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Pioneer VSX-1020-K Receiver Preview

Pioneer VSX-1020-K Receiver

Pioneer VSX-1020-K Receiver


  • Product Name: VSX-1020-K
  • Manufacturer: Pioneer
  • Review Date: March 16, 2010 20:00
  • MSRP: $549
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!
  • 6 HDMI 1.4 inputs
  • Controllable with Pioneer's new iControl iPhone app
  • Onscreen album art for iPhone/iPod
  • Powered second zone functionality
  • Internet radio, using Ethernet port
  • Improved automatic speaker calibration (Advanced MCACC)

If you've been in this business as long as we have, you start to notice trends. Things go in and out of style. For a while, everyone will build speakers with metal dome tweeters and then suddenly no one will. It'll be ICE Power this and Class D that and then you won't hear about it for a while. Some might say they are fads - and certainly that can be the case. We've seen runs on low end speakers sold at big box stores over forum hype. A few months later and you can't give the speakers away. We're all guilty of occasionally succumbing to the mass hysteria these high energy movements can bring.

Check out AV Rant for an interview with Dave Bales of Pioneer Electronics about their new line of receivers.

On a smaller and less insane scale there are trends within manufacturers. They tend to leapfrog each other. One year, Brand X will have all the latest and greatest features that everyone wants and the next it will be someone else. This year is shaping up to be the Pioneer's year. Within manufacturers there will be trends as well. While they will offer a number of different receivers at a number of different price points, there will be a few "sweet spots" where you get the most performance and features at the lowest price. While the other receivers are usually worth their price, they don't quite have the allure of the ones in the sweet spot. In the new Pioneer branded lineup, the $299 VSX-820-K definitely sits in one of those spots. The upgrades over the $229 entry level VSX-520-K are considerable without a huge price jump. While the $399 VSX-920-K offers a lot of advantages over the VSX-820-K, the VSX-1020-K, at only a $150 premium, takes it to another level. 


While the VSX-920 introduced two additional channels of amplification to bring 7.1 into the new line, the VSX-1020-K makes the first major changes to the inputs and outputs. Now, instead of four 3-D ready HDMI 1.4 inputs Pioneer is offerings six - one front-mounted. The front-mounted HDMI input is particularly important for those with laptops, video recorders or other devises with HDMI connections. This makes temporary connections extremely easy. Five rear-mounted inputs is more than enough for even the most ardent of Audioholics (even those still clinging to those HD DVD players). 

Top_MenuAs was introduced in early models, features such as Dolby ProLogic IIz support, 1080p upconversion via Anchor Bay ABT1015 chipset, iPhone Certification, Bluetooth readiness, on-screen display, and two channel PQLS are all still available. There are, of course, some upgrades. The on-screen display is now graphical instead of text based. While you could always control and view content on your iPhone/iPod, on-screen album art is now available. In fact, for the first time in the line you'll be able to control your receiver with your iPhone through Pioneer's new iControl iPhone app. From what we've heard, the iPhone app has a few gimmicky features (like level-setting by tilting the phone) but as Audioholics that doesn't really appeal to us. We're interested in controlling the receiver from our phone and that seems to be on the menu as well.

This is the first receiver in the line that offers network connectivity via an Ethernet port. This gives the user access to Internet radio. This is also the first receiver in the line that will support a second zone. Pioneer's Sound Receiver AIR processing is included to correct some of the errors introduced during the compression process. We've seen and heard a few different programs that claim to do the same. Our solution (as should be for all Audioholics) is not to compress in the first place but if you have, you can try it out. We've had mixed results with such DSPs. Lastly, Pioneer has included not just their auto-setup MCACC but the multichannel version which does room correction as well. This may help sort out some of your room problems.


We (and we're fairly sure Pioneer as well) wish the VSX-1020-K could have come in at the $499 price point. While it is only $50, $549 sounds like a lot more. But you are getting a lot of additional functionality at this price point. You have all the functionality of the $399 VSX-920-K with the addition of a GUI, on-screen album art, a powered Zone 2, improved MCACC, Internet radio, iPhone control, and Sound Retriever AIR. Within that list there are functional improvements, control upgrades, and feature additions that should have a wide appeal. We think that the new VSX-1020-K will be one of the hottest sellers for Pioneer.

For more information, please visit www.pioneerelectronics.com.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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