Pioneer VSX-1022-K Review
By Harold Dale
By Harold Dale
There are many different home theater enthusiasts out there. Some are able to drop thousands of dollars on equipment, while others have to be much more mindful of the budget. We are going to try and cater to both ends of the spectrum and offer up a selection of reviews for both the budget minded user, as well as the user that is able to spend a bit more. The first lineup of reviews will be a selection of budget receivers. There is certainly not a lack of options out there when it comes to receivers. I hope to shed some light on all the options and help you make a better decision of what fits your needs, budget, and tastes.
Pioneer has been in the Home Theater business for a very long time. They are well known for making high quality receivers with many different budgets that perform great for each price point. Today I am looking at the Pioneer VSX-1022-K which is not the bottom of the tier for Pioneer but it is close and with a street price of around $250 it is certainly well within the budget range.
Features and Technical Specifications
Build Quality and Appearance
The VSX-1022-K has sort of a semi gloss finish on the front. Some of the front panel has a brushed aluminum effect. The layout is very clean and not cluttered with two knobs that feel very good when you rotate them and give a bit of a metallic cold feeling to the touch. The buttons have a nice feel to them and give a nice click when pressed. Overall the build quality and aesthetics of this receiver are quite good and probably some of the better that I have seen at this price. I was also surprised by how hefty it was when I first picked it up so it has got some bulk to it for a budget receiver.
The VSX-1022-K has quite a few networking features for a receiver at this price point, of which I will discuss each below.
Pandora was working quite well, it is a very basic interface and the only complaint I have is that the thumbs up and thumbs down functions are not available right there at the push of a single button. Instead you have to press the options button and then scroll down. On the flip side at least it includes thumbs up and thumbs down. It is displayed at 480p, has the cover art shown and shows all the other details you would expect to see for Pandora. Overall it works well though I had intended to take pictures to show the interface, but for some reason Pandora is not working now.
- Internet Radio
Internet radio works quite good, there is an entire library of stations to choose from numbering in the 100's from what I saw. Quality is very dependent on the station, the best I found was 128kbps but most were 64kbps or lower. This of course is not a flaw of the receiver but more from the content provider. I did find Pandora quality to be much better though.
- Media Server
I did not get a chance to use the media server functions because I do not have a DLNA server running on my media server currently. I do know that it supports most all audio formats and can even do 192khz/24bit FLAC files although I think only in 2 channel configuration. It can not stream video files.
- Android App Remote
This is my only real complaint with the network functions. I feel there are a lot of networking features here that could of benefited greatly from a better remote app. The remote app itself works, the problem is it is incredibly simple. The buttons you get on the screen are Power, Auto/Direct, ALC/Standard, ADV Surround a mute button and a volume knob. You can not change inputs, you can not adjust any of the settings and so on. Further more my big gripe about it is I feel that this would of been the perfect place to add some value to the lower end receivers by giving you some of the Pandora controls and views on the Android App. A thumbs up and thumbs down button would of been fantastic on the remote app but alas nothing changes regardless of what mode you are in you always get the same set of buttons. I am not sure if the iOS app is better, although looking at some reviews online it seems to have a lot of issues but I don't have an iOS device to check it out.
Auto Room Correction/Sound Quality
The auto room correction seems to work decently. It is not perfect I would say but for a receiver of this price it works pretty good. My room is 18'x12' with my equipment on the shorter wall. I ran the calibration with the mic sitting at my normal seating position at ear level centered with my projection screen. Before calibration the sound was rather bland and there was not much of a room filling sound at all, the sound stage was almost non existent which is a bit interesting as I have not had this experience with other receivers and my speakers. To be honest I was a bit let down at first but that changed after running MCACC. After running the calibration program the sound was a lot more dynamic and really filled out the room much better. I am going to go over a few music selections to help talk about what the room correction did for the sound.
Fleetwood Mac Rumours SACD - This is a 5.1 channel SACD and produces excellent sound quality and surround effects. It is generally my go to when I want to test out multi channel music. The VSX-1022-K produced quite accurate representation of the sound stage and very dynamic range on just about all tracks on this album. My favorite test track on this is The Chain. When the heavy instruments come in there was a very nice punch. The surround effects were very nice although I feel that the MCACC setup may have made the surround speakers just a bit overpowering. The vocalist seemed to be coming from a certain area of the virtual stage and it really sounded a lot like a live event. I was quite pleased with the playback on this receiver.
Eva Cassidy Live At Blues Alley - This is one of my all time favorite albums and features what in my opinion is one of the best female vocalists of our times. I played through my usual tracks, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Fields of Gold, and People Get Ready. The quality of reproduction was very good, the vocals sounded great and picked up all the raspiness and highs in her voice as well as provided excellent dynamic range in instrument playback. The big thing I did notice is the sound stage on this 2 channel audio CD seemed to fall apart a bit. It was much harder to place instruments and people. Sometimes it seemed as if they were on one side of the room, while others it swapped over to another location.
Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon - Again one of my all time favorite albums and easily one I am most familiar with as I've been listening to it and The Wall for many many years. I felt this would be able to strain and test the sound stage this receiver would be creating with songs like Time and Money more so then what is on The Wall. On the track Time the clocks going off at the beginning I really felt like the clocks were hanging in all different locations on the front wall of my room. When the vocals started up once again they were clear, and sounded fantastic but as with the other 2 channel CD the placement of the artist and instruments was not very defined. It was still very acceptable though and I enjoyed listening for hours. This receiver provided plenty of punch to create the very dynamic sounds that come from this album.
Transformers Dark Of The Moon - I watched quite a few movies through this receiver, but I felt this one really shows off the surround capabilities best. The beginning scene with the flashback to their home world and the war that was going on, there was great surround effects with explosions coming from all around and very nice punch on the low end. Unlike the SACD it seemed that with movies the MCACC settings were very balanced throughout the speakers. The sub was EQ'd perfectly to match the other speakers. The dialog was very clear and easy to understand and matched well with the action scenes. I was not constantly changing the volume up and down to try and compensate for the different scenes. This receiver honestly seemed to perform best when it came to movies as I am sure it was intended to do so.
Overall sound quality on this unit was pretty good and surprising for the price. The internal amps seem to be plenty powerful at least with my Pioneer Andrew Jones speakers which are relatively efficient. The MCACC does an excellent job when it comes to movies, but falls a bit short I feel on multi channel music and likely needs adjusting a bit if you do a lot of that. I feel this receiver is intended more for the movie lovers on a budget though, so more then likely the movie aspects are what is going to sell this unit and it certainly does an excellent job with movies for a receiver of this price range.
As you can see it has all the standard connections that any basic receiver would have. I think the worthy mention here is the number of HDMI inputs it has. I can not imagine a situation that this receiver would fit into where 6 HDMI inputs would not be enough. There are also 3 analog audio inputs, 2 analog video inputs, and one set of component inputs. Something else that I find rather interesting for a receiver of this price range are the speaker outputs. As you can see you have your standard seven channel outputs, but you also have the option to change your surround back speakers and use them as front height speakers with the push terminals. You will have to choose one or the other as it does not support using both surround backs and heights at the same time. The only other special connector worth mentioning back here is the Adapter Port, as far as I know the only item that can be used here is the Bluetooth adapter which more or less turns your receiver into a Bluetooth speaker for your portable devices.
On the front panel we have a USB and an Analog Video connection that can be used with the included iPad/iPod cable.
There is also the connection for the MCACC calibration microphone. On the front of the unit it self is a 1/4" Headphone Jack.
Firmware Update Procedure
There was a new firmware available while this receiver was in my possession so I took the liberty of performing a firmware update. It was really easy, I just used a USB flash drive and put the firmware file in the root of the flash drive. After that there is just a short procedure that follows:
- Press NETWORK repeatedly to switch the receiver to NETRADIO input.
- Press HOME MENU. Network Setup menu appears on your TV.
- Select "Firmware Update" from the Network Setup menu. The receiver checks whether the USB memory device inserted into the USB port on the receiver's front panel contains updatable software.
- To update, select "Start".
- When "Updating in progress, don't unplug!" is displayed, select "Start".
- The software update will start. Please wait. The OSD display will turn off during update and the words "UPDATE" will flash on the front panel.
- If "COMPLETE" is displayed, updating is completed.
Conclusion and Recommendations
Overall I feel this receiver can easily meet a budget viewers needs. It offers a decent array of features, great sound quality, and looks great. The user I see buying this would be mostly interested in watching movies, and maybe looking to have some basic network functions to listen to things like Pandora or use for iPod/iPad connectivity. It has plenty of HDMI inputs for any device needs a user might have. The only flaws I really found with the unit was the far too basic Android remote app, and the imaging in regards to 2 channel audio. Overall though this receiver presented an enjoyable experience and would easily fill the needs of many users that just don't have the budget for a much higher end unit. I would also recommend pairing this receiver with some speakers that have a higher sensitivity ratings. This will insure the best sound quality from the unit as speakers with lower sensitivity are likely to fall apart easier on this receiver.
MSRP on this unit is $449 but you can find it with a street price closer to the $250 range.
VSX-1022 at Pioneer Website
Pioneer VSX-1022-K Review Discussion Thread