We are not sure if there is something in the water, but the past week has seen an avalanche of home theater receiver news and we're noticing a few trends developing. 2013 seems to be about offering value and products packed with features that do not normally show up on products under $1,000; Ultra HD 4K upscaling, MHL and AirPlay compatibility, and support for high resolution audio formats. Pioneer may have stopped manufacturing its award-winning HDTVs but their home theater department has been in high gear making just about everthing else.
For 2013, Pioneer has four new VSX series receivers and thankfully, they have kept the prices relatively low. Case in point is the flagship VSX-1132 7.2 receiver (90 watts per channel) which looks like a real steal at $630 if the sound quality is equal to all of the features.
The new line-up also includes the VSX-1032 7.1 AV receiver ($530), VSX-832 5.1 AV receiver ($430), and the entry-level VSX-532 5.1 AV receiver for a paltry $280.
The top 3 models support Apple AirPlay which means that you can stream music from your Mac, PC, or iOS device to the receiver (via iTunes) and they also include support for Mobile High Definition Link 2.0 (MHL).
MHL is a new technology that allows you to connect your smartphone or tablet to an MHL-enabled HDTV, receiver or Blu-ray player and play back 1080p video content and 7.1 channels of audio. It works via a simple, inexpensive MHL-enabled microUSB to HDMI cable. The MHL spec also includes power capabilities so that single cable charges your device will it is streaming audio and video. MHL 2.0 now supports view resolutions up to 1080p/60Hz, 3D, and faster charging times.
One of the most exciting MHL products launched so far is the Roku Streaming Stick but we don't know if it will play back via any MHL-enabled receiver - we're obviously going to try.
The new VSX models support Ultra HD 4K pass-through and upscaling of analog and HDMI video signals but until we can try it with native 4K content, Blu-ray, and our friendly cable signal, we're going to hold off on any grade.
All of the new Pioneer receivers enable iPhone, iPad and iPod users to enjoy audio playback stored on their devices as well as display album art and metadata when connected to a television or monitor. The top three models allow playback and charging of all versions of iPad. The receivers will also charge connected iPhone, iPad and iPod devices via corresponding cables, including the new Lightning or 30-pin cable.
The flagship VSX-1123 also features Pioneer's AVNavigator (now available for the Mac), an interactive owner's manual that provides a linked two-way interactive manual, giving users a quick way to learn about all of the new features of the AV receiver (i.e. that a push of the ALC button on the front of the receiver will take the user directly to the portion of the manual that explains the Automatic Level Control feature).
One really exciting feature about the top three models is that they support high resolution audio thanks to the internal 24/192 DAC and all of the relevant formats; Apple Lossless, AIFF, WAV, FLAC, MP3, AAC, and WMA. What's really shocking to us is that the VSX-1132 will playback DSD files (SACD) via the USB connection or from your DLNA server. DSD playback on a receiver at this price point is unheard of.
The latest versions of Pioneer's ControlApp and iControlAV2013 apps, available for download from the App Store (www.AppStore.com) or Google® Play (www.GooglePlay.com), expand control over the receivers and their home theater settings from the convenience of a smart device.
Ideal for music lovers, both apps offer a new feature that enables users to access the music libraries stored on their devices and create playlists that can be streamed wirelessly to the receiver, all from within the app1. ControlApp, available for use with the VSX-823 and VSX-1023, offers features available in the previous version of the app, including management of inputs, audio adjustments and modes, and streaming content, as well as a dedicated "ECO Manager" page for energy efficient settings.
The top three models are also compatible with HTC Connect; Pioneer is the first consumer electronics manufactuer to receive Connect certification so HTC phone users can now stream to the Pioneer receivers.
The VSX models also offer Zone 2 HDMI out so those who want to watch their sources on another HDTV in another room are in luck. This also works great if you have a HDTV and projector in the same room.
The new Pioneer receivers will be available at authorized Pioneer retailers in March with suggested retail prices of $279 (VSX-523), $429 (VSX-823), $529 (VSX-1023) and $629 (VSX-1123).
View the original article here