Sony STR-DN1000 A/V Receiver Page 3
Both units (and the ALT-SA34R’s remote) have shiny front panels that echo the look of the A/V receiver. They have controls for power, volume, ID, and channel. The ID toggle has three settings, so each wireless receiving device can communicate with that many separate transmitters. The channel change is intended to avoid interference with other household appliances in the 2.4-gigahertz band. Data transmission is 16-bit, 48 kHz, 11 Mbps. For some reason, the larger speaker comes with a detachable receiver card that plugs into the back. The smaller one has no detachable card, but it works just fine without it (presumably the reception capability is built in).
Setup wasn’t quite hassle free. My first review sample of the A/V receiver worked well in its conventional AVR functions, but it didn’t transmit to the wireless speakers, presumably due to shipping damage. This can happen to any manufacturer’s product. If you were put in the back of a truck in California and got bounced up and down a few thousand times on the way to New York, you wouldn’t be too perky either.
With the second AVR sample installed, the next hurdle was a quirky design limitation. The STR-DN1000 will transmit signals from an external source component to the wireless speakers only if the source is plugged into the A/V receiver’s analog inputs or into an external iPod dock that’s connected to the receiver’s proprietary DMPORT jack. As the manual explains, “The sound cannot be output if the components are connected to the coaxial, optical, or HDMI jacks on this receiver.”
I didn’t learn this from the manual but from a reader review on sonystyle.com. After two hours on hold with tech support, Boston-Dog was irked to discover the analog-related limitation: “You cannot play audio from digital components, such as everything that anyone has in their homes today.” However, he added, “It streams FM stations very nicely.” I wish all my technical problems could be solved by readers.
Once I understood this, the setup was fairly straightforward. First, I connected my Blu-ray player to the AVR, using the player’s previously never-used stereo analog outputs. Then, I connected my second-gen iPod nano through the dock. I navigated all the way to the bottom of the A/V receiver’s GUI to Settings, then all the way to the bottom of that submenu to S-AIR, and I activated the pairing function.
I then ran to the wireless speakers sitting on my desk—one of each type—and stuck a paper clip into a small hole labeled Pairing. This got one speaker to work, then the other. I carried them into an adjacent bedroom and repeated the process. The speakers successfully communicated with the receiver through thick plaster walls. Only when I carried them one additional room farther away—obstructed by steel girders, plumbing, kitchen cabinets, and more plaster—did the pairing process fail.
Still, I was able to enjoy music that I streamed from the STR-DN1000 to my bedroom. This came in handy at bedtime, when I always unwind to some kind of gentle music as the industrial-strength elephant tranquilizers kick in. It was pretty cool that the AVR continued to transmit even when it was in standby mode. The larger of the two wireless speakers, which had the sound quality of a good table radio, also had a sleep function. When used with a long play list or an FM stream, it can shut itself off in increments of up to 120 minutes.
The Sony STR-DN1000 has some pluses that are absent in competing budget receivers. Although I haven’t said much about the PlayStation-derived Xross Media Bar GUI, it made the A/V receiver a pleasure to use. But its greatest contribution may be the idea that music is best managed through an AVR, and not through a PC. With three wireless options to choose from—the wireless speakers I tried, and the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi adapters I didn’t try—the AVR offers something for every multiroom audio listener.