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Pioneer's 2011 line of AV receivers compared

CNET breaks down all the major features of Pioneer's 2011 AV receiver line.

Pioneer's 2011 AV receiver line
Pioneer's 2011 AV receiver line Pioneer

Pioneer's big home-audio news this week was the VSX-1021-K AV receiver with built-in AirPlay support, but the company also released full details on the rest of its 2011 midrange AV receiver line. We've broken out all the key features of the models below:

Pioneer VSX-521-K

Pioneer VSX-521-K
Pioneer VSX-521-K back panel
Click for larger image

Key features of the Pioneer VSX-521-K:

Pioneer VSX-821-K

Pioneer VSX-821-K
Pioneer VSX-821-K
Click for larger image.

Key step-up features of the Pioneer VSX-821-K:

  • iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad-compatible USB port
  • Sirius-ready
  • $350 list price; available later in March

Pioneer VSX-921-K

Pioneer VSX-921-K
Pioneer VSX-921-K back panel
Click for larger image.

Key step-up features of the Pioneer VSX-921-K:

  • 7.1 AV receiver, 110 watts per channel
  • Analog video upconversion
  • $450 list price; available later in March

Pioneer VSX-1021-K

Pioneer VSX-1021-K
Pioneer VSX-1021-K back panel
Click for larger image.

Key step-up features of the Pioneer VSX-1021-K:

  • 7.1 AV receiver, 120 watts per channel
  • Built-in AirPlay support
  • Supports Pioneer's proprietary Air Jam and iControlAV2 functionality
  • DLNA-compliant
  • Built-in vTuner Internet radio functionality
  • Wi-Fi-upgradable (requires $150 AS-WL300 Wi-Fi dongle)
  • Second-zone audio
  • AV Navigator interactive user manual
  • $550 list price; available later in March

Pioneer also posted an excellent comparison chart with its press materials, which we've reproduced below. (Click on the image to view at full resolution.)

Pioneer 2011 AV receiver comparison chart
Click for larger image. Pioneer

While we broke down a lot of the important features of the VSX-1021-K in our initial blog post, Air Jam, iControlAV2, and AV Navigator are all new for 2011 too. Air Jam is a Pioneer-developed application that allows up to three iOS devices to add music to a universal playlist. While we can't imagine too many people downloading an app just to, say, request songs at a party, it's a nice bonus feature for households with multiple iOS devices.

iControlAV2 is the latest version of Pioneer's app that lets you adjust settings on your AV receiver. There's also an iPad-optimized version of the app that takes advantage of the additional screen real estate. Pioneer also developed AV Navigator, an interactive user's manual that communicates with your networked receiver to make the setup process easier.

The utility of all these features really will depend on how well they're implemented, so we're looking forward to getting our hands on a review sample as soon as we can.