Pioneer releases its home audio receivers for 2011

AirPlay, iPad charging, app control are main focus areas

The $3499 Pioneer SC-LX85 home audio receiver.

The $3499 Pioneer SC-LX85 home audio receiver.

Pioneer has announced the Australian availability of its new home audio receivers for 2011. Key features of the new products include Apple Airplay at an accessible price point, and further iPad and iPhone support in apps and connectivity. These new products form part of Pioneer's newfound close partnership with Apple.

From July onwards, the new Pioneer VSX-521 will be introduced as the cheapest model in Pioneer's line-up at $499. Like all other new Pioneer receivers, the VSX-521 has HDMI 1.4 support for passthrough of 3D video from 3D-capable Blu-ray players and video devices, like the Pioneer BDP-LX54 and other brands' models. A slimline model is available in the step-up $549 Pioneer VSX-S300, also available in July. It eschews most of the analog inputs found on a traditional AV receiver, focusing on digital video and audio inputs.

Apple Airplay is available in Pioneer's receiver models from the $1099 Pioneer VSX-921 and above. When a TV is connected to the AV receiver, album art and song information can be viewed on-screen when music is playing. The VSX-921 and all higher models are also able to charge an iPhone or iPad while it is connected and playing music or video — Pioneer claims its AV receivers are the first on the market to supply the necessary electrical current to charge an iPad. All Pioneer receiver models above the $799 VSX-826 have a USB iPad/iPhone cable bundled.

Most of Pioneer's home A/V receivers will be available from July onwards. Higher-end receivers with the highest quality components and every conceivable feature will be coming out in October — the $2499 and $3499 Pioneer SC-LX75 and SC-LX85 receivers have Class D amplifiers (more efficient than traditional Class A/B), high quality audio decoding and processing, fashionable designs and all the features of lower-end models built in.

Pioneer is also focusing its attention on producing iPhone and iPad apps to control and interact with its AV receivers and home entertainment products. The company's new free iControlAV2 app for iPhone and iPad, which works on the $1099 VSX-921 and above, lets users alter basic and complex settings — from volume and muting, to zone control and audio adjustments like phase and equalisation. The iControlAV2 app also has a touchscreen-capable graphic equaliser.

Air Jam is another Pioneer iOS app supported by all Bluetooth-equipped receivers (the VSX-921 can be made to support Bluetooth through an optional $119 Bluetooth adapter; all higher models have Bluetooth built in) — the app lets up to four users pair with a receiver over Bluetooth and contribute songs from their iOS devices' libraries into a combined playlist. The Air Jam app also keeps a list of every song that's played on the receiver and lets all users see it, with links to the iTunes Store for purchases.

Pioneer 2011 home entertainment product line-up

SC-LX85 - RRP $3,499 (October)
SC-LX75 – RRP $2,499(October)
VSX-LX55 – RRP $1,999 (October)
VSX-2021 – RRP $1,799 (July)
VSX-1021 – RRP $1,299 (July)
VSX-921 – RRP $1,099 (July)
VSX-826 – RRP $799 (July)
VSX-521 – RRP $499 (July)
VSX-S300 - RRP $549 (July)

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Campbell Simpson

Campbell Simpson

PC World
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