The Pioneer VSX-831 and VSX-1131 Mid-range Home Theater Receivers

Pioneer VSX-831 (left) and VSX-1131 (right) Home Theater Receivers
Pioneer VSX-831 (left) and VSX-1131 (right) Home Theater Receivers. Images provided by Pioneer Electronics

There are so many home theater receivers that are often hard to choose which is the best option for you. Pioneer is one brand that definitely offers some good choices, and the VSX-831 and VSX-1131 are two examples that provide a good value for not a lot of cash.

Both receivers have a lot in common as they share the same physical design and easy-to-use onscreen menu setup and operating system, but inside their cabinets, there is variations in setup options and operation.

The VSX-831

The VSX-831 is targeted towards more users that are looking for a traditional 5.1 channel home theater receiver that provides some additional perks commonly found on or higher priced models. Let's take a look at what it offers.

  • As stated above, the VSX-831 provides 5-channels of built-in amplification (along with 2 subwoofer outputs) with a stated the power output rating as 80 Wpc (8 ohms, 20hz to 20kHz, THD 0.08%, 2ch Driven FTC). For more details on what those stated power ratings mean with respect to real world use, refer to our reference article: Understanding Amplifier Power Output Specifications.
  • The VSX-831 provides decoding for most Dolby and DTS surround sound formats, including Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD Master Audio.
  • In addition to home theater surround decoding and processing, the VSX-831 also provides Hi-Res audio playback via a home network, smartphone/tablet, or direct USB connection. Compatible Hi-Res audio files include Apple Lossless (ALAC), WAV, FLAC, AIFF, and DSD (2.8 MHz).
  • To make speaker setup easier, Pioneer's MCACC is included for calibration of speaker levels, speaker distances, and both speaker and subwoofer EQ (frequency range in relation to room size, acoustics, and the other speakers in your setup), using a supplied microphone and built-in tone generator.
  • The VSX-831 features 6 HDMI 2.0a/HDCP 2.2 connections. HDMI capabilities include 3D and HDR pass-through, 4K pass-through, 1080p to 4K Upscaling, Audio Return Channel, and standby pass-through. Standby pass-through allows audio and video signals connected via HDMI to pass through the receiver even when the receiver is in standby mode. What all this means, is that all audio or video signal formats currently in use (and for the near future) coming via an HDMI cable will be handled appropriately.
  • With the VSX-831, Ethernet and Wifi are built-in for access to Internet Radio (TuneIn), Deezer, Pandor, and Tidal (via firmware update), as well as well as access to media files stored on DLNA compatible PCs and media servers.
  • In addition to internet streaming, direct streaming from compatible devices is possible via Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay, GoogleCast (via firmware update) is also provided, as well as access to content stored on USB Flash Drives.
  • For added audio flexibility, the VSX-831 also includes compatibility with FireConnect By BlackFire Research. This option allows the VSX-831 to stream audio directly to compatible Pioneer (and Onkyo) wireless speakers placed in other locations throughout the home (requires firmware update).
  • To facilitate the growing re-interest in vinyl records, the VSX-831 also includes a dedicated phono input, which allows connection of a traditional turntable.
  • Control options include a standard wireless remote control, as well as additional control capability is also available via iPhone/iPad and some Android devices using Pioneer's iControlAV5 App.

The VSX-1131

The VSX-1131 offers up all of the key features of the VSX-831 but takes it up a notch with added power output, and more audio decoding and speaker setup options.

Let's take a look.

  • The VSX-1131 adds two more channels over the VSX-831, for a total of 7 (plus 2 subwoofer outputs). Using the same measurement standard as the VSX-831, the stated power output of the VSX-1131 is 100 Wpc.
  • In addition to the audio decoding and processing features of the VSX-831, the VSX-1131 also provides Dolby Atmos decoding (5.1.2 channel configuration), and DTS:X can be added via free firmware update. It is also important to note that VSX-1131 also provides DTS Neo:X audio processing built-in, but when the DTS:X firmware update is applied, it will supersede, and delete, that audio processing feature.
  • In addition to the 1080p to 4K upscaling that VSX-831 provides, the VSX-1131 also provides Analog-to-HDMI video conversion. Also,  the VSX-1131 adds a Component Video input option.
  • The VSX-1131 provides more analog and digital audio inputs than the VSX-831, as well as one additional HDMI input (for a total of 7) and two HDMI outputs. The extra output allows an additional HDMI source to be accessible in another location (see Zone 2 below).
  • The VSX-1131 includes a Zone 2 option:. This feature allows you to set-up 5.1 channels in the main room, combined with an independent 2-channel setup in another room using the VSX-1130's built-in amplifiers, or opting for 7.2 or 5.1.2 setup in the main room, as well as a 2-channel setup in another room with the addition of optional external amplifiers.
  • In addition to traditional 7.2 channel, Dolby Atmos, or Zone 2 speaker setup, you can also opt for a Bi-amp setup where four channels can be devoted to compatible front speakers.

The Bottom Line

Although the VSX-831 and VSX-1131 offer a lot for consumers (even the lower-priced VSX-831 has sophisticated features, such as wireless Multi-room audio capability and compatibility with 4K video signals that contain HDR information), it is also important to note that if you have older source components, only the VSX-1131 provides a component video input (but no output - converted to HDMI), and neither receiver provides S-Video connections or 5.1/7.1 channel input/output connections. Also, although HDR is supported, it is limited to HDR10 - Dolby Vision pass-through is not available.

On the other hand, even though there are some connectivity options for older gear missing, if that is not a factor in your case, the Pioneer VSX-831 and VSX-1131 are definitely two home theater receiver options that provide a lot of flexibility that can meet the needs of many consumers.

For more details on both receivers (there is a lot more than I covered in this article), refer to the Official VSX-831 and VSX-1131 Product Pages.