Sony STR-DH500 Home Theater Receiver

Sony STR-DH500 Home Theater Receiver

The STR-DH500 is a modestly priced and reliable alternative to far more expensive models. While limited on flashy features, this receiver "delivers the core essentials for a true 5.1 home theater. Our reviewer: "for a cheap receiver with modest power under the hood, it has a fair amount of bravado and would work just fine in a small to medium sized living room or den"

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You've read all the reviews, researched all the products and know what you want. Problem is, all to often what we want is not quite in line with what we can afford. What is affordable? I've called many thousand-dollar receivers affordable, yet my fiancée and my friends call me insane. If the average price of a DVD is $12.99 and a Blu-ray disc is $19.99, why does the system needed to play back that media cost, on average, 200 times as much? Does spending more equate to more enjoyment? I don't think it does. Hence my interest in the Sony STR-DH500 reviewed here. The STR-DH500 is a full feature surround sound receiver that costs a mere $199.00 retail and can be purchased seemingly everywhere. Is the STR-DH500 as good as a $2,000 or $5,000 receiver? No, not even close, but for a hair under $200 one can argue it provides far more enjoyment per dollar than the competition.

Additional Resources
• Read Onkyo TX-SR608 receiver reviewed by Dr. Ken Taraszka.
• Read dozens of HDMI and AV receiver reviews on HomeTheaterReview.com's HDMI Receiver review page.
• Read a review of a Marantz SR7005 Receiver reviewed.

The STR-DH500 is a standard looking piece of kit, though it does feature Sony's newest design language among their receivers, which is quite sleek. The STR-DH500 has three HDMI inputs and one HDMI output; however it will only switch between the HDMI inputs, no upscaling or conversion is performed inside the STR-DH500, which is fine with me. Another thing to point out, the STR-DH500's HDMI inputs are video-only, meaning you'll have to run a separate optical or coaxial cable to the back of the receiver to pull audio from your DVDs or Blu-ray discs. No HDMI audio most likely means no uncompressed audio formats, right? Correct, the STR-DH500 can decode and playback Dolby Digital, DTS and other legacy surround sound formats, but it cannot playback Dolby TrueHD or DTS Master Audio. However, with 90 Watts per its five channels the STR-DH500 can deliver quite an impact, even if the soundtrack is only Dolby Digital or DTS.

Sticking with the audio theme for a moment the STR-DH500 features no auto EQ software, nor does is have the ability to be used as a processor in the future by providing you with preamp outputs. It has no multi-channel analog audio inputs either; hell - half of its binding posts are pushpin receptacles versus the more common five-way style found on costlier receivers. Just keep in mind the STR-DH500 is only $200.00.

On the plus side the STR-DH500 has a digital media port which can be used with Sony's own iPod dock ($99.00) or wireless PC music player ($199.00). While there are cheaper ways to connect you iPod to the STR-DH500, both the Sony iPod dock and PC music player integrate seamlessly with the STR-DH500 and allow for full control via the receiver's remote with onscreen menus being shown on your home display.

Competition and Comparison
If you are interested in comparing the Sony STR-DH500 against its competition, be sure to read our reviews for Onkyo's TX-SR575 receiver and the Yamaha HTR-6250 receiver.  There is also more information available on many different products in our AV Receivers section. For more information about Sony, check out our Sony brand page.

Read The High Points, The Low Points and the Conclusion on Page 2


Sony-DHR-500AVReceiver.gifHigh Points
• The Sony STR-DH500 is quite possibly the cheapest way to enjoy the latest 1080p formats be they HDTV or Blu-ray

• Sure the STR-DH500 is a bit limited on flashy features; however it does provide and deliver the core essentials for a true 5.1 home theater. 
• For such a cheap receiver with modest power under the hood it has a fair amount of bravado and would work just fine in a small to medium sized living room or den.

Low Points
• The STR-DH500 doesn't upconvert or transcode analog video sources to digital via its HDMI output, though I would argue that keeps the signal pure and truer to the source. 
• The lack of audio support through the HDMI inputs is a bit of a bummer here and to only provide three digital audio inputs doesn't fully right this wrong. Theoretically you could hook up to five HD sources to the STR-DH500 (three via HDMI and two via component video) but only be able to enjoy multi-channel audio on three of them. 
• Truthfully, the biggest problem with the STR-DH500 is its slightly larger brother the STR-DH800 (feature review coming soon) that has seemingly every bell and whistle as well as full-uncompressed multi-channel audio capability and room EQ for $100 more.

Conclusion
While it may seem easy to fault the Sony STR-DH500 for its lack of features, one can't lose sight of its asking price. For under $200 the STR-DH500 will connect to and playback 1080p HD signals, which includes Blu-ray discs, HD Broadcasts and more and while it cannot decode or play back Blu-ray's uncompressed audio formats it will do a fine job with Dolby Digital and DTS encoded material. It simply isn't fair to compare the STR-DH500 to anything but itself for no manufacturer has really offered a home theater solution that will handle all the basics including 1080p video for so little money. If you're in the market for a simple, no-fuss no-muss home theater receiver and can do without and/or know you're not a die hard enthusiast the Sony STR-DH500 seems tailor made for you.

Additional Resources
• Read Onkyo TX-SR608 receiver reviewed by Dr. Ken Taraszka.
• Read dozens of HDMI and AV receiver reviews on HomeTheaterReview.com's HDMI Receiver review page.
• Read a review of a Marantz SR7005 Receiver reviewed.

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