX-90TXV’s balance of features, friendly ergonomics, and transparent sound are up to Pioneer’s usual high standards. For an even more up-to-date feature set, though, consider Pioneer’s slightly more costly VSX-91TXH, as reviewed in The Perfect Vision issue 83.