has three new receivers in their Elevated Standard "ES" line. The 7.1-channel STRA-DA3300ES (the least expensive of the three) certainly lives up to the ES moniker. What's garnering all the buzz is the amount of receiver goodness you get for the money. While $1,000 isn't necessarily cheap, considering the amount of features on the receiver, it's a pretty good deal. One of the best features is the Graphical User Interface (GUI), which makes it relatively easy for anyone, whether a novice or pro, to set up the system. The GUI is obviously designed with the end user, not a custom installer, in mind. PlayStation 3 owners
will recognize the GUI immediately.Additional Resources
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to pair with the STR-DA3300ES receiver.
Sony has taken extra care with this receiver to make sure that every square inch of real estate on the back panel is utilized. For example, they've included a Digital Media Port for digital music from a source such as an iPod and, as an added bonus, the menu of such a device will appear on your TV screen
, letting you access your digital music with ease. You will also find three HDMI inputs and one output, plus four component video inputs, giving you plenty of connections for your high-def sources. Speaking of high-def, this little go-getter has Faroudja DCDi video deinterlacing and video processing, and will upscale non-HD content up to 1080p. This is great if you have a large DVD collection. Up-converted standard-definition DVDs consistently look sharp, and native HD material looks absolutely stunning, including Blu-ray movies and high-def broadcasts.
The STR-DA3300ES lacks S-video connections on the back panel, which is a minor issue, since there are plenty of composite inputs (five) for non-HD sources. If you are buying this new receiver, most likely it is to mate it with your high-definition components, such as a high-def gaming console, high-def TiVo, Blu-ray player and HDTV.
You will also notice that this receiver does not have Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio decoding. However, if your Blu-ray player will convert these tracks to PCM, you can still take advantage of these high-resolution audio formats. Some comparably-priced receivers, however, such as the Yamaha RX-V863, do support these formats, so take a look at those receivers before you take the plunge. The audio is pleasant and straightforward. It sounds warm and powerful on movie soundtracks and is accurate on music. The Digital Cinema Auto Calibration tunes the receiver based on room factors for even more accurate, fine-tuned sound. Read The High Points, The Low Points and The Conclusion on Page 2