Pioneer VSX-1021K 7.1 A/V Receiver


The Pioneer VSX-1021K 7.1 A/V Receiver In Use

Using the Pioneer for general TV watching was great. The receiver interacted with my TV via HDMI so when powered on, sound was muted from the TV and output through the surround sound. Also, when adjusting the "TV" volume, the TV was actually adjusting "Home Theater" volume and telling the receiver to turn the volume up or down. I have never seen this feature before and, frankly, it confused the heck out of me at first! Game of Thrones and Camelot both sounded very good and the Pioneer didn't seem to have any trouble powering my Monitor Audio speakers, although some of the dialog sounded a bit flat.

This may not seem like a big deal, but I thought being able to power on the 1021 via the iPad app was pretty cool. I am so used to everything being done directly from a remote via infrared signals, but now with all these new network features, so much can be done via your home network.

I checked out the wonderful movie How to Train Your Dragon on the 1021 as well. In the beginning of the movie, the village is being attacked by dragons and so is your sound system. Dragons whiz by and logs explode and burst into flames in this highly dynamic sound mix. The Pioneer did a pretty good job with dynamics of How to Train a Dragon and having MCACC enabled definitely balanced the sound out and made for a more enveloping sound. Occasionally, the bass seemed a bit too loaded for my taste, but tweaking it was simple with the iControlAV2 app

Using DLNA via Asset uPnP to play back some music, the iPad app worked ok, but navigating your music selection is limited to a small section of the screen with no apparent way to maximize. I would have preferred full screen navigation of my music collection, which would have made it easier to browse artists and albums. I listened to music in both the direct mode and "optimum" which has preset EQ settings for games, music, and movies. The "optimum" mode also uses MCACC to "enhance" the sound by making the bass far more pronounced and the soundstage was a bit wider.

The VSX-1021 also features Apple's AirPlay, which makes outputting sound via your iPhone or iPad through the Pioneer a piece of cake. All that is needed is to select the Pioneer on your iOS device as the AirPlay "speakers" and your music should be redirected to your home theater. AirPlay is a simple, yet very convenient feature to access all your music from iTunes.

The AS-BT200 Bluetooth module was pretty handy to have, but certainly not necessary. It was pretty cool to load up Pandora on my iPhone and have the audio sent via Bluetooth to the home theater system. Sound quality was surprisingly good, but it would not replace high quality network streaming audio for me at this point.