If you’re a home cinema fan, Sony has dropped quite the AV bombshell. Not content with simply launching one or two new AV receivers, the Japanese tech giant has just unveiled five (yes five!) brand-new models.
Now before we get too carried away, there is a slight catch. For the moment at least, although these new models are headed for the US, for the rest of the world, Europe and the UK, the roadmap isn’t quite clear. We’ve reached out to Sony for clarification.
While we wait for a response, there’s no harm in looking, right? Sony’s new ‘ES’ line of AV receivers accounts for four of the new models: STR-AZ1000ES ($1100), STR-AV3000ES ($1700), STR-AZ5000ES ($2100) and STR-AZ7000ES($3300).
According to the press information, these models are aimed more at the custom install market and we’ll come to this quartet all in good time. The model we’re particularly excited by is the one that’s not in the ‘ES’ line, the STR-AN1000. On paper, and looking at the price tag ($900), it’s the more conventional all-rounder that should cater for most home cinema enthusiasts with reasonably priced systems.
It’s a 7.2-channel AV receiver with a generous power rating of 165W (into 6 ohms, 1kHz, 1ch, THD 0.9%).
Digital Cinema Auto Calibration IX is the latest version of Sony’s speaker calibration system which comes with the amp, but the STR-AN1000 also offers 360 Spatial Sound Mapping. Here, the amp uses the supplied calibration mic to measure the position of your speakers and create “multiple phantom speakers” in order to make you feel more immersed in what you’re watching. Or at least that’s what the Sony YouTube video we saw claims.
Streaming smarts come courtesy of Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Chromecast built-in, Spotify Connect and Apple AirPlay. The STR-AN1000 also ‘Works with Sonos’ which means, via the Sonos app, you can power the Sony up (or down), switch inputs and control the volume too.
‘Acoustic Centre Sync’ allows you to use a Sony TV with your centre speaker while ‘Centre Speaker Lift’ allows you to use the amp’s processing to raise the sound from a centre speaker if it’s positioned way below your screen to match more closely what’s happening on-screen.
Under the hood, there’s plenty going on too, including the use of high-grade components in the amp’s DAC circuitry, while DSEE Ultimate processing upscales audio to near high-resolution quality – we’ve been impressed with similar processing engines in Sony’s wireless headphones so we’re hoping for big things here.
As mentioned previously, move into the ‘ES’ range and there’s more of a custom install slant with support for Savant, Crestron and Control4 and even remote monitoring so installers can get to the bottom of any potential issues you might have.
Stepping up to ES also brings greater power, versatility and channels on top of the base specs as the non-ES model. You also get more high-grade components including upgraded power supply capacitors, an updated heat sink, an upgraded digital circuit and the use of a new large-capacity power transformer.
7.2ch, 100 W + 100 W 8 ohms, 1 kHz, 2ch, THD 0.9%, 6 HDMI in (2 support 8K and 4K@120)
9.2ch, 120W + 120W, 6 HDMI in (4 support 8K and 4K@120)
11.2ch, 130W + 130W, 7 HDMI in (4 support 8K and 4K@120)
13.2ch, 150W + 150W, 7 HDMI in (4 support 8K and 4K@120)
The AZ5000ES and AZ7000ES (pictured above) even have Dual Center Speaker mode which does exactly what it says on the tin. If your cinema room is huge and one speaker isn’t enough you can use the Sony to connect two for a wider spread of sound.
All five models are available to pre-order in the US, with delivery around the 27th/28th February for the ES models and 1st/2nd March for the STR-AN1000.
Of course, one amp missing from this new range is a replacement for the entry-level all-conquering STR-DN1080 which has won multiple What Hi-Fi? Awards over the years. Fingers crossed Sony still has one more surprise up its sleeve for the future...
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