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Pioneer VSX-1020-K 7.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver - Review

Pioneer VSX-1020-K Home Theater Receiver Review - Page 2 - Evaluation/Final Take

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating
User Rating 4 Star Rating (1 Review)


Pioneer VSX-1020-K 7.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver - Front View

Pioneer VSX-1020-K 7.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver - Front View

Photo (c) Robert Silva Licensed to About.com

Audio Performance

The VSX-1020-K delivered an excellent surround image from both analog and digital sources in 5.1 or 7.1 channel setups.

This receiver processes DVD/Blu-ray sources cleanly with both the HDMI and Digital Optical/Coaxial connection options. I fed both uncompressed two and multi-channel PCM signals from the OPPO DV-980H and OPPO BDP-83 (via HDMI), as well as undecoded bitstream output to get a comparison between externally processed audio signals and the internal audio processing of the VSX-1020-K.

I also checked out the front height (Pro Logic IIz) option and wide surround speaker options, but was less impressed with those options. The use of Pro Logic IIz did provide a somewhat fuller sound field in front and above the listening space, filling gaps in the soundfield in between and above the front left, center, and right speakers moving towards the listening position, but was not as a dramatic improvement that would necessarily justify the added expense of purchasing additional speakers to take advantage of the effect. However, having this option does give consumers added flexibility in speaker setup.

The VSX-1020-K also offers Zone 2 setup. Running the 5.1 channel mode for the main room and using the two spare channels (normally devoted to the surround back speakers) I was able to access DVD and Blu-ray audio in the main 5.1 channel setup and access CD playback (using analog audio connections) in the two channel setup in another room. Also, I could run the same music source in both rooms simultaneously, one using the 5.1 channel configuration and second using 2 channels.

Pioneer VSX-1020-K 7.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver - Speaker Connections

Pioneer VSX-1020-K 7.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver - Speaker Connections

Photo (c) Robert Silva Licensed to About.com
The VSX-1020-K can perform second zone operation with its own amplifiers or using a separate external amplifier via Zone 2 preamp output. It is important to note that only analog audio sources are available in a 2nd Zone. Refer to the VSX-1020-K user manual for specifics on this feature.

My only major audio complaint is that VSX-1020-K does not also offer a set of 5.1/7.1 channel analog audio inputs or outputs.

Video Performance

The VSX-1020-K has just about all the video connections you need, including HDMI, Component, and Composite video connections, but S-Video is not included (S-video connections are being eliminated on many receivers).

The VSX-1020-K offers both analog video upscaling to resolutions up to 1080p and can also pass a native 1080p source unprocessed through to a 1080p television or monitor.

The image on a Westinghouse LVM-37w3 1080p monitor showed no visible difference, whether the signal came directly from one of the 1080p source players or was routed through the VSX-1020-K before reaching the monitor.

What this means is that the VSX-1020-K provides excellent pass through and switching of HDMI source signals. Blu-ray Disc and DVDs upscaled by the DVD or Blu-ray Disc player looked great.

On the other hand, when connecting a standard resolution, non already upscaled (480i), source using a composite video connection and Silicon Optix HQV Benchmark DVD as a reference test tool, the video processor of the Pioneer VSX-1020-K does a below average job on factors such 480i to 480p conversion and 1080p video upscaling.

The tests showed poor deinterlacing on rotating/bouncing lines, average-to-below average deinterlacing on flag waving motion, and inconsistent film/video cadence detection, including the important 3:2 cadence was well as the 2:2, 2:2:2:4, 2:3:3:2, 3:2:3:2:2, 5:5, 6:4, and 8:7 cadences.

On the other hand, the VSX-1020-K did well in reducing video noise and adding detail enhancement without additional artifacts.

For a look at test results, refer to my Video Performance Tests.

Note: 3D pass-through was not tested, as a 3D-enabled TV and Blu-ray Disc Player ware not available for this review.

What I Liked

1. Excellent audio performance, extensive surround sound settings, including front-stage surround that only requires front speakers and subwoofer.

2. 6 HDMI inputs (5 rear/1 front) and front USB port for iPod/Flash Drive content.

3. MCACC speaker setup system works very well. It is easy to make any additional manual adjustments for personal preference.

4. Direct iPod connectivity/control without the need for docking station. iPod A/V adapter cable provided.

5. Internet connectivity via Ethernet with access to a selection of Internet Radio Stations.

6. Large front Panel LED display. The front panel display is easy to read from across a medium-size room.

What I Didn't Like

1. No 5.1/7.1 Channel Analog audio inputs or outputs. For a home theater receiver has has so many other great audio features, this is an odd omission.

2. Below average video processing. Poor deinterlacing capability, but does do well with detail enhancement and video noise reduction.

Pioneer VSX-1020-K 7.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver - Remote Control

Pioneer VSX-1020-K 7.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver - Remote Control

Photo (c) Robert Silva Licensed to About.com
3. No S-video Connections, no analog A/V inputs on front panel.

4. Remote control has small buttons, User manual not always well laid-out.

5. No dedicated phono turntable input.

Final Take

The VSX-1020-K offers convenient and abundant features. Two of my favorites are the front mounted HDMI and USB ports. However, on the analog side, the lack of 5.1/7.1 channel analog inputs and outputs is disappointing.

This is one of the least expensive receivers to offer 1080p video upscaling, but I found this aspect of the 1020-K's performance in this area to be somewhat disappointing, just as it was with its predecessor, the VSX-1019-AH-K It would have been nice to see some improvement in this area.

As an added note, although the VSX-1020-K is HDMI 1.4 equipped, it does not incorporate the Audio Return Channel feature that is common on most of HDMI 1.4-equipped home theater receivers.

The VSX-1020-K offers excellent audio performance, digital audio/video connectivity, and innovative features, such as comprehensive MCACC setup, Internet Radio access, Bluetooth, and even an iPhone remote control app, but points need to be deducted for the lack of some analog connection options, non-support of Audio Return Channel or standby video HDMI pass-through, and below average video deinterlacing/scaling performance. However, taking all into consideration, the VSX-1020 is a very good home theater receiver choice for its suggested $549 price point.

For additional perspective on the Pioneer VSX-1020-K, check out my supplementary Photo Gallery and Video Performance Tests.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 4 out of 5
Pioneer VSX 1020K Home Theater Receiver, Member JOHNAROBERTS

I recently purchased a Pioneer VSX 1020K Receiver in July. Like the last pioneer receiver I purchased many years ago, it takes some time and patience to set up with many adjustments later. I got it working fine. The sound was excellent with distinct seperation in each channel. Not much recorded in 7.1 mode but the MCACC clearly set up each speaker. HOWEVER, within a month, the HDMI1 input, where I put the cable box went out. The closest repair shop was 50 miles away and they stated that Pioneer was having problems with their HDMI card. There willbe a 90 day wait for a replacement. For a receiver that is new to the market this is not acceptable. I could have just plugged the cable box into HDMI2 but why not get it repaired while under warrenty. I feelthat Pioneer should have just replaced it with a new one. John

15 out of 15 people found this helpful.

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