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First Look: Pioneer VSX-1021-K

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First Look: Pioneer VSX-1021-K

2:30 /

Pioneer's VSX-1012-K is an excellent AV receiver with built-in AirPlay and top-notch sound quality, but Denon's AVR-1912 is just a little better.

Hi, I'm Matthew Moskovciak at CNET.com and this is the Pioneer VSX-1021-K. It's the first midrange A/V receiver we've reviewed with built-in AirPlay and that's currently selling for $550. Now, built-in AirPlay means you can stream music from any iOS device, which is iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, and you stream directly to the receiver. Start playing a song, hit the AirPlay icon then select the receiver and that's it. Album art and artist information shows up on your TV and you can adjust the receiver's volume using your iOS device. It also works with third party apps like Rhapsody and Pandora and if you don't have an iOS device, you can even use a computer running iTunes as your controller. Now, the receiver does need to be on your home network, so you'll need to connect it either with Ethernet or using the option of Wi-Fi adapter, although it cost $150 extra. In addition to AirPlay, Pioneer also has an iOS remote app called iControl AV2, which you can use to control the receiver instead of the usual remote. It's a great idea especially because the included remote is really difficult to use, but ultimately we found a lot of the Apps functionality to be gimmicky rather than useful. If you look around the back panel, you'll see there are 5 HDMI inputs along with 2 component video inputs and 4 digital audio inputs, which should be more than enough for all your home theater devices. Now for sound quality, the Pioneer was excellent overall with both music and movies. We did compare directly to the Denon AVR-1912 and while they're both great sounding receivers, ultimately, we thought the Denon was just a little better especially at higher volumes. Altogether, the Pioneer is a really impressive combination of features and performance, but it's not quite our favorite receiver of the year. The competing Denon AVR-1912 is just slightly better overall as it also offers AirPlay plus it has 1 more HDMI port, slightly better sound quality and a 2-year warranty compared to the 1-year offered by the Pioneer. That's still makes the VSX-1021-K our second favorite receiver of the year and it could be the top choice for some buyers if they prefer the nicer user interface offered by the Pioneer. I'm Matthew Moskovciak, and this is the Pioneer VSX-1021-K.

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