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Pioneer VSX-1021-K

*Est. $550
Reviewed
July 2011
by ConsumerSearch
Pioneer VSX-1021-K

Pros
  • Great sound and video
  • Excellent iPhone/iPad/iPod touch integration
  • Excellent video upscaling
  • DLNA certified
Cons
  • Occasionally spotty DLNA performance
  • Very expensive Wi-Fi dongle
  • Poor audio performance when played at high volume

The Pioneer VSX-1021-K home theater receiver stands out from the crowd for one notable reason: its support for Apple devices is second to none, which many critics appreciate. Connecting your iOS device -- be it an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch -- is handled via an included cable or using Apple's proprietary wireless AirPlay technology. Using AirPlay allows you to stream music from Internet radio services like Pandora and Rhapsody that the receiver doesn't support out of the box. Pioneer also offers apps that let you use your iPad or other iOS device as a remote control for the receiver -- which one reviewer likes more than the included remote control. Another app lets you wirelessly connect up to four separate iOS devices to the VSX-1021-K, each of which can then share music and browse the others' libraries. Yet another app helps with connecting components and setting up the VSX-1021-K. DLNA compatibility lets you stream music from other devices to your home network, but some report trouble getting that to work reliably. Ethernet connectivity is built in, but if you want to connect wirelessly to your network, you'll need an optional and somewhat expensive Wi-Fi adapter (*Est. $150).

The VSX-1021-K includes five 1.4a HDMI ports with HDMI pass-through and audio return channel, as well as all the major surround-sound audio decoders. Zone 2 analog audio outputs are also included if you want to pump sound to another room. Pioneer's proprietary Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration Control (MCACC) is on board to help you automatically configure your speaker settings. The audio and video capabilities for the receiver are rated fairly highly in general, but users report occasional troubles with video artifacts, and critics say the VSX-1021-K doesn't hold up as well as some other receivers at very loud volumes.

CNET and MaximumTech.com offer the most in-depth reviews of the Pioneer VSX-1021-K, although the latter devotes most of its report to cataloging the receiver's iOS-compatible features. Audioholics.com offers an expert opinion based on the spec sheet alone, and About.com's Robert Silva also takes a brief look at the VSX-1021-K. Several users have chimed in with their opinions of the VSX-1021-K on Amazon.com.

Where To Buy
Pioneer Channel AV Receiver, VSX-1023 (Black)

 
Buy new: $529.99 $496.99   32 Used & new from $229.59

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Our Sources

1. CNET

Reviewer Matthew Moskovciak takes an in-depth look at every aspect of the VSX-1021-K en route to awarding the receiver an excellent 4-star rating. He praises the unit's extensive feature list and easy-to-use AirPlay feature. Sound and video are both singled out as excellent, although Moskovciak notes the receiver sounds "strained" at high volumes. He calls the $150 price tag of the Wi-Fi adapter "unreasonable."

Review: Pioneer VSX-1021-K, Matthew Moskovciak, May 13, 2011

2. MaximumTech.com

Michael Brown offers a long look at the VSX-1021-K in a review that mostly focuses on the receiver's abilities to communicate with iOS devices. He also touches on the receiver's feature list and AV capabilities -- which he classifies as "very good" -- but in less detail. Problems with the receiver's DLNA compatibility prevent him from awarding the home theater receiver the site's Kick Ass award, but he still gives the VSX-1021-K an excellent 9 rating. Echoing Matthew Moskovciak's complaint at CNET, Brown says "Pioneer's $150 wireless USB adapter is much too expensive."

Review: Pioneer VSX-1021-K A/V Receiver Review, Michael Brown, June 23, 2011

3. Audioholics.com

Audioholics.com offers a First Look Preview rather than a review, which means Tom Andry bases his impressions on the receiver's spec sheet rather than hands-on testing. That being said, Andry does an admirable job of listing the VSX-1021-K's features in detail and using his expert knowledge to describe what each feature offers to end-users. Giving the receiver a first impression of "Gotta have it!," Andry says "The Pioneer VSX-1021 is definitely full featured for its price point."

Review: Pioneer VSX-1021-K Receiver First Look Preview, Tom Andry, March 11, 2011

4. Amazon.com

Users on Amazon.com think highly of the VSX-1021-K, with the majority of reviews awarding either a 4- or a 5-star rating; not a single 1-star rating was found at the time of our visit. Most owners are more than happy with their purchase, although several say they have occasional issues with video artifacts and the iControlAV2 app crashing during use. Some Wi-Fi spottiness is also noted.

Review: Pioneer VSX-1021-K 7.1 Home Theater Receiver, Glossy Black, Contributors to Amazon.com

5. About.com

About.com's Robert Silva names the Pioneer VSX-1021-K as the ninth-best receiver in this price range, although many of the higher-ranking models cost more. Silva's brief one-paragraph blurb seems more based on the unit's list of features than on actual time spent with the receiver. "The Pioneer VSX-1021-K 7.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver provides practical features and good audio performance in an affordable package," Silva says in summary. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)

Review: Home Theater Receivers - 400 to 1,299 Dollars, Robert Silva

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