"With the introduction of the STR-DN1000, it finally feels like Sony's beginning to really hit their stride." He added, "For just under $500 retail, this is one serious receiver that is as big on performance as it is on style. It can do just about everything a modern home theater calls for and more"...
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.
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.
High Points • For just under $500 retail, the Sony STR-DN1000 is one serious receiver that is as big on performance as it is on style. • The STR-DN1000 can do just about everything a modern home theater calls for and more in a way that is easy to set up, use and live with day to day. • I've never been a fan of Sony's attempts at auto EQ, but the STR-DN1000's auto EQ works nicely. • The STR-DN1000's sound is a touch lively and ever so slightly lean, but it mates well with a wide variety of loudspeakers, not to mention source material. • If you already own a Sony display or source (or two), you'll love how the STR-DN1000 will be welcomed right into the family. Sony clearly designs their products to be used in concert with one another.
Low Points • I'm sure the STR-DN1000's lack of full 1080p up-conversion is going to cause some people grief. However, keep in mind the asking price and what you plan on connecting to the STR-DN1000. If all your sources are HD, especially native 1080p, then what do you need up-conversion for? • There is a lack of digital audio inputs, three to be exact, two optical and one coaxial, which hardly seem like enough. • The STR-DN1000's gorgeous façade does show off a fair amount of dust and fingerprints after regular use, so be sure to have a damp cloth nearby for weekly wipe-downs.
Conclusion The Sony STR-DN1000 may just be one of my favorite receivers for around $500. What can I say? It hits all the right notes for me, it looks good, it's affordable and sounds better than you'd expect a sub-thousand-dollar receiver to sound. Sure, it's missing a few little tricks here and there and is a bit à la carte when it comes to expanding its potential. However, so is every other receiver out there, only those others cost nearly double what the STR-DN1000 goes for. If I were in the market for a solid, affordable, good-looking no-drama receiver, I'm not so sure I'd look too far beyond the Sony STR-DN1000.