Whilst waiting for the new 2015 Atmos models, I got hold of this amp to get what it brings.
This model is based on an awarding winning predecessor, the 1050, and I am keen to know how it sounds.
(http://www.whathifi.com/sony/str-dn1050/review / http://avproductreviews.com/sony-str-dn1050-review)
First some tech specs:
- 7.2 Ch. of power.
- Built for superb sound.
- Easily connect to your devices with 8 High Definition inputs.
- Access your music library.
- Stream from your favorite apps with Google™ Cast.
- Multi-room capability.
- Stream music from receiver to wireless headphones.
- High-Resolution Audio playback.
- Intuitive, easy-to-use interface.
- Turn your smartphone into a remote control.
- Enhanced wireless listening.
- Restored high frequency sound lost in audio compression.
- Preserved sound clarity.
- Great sound in more than just the living room.
- Smartphone connectivity via MHL.
- Standby Audio/Video signal pass-through.
- Great sound quality at any volume.
- Smartphone savvy5.
- HD Digital Cinema Sound™ with front-high speakers.
- Sony® Sound field technology.
- BRAVIA® Sync Capable (HDMI® CEC).
- Seamless IP Integration.
- Upscale everything you watch to 4K quality.
- Seamless IP Integration
How can you improve on a model that was popular, and well regarded by Home Theatre enthusiasts around the world? Will this be a better model or has Sony dropped the ball?
First the setup:
When you first switch it on, after plugging in the cables, you are greeting with an Easy Setup option, and it takes you through the basics of the setup, leading to the auto-EQ part.
Sony uses it's own flavor of Auto-Eq, and it's a very rudimentary one, using one single point, and a single measurement. You hear a melodious test tone going round, and it finally stops at the subs. There it spends a bit more time, but make no mistake, even though there are two sub outs, it calibrates them as one unit.
The microphone is a puck like structure, and when you insert it, the Sony does not recognise it. You need to go through a series of clicks, but the remote is simple to use.
Don't lose the remote, as there aren't any setup buttons and selection buttons on the amp itself. You will need the remote. It's a simple affair, with only a few buttons and it's not backlit.
There isn't a big manual when you open the box, but the user interface is not too hard to follow.
A little more on the setup :
The Sony comes with one of the skimpiest manuals of all modern amps.
It's quite simple to get the initial setup but you have to do some exploration to get into the finer settings
Sony should take a page from Denon and Marantz.
But once you do get the bits sorted, it does sound very impressive.
There is a lot of detail and lots of surround flow. You just need to poke around and play with the various settings and features a bit. That may be daunting for a novice, but it will certainly pay dividends.
From a newbie's perspective it has a lot to offer and you just add the source and speakers and the Sony will paint a solid landscape.
Even with a big list of features to explore, the setup is quite intuitive.
So after using it for a while, I begin to put it through it's paces.
Although it will mostly likely not be partnered with speakers like the B&W 800 series, it didn't embarrass itself actually.
After playing some well recorded CDs and SACDs, I was beginning to understand why it's predecessor, the 1050 was so well regarded in UK and Europe, and even in USA.
It plays HT well, but it does do much better than what it's price tag may suggest. It has a few tricks up it's sleeve, and whatever components they placed in it, they showed.
Now you may consider this a 'plain vanilla' model in the world of HT with no Atmos or the like, but it does lossless formats like DTS-MA and Tru-HD very well, with solid steering, precise locations. However, it really shines during the soundtrack, when the music comes on and it shows why Hi Fi magazines and fans around the world love this pocket rocket.
It's got decent soundstage, and with a good speaker setup, it will playback music with detail, and a decent soundscape. Sure, it is nowhere near my Marantz PM 11, which is my reference amp for critical listening under 8k, but it will certainly give much pleasure to buyers in it's range.
It's nice to have an amp that can carry a tune when the movie is turned off. Pop in a CD, albeit in a nice Blu Ray player like the Oppo 105, and it will certainly help you forget that it's not a top of the line model in the Sony lineup.
With a sub or two, the amp has enough oophm to drive my B&W 804 speakers and the HTM4 centre, plus the other 4 surrounds without showing stress.
So it's been about a month or so with this amp and by all counts, it's been a good time.
The simplicity will help the novice moving into HT, but it's the sound quality in stereo that makes this amp interesting, and will help the owner decide that this amp is worth keeping when he upgrades the rest of his system.
The rudimentaty auto-EQ system means that Audyssey still fairs better, especially when the room is more challenging. However if you spend some effort tweaking the levels, and settings, it does excel in HT.
Then when you switch to music, using my Oppo 105 purely as a transport, that's when it proves to be above the usual budget AV amp offerings. The soundstage is solid, three dimensional, and there is good imaging. The sonic tone is quite neutral, and with good speakers, it will reveal even more of the recording.
I wouldn't do critical listening using Blutooth, but in Airplay mode, it's rather impressive.
It's currently being offered by some dealers with lifestyle speakers, and it's quite listenable especially for movies, but if you partner this amp with a 2-3k surround system that has good front speakers, it will sing quite nicely.
It didn't seem out of it's class when I used my B&W Diamond speakers with it, and it had no issue in stereo driving them either. Sony has done well and it will be a good successor in the 10x0 series.
Some might ask, why this model?
Well, it has a well regarded predecessor, and for the HT enthusiast, who does not see himself venturing into Atmos, or going beyond 7 channels and is not likely to add power amps etc, then this makes sense. And so this actually appeals to many home owners out there, who are likely to get an amp, add speakers and a sub, buy their entire setup from one shop, and would like to have a simple setup to enjoy their collection of Blu Rays, DVD, hook up that set top box, cable and media box.
So who are it's competitors and what can you partner this amp with?
Well depending on where you are, it will compete with the mid-tier to mid-low models. These typically do without Atmos or other 3D sound formats, but may offer Audyssey, MACC or other auto-EQ methods.
Each will also have their own sonic signature, and one will need some audition to see which suits. I found the Sony to be quite neutral, so it won't make a treble happy speaker design too bright, and neither will it flatter a flat or more warm sound.
Speakers that cost around $500-$800 for the front pair will be a good pairing. So you should be able to get a 5.1 speaker set for about $2000 to pair with this.
Of course you can use a 7.2 system, and if you do feel like spending more, use it on upgrading the subwoofer, or use two of them.
Surprisingly decent sound, especially for music.
Easy to do basic setup.
Strong feature list
Going beyond the basic setup is not as easy. No physical owner's manual.
Two sub-outs, but they are equalised as one
Rudimentary remote, and you can't do without it
Some lag when switching inputs
I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.