I’ve been really happy with Pioneer’s flagship VSX-59TXi receiver, love it so much that I even took the time to update the DACs with reference Burr-Brown ones. So when I read the Pioneer announced they are updating their Elite line I wanted to see how the replacement compared with my good ol’ 59TXi. Well, I have some good news, they won’t be releasing the update until sometime in early 2006. The bad news, when they do release it, judging from the lower priced models, it will be packed with some nice new features — more on that in a bit.

Pioneer only announced the replacement of VSX-52TX and VSX-54TXi models, which are now known as the VSX-74TXVi (MSRP $1500) and the VSX-72TXV (MSRP $1200). The 74TXVi will offer 140 watts per channel (x 7) while the 72TXV will produce 130 watts per channel (x7). Both will be available by August and are equipped nicely. How nicely? Read on…

The units include the following: built-in XM satellite radio tuner (which requires a $50 XM antenna to operate), multichannel audio (Dolby Digital, DTS, DVD-Audio, not SACD, WMA9 Pro), HDMI video switching (2 in, 1 out), the VSX-74TXVi includes an iLink (IEEE 1394) input for DVD-Audio and SACD digital signals from an iLink-equipped player, and it has an extra digital audio output, a USB port, and XM capability for zone 2. There is also word that there is an iPod socket on the unit, which allows control of the iPod via the receivers remote and onscreen display… don’t know if that is a tentative detail, but it would surely be a nice feature to have. We should have more details in a few weeks.