It’s my favorite time of year; not because St. Patrick’s day gives me license to imbibe record quantities of Irish whiskey, not because store shelves are lined with candy and marshmallow bunnies in anticipation of Easter, not even because college basketball dominates the news on Sports Center. Nope, this is my favorite time of year because, right about now, all the top CE manufacturers are preparing to unveil their new A/V receiver lines for the year. I know…I’m such a geek.
This year, Onkyo scooped everyone with a February announcement of at least part of its new receiver line. Now, Pioneer has come forward with a peek at the four new offerings in its standard line of A/V receivers.
The four new Pioneer models are the VSX-522 ($249), VSX-822 ($379), VSX-1022 ($449) and the VSX-1122 ($599). Only a handful of changes have been made over prior years, but some of the updates that have been made are fairly notable.
First, it would appear that Pioneer is sticking to its plan to offer simple and easy-to-use iPod/iPhone/iPad integration. All four new models offer a USB input on the front, and all but the VSX-522 will come with Pioneer’s super-handy 30-pin-to-USB/Video cable. Pioneer has also brought Apple’s wireless music streaming functionality, AirPlay, all the way down to the VSX-822, making the $379 model the least expensive receiver to include the feature so far.
The VSX-822 and up will be DLNA 1.5 certified and equipped with Ethernet jacks for network connectivity. In addition to Internet radio station access and built-in Internet radio based apps like Pandora, the top three models will also play back both FLAC and WAV files stored on a local network. The low-end VSX-522 will also play back these high-resolution audio files, but must do so through its front-mounted USB port.
The brushed aluminum face plate, once reserved for Pioneer’s Elite line, has now trickled down to these four models and appears to be a nice change of pace from the glossier offerings from last year. We’re also seeing the advanced video processing that we recently experienced with the Elite SC-57 make an appearance in the top-end VSX-1122 for this year.