AV RECEIVER REVIEWS

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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 4 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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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 03, 2015 10 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $600

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Wi-Fi, AirPlay, Bluetooth
MHL on front and rear
Google Cast, Spotify Connect
Minus
Confusing A.F.D., HD-D.C.S. terminology

THE VERDICT
If you can do without Dolby Atmos in this seven-channel AVR, Sony’s well-thought-out wireless functionality and sweet, golden sound are an unbeatable combination.

Let me say this up front: The Sony STR-DN1060 doesn’t do Dolby Atmos. Whether this is a serious omission in a seven-channel receiver today is debatable—but I’d say not. Most of the first-generation Atmos receivers have shortcomings of their own. For one thing, they lack the forthcoming DTS:X, the other flavor of object-oriented, height-enabled surround sound. More critically, seven-channel models can offer only Atmos 5.1.2, with two height channels in front or directly above the listener but none in back. That is at best a limited version of the Atmos experience because it doesn’t create the full dome-shaped soundfield of 5.1.4.

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Fred Manteghian Posted: Jul 31, 2015 4 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,700

AT A GLANCE
Plus
4K video, including scaling and HDCP 2.2
Excellent audio quality
Simpler to use than Hodor
Minus
Missing some popular features like AirPlay and Internet Radio
No Atmos or DTS:X

THE VERDICT
Plenty of power on tap and easy to use. A few quirks that don’t amount to a hill of beans. Best of all, it sounds great!

Sony posted a video blog on their Website introducing the STR-ZA3000ES and touting how easy it is for a professional installer to set up this AVR. Guess who else would find it simple? That’s right, an 8-year-old! Not since my Sherwood stereo model (circa 1982) has a receiver gone into my oft-refreshed setup with as little fuss. That doesn’t mean this AVR isn’t capable of feats of bravery and bravado; it is. A dealer installing it can easily program it to drop a projection screen when you select the Blu-ray player’s input, or hook up a second HDTV in the bedroom to show a source that’s different from the one playing in your home theater.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 20, 2016 2 comments

Audio Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,800

AT A GLANCE
Plus
CI focus, including eight-port Ethernet hub
9.1 channels for 5.1.4/7.1.2 surround
Redesigned setup mic
Minus
No Bluetooth, AirPlay, Wi-Fi, or DLNA

THE VERDICT
The Sony STR-ZA5000ES combines a hard-kicking amp with custom-install-friendly features.

In Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story “Silver Blaze,” from The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, the great detective has this conversation with a police inspector, who speaks first:

“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

“That was the curious incident,” remarked Sherlock Holmes.

Just as the dog that didn’t bark enabled Holmes to identify a killer, the features that the Sony STR-ZA5000ES doesn’t have are clues to its identity. This $2,800 receiver doesn’t have Bluetooth, AirPlay, Wi-Fi, or any other wireless connectivity or network audio option—not even DLNA to work with its Ethernet jacks.

Michael Berk Posted: Sep 26, 2011 0 comments

Lots of news on the soundbar front this week, so if you're looking to cram a surround experience into a tiny space you're in luck.

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Chris Lewis Posted: Oct 01, 2003 0 comments
The name says it all.

It's funny to me that so many people try to convince you that the high end is a relatively insignificant factor in the grand scheme of all things audio. Admittedly, if you put the sales figures of one large, mass-market manufacturer next to those of even several high-end manufacturers combined, the former will dwarf the latter every time. But when has audio ever been about sales figures? I certainly don't have space here to elaborate on everything that high-end audio companies do for the middle and lower ends, both tangibly and intangibly. However, one of those benefits is particularly relevant here: the issue of perception. It's hard to overstate the significance of high-end manufacturers getting into the receiver business. Certainly, high-end manufacturers have raised the receiver bar in terms of performance, the quality of internal componentry, and features, but they've also had a tremendous impact on the way that people look at receivers, legitimizing a form that many people consider to be inherently compromised for the sake of convenience and price.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 11, 2005 0 comments

"Name a product the 'Ultimate' anything and you've opened yourself up to a world of potential hurt and ridicule. The name's a boast and it's bound to instigate a challenge. That's what I thought as I unpacked Bob Carver's latest brag, months before this publication was renamed <I>Ultimate AV</I>, and I'm not changing my lead because of that."

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 04, 2008 Published: Jan 04, 2008 0 comments
From Youngstown with love.

There are people who claim to read your future in your palm. Others reach conclusions about your income, taste, and character according to what type of shoes you're wearing. For my own part, I can look at your selection of loudspeakers and know exactly what kind of home theater person you are.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 04, 2007 Published: May 04, 2007 0 comments
The natural high.

I drink green tea the way some people drink water. I make it in large batches, keep it in the fridge, and guzzle it all day. Such are the dimensions of this innocuous drug habit that I blend teas, often adding a pinch of Butterfly Sencha (with peach and sunflower petals) to a standard Sencha, creating something more subtle than the former and more interesting than the latter. (The Tea Squad may burst through the door to arrest me at any moment.) I do the same with surround equipment. This month, I've deliberately brought together a receiver brand that prides itself on neutrality with a speaker brand that obsesses about the purity and phase coherence of high frequencies. Marantz, meet Tannoy. Tannoy, meet Marantz. What will happen next?

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Nov 20, 2012 0 comments

Most A/V receivers with any pretensions toward high performance — and most audio and video products in general, for that matter — are designed and marketed for hardcore hobbyists, not average consumers. What’s the difference? The hobbyist revels in scores of setup options, dozens of surround modes, and fistfuls of video-processing choices.

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Jul 08, 2013 0 comments

British hi-fi used to be quirky. Anyone who remembers, say, Connoisseur turntables, Leak amps, or Quad speakers will know what I mean. Today’s Brit-fi, however — at least as exemplified by Cambridge Audio — has successfully transitioned from quirky to distinctive.

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Nov 30, 2011 0 comments

When I reviewed one of the first of NAD’s long-awaited “new-generation” A/V receivers almost 2 years ago (can it be?), I liked it a lot.

Know what? I like this one even better.

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