Many companies in consumer electronics that are based in Japan are known for pushing the boundaries in audio quality and technologies. So if you are looking for something like an AV receiver, a good bet would be to go with a Japanese brand or possibly the same brand as most of your other components that form your home theater system. Still, choosing an AV receiver won’t be easy because a lot of big names are active in producing home theater receivers today including Pioneer which still has the DJ equipment market cornered. Like other AV receiver manufacturers, Pioneer targets low and mid price points with their ordinary Pioneer AV receivers as well as high price points with their “Elite” lineup. The Pioneer VSX-1022-K is positioned as a fairly low-end AV receiver being the cheapest Pioneer-branded home theater receiver with 7.1 channels support. But the question is if the features of the VSX-1022-K are really worthy of the $449 price tag.
Pioneer is taking a brushed finish approach to designing the Pioneer VSX-1022-K. Part of the company’s goals is to come up with a design that makes a good first impression. Their approach was to use modern and compelling lines to add to the premium look even if this mid-range AV receiver lacks the premium internals.
The layout of the controls and buttons also show that the VSX-1022-K is quite functional even without the remote control. There are two knobs for input selection and master volume control along with several buttons on the center just below the large info panel where you can toggle other modes such as Advanced Surround. A small front panel below the buttons covers the front USB and A/V inputs. Although there are no HDMI inputs on the front, the 6 HDMI inputs on the back show that the Pioneer VSX-1022-K can handle some large configurations. Pioneer even managed to add an Ethernet port which needs to be utilized if you want to take advantage of its networking capabilities.
Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.
With 560 watts of power, the VSX-1022-K can proudly boast flexibility since you can set up a 7.1-channel system in several ways. In addition to the traditional approach, Pioneer allows you to add 3D effects and vocal height by using a pair of speakers as front height speakers. Since there are a total of 9 channels available for speaker connection, it is also possible to set up a 7.1-channel sound system that has the amplification and then hook up another pair of speakers for another room in the house. The support for Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby Pro Logic IIz means that Blu-ray audio quality should be superb. The Advanced Sound Retriever can also improve the quality of compressed music files such as MP3, AAC and WMA files.
Pioneer may have stopped making TVs but the company still focuses on overall video quality when it comes to AV receivers. The Pioneer VSX-1022-K certainly delivers in that area by infusing the latest HDMI technologies in every HDMI port. This means that connectivity to 3D displays and 3D-enabled Blu-ray players can play nice with the VSX-1022-K and problems shouldn’t really surface. The Anchor Bay video processor also deserves some credit for allowing content to upscale to full HD 1080p. With this feature, even old and dated content on legacy equipment can finally look good on the display.
These are the kinds of features that you would expect from a $400 to $500 AV receiver but Pioneer wants to go a bit further by incorporating some networking features. The first major feature is support for Apple’s AirPlay standard allowing any computer running iTunes to wirelessly stream the music to the Pioneer VSX-1022-K. The latest iPod, iPod Touch and iPad devices can do the same as well. Since there is no wireless module on the VSX-1022-K, the only way to make this wireless setup possible is to connect the AV receiver to a wireless router via Ethernet. Connecting your TV display to the Pioneer VSX-1022-K’s HDMI output lets you view the track information as well.
If you prefer higher playback quality, you can connect the mobile device to the USB port because the USB port can handle uncompressed audio files in the 192Khz 24-bit FLAC format. The USB interface is designed to transmit power making it a convenient way to charge iPod, iPhone and iPad devices while playing music. Flash drives that contain music files can be read too.
The wireless connectivity features clearly benefit people tied to the iOS ecosystem but if you are using other smartphones and tablets like Android, you can still make use of the mobile device’s Bluetooth feature if you equip the VSX-1022-K with the Pioneer AS-BT200 Bluetooth adapter that is unfortunately sold separately. On a slight upside, this adapter relies on a technology called Sound Retriever AIR so the Bluetooth audio quality should be significantly better than other home theater receivers with Bluetooth audio support.
To make owners of iOS or Android smartphones or tablets even more productive, Pioneer has developed an app called Pioneer ControlApp which basically turns the mobile device into a wireless remote control. The interface is very intuitive and it should work as long as there Wi-Fi signal is present.
The networking features of the Pioneer VSX-1022-K aren’t just about the mobile devices though because the VSX-1022-K has DLNA 1.5 and Windows 7 certification. This means that desktop and laptop computers can join in on the wireless streaming fun with support of various file formats including MP3, WMA, AAC, WAV and FLAC. The vTuner feature also lets the Pioneer VSX-1022-K connect to the Internet although it is only limited to connecting to Internet radio stations and Pandora’s own music radio service. Fortunately, Pandora offers a great variety of content and there are plenty of other active Internet radio stations worldwide.
Judging from the way the VSX-1022-K was made, Pioneer clearly wanted to make an affordable 7.1-channel AV receiver that is rich in wireless features. In order to get the best sound experience, all you have to do is utilize the Auto Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration system and you shouldn’t be disappointed.
Discontinued by Manufacturer
Update: There is a newer model > Pioneer VSX-1024