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Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K 7.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver - Product Review

Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K - Lots of Bang For The Buck

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Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K 7.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver - Front View With Accesssories

Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K 7.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver - Front View With Accessories

Photo (C) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
The Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K 7.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver brings high-end audio and video performance, as well as flexibility, down to an extremely affordable price. This receiver delivers a strong, sustained, power output, and features on-board Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD audio processing. This receiver also has 3 HDMI inputs inputs, and up to 1080p video upscaling. Extra bonuses include iPOD connectivity via front mounted USB port, and both Sirius Satellite/XM Radio Compatibility. I found that the VSX-1018AH-K delivers a lot for its $599 price tag, but is it the right receiver for you? To find out, keep on reading...

Product Overview

NOTE: The following Product Overview section is re-edited from my earlier VSX-1018AH-K Product Profile.

Video Inputs and Outputs

The Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K offers three HDMI inputs and one output, as well as three HD Component inputs and one output. There are four Composite Video and two additional analog audio-only inputs, plus a front panel A/V input for connection of an additional source, such as a camcorder. The Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K also features a VCR/DVR/DVD Recorder connection loop.

The Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K converts all standard definition analog video input signals to HDMI video outputs to simplify connection to an HDTV.

Audio Inputs and Outputs

The receiver has six assignable digital audio inputs (Two Coaxial and Three Optical), Analog stereo audio connections for a CD player or CD/Cassette audio recorder, and a subwoofer preamp output. The Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K also has a set of 5.1/7.1 channel audio inputs that can accommodate 5.1 channel DVD-Audio, SACD, Blu-ray, or HD-DVD 5.1/7.1 channel analog audio connection options. The Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K can also access multi-channel audio via its HDMI 1.3a connections. In addition, this receiver also has a set of 5.1/7.1 channel preamp outputs as well as 2-channel preamp outputs for multi-zone operation, and one digital optical audio output.

Audio Features - Sound Processing

The Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K features extensive surround sound processing options, and also has the ability to decode DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby Digital Plus, and Dolby TrueHD soundtracks on Blu-ray Discs and HD-DVDs via its HDMI inputs.

Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K 7.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver - Front Controls

Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K 7.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver - Front Controls

Photo (C) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
Another useful audio feature is the ability for the Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K to be used in a full 7.1 channel configuration, or in a 5.1 channel configuration in the main home theater room, with simultaneous 2 channel operation in a second room. However, if you want to use the full 7.1 channels for your home theater environment, you can still run an additional 2-channel system in another room by using the Zone 2 preamp outputs. However, you will have to add a secondary amplifier to power the speakers in Zone 2.

Amplifier Characteristics and Speaker Connections

The Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K is rated 110 watts-per-channel (20Hz - 20Khz) into 8-Ohms making this receiver up to challege from any source, including SACD and DVD-Audio, Blu-ray Disc, or HD-DVD.

Speaker connections consist of dual banana-plug-compatible multi-way speaker binding posts for all channels.

Video Processing

The Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K features HDMI pass through of high definition signals up to 1080p. Also, all standard definition video input signals are deinterlaced using and upscaled up to 1080p via the HDMI monitor outputs.

Front Panel Display, OSD, and LFE Features

The fluorescent front panel display and Onscreen menu system make setup and operation of the receiver easy and fast. Also featured is an adjustable crossover on the Subwoofer LFE (Low Frequency Effects) pre-out channel.

AM/FM/XM/Sirius Satellite Radio

The Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K not only has the standard AM/FM tuner, but also has built-in Sirius and XM reception capability.

Subscription and optional antenna are required. There are also 40 station presets provided that can be used for setting any combination of favorite AM/FM/XM or Sirius/XM stations or channels. Neural Surround Decoding provided for XH-HD surround signals.

iPOD Connectivity, Lip Synch, and Dialog Enchancement

A front mounted USB port allows an iPOD or Flash Drive to be plugged directly into the VSX-1018 without the need to purchase an additional accessory adapter. Using the wireless remote, you can navigate and access the files stored on your iPod or flash drive.

In addition, the incorporation of Lip-Synch adjustment on the Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K allows the user to compensate for audio/video time discrepancies that may be encountered from various sources.

Also included is Dialog Enhancement which insures understandable center channel sound levels when listening to DVD, Blu-ray, or HD-DVD multi-channel soundtracks.

MCACC (Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration)

The Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K also features an automated speaker setup function called MCACC. By connecting the provided microphone to the receiver and following the instructions outlined in the user manual. The MCACC uses a series of test tones to determine the proper speaker levels, based on room acoustics.

For an additional look at this receiver, also check out my Photo Gallery.

Hardware Used In This Review

Home Theater Receivers: Onkyo TX-SR705, Harman Kardon AVR147.

Source Components: OPPO DV-983H and OPPO DV-980H Upscaling DVD Players, Yamaha BD-S2900 (on review loan) and Sony BD-PS1 Blu-ray Disc Players.

Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K 7.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver - HDMI Connections

Pioneer VSX-1018AH-K 7.1 Channel Home Theater Receiver - HDMI Connection

Photo (C) Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
Loudspeaker System 1 (7.1 Channels): 2 Klipsch F-2's, 2 Klipsch B-3s, Klipsch C-2 Center , 2 Polk R300s, Klipsch Synergy Sub10.

Loudspeaker System 2 (5.1 Channels): EMP Tek HTP-551 5.1 Channel Home Theater Speaker Package (EF50C Center Channel Speaker,4 EF50 Bookshelf Speakers, E10s Powered Subwoofer.

TV/Monitors: A Westinghouse Digital LVM-37w3 1080p LCD Monitor, and Syntax LT-32HV 720p LCD TV. Displays calibrated using SpyderTV Software.

Audio/Video connections made with Accell, Cobalt, and AR Interconnect cables. 16 Gauge Speaker Wire used.

Level checks made using a Radio Shack Sound Level Meter

Software Used

Standard DVDs: Godsmack - Changes, House of the Flying Daggers, The Cave, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, V For Vendetta, U571, Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander

Blu-ray Discs: A Night at the Museum, Across The Universe, Chronicles of Narnia, Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, John Mayer - Where The Light Is, Hairspray, Ratatouille, Shakira - Oral Fixation Tour.

CDs: HEART - Dreamboat Annie, Nora Jones - Come Away With Me, Lisa Loeb - Firecracker, The Beatles - LOVE, Blue Man Group - The Complex, Eric Kunzel - 1812 Overture, Joshua Bell - Bernstein - West Side Story Suite.

DVD-Audio discs: Queen - Night At The Opera/The Game, Eagles - Hotel California, and Medeski, Martin, and Wood - Uninvisible, Sheila Nicholls - Wake.

SACD discs: Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon, Steely Dan - Gaucho, The Who - Tommy.

Proceed to Page 2 - Evaluation and Final Take

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