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Pioneer VSX-1021-K review: Built-in AirPlay, top-notch sound

CNET reviews the Pioneer VSX-1021-K, finding it to be an excellent AV receiver with built-in AirPlay and top-notch sound quality, but Denon's AVR-1912 is just a little better.

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Pioneer has undeniably been the main innovator in the midrange AV receiver space over the last few years. For example, the company added the ability to connect an iPod/iPhone directly via USB, and included a cable for that purpose, before anyone else. Now Pioneer is making iPod support one step easier with the VSX-1021-K, letting you wirelessly stream music from an iOS device--such as an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch--using AirPlay, Apple's proprietary media-streaming format (check out our full hands-on). In addition to AirPlay, the VSX-1021-K also features a slew of other attractive features, including five HDMI inputs, DLNA compatibility, and Pioneer's iOS remote-control app, iControlAV2. Not to mention the fact that it sounds pretty great, too.

As impressive as that package sounds, it's still not quite enough to make the VSX-1021-K our top midrange receiver pick of 2011. The Denon AVR-1912 edges it out just slightly by also offering AirPlay, plus one more HDMI port, a two-year warranty, more built-in streaming media services, and slightly better sound quality. That still makes the VSX-1021-K our second-favorite receiver of the year and it could be the top choice for some buyers who really can't stand the inferior onscreen display of the Denon.

Read the full review of the Pioneer VSX-1021-K.

Also check out our new 2011 AV receiver spreadsheet comparing all the receivers we've reviewed in 2011. We'll continue to update it with more receivers soon.