Sony STR-DA5400ES review

The Sony STR-DA5400ES has taken home cinema by storm – it’s comfortably the best receiver available at this price-point Tested at £1400.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

The STR-DA5400ES has taken home cinema by storm – it’s comfortably the best receiver available at this price-point


  • +

    Scale and authority combined with detail

  • +

    attack and excellent integration create a presentation that’s faultless at the price

  • +

    great specs

  • +

    features and usability


  • -


Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

Here it is, the receiver that's spoiled the party for the Pioneer SC-LX81, Yamaha RX-V3900 and Rotel RSX-1550.

We knew this Sony was special, but it's taken the extra-close comparison of a Group Test to see just how special it is.

To cut a long story short, the STR-DA5400ES is so good, it's forced us to modify the ratings of every receiver around the same price.

There's nothing particularly special about the way it looks, though, with the exposed knobs and buttons doing nothing to entice the eye. But it's the specs that first hint at greatness.

Specification shines bright
For a start, this 7.1 receiver has no fewer than six HDMI inputs and two outputs.

Most people would use these for a TV and projector, but should you use the second output for a TV in another room, you'll be pleased to hear it has its own Faroudja video processor that upscales to 1080i, as well as a dedicated remote and GUI.

Of course, the first output has its own Faroudja processor (which upscales to 1080p), remote and GUI, and operating the device is a joy, thanks to Sony's XrossMediaBar.

The '5400ES also has perhaps the quickest and most efficient mic-driven set-up we've seen, producing close-to-perfect results in a matter of seconds.

This means you'll be able to sit back and enjoy your new receiver in a flash – and what a thrilling performer it is.

A thrilling performer
Play the early street-chase scene on the Slumdog Millionaire Blu-ray and the Sony ramps the excitement up to 11.

The brilliant music is reproduced in magnificently huge and punchy fashion, while the excited voices of the tearaway kids come through with crystal clarity – all of this on top of the so-real-you-could-be-there ambient hustle-and-bustle of the Mumbai slum.

What's amazing about this amp is how it takes the greatest qualities of its rivals and bundles them up into a unified, impossible-to-fault whole.

So you have the scale and most of the depth of the Yamaha RX-V3900 combined with the integration of the Pioneer SC-LX81 and the excitement, detail and rhythmic precision of the Rotel RSX-1550.

This stunning mix combines with a three-dimensional soundstage to reproduce the Foo Fighters – Live at Wembley Stadium Blu-ray with such natural spaciousness as to transport you effortlessly to the open-air concert in intoxicating fashion.

CD playback also impresses
On top of all this, this Sony machine gets closest here to matching a reasonable stereo amplifier for CD playback, and proves to be the most capable upconverter and upscaler.

So long as you're not bothered about network streaming (which requires the purchase of an expensive add-on), there's really is no way to fault the brilliant STR-DA5400ES.

Sponsored link - buy this product from Amazon

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test