Pioneer VSX-921-K Review and Proper Setup for the Best Sound

I bought the Pioneer VSX-921-K receiver along with Pioneer SP-BS41-LR bookshelf speakers, a Pioneer SP-C21 center channel speaker, and the Pioneer SW-8 subwoofer. I have been very happy with the sound quality – it is excellent for both music and movies.  Unfortunately, the user interface is very outdated.

+ Excellent quality sound
+ Plenty of inputs
+ Automatic configuration with included microphone

– Outdated user interface
– Not very intuitive – it takes reading the manual to figure out how to access a lot of the features

In my opinion this is the most important thing to consider when buying a receiver – will it perform its function well?  Will it sound good? This receiver is capable of generating outstanding sound quality.  With the speakers that I have listed above, both music and movies sound excellent.  I have no complaints with my 5.1 channel setup with regards to sound performance. The overall sound output is quite accurate to my ears, with the lows, mids, and highs all equally represented. This will vary drastically with the speakers attached to this receiver, but it is capable of realistic audio playback.

User Interface:
The user interface looks like it was designed in the 80s – just white text on a black background. But, once you have everything set up, luckily you do not have to deal with the mediocre user interface very much since most of the time you will just be changing the volume and switching between sources which is quite painless.

Accessing many of the features often requires looking in the manual – some of the features are obvious on the remote, but others are a bit less intuitive.

The Pioneer VSX-921-K provides excellent sound quality for both music and movies, but the user interface is very outdated and difficult to navigate.

How to Setup the VSX-921-K or Similar Receivers for the Best Sound:
After you have plugged in all of your speakers, setup is relatively easy with the included microphone – it will measure the levels from each speaker and modify their output accordingly. To do this, on the remote press the “receiver” button followed by the “setup” or “home menu” button.  Then select “Auto MCACC.”

After the auto MCACC is completed, I highly recommend checking to make sure all the speakers other than your subwoofer are set to “small.”  To do this again press the “receiver” button followed by the “setup” or “home menu” button.  This time select “Manual SP Setup” and then on the next screen, “Speaker Settings.”  Now, make sure that all of your speakers are set to “SMALL” and the subwoofer is set to “YES.”  If the speakers are set to “LARGE” then all of the audio frequencies will be sent to all of your speakers even if they cannot reproduce those frequencies resulting in muddy sound.  If all your speakers are set to “SMALL” and your subwoofer is set to “YES” then the low frequencies will be sent to the subwoofer and the higher frequencies to the rest of your speakers as intended.  Also, if your subwoofer has a frequency knob, turn it to include all frequencies – the receiver will decide which to send to the subwoofer.  You may need to move your subwoofer around the room to determine the best acoustic location – one easy way of determining this is to place the subwoofer in roughly the position you will be listening to it (watching movies/TV/etc) then walk around the room (in locations that are feasible to place the subwoofer), find the best sounding spot, and then place the sub at that location.

Review Summary
Product:Pioneer VSX-921-K
Description:The Pioneer VSX-921-K provides excellent sound quality, but the user interface is outdated and difficult to navigate.
Rating:7.5 out of 10.
Editor:R.G. Medlin