AV RECEIVER REVIEWS

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Kim Wilson Posted: Jan 21, 2008 0 comments
Sony offers two lines of A/V components and has always saved the best features and performance for the ES Series. While more stripped down than some higher-end models, the STR-DA4300ES offers an abundance of state-of-the art features and performance including onboard decoding of Dolby Digital TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, plenty of power for a full 7.1 home theater system, automatic set up and room calibration, HDMI ver.1.3 switching and Sony's powerful Xross Media Bar user interface.
Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 12, 2008 0 comments
Now this is the way to set up a system.

This month, we break new ground in Spotlight Systems. Normally, we pair off a surround speaker package with surround electronics. But that ignores the whole subject of signal sources, without which, after all, all of our systems would be dark and silent. So this time out, we’re mating an up-to-the-minute receiver, the Sony STR-DA4300ES, with an oh-so-hip Blu-ray player, the Sony BDP-S500. And no, Sony didn’t slip me a suitcase full of cash for doing this.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 06, 2010 0 comments
Price: $1,500 At A Glance: Middle AVR in Sony’s higher-end ES line • Numerous custom-install and remote options • DLNA, SHOUTcast, Rhapsody network features

Sony Goes It Alone

Sony recently announced that it would begin selling its ES products only through A/V specialty retailers, from Best Buy’s Magnolia down to smaller independent retailers. No longer will you find these products online, not even through Sony’s own sonystyle.com. This will give Sony more control over pricing. More important to the consumer is the fact that Sony is reorienting its better AVRs to retailers who can give convincing demos and cater to the needs of custom installation and higher-end home theater.

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Fred Manteghian Posted: Jul 29, 2007 0 comments

Ah, technology. Too bad automobiles can't keep up with home theater electronics, or we'd all be driving around in Hummers that get 200 miles to the gallon, emit pure oxygen and absorb all that heat coming off Al Gore. Sony's new receiver is the latest example of more for less. The STR-DA5200ES is feature packed, though perhaps not to the gills. And since we've segued from cars to fish, you should know now that, for the price, this receiver is better than a fair catch.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Mar 05, 2009 0 comments
Price: $2,000 At A Glance: Superior sound quality and ergonomics • HDMI connectivity • Auto calibration and speaker equalization • Three-zone operation

Sony Adds Major Value

Like the old canine joke punch-line, “Because he can,” electronics designers seem to be adding greater functionality and features to their A/V receivers more because they can rather than because consumers need them, want them, or are likely to use them.

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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 13, 2013 3 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $2,100 At A Glance: Free iOS and Android remote control apps • Built-in Control4 home automation controller • Four Easy Automation multi-parameter programmable scenes

A chimera is a mythical animal consisting of parts from various other animals. In Greek mythology, for example, a Chimera (with a capital C) was an unpleasant, fire-breathing creature that had a serpent’s tail, a goat’s body, and a lion’s head. (Insert standard joke about previous spouse/significant other, mother-in-law, editors, etc.) Although it’s not an official definition in the A/V world, I consider a component that’s been soldered together using parts from different components to be a chimera, too. The active soundbar with its amalgamation of amps, speakers, processor, and etc. is a good example of such an electronic creature. The deviant TV/VCR/DVD Franken-combo, on the other hand, is an example of how things can go terribly wrong.

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Lawrence E. Ullman Posted: Oct 23, 2005 0 comments

Sony's new, $2000 STR-DA7100ES AV receiver carries forward the shiny silver hewn-from-solid-block look of previous ES-series receivers, such as the <A href="http://www.ultimateavmag.com/avreceivers/1204sony/">STR-DA9000ES</A> ($4500) recently reviewed by TJN. Although the front panel looks like solid aluminum, it is actually a 2mm-thick formed sheet. Most of the controls are hidden behind a drop-down panel, leaving a clean front panel with just volume and input-selector knobs, half a dozen little buttons, and the display. The various knobs and controls have great tactile appeal, operating with a solid, positive feel and silky smooth action.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 15, 2004 0 comments

The STR-DA9000ES is Sony's entry in what has become a new trend in home theater: receivers that seriously challenge separate components. That challenge is extended not only in features and performance, but in size as well. Many of these new behemoths equal the sheer bulk of more than a few preamplifier-processor and amplifier combinations.

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Chris Lewis Posted: Jun 16, 2005 0 comments
The $500 receiver thicket gets thicker.

It's odd that when you're really good at one thing, people tend to forget that you might be good at other things, too. Take Babe Ruth. Everyone remembers the bat, but not everyone remembers that he was strong in the field, as well. The guy even pitched in the majors, winning 23 games one year. Let's see Barry Bonds do that, with or without steroids. Sony's situation is somewhat similar. Play quick association with the word Sony, and you'll most likely get the word "video," if not "televisions" specifically. Their video reputation is well deserved, but people sometimes forget that Sony has some solid audio products as well—products that are bigger than Walkmans and headphones.

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Kim Wilson Posted: Sep 29, 2011 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $229 At A Glance: Low cost • 3D passthrough • Supports all current audio codecs • No onscreen display, networking, auto calibration, video upconversion • Spring-loaded speaker terminals

The audio and video performance of the Sony STR-DH520 is more than acceptable, especially given it's price and ability to pass 3D content, decode all current audio codecs, and deliver a full seven channels of amplification. However, setup and operation are limited by the features it lacks. If you can live with only five channels, there are other choices that offer similar performance, 3D compatibility, an on-screen display, and auto calibration. Step into the $400 price range and you will find increased value compared with the STR-DH520.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 25, 2010 0 comments
Price: $400 At A Glance: Flagship of Sony’s standard receiver line • Strong aesthetics and user interface, well-designed remote • Compatible with Sony wireless speakers using optional card

Slick but Affordable

The process of getting music into, and out of, an A/V receiver is changing. An increasing number of receivers come with Ethernet jacks to pull music out of a network-connected PC. Against this background, Sony—thinking for itself, as always—has built a totally different form of networking into the STR-DN1000 A/V receiver.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 23, 2011 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $500 At A Glance: iPhone/iPod dock and USB cable included • iDevice remote control app • Mixing studio listening modes

There are two hard-wired options for integrating content from an iPod or iPhone into a receiver-based home theater system. The A/V receiver might have a Made for iPod–compatible USB jack, allowing you to plug the device right into the front or back panel. Or the iPod can fit into an accessory dock. But wouldn’t it be great to have both options?

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 28, 2012 5 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $500 At A Glance: Wi-Fi • AirPlay • Bluetooth • DLNA • Windows 7 Play To • Proprietary room correction

Sony may not be the first brand you think of in connection with audio/video receivers. The company has always offered competently designed models, some of which provide good performance and value for the money, yet somehow it hasn’t basked in the limelight enjoyed by the market-leading brands. That may be about to change with the STR-DN1030. Sony needed a way to attract attention and has found one: This receiver is a wireless triple threat with Apple AirPlay, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity. And all of that is dongle free. To enable the wireless features, you needn’t spend more for accessories or plug anything into anything.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 13, 2013 2 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $599

At A Glance
Plus: Improved construction and sound • Wi-Fi, AirPlay, Bluetooth • 4K video with scaling
Minus: Room correction didn’t work in our sample

The Verdict
A feature-packed, all around stellar performer offering incredible bang for the buck.

If I were down on my luck—jobless, hopeless, living on beans à la can—and absolutely had to buy a new audio/video receiver on a tight budget, how much would I spend? The magic number is $600.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 05, 2014 16 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $600

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Wi-Fi, AirPlay, and
Bluetooth built in
Balanced and dynamic sound
Minus
No HDCP 2.2 for future UHD Content
Front-panel buttons are tough to see
Single-position room correction

THE VERDICT
Sony updates its triple-threat Wi-Fi, AirPlay, and Bluetooth AVR with more balanced sound, and it’s about the best we’ve heard at this price.

Have you ever had a feeling of déjà vu? Have you ever had a feeling of déjà vu? Sometimes I get that feeling when I review receivers across multiple generations. Sometimes I get that feeling when I review receivers across multiple generations. Oh, all right, I’ll stop. Oh, all right…but having reviewed the Sony STR-DN1020 in 2011, the STR-DN1030 in 2012, and the STR-DN1040 in 2013, I am well situated to pass judgment on the STR-DN1050 in 2014.

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