Pioneer has been offering seamless integration with Apple devices with its past receivers and they have taken this a step further with the 7.1 channel Pioneer VSX-1021-K. One of the most exciting new features is AirPlay that allows you to stream music from iTunes. Another interesting app is Pioneer’s own Air Jam (available as a free download for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad), which promises to revolutionize the way you share your music.
Design & Connectivity
The 7.1 channel Pioneer VSX-1021-K spots the familiar sleek black finish. It comes with 5 HDMI inputs and one HDMI out. This should be ample for most users. Also included are 2 USB ports (1 front / 1 rear) and an iPod/ iPhone / iPad USB cable making it fully compatible with Apple devices out of the box. For connection to the internet a LAN port is provided. Wireless connectivity is possible with an optional USB adaptor (AS-WL300). It is also SIRIUS Satellite Ready. Also provided are 2 component video inputs and 5 composite video plus a slew of analogue audio and video inputs including RCA outputs for Zone 2. There are 9 pairs of speaker outputs for easy changing of configurations through the menu.
Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.
- 5 HDMI version 1.4a inputs for 3D compatibility.
- Power output of 90 Watts per channel into 7 Channels
- High quality 192kHz/24-bit DACs.
- DLNA 1.5 certified – allows you to stream your MP3, AAC, WMA, WAV, or even FLAC music files from your PC, laptop or Smartphone to the receiver.
- Apple® compatibility for iPod, iPhone, and iPad – Easily connect Apple devices with the included USB/video cable. Charges Apple devices automatically when connected.
- AirPlay – with AirPlay you can stream music from iTunes. Simply connect the VSX-1021-K to your home network and it instantly becomes the hub for playback of your iTunes music from your connected Apple device or networked computer.
- Air Jam – you can connect via Bluetooth to share music and create playlists. Requires the AS-BT200 Bluetooth Adapter (sold separately). With Air Jam, up to 4 devices can be paired via Bluetooth.
- iControlAV2 – Download this free Pioneer app and turn your iPhone, iPod touch and iPad into a powerful remote control for the VSX-1021-K.
- Supports Internet Radio with vTuner – Controlled by the iControlAv2 app you can enjoy thousands of internet radio stations worldwide.
- 24/192kHz WAV and 24/96kHz FLAC file compatibility – Network streaming audio playback is now ready for the true audiophile.
- Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio to give your blu-ray soundtracks unsurpassed audio quality. Also includes Dolby Pro Logic IIz height channel.
- Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration system (MCACC) provides a near studio-quality, multi-channel listening experience customized specifically to your listening environment.
- Advanced Sound Retriever – enhances compressed audio such as WMA, MP3 and AAC.
To test out the VSX-1021-K’s performance, we used the recent blu-ray release of Just Go With It.
Video performance was near immaculate. To begin with, image quality and details were almost flawless. From Sandler’s creased forehead to Anniston’s golden locks, every fine detail was impressive. However, the most outstanding feature of the film would be its sheer clarity of the color. Particularly the scenes set in Hawaii, the shimmering pristine blue waters, lush green equatorial trees in the film did the beauty of Hawaii justice. Other elements such as the loud colored Hawaiian shirts were impeccable. Black levels were deep, adding a great level of depth. Skin tones were natural and contrast was well balanced.
Sound quality was equally excellent as well, with its decoding of the DTS-HD MA 5.1. Clearly, the focal point of the film was the dialog. While dialog was flawlessly carried out, other sound effects such as the atmospherics were used to great effect. The screeching of the seagulls, waves subtly rolling onto the beach provided an immersive experience of the equatorial region. Even with the lack of action packed sound effects, the simple, yet engaging soundtrack was a joy to listen.
To get a better idea of the VSX-1021-K’s audio performances, we used a SACD version of Avalon by Roxy Music. Improvement of the SACD over the normal audio CD was distinctly evident. The track “The Main Thing” was a standout, making use of the extra channels to provide lucid vocals and percussion. The title track, Avalon was also stunning, with the projection of lead singer Brian Ferry’s voice seemingly right in front of us and topped off with Manzanera’s guitars and the backup vocals. Instruments were well distributed among the separate channels with Ferry’s vocals in the center, flanked by harmonies on the left and right. Overall, the exceptional clarity helped create a deeply engaging soundtrack.
Beyond a doubt the Pioneer VSX-1021-K is wonderfully endowed with a full set of mouth-watering features. Being able to work seamlessly with iPods and iPads is a big selling point and Pioneer have used that to the fullest. The VSX-1021-K is primed to be one of the most popular mid-range receivers in the market.
Discontinued by Manufacturer
Update: There is a newer model > Pioneer VSX-1024