Say hello to the Pioneer VSX-1021 A/V receiver. Like other A/V receivers, it too will take all your home theater devices and allow them to interact happily with one another. But unlike most other receivers, it also plays nice with Apple's AirPlay streaming standard, and it does so at a realistic price: $550.
Compared to the other AirPlay-compatible receivers from Denon, which cost upwards of a $1000, this Pioneer box could be a steal. Especially considering the HDMI 1.5 support (allowing multiple DLNA connections at once) and custom iOS apps that enhance its functionality in many ways.
But first, AirPlay: functionality is pretty standard here. All you have to do is make sure your receiver is set-up as a discoverable AirPlay speaker source, then using your computer/iPad/iPhone/iPod touch, you select the Pioneer receiver like you would any other device. Once connected, Song info, album art and all that fun stuff will appear on the TV screen. And just like any other AirPlay-enabled device, it streams simultaneously to other sources with no delay between devices. Unlike the AppleTV the VSX-1021 won't stream video, like Netflix or YouTube, over AirPlay. It will, however, playback upscaled video via composite cable.
Pioneer also built in a similar streaming technology of their own, called AirJam, which uses a Bluetooth technology to connect up to 4 iOS devices to the receiver at once. Using a custom app, people can add tracks to a playlist, take control of playback functionality, and find out more about artists who are playing. It looks fine, but honestly, this seems like a feature that will be forgotten next to AirPlay (especially for those who have their Bluetooth turned off more often than not).
As for the VSX-1021's other streaming and wi-fi friendly features, they're plentiful. The receiver is DLNA-compliant, which means it will stream anything coming from home servers and NAS drives, PCs and compatible smartphones. Pioneer also updated its iControlAV app for iOS devices that gives you FULL control over the receiver, includng volume, source selection and EQ (you can draw the EQ curve with your finger). And, if you have a Pioneer Blu-ray player, you can control playback with the app as well.
Then there's the fit, finish and build quality of the VSX-1021, It's an attractive unit, if a bit standard looking. It has a bit of a plasticky feel, especially with the knobs, which don't have the same sort of weighty feel that a higher end unit might have. Pioneer reps say that higher-end versions will be available later. But at $550, I'm sure any quips with build quality is a concession most will to make when this unit drops in April.
PIONEER INTRODUCES FOUR NEW AUDIO VIDEO RECEIVERS
Industry's First AV Receivers Designed for iPad
LONG BEACH, CA (March 8, 2011) – With today's living room now a haven for advanced home theater entertainment, Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc. is bringing more excitement into the home with the introduction of four new Pioneer branded 5.1 and 7.1-channel audio video receivers. The 2011 line of Pioneer receivers which include models HYPERLINK "http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Home/AV-Receivers/Pioneer+Receivers/VSX-521-K" VSX-521 ($249), VSX-821 ($349), VSX-921 ($449) and VSX-1021 ($549) offer unparalleled performance, advanced technologies, and exciting new features with Apple's AirPlay®, Made for iPad, DLNA® 1.5, Internet Radio and custom apps made for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch such as the exclusive iControlAV21 App and the Air Jam1 App, both developed by Pioneer.
"Our newest receivers make it extremely easy for consumers to connect their iPhones, iPads and iPods, enabling them to access their music and video content as well as share them with others in one room or the home," said Chris Walker, director AV marketing and product planning for the home entertainment division of Pioneer Electronics (USA) Inc. "Pioneer receivers are made to deliver the highest level of audio and video performance consumers expect no matter of the source it comes from."
Designed for Today's Consumer Lifestyle
Pioneer's 2011 receiver models deliver an elevated audio experience that enthusiasts expect from an entertainment device. Everything from the user interface, to the setup process, to the product functionality, each receiver delivers an intuitive user experience that anyone in the home can easily enjoy.
Made for iPhone/iPad/iPod – Pioneer receivers come with a free USB/video cable for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch that enable fast "plug and play" capability with no optional dock required. This allows users to enjoy playback of audio, video and photos stored on their device(s).
AirPlay – With the VSX-1021 receiver and AirPlay which requires iTunes 10.1 or later and iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with iOS 4.2, music lovers can easily listen to their music library wirelessly through their home theater system. Album art and song information can also be displayed on a connected monitor/TV as well. An optional wireless LAN adapter from Pioneer (AS-WL300) is available to simplify the connection process.
Air Jam – Pioneer is revolutionizing social entertainment with its free Air Jam App, available from the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Used in conjunction with the VSX-1021 receiver (optional AS-BT200 Bluetooth adapter required), up to four devices can be paired via Bluetooth. Once connected, each user can cue songs from their music libraries to create a collective playlist to play back on their A/V Receiver. Each connected device will display the list of songs added by all users and the device each song will play from. The Air Jam App will also keep the list of songs from each session on each device for future purchase through the iTunes Store.
iControlAV2 – The next generation Pioneer iControlAV2 App, also available in the App Store for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch gives users even more control of their home theater settings when used with the VSX-1021. The app enables control of volume, bass, balance and room settings and is further enhanced when used with an iPad, integrating all four app controls into an intuitive single screen. Additional features include detailed graphic representations of before and after MCACC room calibration, and sound adjustments that enable users to create their own equalizer settings with a simple "touch and draw" on the screen. The iControlAV2 App also includes Blu-ray player control when connected to a compatible Pioneer Blu-ray player.
Both the Air Jam App and the iControlAV2 App require iOS 4.2 with iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G, iPad, iPod touch (2nd generation), iPod touch (3rd generation), and iPod touch (4th generation).
There's Music in the Air with Bluetooth and DLNA® 1.5
With the connected lifestyle in mind, Pioneer receivers utilize the various wireless and network technologies that are available today to quickly access audio contents from personal mobile devices and bring them into the living room environment where they can be shared by everyone. Streaming content to the new Pioneer receivers can be done with ease via Bluetooth and/or DLNA.
DLNA 1.5 – Further expanding on its wireless and networked capabilities, the VSX-1021 also offers DLNA 1.5 support, allowing connection to devices with the same feature. Via Ethernet or optional AS-WL300 wireless WiFi adapter (sold separately), the receiver can access and play high resolution music (up to 192kHz/24-Bit) from a compatible networked or portable device. Audio can also be streamed and controlled through the Pioneer receiver with a smartphone that supports UPnP / DLNA media servers and renderers, giving users an entirely new way to share and play their music collection.
Bluetooth Audio Streaming – With the optional Bluetooth adaptor, the entire lineup of receivers feature wireless Bluetooth transfer of audio content from any A2DP Bluetooth-enabled mobile device or personal computer. The Pioneer branded AS-BT200 ($99) Bluetooth Adaptor allows listeners to keep their phone close to them while they enjoy music through their home theater system. And, with Pioneer's exclusive Sound Retriever AIR technology, specifically designed to enhance Bluetooth audio transmissions, music delivered through Bluetooth is near-CD sound quality.
vTuner – Pioneer adds vTuner Internet radio to the VSX-1021 for endless music entertainment. With vTuner, users have access to thousands of Internet radio stations around the world. From the on-screen display, users can choose from different music formats, station locations or simply search for specific stations and receive the broadcasts with great reception every time.
Ready to Create the Most Advanced Home Theater
Pioneer's newest receivers are ready for the latest display technologies. Each model features HDMI 1.4a support and is ready to pass 3D content from a Blu-ray 3D player or 3D cable or satellite broadcast to any compatible display. All models also support the HDMI 1.4a audio return channel (ARC) that send audio signals to the receiver from compatible TV tuners and online services built into televisions, such as Netflix. For the consumer who intends to periodically use the built-in speakers of their televisions, the Pioneer line-up includes a new HDMI Standby Through feature to pass audio and video from a set top box through the receivers without the need to turn on the component.
Pioneer A/V receivers are packed with proprietary audio enhancement and room calibration technologies that elevate the sound quality experience:
Auto Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration (MCACC) – Featured in each receiver is Pioneer's proprietary MCACC system that analyzes the room's speaker configuration and then optimizes level and equalization for each one to compensate for any room-induced acoustic inaccuracies, providing an optimal, customized audio experience in any home theater room.
Pioneer takes audio calibration further on the VSX-1021 with Advanced MCACC, adding 3D time alignment for the most precise tuning capability. When utilizing the iControlAV2 app for room calibration, the control screen graphically displays the results of the acoustics of the room with fine detail and allows the user to make further adjustments manually.
Dolby ProLogic IIz Decoding – All new Pioneer receivers are equipped to decode HD audio formats, including Dolby TrueHD® and DTS-HD Master Audio®, and now the new Dolby ProLogic IIz height channel. Dolby ProLogic IIz distinguishes background sounds and adds them to additional front height speakers for an enhanced front surround sound experience. Creating the depth and dimension of a lifelike soundstage, this speaker configuration is ideal for gamers, and can also complement a 3D video experience. The new technology provides new speaker placement options for consumers as well as easier installation solutions. Additionally, Pioneer's proprietary Front Wide Mode adds versatility and dimension to a 7.1 speaker arrangement.
Advanced Sound Retriever – Available in all 2011 models, ASR enhances compressed audio files by restoring critical data from portable media players as well as internet radio and satellite radio, delivering a robust music experience that is near-CD quality.
Auto Level Control – ALC technology ensures consistent listening from all entertainment sources by compensating for fluctuating volume levels across digital audio tracks, television channels and commercials that can cause unexpected disruptions to the entertainment experience.
Receivers that Make Set Up Easy
The VSX-1021 is the first AV receiver to feature its new AVNavigator setup software application. Designed to simplify the physical and software setup of the receiver, AVNavigator is a suite of PC applications, consisting of two key applications, Wiring Navi and the Interactive Manual.
Wiring Navi – Users simply answer a series of questions about the hardware connected to the system and the application will automatically update the receiver with all of the correct settings.
Interactive Manual – Once the receiver is connected using the Wiring Navi set up, the Interactive Manual application provides a linked two-way interactive manual giving users a way to quickly learn about all of the new features of the AV receiver (i.e. a push of the ALC button on the front of the receiver will take the user directly to the portion of the manual that explains the Automatic Level Control feature). Alternately, users can click on a section of the owner's manual and the feature of the receiver will automatically activate (i.e. when the user clicks on the FL Dimmer section of the owner's manual, the Front Panel Display of the receiver will dim).
All models are finished in a premium glossy black and will be available at national and regional retailers in March, 2011.