Sony STR-ZA3000ES A/V Receiver Review Test Bench

Test Bench

Two channels driven continuously into 8-ohm loads:
0.1% distortion at 110.9 watts
1% distortion at 135.5 watts

Five channels driven continuously into 8-ohm loads:
0.1% distortion at 87.6 watts
1% distortion at 98.6 watts

Seven channels driven continuously into 8-ohm loads:
0.1% distortion at 65.3 watts
1% distortion at 75.8 watts

Analog frequency response in Pure Direct mode:
–0.05 dB at 10 Hz
–0.01 dB at 20 Hz
+0.07 dB at 20 kHz
–2.70 dB at 50 kHz.

Analog frequency response with signal processing:
–0.41 dB at 10 Hz
–0.10 dB at 20 Hz
–0.40 dB at 20 kHz
–62.19 dB at 50 kHz.

This graph shows that the STR-ZA3000ES’s left channel, from CD input to speaker output with two channels driving 8-ohm loads, reaches 0.1% distortion at 110.9 watts and 1% distortion at 135.5 watts. Into 4 ohms, the amplifier reaches 0.1% distortion at 135.8 watts and 1% distortion at 172.8 watts.

There was no multichannel input to measure. THD+N from the CD input to the speaker output was less than 0.009% at 1 kHz when driving 2.83 volts into an 8-ohm load. Crosstalk at 1 kHz driving 2.83 volts into an 8-ohm load was –89.09 dB left to right and –81.26 dB right to left. The signal-to-noise ratio with an 8-ohm load from 10 Hz to 24 kHz with “A” weighting was –106.49 dBrA.

From the Dolby Digital input to the loudspeaker output, the left channel measures –0.04 dB at 20 Hz and –0.45 dB at 20 kHz. The center channel measures –0.05 dB at 20 Hz and –0.49 dB at 20 kHz, and the left surround channel measures –0.04 dB at 20 Hz and –0.49 dB at 20 kHz. From the Dolby Digital input to the line-level output, the LFE channel is +0.04 dB at 20 Hz when referenced to the level at 40 Hz and reaches the upper 3-dB down point at 116 Hz and the upper 6-dB down point at 119 Hz.—MJP

(877) 865-7669

brenro's picture

I'm not ready for Atmos or DTS:X but I would certainly want to future proof my next pretty hefty home theater expense.

Rob Sabin's picture an AVR costing $1,700 and geared for a high-performance customer; hence the somewhat deflated 3.5 stars (good-to-excellent) for Features. But this was a late 2014 AVR release that was one of the few future-proofed with HDCP 2.2 copyright management, and it has quite excellent audio quality. If you know you'll never be bothering with Atmos/ceiling speakers or you're a custom installer specifying this for a 5.1 or 7.1 project, it remains a great choice. We've yet to see Sony embrace Atmos on any 2014 or 2015 AVR model, but it would seem to me they'd have no choice but to include it in new ES models as they arrive now, or I suspect they'll start losing some sales among integrators who do want to sell the extra ceiling speakers associated with Atmos installs. Those new ES models have traditionally been announced at CEDIA (mid-October, this year).
twm1988's picture

Hi Fred, very nice review. I'm just wondering about the audio performance of this Sony... I remember you reviewed the Anthem MRX 700 and NAD T757 receivers a few years ago and used them with your Revel speakers as well.

Are you saying this Sony is equivalent in sound quality and power output to those other two receivers? Your review of the Anthem said it made your home theatre come to life, and with the NAD you stated it went into protection mode and sounded a little strained driving your speakers at higher volumes.

Now this Sony seems to have no trouble driving the Revel Ultima Salon's. I've never really thought of Sony as more than an entry level audio brand, does it really compare to those Anthem and NAD receivers??

bigreddog's picture

I went from owning a much older NAD T743 receiver with an Adcom GFA-555 external amp. When my NAD died, I swore that I would never buy anything but NAD so I did, and I bought a basic NAD T748 but it arrived with problems. It kept turning off, and on at weird times all on it's own. The replacement I was sent blasted bass into my speakers and subwoofers immediately and would not let me shut it off until it displayed "Overload Protection" mode on the screen. I sent that one back as well. Even with the NAD that turned on and off on it's own was working, along side with my Adcom amp, it didn't have that good NAD sound that my old NAD had. No sweet spot and rather harsh and compressed sounding at higher volumes.

So, I auditioned many receivers including Anthem but the Anthem's store units had bad flickering displays on both of them. That and I own a MacBook Pro and their dumb calibration mode only works on a PC. Why they didn't design it to work through the HDMI to your TV screen is beyond me. Stupid design. So, Anthem was immediately out of the question. I narrowed it down between the Marantz SR7008 and the Sony ES STR-ZA3000ES. I liked the looks of the ES especially compared to the Marantz with the hidden display and a tiny 1" circle display. I went against everyone's advice and got the Sony ES. I love it but it's not perfect. It has no way to set your crossover for a subwoofer. You simply pick the cutoff crossover on your main fronts to 80Hz for example, and the bass picks up from there. But if you select LARGE as your speakers, the subwoofer plays at "I have no idea" frequency. So, my full range speakers are set to SMALL and cutoff at 80Hz. That bugged me to the point that I finally bought into the peer pressure and bought a Marantz SR7008. What a piece of JUNK in comparison to the Sony ES. The flap door was broken right out of the box but I decided to see if I liked it before returning it so I would know if I wanted an exchange or just my money back. The Marantz with Audessey XT32 had worse graphics on the GUI by far which was a big surprise. The overrated Audessey XT32 didn't do near as well as the Sony's mic calibration system. But in the end, it was the 2 channel music using just my main front speakers and my subwoofers for 2 channel music. The Sony ES just sounded so much better. It's just like it can breathe better than the Marantz if that description helps.

Yes the Marantz SR7008 has many more options, but they are laid out cheap and most are useless. The Sony DOES support DTS HD MASTER AUDIO but it doesn't display it on the screen. Sony ES has a funny way of displaying what it is decoding. I myself agree with the review here and I enjoy HD DCS (Studio) over all of the other formats. Even though I drive my speakers with an external amp, I did try to drive my Klipsch RF-7 II's which require a lot of power and the Sony ES, even without bi-amping, powered my speakers wonderfully without cutting out or sounding maxed out like the NAD receiver did. The remote control seems cheap for a $1700 receiver but once you get used to it, it is laid out perfect and it's well designed and easy to use unlike the Marantz remote.

I am a picky person and hard to please. Picky enough to buy the Marantz after buying the Sony ES, just to see and hear the difference. Also, the Marantz isn't 4K compliant. I got my STR-ZA3000ES for $775 online brand new in a sealed box with a confirmed and registered 5 year warranty from Sony. But after having it for as long as I have now and comparing it to Marantz and NAD, I'll take the Sony ES any day. It's well worth the $1700 price tag considering the 4K compliancy unlike most, the build quality which is better than I've ever seen, and the sound just makes it worth even more!