The company's latest AV line emphasizes streaming audio capabilities.
John FalconeSenior Editorial Director, Shopping
John P. Falcone is the senior director of commerce content at CNET, where he coordinates coverage of the site's buying recommendations alongside the CNET Advice team (where he previously headed the consumer electronics reviews section). He's been a CNET editor since 2003.
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Self-taught tinkerer, informal IT and gadget consultant to friends and family (with several self-built gaming PCs under his belt)
Pioneer delivered a great line-up of AV receivers in 2011, highlighted by the VSX-1021-K. That model was one of the first non-Apple products to offer AirPlay compatibility--the ability to stream any audio from iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touch models. CNET awarded the Pioneer four stars, with only the Denon AVR-1912 besting it in the $500 AV receiver line-up last year.
A new product year hits the reset button, and Pioneer is back with a quartet of receivers for 2012. In addition to bristling with plenty of HDMI inputs, some of the new receivers offer a variety of ways to stream audio content, including AirPlay, DLNA, and Bluetooth options. Prices range from $249 to $599. Expect the receivers to be available for purchase before the end of March.
Here's a quick breakdown of the new models and an overview of the most important features:
Key step-up features:
7.2-channel AV receiver
Six HDMI inputs
Four digital inputs (two optical, two coaxial)
Optional Wi-Fi adapter
"AV Navigator" interactive setup assistant for PC or iPad
$599 list price; available in April
Feature sets look decent to good at first glance, although they don't have the onslaught of HDMI inputs found on 2012 Onkyo models. Pioneer is again putting the focus on its compatibility with Apple devices, especially with AirPlay support, which is available in the affordable Pioneer VSX-822-K. The VSX-822-K looks to be the sweet spot of the lineup; the feature upgrades on the VSX-1022-K and VSX-1122-K don't seem that compelling, although they may sound better.
We'll be reviewing the Pioneer line as soon as we can get our hands on one. Stay tuned.