The market for midrange AV receivers these days can be a vast one. While there are many great options out there, it's hard to find one that truly suits every person's palette. We've found one player, however, that manages to trump many sub-$500 AV receivers out there. Pioneer's latest offering manages to improve on last year's model and throw in tons of new functionality such as the ability to browse your iPod via an on-screen interface, meanwhile delivering silky smooth sound to boot...
The VSX-1019AH-K's connectivity is a strong point: its four HDMI inputs should be sufficient enough for most home theaters, and the multiroom connectivity works really well if you're looking to have a music/video station in another room around the house. Other pluses include an intuitive graphical user interface, analog video upconversion to 1080p (with pretty darn good image quality), onboard Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding, Sirius-ready radio, and automatic speaker calibration.
We listened to some Pinnacle speakers plugged into this receiver at our local AV shop and were blown away at the smoother-than-butter sound that came from the unit. We're not too sure what it was, but it sounded notably better than other similarly featured/priced AV receivers we heard in the room. However, don't take our word for it - visit your local electronics shop and make sure you listen before you blindly buy. Your ears are the best judge for your money.
The Pioneer VSX-1019AH-K 7-channel AV receiver retails at $499, but you can grab it now from Amazon for a discounted $469 with free shipping.