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Christmas Gift Guide
The Pioneer VSX-1018AH's solid sound and generous feature package make it a great value in the midrange AV receiver class.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive
The Pioneer VSX-1018H has a classy look. The faceplate is covered with a glossy black finish, which means it will fit right in with most modern home theaters.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive
Connectivity is mostly solid on the Pioneer VSX-1018AH. Three HDMI inputs may be enough for most home theaters, but it's worth noting that competing receivers, such as the Sony STR-DG920 and the Onkyo TX-SR606 both offer four HDMI inputs. We're disappointed to see the VSX-1018AH doesn't offer any S-Video ports, which are still available on the Denon AVR-1909 and Onkyo TX-SR606.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive
Like most midrange receivers, the Pioneer VSX-1018AH has onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive
To initiate the Pioneer VSX-1018AH's autosetup, simply plug in the supplied microphone and follow the instructions from the onscreen prompts. The system automatically determines speaker sizes, speaker-to-listener distances (including the subwoofer), sets the volume levels of all of the speakers and the sub, and calculates the subwoofer crossover point.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive
We weren't big fans of the included remote. It's filled to the brim with small square buttons, and even important functions like volume aren't properly differentiated from less important buttons.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive
While the outside looks nice, the VSX-1018AH's onscreen interface doesn't. The competing STR-DG920 includes a basic graphical user interface, but the VSX-1018AH is limited to just white text on a black background.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive
That being said, the onscreen menus are relatively easy to navigate, which is more important than them being nice to look at.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive
We were also happy to see eight HD-input labels, all of which are renameble so you'll have no problem assigning your inputs to something easy to remember like "TiVo."
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive
The VSX-1018AH also has a USB port for listening to digital music on an iPod or USB drive. What makes this feature even more useful is that you can browse your iPod's music collection using the onscreen display.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive
The onscreen display is certainly rough looking, but for many it's a better option that getting off the couch and using the iPod to pick your songs.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CBS Interactive
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