Receivers

Pioneer VSX-1020K 7.1 A/V Receiver

ARTICLE INDEX

Design and Setup

The VSX-1020-K uses the latest iteration of its in-house Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration (MCACC). Similar to competing solutions, this involved connecting a microphone to the receiver and running through a series of test tones. The testing does seem to cover a wide range of scenarios, and I was surprised at some of the corrections the receiver was attempting to apply. Based on the parameters shown in the downloadable software, the receiver covers speaker size, channel level, distance, standing wave attenuation, reverb and group delay (where applicable). As MCACC performs the calibration with the microphone at a single location it has difficulty with lower frequencies. The difficulty is most apparent in the estimation of the subwoofer's distance from the microphone location. The software reported a distance of 21' as compared to an actual distance of ~5'.

Dave Bales, the Product Planner at Pioneer, informed me that the proximity of the subwoofer to my listening position is responsible for the skewing of the distance calibration, and that MCACC is more accurate at longer distances. Additionally, the crossover point and the speaker size settings seemed inconsistent. The front and center channels were detected as large but the crossover was set at 100 Hz. For the record, front channels are rated down to ±2dB from 70 Hz – 20 kHz with the center having a narrower bandwidth of 90 Hz-20 kHz. Pioneer publishes an accompanying program which allows review and fine-tuning of the calibration settings from the MCACC. A sample of the program output is shown in FIGURE and FIGURE. The curves for each of the channels illustrate the frequency behavior before and after the calibration. Based upon the charts, MCACC does an admirable job in flattening the in-room response of the connected speakers. It should be noted that the software requires Microsoft Windows.

The remaining setup tasks were to connect the VSX-1020-K to my local network and pair the Bluetooth adapter with an iPhone. The network setup is straightforward for most common network configurations and additional options are available if a DHCP server is not available. The receiver must be placed on the network to take advantage of the iControlAV software. The Bluetooth pairing was equally simple but there were some wrinkles that arose in actual usage. The pairing procedure is similar to pairing any other set of Bluetooth devices. Both devices must be placed into the pairing status and the passkey from the receiver must be entered into the device. The Pioneer does allow for a number of custom passkeys in addition to the default 0000, if Bluetooth security is an issue.

With regards to the menu system, a couple nitpicks. Too many settings get buried into the Other Setup menu. The other nitpick is the overall low-res look of the menu system. It is certainly a step up from what used to be the norm, but in the age of HD the menu graphics could use a few extra pixels.