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Pioneer 2012 Line-up of Receivers Preview

Pioneer VSX-1122-K Receiver

Pioneer VSX-1122-K Receiver


  • Product Name: 2012 AV Receivers
  • Manufacturer: Pioneer
  • Review Date: March 16, 2012 06:00
  • MSRP: $249.99 (VSX-522-K) to $599.99 (VSX-1122-K)
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!


  • 80 Watts per channel (5.1)
  • 3D Ready A/V Receiver
  • Made for iPod/iPhone Certified
  • 4 HDMI Inputs with 3D, ARC, & Standby Through Mode

  • Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio Decoders
  • Auto Level Control
  • MCACC Room Correction


  • 80 Watts per channel (5.1)
  • Network- Ready with AirPlay, Pandora, and vTuner
  • Made for iPod/iPhone/iPad Certified - Cable Included
  • Pioneer ControlApp
  • 6 HDMI Inputs with 3D, ARC, & Standby Through Mode
  • MCACC Room Correction
  • On screen HDMI menu (text only)


  • 80 Watts per channel (7.1)
  • Network- Ready with AirPlay, Pandora, and vTuner
  • Made for iPod/iPhone/iPad Certified - Cable Included
  • Pioneer ControlApp
  • Video Conversion to HDMI 1080p
  • MCACC Room Correction


  • 90 Watts per channel (7.2)
  • Network- Ready with AirPlay, Pandora, vTuner and SiriusXM
  • Made for iPod/iPhone/iPad Certified - Cable Included
  • Pioneer iControlAV2012
  • Zone 2 Audio Output
  • Advanced MCACC
  • GUI Overlay over HDMI
  • Qdeo upconversion

You can tell a lot about a line of receivers by the top and bottom offerings. More so, we think, the bottom. It is easy to shoehorn every conceivable feature into a box and charge a ton for it. Testing it to make sure it all works the way you expect tends to be a little harder (hence the reliance on firmware updates in recent years), but it certainly is easier than trying to hit a very low price point while still putting together an exciting enough package for consumers to get pumped up about.

Pioneer, we have to say, seems to have done it.

When we first read the press release about the new Pioneer branded A/V Receiver line, it was sort of sad. It is, almost to a one, "Here is a great feature we have on all our receivers, except the entry level VSX-522-K." The poor VSX-522-K. It didn't get anything cool. It is just a simple box with a few amps and a hamstringed HDMI connection. Right? Well, that's the way it sounded to us.

And then we took a closer look at the VSX-522-K. For $249.99 you get a 5.1 channel receiver with 80 watts per channel. The VSX-522-K has a full featured HDMI chipset that includes 3D, ARC (Audio Return Channel, and Standby Through Mode. This means that the VSX-522-K also sends HDMI audio and video to the display via HDMI, something that has often been left off of entry level receivers (not to mention the 3D).

VSX-522-K_Front     VSX-522_rear

Glancing at the back or the VSX-522-K, you'll notice 5-way binding posts for the main channels with the spring-type for the rest. There are pre-outs not only for the subwoofer but also for the surround back or front height channels (using Dolby's Pro Logic IIz DSP). Other than the four HDMI inputs (one output) there are few connections on the back. In evidence are two composite video inputs (one output), one each coaxial and optical digital audio, and three stereo analogue audio inputs. No component video inputs at all. The front has a "Made for iPhone" USB port that will work with your iDevice seamlessly as well as most other smartphones and drives. It has been optimized to accept 48Khz/16-bit MP3, WMA and AAC files.

The one downside (if you want to call it that) is that there is no HDMI menu overlay. Instead, you'll have to use either the receiver's front LCD display or connect the composite output to your display. Also, don't expect the VSX-522-K to upconvert any of your composite video inputs to HDMI either. All the latest HD audio codecs are recognized by the VSX-522-K and it also has the Pioneer-centric MCACC room correction system. At $250, this is an entry level receiver that will actually work for most consumers. We're extremely excited by this offering.

But, of course, the line doesn't stop there. The rest of the receivers add a number of features, the most notable of which is networking. Through the network, the VSX-822-K, VSX-1022-K, and the VSX-1122-K receive such bonuses as App control, DNLA 1.5 certification for streaming networked content, Internet Radio (via vTuner), Pandora streaming, and a dedicated cable for connecting your iDevice to stream not only audio, but video.

The VSX-822-K is the next in the line (we're not sure what happened to the 622 and 722) and seems to be simply a more feature-laden VSX-522-K. The VSX-822-K even weighs about the same (it's actually a little lighter at 19.62 lbs vs the VSX-522-K at 19.8 lbs unless that's incorrect in the reported specs). It sports the same number of channel (5.1) and the same amps (80 watts per channel). It has two more HDMI inputs (up to 6 from 4). Of course, ARC, 3D, and Standby Through are all supported.

VSX-822-K_Front     VSX-822_rear

The back of the VSX-822-K looks very similar to the 522-K with a few important changes. Of course, the extra HDMI inputs are there as is the Ethernet port. The big deal, however, is that the VSX-822-K is the first in the Pioneer lineup to support Apple's new AirPlay. This allows you to stream music from your iDevice or iTunes for PC/Mac.  All the speaker connections are now 5-way binding posts and there is an adapter port for adding one of Pioneer's add-ons (the one they want you to buy is the Bluetooth adapter so you can use their Jam App for pairing up to four iDevices to stream a group playlist). The rest of the connections have pretty much stayed the same (including the front USB port). The USB port now recognizes 192Khz/24-bit FLAC files for uncompromising audiophiles. Lastly, the VSX-822-K adds an overlaid HDMI menu (text only) negating the need for a second composite video cable to see the on screen menu. The VSX-822-K will cost you $379.99.

Continuing upwards, the VSX-1022-K takes the next step by adding, to start with, two additional amps. Sporting 7.1 channels, the 80 watt VSX-1022-K seems to use the exact same amps as the entry level VSX-522-K adding less to a pound to the overall weight of the receiver (20.4 lbs). We would have expected Pioneer to upgrade the amps in a receiver that $200 more than the entry level VSX-522-K ($449.99) and $70 more than the VSX-822-K but, it seems, they haven't. Instead, they have just added to the feature set. 

VSX-1022-K_Front     VSX-1022_rear

The VSX-1022-K is the first receiver in the line to lose a feature. Instead of 2.1 pre-outs (for surround back/height channels and sub), there is simply a subwoofer output. Instead, you get seven pairs of 5-way binding posts with two sets of spring-type outputs for front height channels. This is nice for switching configurations on the fly though we think some would prefer the option of using an external amp. There is still no second Zone of audio in the line though we finally see a component video input added.

The major upgrade for the Pioneer line is 1080p upconversion for all video inputs (a very nice feature at any price point). This means that HDMI finally becomes the one-cable solution that consumers expect. While the other two models expected you to have nothing but HDMI components, the VSX-1022-K knows that you may have an older Xbox 360 or DVD player that requires a component video connection. Given the 1080p upconversion, you'll be getting the best picture you can from all of your devices.

Last in the lineup (from least to most expensive) is the VSX-1122-K. This receiver adds $150 to the price of the VSX-1022-K. It keeps all the features of the previous modes but, for the first time, upgrades the amps. The VSX-1122-K sports 7.2 channels and 90 watts per channel (not a big upgrade but it is something). This adds almost two pounds to the weight of the receiver (with the same overall number of channels of amplification, over the VSX-1022-K bringing the weight up to just over 22 lbs.


With the VSX-1122-K, we see some significant changes to the back panel. All of the speaker terminals get 5-way binding posts. The VSX-1122-K is the first receiver to support dual subwoofers (a must at this price point). It still has six HDMI inputs and one output but the number of digital audio inputs has doubled (to two each coaxial and optical). There is a USB port on the back for powering the optional wireless LAN adapter (and maybe a device charged via USB) though there is still only one component video input (at this price point, at least two would be in order).

The VSX-1122-K has, for the first time in the line, access to Pioneer's proprietary AVNavigator which is touted as an "interactive owners manual" which is accessible from your networked PC or iPad and communicates directly with the VSX-1122-K. It will walk you through speaker set-up, Advanced MCACC calibration (another first in the line), sound optimization, firmware updates, and more. There is also a full-color GUI overlay on HDMI for receiver control. This feature looks really cool.

The Pioneer VSX-1122-K sports Qdeo processing to upconvert signals up to 1080p and, for HDMI to HDMI conversion, 1080p/24fps. The VSX-1122-K also adds an HDMI input to the front of the unit for easy integration of transitory devices like camcorders. Lastly, the VSX-1122-K has support for a second zone of audio via pre-outs or by assigning one of the amps.


The new 2012 Pioneer-branded line of receivers should have consumers pretty excited. Bringing fully functional HDMI connections (including 3D, ARC, and Standby Through) plus MCACC room correction to the entry level models is a fantastic draw. While there is a large assumption that most of your devices will have HDMI (and maybe an accurate one for many consumers), there is a lot to like. Starting at $250 and going up to $600, the line has something for everyone. AirPlay, Qdeo 1080p upconversion, streaming, control apps, native iDevice compatibility, dual subwoofer output... the real question you have to ask is: What do you want your receiver to do? Because Pioneer certainly has the model for you.

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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