Pioneer VSX-1021-K review: Built-in AirPlay, top-notch sound

Pioneer has undeniably been the main innovator in the midrange AV receiver space over the last few years. For example, the company added the ability to connect an iPod/iPhone directly via USB, and included a cable for that purpose, before anyone else. Now Pioneer is making iPod support one step easier with the VSX-1021-K, letting you wirelessly stream music from an iOS device--such as an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch--using AirPlay, Apple's proprietary media-streaming format (check out our full hands-on). In addition to AirPlay, the VSX-1021-K also features a slew of other attractive features, including five HDMI inputs, DLNA compatibility, and Pioneer's iOS remote-control app, iControlAV2. Not to mention the fact that it sounds pretty great, too.

As impressive as that package sounds, it's still not quite enough to make the VSX-1021-K our top midrange receiver pick of 2011. The Denon AVR-1912 edges it out just slightly by also offering AirPlay, plus one more HDMI port, a two-year warranty, more built-in streaming media services, and slightly better sound quality. That still makes the VSX-1021-K our second-favorite receiver of the year and it could be the top choice for some buyers who really can't stand the inferior onscreen display of the Denon.… Read more

Hands-on with the Pioneer VSX-1021-K: AirPlay and iControl2 app

The Pioneer VSX-1021-K was the first midrange AV receiver announced with built-in AirPlay functionality, and it's also the first one we've received for hands-on testing. We've had the VSX-1021-K set up for less than 24 hours, but that's enough time to jot down our initial impressions on its built-in AirPlay functionality and Pioneer's iControlAV2 iOS app.

AirPlay: The ultimate digital music remote Simply put, built-in AirPlay lives up to the hype.

Once you get the VSX-1021-K on your home network (either via Ethernet or Wi-Fi, using the $150 adapter), streaming music from an iOS device (any iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad) is as simple as playing a song, hitting the AirPlay icon, and selecting the VSX-1021-K. Music played using the iPod app will have full cover art and artist info displayed on the connected TV, plus you can adjust the volume of the receiver using your iOS device's built-in volume controls.

AirPlay also works with a ton of third-party apps, so we were streaming music from Pandora and Rhapsody in no time. Even though we've had plenty of experience using other digital music streamers, like Squeezebox, there's no denying that it's pretty fun to stream audio straight from an iPhone.

AirPlay also isn't limited to music on your iOS device. Fire up Apple's Remote app, select an iTunes library from a networked computer, and you can stream music from that computer using your iOS device as the remote.

Or, if you don't have an iOS device, you can use your computer as the controller--just hit the AirPlay icon the bottom right and select the VSX-1021-K. The only slight downside is you'll need to leave your computer (with iTunes running) on for both of these methods to work.… Read more

Pioneer's new VSX-1021-K receiver has built-in AirPlay

Pioneer has announced the new VSX-1021-K this afternoon, the first midrange AV receiver we've seen with built-in support for AirPlay, Apple's new streaming audio platform. For iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad owners, we expect it to be one of the easiest ways to browse and listen to your digital music collection, allowing you to stream music directly from your device to your receiver--even from digital music apps like Pandora and Rhapsody. AirPlay also allows you to stream music directly from iTunes on a PC or Mac.

The VSX-1021-K needs to be connected to your home network for AirPlay to … Read more