Long Beach, Calif. - Pioneer shipped the first two A/V receivers (AVRs) in its 2012 Elite series and brought networking, Internet radio, Apple AirPlay and other features down to the series' opening price point for the first time.
The opening-price model is the $450-everday 7.1-channel VSX-42, which is being joined by the $650 7.2-channel VSX-60. The latter replaces two models priced at $600 and $700.
In last year's Elite series, the opening price point for an AVR was also an everyday $450, but the starting price for an AVR with DLNA 1.5-certified networking, Windows 7 networking, vTuner Internet radio and AirPlay was $600.
Also new at the $450 price point this year is remote control via an iPod/iPhone and Android app.
In other Elite AVR changes, Pioneer is starting Stream Smoother technology at $650, down from $900. The technology improves the picture quality of compressed video streamed from the Internet through such sources as connected Blu-ray players. The company is also starting the Pandora, Rhapsody and the SiriusXM streaming services at $650, down from last year's $900.
And Pioneer Elite brought down the opening price of Virtual Modes to $650 from $900. Virtual Modes adds virtual height channels, surround-back channels, depth channels, and new front-wide channels without adding speakers. Depth channels are designed for 2.1 systems, and the height, surround-back, and front-wide channels can be applied simultaneously to a 5.1-channel system to create up to an 11.1-channel soundfield, the company said.
Both new models also feature streaming of 192kHz/24-Bit FLAC and WAV files from a networked device or USB-connected device. That feature wasn't available at $450 in last year's Elite line.
Both models also feature connection to an optional $99 stereo-Bluetooth adapter, Sound Retriever Air technology to improve the quality of Bluetooth-streamed music, and front-panel iPod/iPhone/iPad-certified USB port.
The $450 8x70-watt VSX-42 can be controlled remotely from a free ControlApp loaded on Apple and Android mobile devices. The Controls App controls such functions as AVR on/off, volume, sound modes, and ability to select Internet radio stations, Pandora content, and networked-PC music. The $650 AVR's iControlAV2012 app adds control of 18 DSP sound settings, Virtual Modes, second-zone analog-audio audio and second-zone volume.
The VSX-42 also features IP control, 12-volt trigger and IR in/outs.
Compared to the VSX-42, the $650 VSX-60 adds 7x90-watt amp, RS-232 port, optional Wi-Fi Ethernet-port adapter, four virtual speaker modes, a more advanced form of room calibration/correction compared to the VSX-42, and Advanced Video Adjust. The latter optimizes video settings individually for each connected video source and optimizes the video output for plasma, LCD or front-projector display technologies.
Compared to the VSX-42, the VSX-60 also Auto Sound Retriever compressed-music enhancer to a TV's HDMI audio-return channel. The VSX-60 also adds networked audio, including AirPlay audio, to the second-zone output. Another VSX-60 step-up feature is Phase Control Plus, which delays the output of the main channels from 0-16 milliseconds to match subwoofer-output timing.
The VSX-45 features six HDMI 1.4a inputs and one 1.4a output with audio return channel. The VSX-60 adds a front-panel HDMI 1.4a input.