This week Pioneer introduced five new receivers, from $230 to $750. All have HDMI 1.4 switching for 3D, and all have Pro Logic IIz surround. But one model stands out, the $550 VSX-1020-K, a worthy successor to our Battlemodo champ.
Receiver technology has become amazingly affordable, and to me, the sweet spot is the 1020, with crazy tech that would've cost thousands only a few years ago:
• An Anchor Bay 1080p upscaler for analog-to-digital video, making every gadget you line in available on your TV via a single HDMI cable
• Sound Retriever AIR for improving quality of MP3s and other compressed formats, a step-up from something that we found actually worked well on previous models
• Advanced microphone-enabled automatic room calibration (called MCACC) for balancing speakers
• Precision Quartz Locking System (PQLS), which provides jitter-free CD playback when combined with a compatible Pioneer Blu-ray player
But best of all, this thing can be controlled and adjusted by Pioneer's AVR iControl app. Anyone who's slagged through their fair share of shitty AV receiver menus—whether on screen or on the receiver itself—knows what a boon it is to have a nice GUI in the palm of your hand as you walk around the room, tweaking your settings. Trust me, this isn't just a gimmick. Here are some screens:
Not much more to say, except that if you respected our judgment call on the 1019 in our receiver Battlemodo, you have all the more reason to spend an extra $50 on its replacement when it ships in May. In the meantime, here's the basic lowdown on all the new receivers: the junior-grade VSX-520-K and VSX-820-K, and the upper deck VSX-920-K, VSX-1020-K and flagship VSX-1120-K, which for $200 more replaces the Anchor Bay upscaler with a Marvell, and has a few extra AV-nerd perks.