Long Beach, Calif. - Pioneer is bringing Apple AirPlay, Internet radio, and DLNA 1.5 networking to an everyday $379 from last year's $549 with the launch of four new mainstream-series models.
The AVRs, due in stores this month, are the 5.1-channel VSX-522 at an everyday $249, 5.1-channel
VSX-822 at $379, 7.1-channel VSX-1022 at $449, and the VSX-1122 at $599.
At least one more mainstream-series AVR is planned for later this year along with new Elite series AVRs.
New features in select models include streaming of 192kHz/24-Bit FLAC and 192kHz/24-Bit WAV music files through front-panel USB ports and via a home network. "We wish to dispel the myth that music files have to be compressed low-bit-rate, low-depth MP3," a spokesman said.
Another new feature, available at $599, is automatic real-time subwoofer phase adjustment.
In Internet radio, the $379 VSX-822 and $449 VSX-1022 feature the Pandora music service and vTuner, which enables streaming of thousands on Internet radio stations. The $599 VSX-1122 adds the SiriusXM streaming service. All of the networked AVRs, however, feature AirPlay to let users push music streams from Internet-music apps residing on a hand-held Apple device, the company said.
Like last year, $249 is the opening price for AVRs with 3D-capable HDMI 1.4a inputs and outputs, HDMI audio return channel, HDMI standby passthrough, and Dolby Pro Logic IIz front-height post processing. In the 5.1-channel AVRs, a preout is available to add on a stereo amp to power the front-height channels.
The $349 price point remains the opening price point for an Apple-certified front-panel USB port that streams music from a USB-connected iPod, iPhone, or iPad and charges the mobile devices.
In one change, Pioneer's proprietary front-wide technology starts at $599 rather than $549 because the $549 price point has been dropped from this year's selection.
In another change, the models starting at $379 get the ability to stream 192kHz/24-Bit FLAC and WAV music files through their front USB ports and via a home network. Last year, 192kHz/24-bit FLAC streaming over a network started in the Elite series at $900, and 96/24 FLAC streaming over a network started at $549. No AVRs last year supported FLAC over USB. Over USB, WAV streaming was limited to 16-bit files.
A new feature for 2012 is automatic phase control, available in the $599 AVR to automatically adjust the subwoofer's time delay to deliver more accurate sound and tighten up the soundfield, the company said. The technology analyzes subwoofer phase every 30 seconds for 10 seconds in real time, then makes adjustments gradually in three seconds. Last year, this feature was a manual adjustment in the $549 AVR, the company said.
In another change, the starting price point for AirJam app compatibility goes to $379 from $549. AirJam-compatible models let up to four people at a time use a free AirJam app on an iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad to jointly create a master playlist of songs to be streamed to the AVR via stereo Bluetooth. The AVR must be connected to an optional $99 stereo-Bluetooth adapter.
In HDMI connectivity, the $249 price point continues to offer four HDMI 1.4a inputs, but the $379 price points gets six HDMI inputs versus four last year, and the $449 price point gets six, up from five.
Like last year, $249 is the starting price for Dolby TrueHD and DTS hd-Master decoding and two-channel automatic level control. The latter ensures consistent volume when changing TV channels, when switching audio sources, and when TV programs transition to a commercial. The $599 model adds multichannel auto level control.
All models with USB ports connect to non-Apple brand MP3 players and USB drives. A port to connect Pioneer's optional Bluetooth module was dropped from the opening-price $249 model because of a low attachment rate.