The Pioneer VSX-LX102 AV receiver earns our Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award. It is a 7.2-channel receiver with elite upscaling and pass-through capabilities as well as all the important audio decoders used by DVDs, Blu-rays and streaming services. Even though its power output is average and it doesn’t have two-zone audio, the VSX-LX102 is a solid AV receiver that works with most home theater systems. This model costs less than the two best receivers we reviewed but has similar features and power ratings, so if you are looking to save a little money, this is a good budget-friendly option.
The VSX-LX102 is rated to output 80 watts of power per channel when using 8-ohm speakers and 170 watts with 6-ohm speakers. This is average for an AV receiver in this price range. Still, it has plenty of juice to recreate the theater experience in most home entertainment rooms. It even has two subwoofer pre-outs, so you can double down on low-frequency reinforcement to make those low rumbles in action scenes feel real.
One of the receiver’s minor downsides is its lack of two-zone audio. This feature allows you to send a second audio input to two channels, which creates a second zone of audio that’s independent from the main surround system. This is only necessary if you want to use the receiver to power a couple of speakers in another room.
Since it has 7.2 channels of audio, the VSX-LX102 can power up to seven speakers and send signals to two subwoofers. Its audio decoders take full advantage of these channels. In addition to having the industry-standard Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD decoders, it has Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, which provide multidimensional surround channels. It also has upmixing decoders that convert stereo inputs to surround sound and Dolby Digital Plus – the main audio format used in mobile music and video streaming platforms, including Netflix.
Like all the best AV receivers that cost around $500, the VSX-LX102 is compatible with 1080p and 4K video, which is crucial because a good home theater receiver is the hub between your television and input devices. You can connect your cable or satellite box, gaming system, Blu-ray player, and other components to the receiver using its four HDMI inputs – this should be enough to connect most of your devices, although the best receivers we evaluated have six HDMI inputs.
The VSX-LX102 can also connect to components wirelessly via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. In addition, it’s optimized for Apple's AirPlay and Android's DLNA, so it’s easy to send audio to the receiver over your home Wi-Fi network using your iPhone or Android phone.
Connectivity is perhaps the most important and most overlooked part of a receiver. In fact, it's the main reason people upgrade their older models. The VSX-LX102 has composite inputs and a phono input, which is a rare but popular connection type used for turntables. It has one fewer HDMI output than two of the AV receivers we reviewed, but other than that, it covers all the major connectivity bases.
Pioneer offers a two-year warranty on its Elite series receivers, which is average for models in this price range. You can contact the manufacturer’s product support team by email or phone if you have any questions about the VSX-LX102’s features or if you want information about how to integrate an AV receiver into your home theater system.
The Pioneer VSX-LX102 has average power outputs, all the important audio decoders and a good selection of connectivity options, including a phono preamp for your record player. It only has four HDMI inputs, which could be an issue if you plan on amassing home theater components, but if you want to spend less than $500 on a receiver, this is your best bet.