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Pioneer AVR Networking Hits $379


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 mainstream-series models.

The AVRs, due in stores in March, 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

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, lowdepth
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 the streaming of thousands
of 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 handheld 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 pre-out 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 this year.

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 sound field, 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. AirJamcompatible
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 vs. 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.

Analog to HDMI conversion with 1080p scaler continues
to start at $449 with the VSX-1022

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