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Pioneer Expands Connectivity In Mainstream AVRs

LONG BEACH, CALIF. — Pioneer is expanding connectivity options and adding some new features to its 2013 series of mainstream A/V receivers (AVRs), the first four of which will ship in March.

Additional models will be announced at a later date.

With the four new SKUs, Pioneer is bringing 4K by 2K Ultra High-Definition passthrough to an everyday $249 from about $1,599, and HDMI inputs with Mobile High-definition Link (MHL) technology start at an everyday $599 from about $1,599. For the first time, the series gets 4K up-scaling, which starts in the $599-everday model, and second-zone HDMI output, which starts at an everyday $599.

In another change, the company is adding new audio codecs to the list of codecs playable from a front-panel USB or from a networked- audio source starting in the $399-everyday model, including AIFF and MP4a.

Features such as Apple AirPlay, DLNA 1.5 networking and Internet music streaming start at an everyday $399, up $20 from 2012.

The four new models are the $249-everyday, $279-suggested VSX-523, $399/$429 VSX- 823, $499/$529 VSX-1023, and $599/$629 VSX-1123. The two lowest-priced models are 5.1-channel receivers, with the VSX-823 stepping up to 7.1 channels and the VSX-1123 stepping up to 7.2 channels.

The $249-everyday VSX-523 features 5×80- watt RMS amplification into 8 ohms, Made for iPod/iPhone front-panel USB that captures output in PCM form, 192/24 DACs, Dolby True HD, Digital Plus, DTS HD-Master, and two-channel DSD-to-PCM conversion.

The $249 AVR also features four HDMI 1.4a inputs, one 1.4a output with audio return channel, HDMI standby passthrough, and two-channel auto-leveling control. Twochannel advanced sound retriever improves the sound quality of compressed music transferred via USB.

At an everyday $399, the VSX-823 adds networking, DLNA 1.5, AirPlay, vTuner Internet radio, Pandora and front MHL-enabled HDMI input, which enables Android phones to stream HD video with up to 7.1 channels of surround-sound multichannel sound to the receiver while simultaneously charging the phone. The receiver features MHL 2.0 to support 3D content and 1080p 60Hz video.

The VSX-823 also adds six HDMI inputs; Made for iPad USB; remote control via Apple and Android apps; and decoding of Apple lossless, 192/24 WAV, FLAC and AIFF music files.

The VSX-823 also adds a port for an optional $99 stereo Bluetooth module, and it is compatible with AirJam, a Pioneer app that lets iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad users jointly create a master playlist of songs to be streamed to the AVR via stereo Bluetooth.

At $499, the VSX-1023 also delivers 80 watts per channel but adds display of iTunes album art, Dolby Pro Logic IIz post-processing to drive a pair of front-height speakers, biamping of the front left and right channels, proprietary wide-surround post processing to add front-wide channels without adding speakers, and a port for an optional Wi-Fi dongle.

At an everyday $599, the VSX-1123 adds 4K up-scaling from composite-, componentand HDMI-connected video sources; eight HDMI inputs, including the front-panel MHLenabled HDMI input; and virtual surroundback, front-height and front-width channels. The AVR also adds such features as virtual depth channels for 2.1 sources, multichannel DSD (SACD) decoding via HDMI, multichannel automatic level control, multichannel advanced sound retriever, and advanced video adjust, which optimizes video signals by the type of connected display.