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Sony STR-DN1030 Home Theater Receiver - Product Review

Lots of Goodies for Not Much Cash

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Sony STR-DN1030 Network Home Theater Receiver - Photo - Front View with Included Accessories

Sony STR-DN1030 7.2 Channel Network Home Theater Receiver - Photo - Front View with Included Accessories

Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
Sony STR-DN1030 7.2 Channel Network Home Theater Receiver - Photo - Front View

Sony STR-DN1030 7.2 Channel Network Home Theater Receiver - Photo - Front View

Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com
Sony STR-DN1030 7.2 Channel Network Home Theater Receiver - Photo - Rear View

Sony STR-DN1030 7.2 Channel Network Home Theater Receiver - Photo - Rear View

Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

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The Sony STR-DN1030 builds on its currently available STR-DH830 Home Theater Receiver by incorporating some additional features, such as built-in WiFi, Apple Airplay, and Bluetooth connectivity to an already comprehensive list of features including, 3D and Audio Return Channel compatibility, Dolby TrueHD/DTS-HD decoding, Dolby Pro Logic IIz audio processing, five HDMI inputs, and video upscaling. Keep on reading this review for the full story. Afterwards, also check out my supplementary Photo Profile for an even more close-up look.

Product Overview

Features of the Sony STR-DN1030 include:

1. 7.2 channel home theater receiver (7 channels plus 2 subwoofer outs) delivering 100 Watts into 7 channels at .08% THD (measured at 20Hz to 20kHz with 2 channels driven).

2. Audio Decoding: Dolby Digital Plus and TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby Digital 5.1/EX/Pro logic IIx/IIz, DTS 5.1/ES, 96/24, Neo:6.

3. Additional Audio Processing: A.F.D. (Auto-Format Direct - allows surround sound listening or multi-speaker stereo from 2-channel sources), HD-D.C.S. (HD Digital Cinema Sound - extra ambience is added to surround signals), Multi-channel Stereo.

4. Audio Inputs (Analog): 3 Audio-only Stereo Analog, 4 Audio stereo analog audio inputs associated with video inputs (includes one set dedicated for Zone 2).

5. Audio Inputs (Digital - Excluding HDMI): 2 Digital Optical, 1 Digital Coaxial.

6. Audio Outputs (Excluding HDMI): 3 Sets - Analog Stereo, One set - Zone 2 Analog Stereo Pre-outs and 2 Subwoofer Pre-outs.

7. Speaker connection options for Front Height/Surround Back/Bi-amp/Speaker B options.

8. Video Inputs: 5 HDMI ver 1.4a (3D pass through capable), 2 Component, 5 (4 rear/1 front) Composite video.

9. Video Outputs: 1 HDMI (3D and Audio Return Channel capable with compatible TV), 1 Component Video, 2 Composite Video.

10. Analog to HDMI video conversion (480i to 480p) and 720p, 1080i upscaling using Faroudja processing. HDMI pass-through of native 1080p and 3D signals.

11. Digital Cinema Auto Calibration automatic speaker setup system. By connecting the provided microphone, the D.C.A.C. uses a series of test tones to determine the proper speaker levels, based on how it reads the speaker placement in relation to the acoustical properties of your room.

12. AM/FM Tuner with 60 Presets (30 AM/30 FM).

13. Network/Internet Connectivity via either Ethernet Connection or Built-in WiFi.

14. Internet Radio access includes vTuner, Slacker, and Pandora. Additional music streaming access provided by the Sony Entertainment Network.

15. DLNA Certified for wired or wireless access to digital media files stored on PCs, Media Servers, and other compatible network-connected devices.

16. Sony HomeShare and Party Streaming Mode compatible.

17. Apple Airplay and Bluetooth compatibility built-in.

18. Front mounted USB Connection for access to audio files stored on flash drives or iPod/iPhone.

19. Compatible with Sony Media Remote Control Apps for compatible iOS and Android devices.

20. Suggested Price: $499.99

Additional Components Used In This Review

The additional home theater hardware used in this review included:

Blu-ray Disc Player: OPPO BDP-93.

DVD Player: OPPO DV-980H.

Home Theater Receiver Used for Comparison: Onkyo TX-SR705

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System 1 (7.1 channels): 2 Klipsch F-2's, 2 Klipsch B-3s, Klipsch C-2 Center , 2 Polk R300s, Klipsch Synergy Sub10.

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System 2 (5.1 channels): EMP Tek E5Ci center channel speaker, four E5Bi compact bookshelf speakers for left and right main and surrounds, and an ES10i 100 watt powered subwoofer.

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System 3 (5.1 channels): PSB Imagine Mini C Centre channel speaker, four PSB Imagine Mini bookshelf speakers left and right main and surrounds, and a PSB SubSeries 200 powered subwoofer (on review loan from PSB).

TV: Westinghouse Digital LVM-37w3 1080p Monitor

Audio/Video connections made with Accell, Interconnect cables. 16 Gauge Speaker Wire used. High Speed HDMI Cables provided by Atlona for this review.

Blu-ray Discs: Battleship, Ben Hur, Cowboys and Aliens, The Hunger Games, Jaws, Jurassic Park Trilogy, Megamind, Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

Standard DVDs: The Cave, House of the Flying Daggers, Kill Bill - Vol 1/2, Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), Lord of Rings Trilogy, Master and Commander, Outlander, U571, and V For Vendetta.

CDs: Al Stewart - Sparks of Ancient Light, Beatles - LOVE, Blue Man Group - The Complex, Joshua Bell - Bernstein - West Side Story Suite, Eric Kunzel - 1812 Overture, HEART - Dreamboat Annie, Nora Jones - Come Away With Me, Sade - Soldier of Love.

DVD-Audio discs included: Queen - Night At The Opera/The Game, Eagles - Hotel California, and Medeski, Martin, and Wood - Uninvisible, Sheila Nicholls - Wake.

SACD discs used included: Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon, Steely Dan - Gaucho, The Who - Tommy.

Receiver Setup - Digital Cinema Auto Calibration

Just as with the previous Sony home theater receivers I have reviewed (STR-DN1020, STR-DH830) the STR-DN1030 incorporates the Digital Cinema Auto Calibration automatic speaker setup system.

To use the system, first, you plug in the special microphone that is included in the package into a the designated front panel input. Then, place the microphone at your primary listening position. Next, access the Digital Cinema Auto Calibration option in the receiver's setup menu, and designate whether you are using a 5.1 or 7.1 channel setup.

Once you start the system, it confirms that the speakers are connected to the receiver. The speaker size is determined,(large, small), the distance of each speaker from the listening position is measure, and finally the equalization and speaker levels are adjusted in relation to both the listening position and room characteristics. The entire process only takes a minute or two.

However, it is important to note that automatic calibration results the may not always be precisely accurate or to your taste. In these cases, you are able to go back in manually and make changes to any of the settings.

Audio Performance

The Sony DTS-D1030 functions very well in its role of providing a good home theater listening experience for a receiver in its price class. The STR-DN1030 provides a steady audio output over long time periods with no listening fatigue or overheating. Also, the receiver handled dynamic volume changes without any obviously detectable delayed recovery issues.

Several speaker setup options are provided, including the traditional 5.1 and 7.1 channels, as well as the option of using a 5.1 channel configuration with the addition of two height channels (this is where you would use the Dolby Prologic IIz surround sound option). In my opinion Dolby ProLogic IIz doesn't provide a dramatic improvement over a 5.1 or 7.1 channel setup, but it does provide additional speaker setup flexibility. It is a solution if you do not have room to place surround back channels directly behind the main listening position and your left and right main speakers don't project sound well broadly across and above the front listening area.

For music, I found the STR-DN1030 did well with CD, SACD, and DVD-Audio discs. However, since the STR-DN1030 does not have a set of 5.1 or 7.1 channel analog audio inputs, SACD and DVD-Audio access a DVD or Blu-ray Disc player that can output those formats via HDMI, such as the OPPO players I used in this review, is required. If you have a DVD or Blu-ray Disc player with SACD and DVD-Audio playback capability, make sure you check the output connectives you have available on your players in relation to input options available on the STR-DN19030.

Zone 2

The STR-DN1030 also provides Zone 2 operation, in which you to provide a separate audio feed to another room or location using a set of analog audio line outputs. However, in addition to extra speakers, you also to use an external amplifier. Once set up, you can still have a 5.1 or 7.1 channel surround sound setup operating in your main room from one source, such as DVD or Blu-ray, and also listen to analog audio sources in the Zone 2 location, using the STR-DN1030. NOTE: Only FM/AM and other sources connected to the analog audio and video inputs of the STR-DN1030 can be sent to Zone 2. Sources connected to the STR-DN1030 via Internet, Bluetooth, AirPlay, HDMI, USB, and Digital Optical/Coaxial, cannot be accessed in Zone 2. Consult the user manual for additional details.

Proceed to Page 2: Video Performance, Network and Media Player Features - Final Take

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