By Ethan Dougherty
on 3.16.11

The Pioneer VSX-1021-K 7.1 Home Theater Receiver ($550) has iPhone and iPad integration oozing out of its amplified pores. First and foremost, it’s the first midrange receiver out of the gate to ship AirPlay ready — which allows iOS and Mac users to stream music wirelessly to their main home theater system, as well as audio content from AirPlay compatible apps like Pandora and Youtube. Pioneer wasn’t simply satisfied with matching the soon-to-be status quo, so they also created an AirPlay-like system of their own known as Air Jam. Using Air Jam, sadly, requires purchasing a separate Bluetooth audio accessory, but if you can stomach the nickeling and diming, the iOS compatible software will allow up to four separate devices to connect to the receiver at once for sharing content and creating group playlists. A new iControlAV2 control app will also enable your shiny apple gadget to control the receiver and equalizer, while the AVNavigator app essentially acts as an interactive user manual for setting up and tweaking your system.

Just in case you prefer controlling things from a desktop, DNLA compatibility is tossed in for typical network streaming and internet radio action. This receiver also sports all of the expected foundational elements of a connectivity monster in the form of 5 HDMI, 3D compatible, 1.4 inputs, plus Dolby® TrueHD and DTS-HD® Master decoding, 1080p video upscaling, and a full-blown graphic user interface. For an MSRP of $510, this receiver is one powerful hub to the home theater of the future, granted your family’s AirJamming arguments don’t lead to sheer chaos.

Buy Now: $550