I'll be honest: as a brand, Sony has never been my first choice when it comes to home theater receivers. There's just something about Sony receivers that has never sat right with me. They've either been all style and no substance or just cheaply-made me-too products. I'm not saying all Sony products are garbage - far from it, they make some of the best displays out there, not to mention damn fine Blu-ray players, CD players, home-theaters-in-a-box and beyond. However, when it came to receivers, it didn't seem like they were serious contenders until now. Sony has recently revamped their entire lineup and, with the introduction of the STR-DN1000 reviewed here, it feels like they're finally beginning to really hit their stride.
• Read reviews of the best AV and HDMI receivers from the likes of Sony, Marantz, Onkyo, Integra, Sherwood, Yamaha, Denon and many others on this resource page.
• Read a review of the Sony STR-DA5400 ES from Sony's "Elevated Standards" lineup by Brian Kahn.
• Read a review of the Sony STR-DA3300 ES by Krissy Rushing.
The STR-DN1000 retails for $499. For the first time, a Sony receiver looks far sleeker, more sophisticated and decidedly higher-end than its price tag would lead you to believe. Okay, it's gorgeous, seemingly void of any hard controls or even a clunky display. Its smooth piano black finish is practically seamless corner to corner, meaning the display simple appears on the STR-DN1000's face and the majority of the receiver's manual controls are neatly tucked behind a trap door which shares the same piano finish.
Beyond the STR-DN1000's good looks rests a treasure trove of features, beginning with its four HDMI audio/video inputs, which can support full 1080p/24 video and switch between them, as well as analog-to-HDMI video conversion up to 1080i. The STR-DN1000's HDMI inputs also support the latest uncompressed surround sound audio codecs, such as Dolby True HD and DTS Master Audio, as well as all other legacy surround sound formats, which the STR-DN1000 can playback and decode.
Being able to decode a film's soundtrack is one thing. Getting the speakers to play it back as the filmmakers intended is another. For that, the STR-DN1000 calls upon its internal amplifier, which churns out a solid 100 watts per channel across all seven of its channels. There are no pre-amp outputs on the STR-DN1000, so adding a secondary amp in the future is a no-go, but you can configure the STR-DN1000's seven channels in a variety of ways. You can also use the STR-DN1000 as the centerpiece in a Sony S-AIR system, which is an affordable way to add wireless distributed audio to your home. The STR-DN1000's sound can be tailored to work and sound its best in almost any environment, courtesy of its Digital Cinema Auto Calibration program.
For those of you with iPods or other portable devices, the STR-DN1000 has got you covered. You can use Sony's own iPod dock (sold separately) for seamless integration between the mighty portable and your home entertainment system or the front-mounted Aux inputs. Either way, the STR-DN1000's Portable Audio Enhancer will ensure your MP3s sound their very best. Not into the whole Apple music scene? The STR-DN1000 can be fed music from any PC or wireless network via Sony's PC Adapter (sold separately), as well as pick up satellite radio via Sirius (subscription and tuner kit sold separately).
Read more of the high points and the low points on Page 2.