AV RECEIVER REVIEWS

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Steve Guttenberg Posted: Apr 23, 2007 Published: Mar 23, 2007 0 comments
Together again for the first time.

As I unboxed this month's Spotlight System, I flashed on the innovative histories of Marantz and Snell Acoustics. Saul B. Marantz was a bona fide American audio pioneer in the 1950s and 1960s. His company's electronics not only sounded amazing, they were drop-dead gorgeous. Maybe that's why Marantz's early designs regularly sell on eBay for more than their original prices. Peter Snell was one of the brightest speaker designers to emerge in the mid-1970s. Back in the day, I owned a pair of his first speakers, the Type A, and had many conversations with Peter about music. In those simpler times, Saul Marantz and Peter Snell could launch their companies armed with not much more than a driving passion to produce great audio gear—and the inspired engineering to make the dream real. Best of all, both companies still adhere to their founders' perfectionistic traditions.

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Shane Buettner Posted: Sep 13, 2006 0 comments
  • $2,000
  • 170-Watts x 7 into 8 ohms
  • Processing Modes: DD, DD-EX, ProLogicIIx, Dolby Virtual Speaker, Dolby Headphone, DTS, DTS-ES/Discrete/Matrix/Neo: 6, DTS 24/96
Features We Like: HDMI, component and i.LINK switching, transcoding of analog video to HDMI, Direct Drive Digital Amps, three coaxial and five toslink digital audio inputs, multichannel analog inputs, preamp outputs, amplifier channels can be relocated to power separate zones, multi-source/multi-zone
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Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Sep 13, 2007 0 comments
As far as I'm concerned, this is the standard that all other receiver makers should aspire to.

Sony recently announced a trio of new AV receivers in the ES line. The ES stands for "Elevated Standard", a designation that is supposed to indicate performance and features that are a cut above the standard Sony line. Although the marketing and the reality haven't always jibed, Sony appears to be giving renewed attention and vigor to the gear that wears the ES badge.

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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.
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David Vaughn Posted: Mar 07, 2008 0 comments

The A/V receiver marketplace is a crowded world these days. At one end are low-cost models sold through retailers such as Best Buy and Circuit City, while the other end is occupied by upscale brands with upscale prices. (Interestingly, some of these upscale brands are now showing up at the big-box retailers as the average selling price of AVRs increases, due in part to the influence of Blu-ray.)

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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