This week Pioneer introduced five new receivers, from $US230 to $US750. All have HDMI 1.4 switching for 3D, and all have Pro Logic IIz surround. But one model stands out, the $US550 VSX-1020-K, a worthy successor to our Battlemodo champ.
Receiver technology has become amazingly affordable, and to me, the sweet spot is the 1020, with crazy tech that would've cost thousands only a few years ago:
• An Anchor Bay 1080p upscaler for analogue-to-digital video, making every gadget you line in available on your TV via a single HDMI cable
• Sound Retriever AIR for improving quality of MP3s and other compressed formats, a step-up from something that we found actually worked well on previous models
• Advanced microphone-enabled automatic room calibration (called MCACC) for balancing speakers
• Precision Quartz Locking System (PQLS), which provides jitter-free CD playback when combined with a compatible Pioneer Blu-ray player
But best of all, this thing can be controlled and adjusted by Pioneer's AVR iControl app. Anyone who's slagged through their fair share of shitty AV receiver menus - the palm of your hand as you walk around the room, tweaking your settings. Trust me, this isn't just a gimmick. Here are some screens:
Not much more to say, except that if you respected our judgment call on the 1019 in our receiver Battlemodo, you have all the more reason to spend an extra $US50 on its replacement when it ships in May. In the meantime, here's the basic lowdown on all the new receivers: the junior-grade VSX-520-K and VSX-820-K, and the upper deck VSX-920-K, VSX-1020-K and flagship VSX-1120-K, which for $US200 more replaces the Anchor Bay upscaler with a Marvell, and has a few extra AV-nerd perks.