Pioneer A/V receiver keeps users connected with Apple’s AirPlay

Pioneer Electronics today introduced a new high performance audio video receiver that includes Apple’s AirPlay for wireless music streaming.

With AirPlay, Pioneer’s VSX-1021 7.1-channel home theater receiver becomes the hub for social entertainment, giving music lovers complete access, control, and playback of their entire iTunes music library with incredible sound quality. Once the VSX-1021 is connected to a home network through Ethernet or Wi-Fi using Pioneer’s optional AS-WL300 wireless LAN adapter (sold separately), AirPlay lets consumers stream their favorite songs to the receiver from iTunes on Mac and PC, or their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. AirPlay requires iTunes 10.1 or later and iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch with iOS 4.21.

To use Airplay, users can simply choose a song or playlist on their iPhone, iPad or iPod touch and then tap the AirPlay icon. The VSX-1021 will appear as an available device, and once selected, the receiver automatically turns on or switches to the Airplay source to start music playback. Using Apple’s Remote app on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch also enables consumers to browse and access their iTunes music library on Mac or PC. Apple’s Remote App is available for free from the iTunes App Store here.

The Pioneer VSX-1021, the first of eight AirPlay devices planned for 2011, is available for a suggested retail price of $549.

Source: Pioneer Corporation

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Related article:
New apps from Pioneer turns iPhone, iPad, iPod touch into song server, home theater controller – March 8, 2011

14 Comments

  1. This is a nice feature and I’ve always loved Pioneer’s products, but if you already have a receiver with optical or HDMI input you can already do this (and more) with an Apple TV and it’s just $99.

    Apple doesn’t really promote this feature very well, but it could be an important one if you’re like me. The Apple TV can do both audio out of HDMI and the optical port. So if you have a TV with lots of HDMI ports like mine, you connect the Apple TV to the TV via HDMI and then optical back from the TV to an optical input on the receiver. Do this with all devices and you never have to switch your receiver off TV input.

    Then take the optical out from the Apple TV and connect it to a receiver input. This allows you to use AirPlay for audio without having to turn on the TV. It may also allow you to have settings for when audio is coming from the TV and when it’s coming from the Apple TV. My receiver has various Theater and Music settings that stick to the type of input.

    Another option to consider if you don’t have optical inputs is to get an AirPort Express and just do analog input of audio only.

    1. “if you have a TV with lots of HDMI ports like mine, you connect the Apple TV to the TV via HDMI and then optical back from the TV to an optical input on the receiver”

      If you run HDMI to the tv and THEN optical out to your receiver you’re defeating the whole purpose of using an optical cable.

      “Another option to consider if you don’t have optical inputs is to get an AirPort Express and just do analog input of audio only.”

      I think it’s also important to mention that the Airport Express supports digital optical audio output as well as analog.

      1. @Nate,

        Why? By going HDMI from the Apple TV to the TV, it’s sending a digital signal. The digital signal is then being sent from the TV to the receiver. It stays digital. It’s the same stream of bits. There’s nothing to defeat from having used optical.

        The advantage of doing this instead of going from the Apple TV to the receiver only is that you’re not then requiring both the TV and the receiver to switch inputs.

        Again, this isn’t for everyone, nor applicable in every situation, but the ability for the Apple TV to do both audio through HDMI and optical is a very nice feature.

    2. Beware of routing audio through the TV: First, if you want to just play songs via your home theater receiver, this connection method may require you to have the TV powered up at the same time. Second, if you’re watching movies from Apple TV, many TVs will NOT pass 5.1 sound to the home theater receiver but instead degrade it to 2-channel stereo sound before send it to the receiver!

      To avoid these issues, connect the optical TOSlink cable directly from Apple TV to the home theater receiver. (Apple TV outputs audio to the HDMI and TOSlink ports simultaneously.)

      1. @deasystems,

        “Beware of routing audio through the TV: First, if you want to just play songs via your home theater receiver, this connection method may require you to have the TV powered up at the same time.”

        Didn’t I just say “Then take the optical out from the Apple TV and connect it to a receiver input. This allows you to use AirPlay for audio without having to turn on the TV.”

        “To avoid these issues, connect the optical TOSlink cable directly from Apple TV to the home theater receiver. (Apple TV outputs audio to the HDMI and TOSlink ports simultaneously.)”

        Did you read any of what I wrote?

        1. If I have the TV on and Im streaming audio, what signal does the receiver use: optical from TV, or optical from AppleTV. I guess my concern is if the TV is degrading it to 2-channel stereo, I want to be using optical from AppleTV.

          1. “If I have the TV on and Im streaming audio, what signal does the receiver use: optical from TV, or optical from AppleTV.”

            Which input do you have your receiver set to?

            The idea is that you can use the Apple TV as a source for your TV and also as a source for audio when the TV is off without having to change your receiver settings for anything other than input, and potentially not having to change receiver settings when switching from one video source to another.

            “I guess my concern is if the TV is degrading it to 2-channel stereo, I want to be using optical from AppleTV.”

            If you have a crappy TV that’s doing this, then this isn’t going to work well. If you have a choice, I’d seriously advise against not getting a TV that does this since there are many that don’t, and this would be a problem with any device you connect to the TV that does > stereo.

            Again, this doesn’t apply to everybody, but if you’re in a situation where this makes sense, then this is a really great feature of the Apple TV. Had they only allowed audio through either HDMI or optical, or even had two ports but with settings dictating which would be used, this wouldn’t work as nicely.

            For those of us that can take advantage of it, the Apple TV is both a video device and a separate audio device (that doesn’t require a TV).

  2. I do exactly what mredofcourse describes. It works perfectly. So many Internet radio stations… gorgeous sound and the TV doesn’t need to be on!

    Apple TV is the way to go.

    1. You may not be getting 5.1 channel audio for movies from Apple TV if the audio signal is routed through the TV before going out to the home theater receiver. Many TVs degrade multi-channel audio to just 2-channel stereo before passing it to the TV’s optical audio output.

      To avoid this problem, connect Apple TV’s optical audio output port directly to the home theater receiver with an optical cable.

  3. This is a great move by Pioneer. Not exactly high-end though. $550 is the starting point of when audio components begin to be decent. The internals – DACs and clean amps capable of powering crisp, accurate speakers – are not cheap or disposable. In order to hit this price point, Pioneer no doubt had to make concessions on the analog side in order to add more digital features. If audio quality really matters to you, consider a few more things:

    – signal processing can be a garbage in/garbage out situtation. MP3s that sound fine on earbuds will sound truly terrible on a good stereo. an accurate amp and speaker reveals the horrid compression or any bad recording artifacts. thus, archive your music in a lossless format: AIFF or Apple Lossless. Only then will you be really happy and enjoy the dramatic improvement over the cheap sound card in the computer.
    – the speaker is by far the biggest source of distortion and innacuraccies. do your research and put your money here first – and set them up correctly for your room
    – save money on the digital side, not the analog side. If you have a budget constraint, then realize that wireless is designed for those who can’t bear the sight of a cable or have a home on the historic register that can’t be altered for cable management.
    – compare used gear. old higher-quality used amps without the latest bells and whistles might be the better option. your old computer music server can be digitally linked to any amp that has Toslink fiber optic or the better S/PDIF coaxial digital audio inputs, or USB or Firewire interfaces work well too. Cables will work flawlessly and reliably every time, no need to manage a wireless network.
    – for maximum versatility, use AppleTV or an M-Audio Firewire interface or a Wadia 170i dock to send a pure digital audio signal to the old amp — use analog cables only as a last resort, because then you’re using the cheap junky DAC in your computer instead of the good one in your expensive amp, plus picking up any interference from an unshielded analog cable.
    – HDMI is a solution for people who aren’t smart enough to know how to plug in multiple cables and are willing to buy all-new gear. You don’t need it for great audio. Unfortunately, due to licencing issues not technical issues, HDMI is required for HDTV video resolution. Thankfuly, HDMI only needs to go between your video source and your big-screen TV. Audio can be routed independently and digitally to your amp without giving in to the extortionist upgrade cycle that needlessly puts more and more video switching in audio amps.
    – finally, consider Yamaha or other excellent amp makers that have great amps and Apps that allow your iPod or iPhone to control the system. Pioneer is not the first one on the game.

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