on May 8, 2013
New for 2013 is the VSX-1123-K flagship non Elite series receiver from Pioneer. Airplay, HTC connect, Push Play for Android from the iControlAV2013 app, DLNA, MHL, Pandora and Internet radio. And that's just scratching the surface. It has a plethora of codecs it can play, lossless audio formats, upconverts sources to HDMI and 4K resolutions, Audio Return Channel and 3D capable. It has two HDMI zones, two Audio zones, 90 watts per channel for 8 ohm impedance speakers and 165 watts per channel for 6 ohm impedance speakers. I would take the wattage with a grain of salt however. This also has the A/B Class amplifiers.
First before I begin I think I need to cover Pioneer MCACC a bit. MCACC stands for Multi-Channel Acoustic Calibration System, and it is a piece of software built into the receiver which optimizes the sound for your room. You plug in a mic that comes with the unit and set it up at ear level where you would sit and listen to your music, movies and other audio sources. It will adjust the system sound and generate the best acoustics and listening levels for your room. Your first run you want to run MCACC in Full Auto, ALL CH ADJ, with the following speaker settings, either Normal(SB/FH), Normal (SB/FW), or Speaker B. Unless you have THX speakers set that option to no. Also for the above setting you need to to have at least a 5.1 system. I set my receiver to Speaker B when I ran MCACC. After I ran MCACC and then I copied the results to all 6 memory slots, just so I can have a backup when tweaking the settings. Even though I copied the results I only adjusted the speaker distance and some of the levels on only the first memory slot. Also MCACC will let you know if you have the phase of the speakers crossed, positive going to negative instead of positive going to positive and negative going to negative.
This receiver has really good ventilation, nice big gaps in the case for heat dissipation. It gives off a lot less heat then my previous unit. Buying an A/B class amplifier that was my biggest concern, that it will generate a lot of heat. Fortunately that is not the case here, you could potentially put something on top of it provided of course that it has enough clearance but I would advise against it. Unlike my previous receiver this one will not cook breakfast.
Crossover or X.Over frequency is the frequency at which the LFE channel or the .1 channel for the subwoofer gets cut off at. Anything above this frequency will not be sent to the subwoofer. Also, apparently when studios mix the soundtracks to accommodate those without subwoofers the LFE gets mixed to the other channels as well. How much I am not sure. When you set the subwoofer to Plus the receiver will ignore the X.Over and all bass will be sent to this channel. If you have set the front speakers to Large and the Sub to just Yes, the full range of the L+R channel will be sent to the Large speakers. For instance my front speakers have a fq response of 37Hz to 20kHz, the sub covers 37Hz to 200Hz, this means that if I have a X.Over of 80Hz and my speakers set to large, the L+R channel will not be cut off below 80Hz and these channels will receive the full spectrum of the soundtrack. The subwoofer however will only receive the LFE (.1) channel at 80Hz and below. LFE channel only goes up to about 120Hz, so why is 80Hz a popular cut off fq? Several reasons, the Dolby LFE is normally 80Hz and below, DTS contains only about 5% of the LFE between 80 - 120Hz and as far as human perception goes anything 80Hz and under becomes non directional to the human ear more or less. You can set your X.Over at 120Hz or rather 150Hz and get the full LFE track. Alternatively setting a crossover for small speakers will send fq's above this cut off to the small speakers and anything below to the woofer. If you want some more reading in regards to this, pages 132 to 134 of the official MCACC thread on AVS Forum have more detail. [...]
I think the biggest mistake people make when they buy this receiver is that they do not run the MCACC, they don't read the Manual, and that they don't know how to set the receiver to playback the soundtrack properly. Read the manual, there are a lot of settings on this receiver for a reason and going in blindly will only result in your frustration. Personally there are two settings you need to understand AUTO SURROUND, ALC, DIRECT and PURE DIRECT. Here what the Manual says about these. DIRECT - Plays back sound from the source with the least modification next to PURE DIRECT. With DIRECT, the only modifications added to PURE DIRECT playback are calibration of the sound field by the MCACC system and the Phase Control effect. PURE DIRECT - Plays back unmodified sound from source with only minimal digital treatment. Direct mode uses EQ and Standing Wave. Pure Direct does not. Pure Direct only uses the channel level and distance settings gathered from your calibration. ALC (Auto Level Control) is perfect for night viewing, with this setting all channels will output at the same level. AUTO SURROUND, as it specifies picks the best surround mode for you on the receiver.
I generally use Direct for all my listening needs as it applies the MCACC treatment in only a limited manner. I like the way it sounds, in movies it makes it sound lively. This is a subjective preference though. Compared to my AVR 2650 from Harman Kardon this receiver kicks ass. It does not have that boomy sound, and it balances the Highs, Mediums, and Lows quite nicely. Where as my H/K sounded kind of flat. After running MCACC on this Pioneer and tweaking the levels a bit afterwards I feel immersed in the movies. This device gives me that Theater sound experience that I did not know I was lacking with the H/K Avr 2650. Either way I am satisfied with the sound reproduction on this.
The iControlAV2013 app. I use an Android device the Nexus 4, and the app is a convenient way to browse my music library on my DLNA server and phone itself. The Push Player in the input section of the app tries to mimic the Airplay feature from iOS devices, it does a nice job. The Push Player has a nice layout and is very easy to use. Using the volume rocker on my phone will respectively turn the receiver's volume up and down. When playing music via push player an icon appears in the status bar of the phone for quick and easy access. The fact that I can be lying on my bed and turn on my receiver via the app is very nice, then I can browse and push songs to it. Before you can do that the Network standby feature needs to be turned on in the menu. You can switch zones and sources with the app, control volume, switch inputs, change listening modes, change the balance, phase, emphasize the bass or treble, and many other features. It is a nice visual representation of the controls available for the receiver. Mostly I use the app for playing music, when I'm watching TV or Movies I reach for the remote. Also the App is free for both Android and iOS.
The DLNA server connectivity option is also great, I have a linux media server at home and this device connects to DLNA server perfectly. I use Plex Media Server. I love being able to stream my complete music library to the receiver and with this supporting lossless formats I don't need to convert anything. One thing to note and I have found this a constant on the net, and even in my past personal experience windows DLNA server which is built into some of Microsoft products is less than stellar and has connectivity issues. Even if you get the device to see the server once that does not necessarily mean it will see it again. Take it from an IT guy, find yourself a third party applications like Plex, TVersity or Twonky. These applications are more reliable and are universal not proprietary to the manufacturer. Microsoft product only works well with microsoft product, avoid like the plague.
The remote has a ton of buttons, I like options, so the buttons are very welcome. Learn the remote and all it's functions, it can be a quick and easy way to make changes on your receiver. Also it can be used as a universal remote, it is capable of learning other remote codes effectively eliminating a bluray player, TV remote, or any other IR remote. The remote feels very light and flimsy, however the button presses are very responsive and I like the receiver function button. For anyone with kids this prevents the little ones from making changes to the settings if they decide to pick up and play with the remote.
The OSD is not pretty by any means, but who cares it has to be functional. As far as I'm concerned I care about the functionality of the device and the quality of sound reproduction than a pretty interface.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are available via adapters, unfortunately you have to buy them seperate. Personally I try not to use Wi-Fi where I can, most of my house is wired, I have two gigabit switches sitting in each room that has a TV and network capable devices. I only use Wi-Fi on my phone and laptop. So this receiver is wired. Bluetooth is very lossy, generally I stay away from streaming music via Bluetooth there is too much quality loss. Also it is very susceptible to interference, if you're an audiophile this is probably not your cup of tea anyways. Now Pioneer says that it has some sort of tech that improves this, the only way I would consider Bluetooth as a streaming option is if the Bluetooth copied the entire digital file and buffered it in memory for playback. This is the only way that I can see the original file retaining it's quality, unfortunately I can not find any information on the Pioneer Bluetooth streaming except that you require the Air Jam application for android to stream the songs to the Bluetooth device. Also the Pioneer devices are Apple friendly, including AirPlay and such.
With 7 HDMI inputs and analog source to HDMI and 4K up-scaling you can't go wrong. It has a second HDMI Zone out, so you can have a different sources on two different TV's add Zone B speakers and this thing is a sure winner. This device will allow HDMI pass through after it has been switched off. It will pass through the last source that was selected on the receiver before it was turned off.
Zone 2 functionality seems to be somewhat of a mystery to people when it comes to this unit. Don't worry it was to me as well, but then I did a little digging or rather reading and got it going. Remember, RTFM. Either way it was a non issue after that. Settings for Zone 2 are as follows, in the receiver menu go to 4.System Setup - 4a.Manual SP Setup - 4a1.Speaker System and change to ZONE 2.
Then go to 4f.Other Setup - 4f7.Play ZONE Setup, set Play ZONE to ZONE 2. If you are using the secondary HDMI zone you will need to make changes to the HDZONE settings.
You are able to change the contrast, hue, saturation, etc... on this device. Just like the audio options there are many video adjustments that can be made.
ARC also supported on this receiver, unlike my previous receiver this time around it was pretty much plug and play. On the receiver you need to go to the Sytem Setup - HDMI Setup and turn Control On and ARC On. Once you do this you need to setup your TV on Samsungs it's called AnyNet+ on LG SIMPLINK... etc. Each manufacturer has their own proprietary ame for the CEC control standard. I tested ARC with Netflix and the receiver was playing back the DD 5.1 soundtrack perfectly. For ARC to work in any setup one needs to user an HDMI 1.4 spec cable.
Two things, I read somewhere that ARC puts a strain on the HDMI board on the Receiver and that it is recommended to use the Optical instead. I don't know how much truth that holds. I also want to add that I am no longer using the Geffen HDMI detective with this receiver, I do not get audio and video flicker anymore. If you're wondering what that is just have a look see at my previous blog post "The device that saved my home theatre.". It appears that it was the Harman Kardon receivers fault after all, poor HDMI boards.
A lot of people think that you should be able to plug and play something and it should sound amazing. Unfortunately this is the culture a lot of manufacturers are breeding, specifically Apple. I have to disagree. You are able to get away on this receiver by just running the Advanced MCACC and leave it at that, and the receiver will sound beautiful. However if you want the Maximum out of your experience I suggest you play with some of the sound options. Start with the basic stuff like levels and balance, then perhaps work your way up to adjusting the EQ and seeing what sounds the best for your environment and listening pleasure. One buys a receiver so they can get the best out of their home theatre, take some time and learn the functions if you don't understand them, play with them see what they do to your sound reproduction.
on April 21, 2013
I actually purchased my VSX-1123K from my local Best Buy. As much as my wife and I adore Amazon Prime, the fact that Pioneer doesn't honor warranties for receivers purchased through Amazon did not sit well with me, especially considering the complications people have had with the VSX-1022.
As for the performance, I have to tell you that I was previously using a 6.1 Channel 760 watt Onkyo home theatre in a box for 9 years, and for about a week, a 5.1 Channel Denon AVR 1513, so I have to compare it to those two. This is my first experience with Pioneer receivers, but I was able to go through the entire setup with little difficulty, despite many complaints of Pioneer's interface being very confusing. Now for the Audio/Video performance
It's just OK, but I think I will look into disabling the fully automatic MCACC altogether, or manually doing the setup. Through the Blu-ray players, I am running the new Andrew Jones (22 series) speakers for mains, surrounds, and center channel. At 1 week old, they aren't broken in yet but they sounded beautiful with excellent imaging with the Onkyo, even better with the Denon (that upgrade included Dolby TrueHD and DST Master HD but much lower power receiver). Neither of those used room correction, and I think that the MCACC is at fault with the Pioneer. Before, the base was so full and authoritative with the Onkyo and Denon, I was constantly turning down my Onkyo sub to balance out the base. The imaging was excellent--voices in music would stay firmly planted slightly left of center and just above eye height on my tv. With the Pioneer, I ran the full auto MCACC out of the box, with the microphone placed EXACTLY at my ear height in the center of the seating area. I stood behind the seats, outside of the sound field as to not interfere with the process. When listening to music, using my usual reference songs, instead of hearing one homogenous sound stage in front of my, it sounded like the three fronts were playing individually. This should not happen. Instead of hearing vocals firmly cemented front and center, I heard sound coming from the mains and center as three separate sources, which was very strange. I wondered also if the sub was playing b/c I could barely hear it, and the fronts sounded anemic, bass wise. I checked the MCACC settings, and the fronts were set to large, and sub was on, so that wasn't the issue. I won't delve further into MCACC, I will just see how to disable it and go with that route, as I tend to be an audio purist, no DSP; opera, hall, or any of the other useless, "echoey" sounding effects. I'm confident that the sound will be excellent once I disable MCACC, but for now with music I'm not impressed. For movies, the surround effect is decent, but again, not as nice as with the Onkyo or the excellent low end Denon. Had the Denon not been so low powered as to easily distort during explosions in "Ronin" at moderate volume, I may have kept it, and not gotten the Pioneer. Also, the MCACC may be to blame, but while watching "The Avengers" blu-ray with my wife to experience 7.1 for the first time, she often asked me to turn the sound up during dialogue sequences, which brought the volume up to about -20Db (0 being maxed out, -80 being mute), which is unusual for a receiver of this advertised power. So of course, due to the dynamic range, I'd have to quickly turn it back down during loud scenes. With the Onkyo, 35/80 was always more than sufficient volume for movies. I quickly found a semi-suitable remedy; to adjust the level of all speakers at once by +6 or +7 Db. That is a nice feature to have, so you don't lose the relative level of each individual speaker.
Video Performance and a bit more on the Audio:
With Blu-Ray, the picture was very nice (Avatar and The Avengers blu-rays), and I will admit that I wasn't totally sure about some of the acronyms on the remote so I may have turned something on/off without realizing it. The colors in movies were appropriately saturated, rich and accurate. The resolution picture was sharp and detailed, but nothing mind blowing. I'm primarily using a Panasonic DMP BD220 Blu-Ray player, Home Theater Magazine's top pick under $250. I also use an LG BD470, also a highly capable player. When using my PC from my TV via HDMI, initially the picture was incredibly blurry. I knew something had to be wrong but initially I couldn't tell if it was some processing mode that I may have accidentally turned on. The PC's desktop resolution was correctly set to 1080p, but I found from checking the info on my tv remote that it was scaled back to 720p. I had to change press the video parmeter button on the remote, and change the "res" from from auto to pure. I was rewarded with crystal clear 1920 x 1080 from my PC. It may be a bit sharper than before with the Denon. My Onkyo does not have HDMI, so it went straight to the TV previously. The colors seem to be very accurate, but I haven't payed a game yet so I don't know if the receiver introduces any lag. I don't expect it will, b/c despite complains I often see about gaming via HDMI, I've never experienced any video lag in the past with any source, aside from watching Lost on Netflix via blu-ray, but I can adjust the audio delay to correct that. I also tried Soul Calibur 2 on my PS2 and Dead or Alive 2 on my Sega Dreamcast, just to make sure the other inputs were working. The picture seemed to be scaled up on the PS2, so it was surprisingly a bit smoother via component video cable than I recall from my other receivers. The Dolby Digital via optical cable was lacking; "S" words were very scratchy sounding, as if the 16/48 Dolby sound was poorly upsampled to 24/96, but i suspect that was the fault of the video game. Again, MCACC could be to blame here. I will try a DVD later on the PS2 and see how that turns out, as DTS has always been decent on the PS2 in movies. The Sega Dreamcast is connected through composite video (single yellow RCA) and 2 channel analog audio (red & white RCA cables) as the Pioneer does not have s-video--many receivers are dropping this connection but oddly retain plenty of lower quality composite inputs. The video was ugly, but I attribute that to the composite video (240i resolution) and the fact that the Dreamcast launched back in 1999, so the games are very old anyways. Again, the audio wasn't very good, even though I know it was good converted to Pro Logic II on my other receivers. I really can't wait to disable MCACC.
I'm sure my review seems less forgiving than my 4 star rating suggests, but I am very confident that the audio will improve once I can defeat the MCACC, and use a totally manual setup. There is no way that this upper middle range receiver cannot outperform the low end Denon AVR 1513, and my 9 year old Onkyo home theatre in a box. The speakers cannot be blamed, as they are incredible sounding even with barely 30 hours of break in time, easily worth 2X or 3X the price, and my LG 47LH90 tv has always had a beautiful picture since day one, and I just got the HDMI board in it replaced 3 days ago. The receiver's software is up to date, so there are no firmware issues, I positioned my speakers according to THX specs for 7.1, I had the microphone positioned EXACTLY where my head is for optimal calibration, so I am convinced that the MCACC is to blame for the subpar audio performance. Video is quite good, though I've only watched two blu-ray movies, about 5 mins of Lost in HD on Netflix, and 2 mins each of Soul Calibur 2 (PS2) and Dead or Alive 2 (Dreamcast), and basic computer use (all day long). Some of the things I really like are that the analog video sources are converted to digital, so I only have to use 1 HDMI out to the TV, I can adjust the level of all channels together so I don't lose the relative adjustment between the individual speakers, there is a phone app available so you don't have to use a flashlight to find the one button you want to press on the non backlit remote during dark movie viewing sessions, and you can even rename the input sources from default, so I have mine labeled as PS2, Dreamcast, etc. You just have to remember which input button to use on the remote, or for any HDMI inputs (there are 7 or 8 of these total), you can keep hitting the HDMI button, or to cycle all inputs use the input left/right buttons. I can't stress enough how much I can't wait to audition some music, movies, and PC games with MCACC disabled. I couldn't find another review on this new receiver before I bought mine, so I hope someone who is interested in it will take a leap of faith like I did; you won't be disappointed (if you disable MCACC and for your PC input, change the "video parameter button's resolution setting to "pure"). I expect to be smiling ear to ear like I was when I first used my Onkyo and Denon, in the next 12 hours after disabling MCACC and demoing a couple more Blu-Rays, FLAC music files, and trying a PC game. For this price, this receiver is a must buy, so buy it already. I will enable email alerts for replies, so if anyone can tell me how to disable MCACC or has questions about this new receiver that I may be able to answer, by all means reply. Thanks.
In addition to doing some research online regarding the MCACC technology and how to use it, I discovered that I should have run the full auto MCACC using the all channels setting instead of "symmetry". All channels may not be verbatim, but you'll know when you see it. Doing this did improve the sound with music a bit, but the sound stage and imaging are not as well defined and precise as with the lower end Denon AVR-1513, however it is an improvement at least. Whereas with my reference songs, I used to hear the main vocals firmly planted to the left of the tv, and just above mid height, the Pioneer initially gave seemingly separate audio tracks from the left and right main speakers. By re-running MCACC, I was at least able to get the sound image to "appear" on the tv screen, but still not really focused anywhere in particular. I also tried switching the phase but that did not seem to remedy the issue, either. I'm still on the fence as to whether the downgrade in music presentation is due to me not yet having gained a full understanding of how to properly configure MCACC vs the Pioneer's DAC (digital to analog converter) not doing the job the same as the Denon. I'm going to say that, after reading so many forum posts at AVSFORUM, it most likely my lack of education on the reciver--at least I hope it is. I can say that the power on hand and available headroom obviously far exceed that of the Denon, and seems to be on par with my nearly decade old Onkyo, even if the volume control seems to be rather miserly with the output levels until I get to about -25db, and this is after increasing all channels' levels to +8 of their calibrated settings. I should point out that I am primarily playing music from my PC, via HDMI audio from my Radeon HD6870 video card. I can't imagine that the video card's onboard sound processor is at the level of my Soundblaster X-Fi Xtreme Pro Gamer in terms of quality components used, but it does offer uncompressed 7.1 channel 24/172 audio, which is not an option with the X-fi, only having SPDIF (digital coax) or analog out. I may try the X-fi with analog output, and that will at least tell me if the blame lies with the Pioneer's DAC, since using analog out would effectively use the X-fi's DAC and remove Pioneer's from the chain. I am also going to try my motherboard's built in HDMI and see if that fairs any differently.
4/28/2013 **** Update ****
I have tried to use the Media Server Function with no success. I understand it's very rudamentary, which is all I wanted--just a simple folder view of shared folders. The first few times I tried it, it would get as far as seeing the shared PC's name, but would go no further. I thought the unit was frozen until I realized I had to hit the receiver button again before anything would work--something that I have noticed a lot with this remote. If you use any of the buttons other than input selections or volume, you often have to hit the receiver function button for anything to work. Luckily that button is not too hard to find, out of the 65 buttons on the remote, most of which don't have a distinctive feel or intuitive location to make them easier to find. As for the Media Server, after several tries, I finally got it to see my folders and I went to the music folders. I tried to play a flac file, and after about 7 seconds, the music stopped and the receiver just sat in the foler, and would not respond for a long time. Upon subsequent tries, it would not even attempt to play the file, or any other FLAC files. I tried again today to use the media server function, but again it would not get further than finding my PC's name, and that's it. I am starting to question whether this was a wise purchase decision, b/c the simplest thing does not work. I haven't gotten a chance to try any other files, so I can't say if the receiver just didn't like that particular one. I'm going to try Pandora today and see if that at least works. I will feel bad if I take yet another receiver back to Best Buy, but it's my money and to be a flagship receiver for this particular line, I expect that everything should work as advertised.
on August 8, 2013
I ended up buying this from a brick and mortar retailer because once I had agreement from my wife to make the purchase, I jumped at the opportunity to have physical custody of it. This receiver is replacing a VSX-815 for comparison. And this review is not going to discuss sound quality, other than to say your particular speakers are going to sound as good as they ever will with this model.
Overall, the features are great and this unit definitely delivers in traditional Pioneer fashion. It has a lot of power for all seven channels (9 if you set up the second zone), the addition of several new processing formats and listening modes, and a couple of key features that I'll review in more detail that make the 1123 worth the higher price.
Just a quick reference to some of the comments about un-boxing and enjoying this unit: if you do find the receiver to be a little intimidating during setup, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the included CD-Rom. It's not just an instruction manual; the included software is used to detect the receiver on the network and guide you through both the physical setup, as well as providing setting changes directly to the receiver over the network.
Let's start with the most negative and work our way to the top :o)
*** Missing preouts!
This model only has preouts for: 1. front L/R, and; 2. two subwoofer speakers. There is so much more real estate on the backplane of this model than my 815, and the circuits already exist on the breadboards: why not put pre-amplified connections for all seven channels as an option? This was a feature I loved on the 815 and allowed for much more flexibility with existing speakers. Although in Pioneer's defense, these seem to be a feature that's going extinct on intermediate models from all manufacturers. I looked and could only find a full set of preouts on a receiver with similar functionality by going to a Yamaha product for $200 more. The first Pioneer available with preouts was another $300 on top of that!
*** Two digital audio inputs.
One optical and one coax. HDMI isn't quite as big as it thinks it is, but apparently that's the direction we're headed. There are still plenty of devices in use that utilize these connections and IMHO it's an oversight for Pioneer to not stick with multiple options in this regard.
**** Bluetooth connectivity as an option, but with a separate purchase.
We did buy the AS-BT200 Pioneer AS-BT200 Bluetooth Adapter for Compatible Pioneer Products, Black and have no complaints whatsoever. There's just something infinitely satisfying about playing music on a phone or tablet, and then pressing a button to hear it begin playing over the home theater system.
**** 'Network ready' out of the box, but only wired.
Wireless connectivity requires the separate purchase of a network adapter Pioneer AS-WL300 WiFi Adapter for 2011 Networked AV Receivers - VSX-1021. We went with the provided wired connection and had no difficulties getting it to communicate with the home network. This opens the door for streaming music from other sources and for communicating with the setup software from any PC on the same network.
**** The included "clunky" yet, user-friendly software package on CD.
This has to be the most overlooked feature of this package. It's time consuming to go through, but it will help even the most novice of A/V users from start to finish. Plus, with the owner's manual in PDF format, all of the pages in the table of contents are linked and you can easily search for keywords; not to mention that the individual sections conveniently hyperlink to other relevant areas of the manual. Definitely use this if you want to rename any of the inputs (unless you have the app). The onboard menu at the receiver is not so friendly when it comes to character selection, whereas you can use the PC keyboard and save a lot of hassle.
***** Up-conversion of component video 480p as clear as I've ever seen.
***** Addition of an onscreen graphical user interface, AND for adding a numbered / tiered menu level structure that is much easier to navigate (especially if you are setting up without a television).
***** Multiple methods of setup and control.
This was a major buying point for us. The network connectivity can be used to not only stream media stored on our home network, but from the web as well. This also lends itself to controlling the receiver either through PC, or a device running Pioneer's free app (versions exist for both Apple and Android devices). You will utilize this feature for upgrading firmware (one is already available as others have mentioned). In conjunction with the app (iControlAV2013 for Android), media can be sent directly from a device to the receiver without Bluetooth. And finally, Bluetooth communication offers a more streamlined method for transferring media from a device to the receiver. These are all an incredible array of options built into the same device.
***** HDMI ports out the wazoo.
The description on Amazon's product page is inaccurate regarding the outputs: there are actually 2 HDMI outs if you wanted to setup a second watching / listening zone. The primary out (HDMI 1) has all of the extra control features that allow coordinating power on and standby of the television based on the receiver state. HDMI 2 doesn't have this added functionality.
Seven HDMI inputs is a lot. I take this into consideration even when writing about their lack of other types of inputs (optical, coaxial audio, component video). The 1123 is built with the idea that you are buying this because you have newer peripherals, and enough of them to warrant so much attention to digital equipment consolidation.
If you take anything from this review, please let it be this: my rating is based on what we were looking for, and the fact that it matched so well with what we bought. Your wants are not necessarily going to be the same, but I tried to cover some of the more universal components that might help you decide to take the plunge and invest in this particular model (or not). There are too many features to even attempt to cover in a single synopsis, but I will make an honest attempt to answer any questions you have about this receiver. The reviews of others have been invaluable to me when making other purchases, so I try to give back when possible.
on July 9, 2013
I've got to say I've always been a little bias towards Pioneer but they make great products so why not. Pretty sure they invented the audio receiver. Waited for awhile because it was this or the Hardon Karmon avr1700. ThHarmon had a little more power but was only a 5.1 unit but thats all I have for now. It was 320$and this was 600 so I was going to go with thHK strickly on price. This dropped to 399.99 and I couldnt resist. Its 7.2 so it gives me room to expand or just have another stereo in another room. I love the hdmi zone 3 because it just gives me so many options. Infinity P163 surrounds with a PC351 center and a SVS pb-1000 makes me a happy boy! Sounds great even a ridiculous levels. Its well connected and the AV app is pretty fun to play with. Push player works good. It has lots of hdmi ports. Ireally cant find a complaint. I guess the OSD is a little dated but thats fine with me. I also like the fact that if I dont need to have it on my sound on my TV passes thru. Exellent value for what I paid. Couldnt be happier. And to clear up what one reviewer wrote that Pioneer doent warranty their product bought through Amazon simply isnt true. If you look on their website you would know Amazon is an authorized dealer. It is the Elite series you cant buy online if you like warranties. You should know what you are talking about before you post things that may turn someone away from a great product with mis information.
on June 28, 2013
I have owned several other brands but none have had the versitility the Pioneer has. All the features work, and are easy to use. The iPhone app to control the receiver is a masterstroke. I was looking for an AVR that could send an HDMI source to a second TV in our bedroom - the Pioneer does this and allows for a second audio only zone for speakers in our sauna. Now I can watch a BluRay movie on the main TV and my wife can watch live TV or recorded DVR content in the bedroom. The receiver also has Pandora radio and Internet Radio funcionality built in and works seamlessly - we have found several "radio" stations that we really enjoy and have placed them in "favorites" to be quickly accessed from either of our iPhones. Bottom line no other receiver I found has the number of features, stable software, and ease of use as the Pioneer. Amazon was also much less expensive than any other retailer.
on February 5, 2014
I bought this for the 2 HDMI out ports and the 2nd audio zone and spent at least 10 hours trying to figure this thing out and set it up. I had to print out the manual from the CD, it is too hard try and scroll back and forth, especially on the monitor you are trying to use to set it up with. I was expecting that the HDMI sound would be available in Zone 2, but no, it is analog only. Turning the unit on and off is a pain, you have to turn on/off the main receiver, zone 2 and HDzone separately by switching to each mode and pushing the power button each time. The remote is not laid out very well either. Needless to say, my wife found this all frustrating as well.The icing on the cake was when it died after 3 months, power supply failure according to Pioneer who told me it was not covered under their warranty because Amazon is not an authorized distributor so I would have to talk to them. Being in Canada it cost me $65 to return it.
I have owned 3 Pioneer receivers previously and never had a problem. The sound quality of this unit was good, but it was not worth the trouble I went through, I have better things to do with my time. I won't be buying another Pioneer again.
on August 15, 2013
I'm a gear nerd but gave up on components about 10 years ago, deciding my old ears couldn't tell the difference between a TV with good speakers and a real receiver setup, or at least, trying to convince myself of it, so I wouldn't start buying a ton of equipment after getting rid of everything when I moved out of the country!
Well, I managed to stay away from all the hifi stuff until I finally bought a house and planned everything out, and realized I was going to have to get a received. BOY have they improved in functionality, efficiency, and value, since my last one (a Pioneer Elite way back in the day when DD5.1 was relatively new!)
I'm sort of weaning myself off of Apple products as well, but the lure of Airplay was intriguing, for sure. But I already had an AppleTV to hook up to this, anyhow. No matter, the Airplay 'speaker' it provides is flawless, and easier to use as it switches inputs trivially. My wife can stream from her iPhone to the livingroom system with a couple of clicks... this has won serious Wife Approval Factor, and basically made it worth the cost right there!
But my real favorite features are the tons of HDMI inputs and "HDMI Zone". My main zone is the livingroom, with the hdmi going to a projector. The HDMI zone goes to the bedroom to a 55" TV. I can trivially watch separate sources in each, and it all Just Works. And most everything I've got is HDMI (AppleTV, PS3, Chromecast, Mac Mini) so it consumes them all and upscales to 4K if you want! WHAT?! That is freaking amazing for this price point. Now if only 4K TVs were a lot cheaper... it's coming, I guess...!
Another thing I really like and use heavily is the apps for controlling the receiver. I use it on 1st gen iPad and android phones; it's a little nicer on the big iPad screen. This makes is so much easier to deal with, than the crazy remotes on any receiver with a ton of features, or the front-panel, which actually does NOT have a lot of buttons (for better or worse; I'm sure it's mostly to keep costs down.) You can even download and try out the apps before you get the receiver, they have a 'demo' mode which allows you to see the usefulness (and insanity; the "sound explorer" part is an exercise in ridiculousness, but completely unnecessary to actually use the thing.)
There's even software on Pioneer's site you can download that asks you about all your components, tells you what and how many cables to buy, and walks you through connecting everything, then once your receiver is on the network, connects to it and renames all the inputs for you! Amazing. It's actually not a great-looking/working piece of software but I really appreciate the effort to help people out when they're first setting it up.
There was a firmware update available, by the way -- the menus (available in the primary HDMI zone only, I think) let you connect over the network (or other ways) and update itself. Apparently this fixes some minor bugs.
One cool thing I just discovered yesterday is that the thing has a built-in webserver with basic interface there... not a ton you can do but some minor configuration. And if you want to go nuts you can telnet into it and send commands (docs on this floating around the 'net) to control basically everything; this is essentially what their custom apps do. Wow!
I still don't have high-end speakers or "golden ears", but the thing definitely kicks, and sounds great to me. I was kidding myself about ANY TV having built-in speakers that can compare to separates and a decent receiver. I am so happy with this purchase, it is really a great device. I always liked Pioneer and this device has helped seal that positive reputation in my mind, at least.
on March 15, 2014
I already had a Pioneer receiver and I was running a cheap surround sound system.
But recently I purchased a 90-inch Sharp TV and I upgraded my sound system accordingly:
* Main Speakers: Sony SSF-5000s
* Subwoofer: Klipsch Sub 12-HG
* Center Channel Speaker: Cerwin Vega XLS-6C
* Surround Speakers: Fluance AVBP2 Bipolar Surround Sound Speakers
* Rear Channel Speakers: Dual Indoor/Outdoor Speakers
Once I got everything connected, unfortunately I experienced complete thermal overload with my old receiver, and it would shut down at high volume levels. Before all the components were hooked up, my bookshelf speakers worked just fine (Sony SS-B1000s), and they can handle up to 120 watts. My sub was also working fine (Sony SA-W2500), as it can only put out 100 watts max. Thus my receiver could easily handle both components with its 110 watts for each of the 5-channels.
However, problems quickly arose when all components were connected for the first time, because my center speaker maxes out at 125 watts, and my main speakers max out and 150 watts... my poor receiver had reached the "Peter Principle", its highest level of incompetency. That's something I hadn't anticipated, still it made perfect sense. So I was forced to run to BestBuy and get a new unit.
In comes the Pioneer VSX-1123K.
I read in some reivews about how confusing the interface was on this receiver, but not for me. Maybe that was because I had already owned a Pioneer.
It was basically plug and play. I had it set up in minutes and it used the same remote code as my prior receiver and that was an added bonus.
If I only run 5-channels instead of the supported 7, that leaves me some 230 watts available per channel (at an amazing 1155 watts max). It also supports different audio setups for up to 3 separate audio zones, using up to 2 separate subwoofers to power them; simply amazing if you require that level of sophistication.
I have since moved my old Pioneer receiver, my Sony bookshelf speakers, and my Sony sub into the garage. I made a new stereo system there. The Fluance surround speakers and Klipsch Subwoofer replaced those components in my home theater. I now use the Dual speakers for the rear channel.
I highly recommend the Pioneer VSX-1123K for these future proofing features alone:
* Supports 4K and 3D pass through
* Smartphone usb front hookup/charging port
* Smartphone app for controlling the receiver (supports both iOS and Android)
* Available bluetooth support (requires a Pioneer or third party bluetooth adapter)
It is important to also note that there are several bluetooth adapters on Amazon that perform just as good if not better than the official Pioneer adapter, for one-quarter of the price no less!
Fortunately for many, you don't even need bluetooth to stream music if you have an Apple product (iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch), or an HTC Android phone. That's because this receiver supports both AirPlay and HTC Connect. With just one touch of the Airplay or HTC Connect buttons you can easily stream your playlists directly to the VSX-1123K receiver... truly a nice feature!
For those who have neither an Apple product nor an HTC phone, you can still stream your music via the free Pioneer iControl app that's available for download (for both iOS and Android).
However, before you can stream with Airplay, HTC Connect, or the iControl app, you MUST get your VSX-1123K on your home network. The receiver comes with a network card and you can hard wire your connection by plugging in a standard RJ-45 network cable.
Even so, most home networks are conveniently routed to support WIFI. Since the VSX-1123K doesn't support WIFI out of the box, I highly recommend the Netgear WNCE2001 RJ-45 to WIFI network adapter. It's affordable and does a great job.
Last but not least, the sheer power of this unit is amazing!
on February 16, 2014
First I must say this was the easiest set up thanks to Pioneers Auto microphone. You place this where you listen and adjust height. I used my tripod and placed it right in front of my couch. I use Pioneer book shelve CS 99, Front left & right. A Bose center channel speaker is used. Polk TSX-333t for side surround towers stand just to left and right of the couch. Couch is 10 feet from Sharp 80" 3D tv, and this receiver. For rear back surrounds Bose 161, are rear wall mounts are wireless thanks to the RocketFish Universal Adapter. Rear speakers are 4 feet back and slightly elevated 3 feet above couch back rest.
1) Run the MCACC in Full Auto. It will calibrate all speakers distance, height, using a series of sound waves and adjust for things like vaulted roof, rear listening area width, and what sound is bouncing and where. It will read phase of speakers just in case you mixed a positive and negative connection on a speakers. I just wired 7 speakers with 2 wires a piece, and it can happen. Correct anything shown on main screen and you are done with the Basic Set Up. There is an advanced set up, work with it later.
Next is the remote: It is slender and not back lit. It does take time to understand all of the various buttons and what they do.
However, here are a few of the most important. Power switch found top left. Right below that is the BluRay Disc button. Two rows down and the second button in is Cable/Sat for Viewing TV. One row down and the 4th button controls receiver. This must be pressed after each change between CDs player, Tv viewing, or movie with BluRay. As you progress you will be able to switch to whatever you have connected.
Last is listening modes: direct, pure direct, ALC, and auto surround. Pressed in a loop or rotation you will see and hear the differences. This button is Features buttons 4th button down. The button right next to that is Standard Surround Mode: It too scrolls several options. Stop when you like what you hear. The next button will be Advanced Surround. I tend to use them when listening to Sports and Rock-Pop music. Scroll through and stop when you like what you hear. The EXT STEREO is great for 2 channel playback of Cds and adjusts all 7 speakers close to equal levels.
This takes a short time to get started. After that there are hundreds of sound choices that are described in the User Manual. It is on a DVD Rom and can be used to set up your iPod or tablet to replace the original remote. I would recommend while at your PC to download the PDF manual, and print it out by chapters. Why? Because you may start your command need at page 12, and then see page 102 to explain and complete what you are learning. Yes, this is a huge manual, however the quick start I describe will have you listening and enjoying in less than an hour. All the rest you can learn as you progress in time. If you have been doing this awhile, it is similar to Pioneer Receivers of the past. It won't seem like it is, but it is and you will get comfortable. PRINT The User Manual so you can read from page to page. Print it ALL and it will save you time in the end.
Now for the listening fun. It makes 3D movies look and sound better than anything I have had in the past. Cds will sound brand new. DVDs will look and sound fantastic. And all those BluRays you have bought and could not play all 7 channels you can see and hear again for the very first time. Enjoy my friends...
I have now had a few more weekends to read the manual and found something very interesting. On page 81, there is in the Advanced Settings, a individual 10 band equalizer for each of the 9 speakers you have connected. You can adjusts + or -, 10db for 3 bass frequency, 3 mid-range, and 3 high ends. Then there is then a 10th master at the end so you can control the whole group together. With this last setting you will never turn it up louder than -50db.
It will blow you out of the room with No Distortion. James Bond never sounded so good in Master True HD. And the new movie "Gravity", forget about it. This Pioneer rocks!!
on July 5, 2014
What an awesome system. This was my second Pioneer AV switcher. I bought it primarily to switch HDMI inputs into my 60" Pioneer Kuros plasma display. I also liked the idea of the built in apps. First time I tried Pandora, it took me forever to try and log in. Never was successful. On the other hand, the internet radio stations are really cool. No sign in, just listen. The unit lives up to it's roots. Pioneer has hit another home run with the 1123.
Pioneer, you can't go wrong!