For the previous couple of years, it is seemed just like the mainstream AV receiver class had change into a three-horse race, with solely Onkyo, Denon and Yamaha fielding opponents. As soon as upon a time a single Sony receiver dominated the under-$1,000 class, and the brand new STR-AN1000 brings the corporate screaming again into the dialog.
Throughout my listening exams at CNET’s audio lab, I discovered little or no to separate the Sony from one among its important opponents, the Yamaha RX-V6A. Deciding between these two, in addition to the wonderful Onkyo TX-NR6100turns into a matter of which options are most essential to you. Is it the power to drive audio system in a number of rooms? Would you like to have the ability to combine with a voice assistant? Or do you wish to stream out of your present multiroom system? The Sony will do all of this, in addition to permit Dolby Atmos playback, HDMI 2.1 help and enhanced streaming together with Sonos.
Once you boil it right down to options alone, the Onkyo TX-NR6100 nonetheless comes out on high, particularly because it’s $100 cheaper than the Sony, has a bit of extra energy and features a phono preamp. Even so, the Sony gives sufficient efficiency and options to make it value your consideration, too.
Connections: 8K, 4K/120Hz, 6 HDMI inputs and a pair of outputs
The STR-AN1000 is a 7.2-channel Dolby Atmos receiver that gives an entire host of recent options over the earlier STR-DN1080, together with 4K/120Hz help and Sony’s personal 360 Actuality Audio. Additional, the STR-AN1000 boasts the most effective connectivity of some other Sony mannequin earlier than it. For instance, Sony has taken a web page out of the Yamaha playbook with the power so as to add wi-fi audio system — such because the $300 SA-RS3S rears and $700 SA-SW5 subwoofer.
On the $800-to-$900 degree, the default quantity of energy is often 100 watts per channel at 8 ohms (which is the impedance of hottest audio system). Nevertheless, Sony solely consists of the 6-ohm determine (100 watts) in its documentation, and since decrease impedances are simpler to drive, this makes the actual energy determine decrease than 100 watts. I reached out to the corporate to get an 8 ohm determine and was advised by an organization spokesperson, “Sony shouldn’t be offering that individual specification for this mannequin.” Nevertheless, primarily based on back-of-a-napkin math I am imagining 85 to 90 watts to be the actual determine (sadly there is no straightforward method to work out the quantity).
How a lot does this actually matter, given it is going to nonetheless get loads loud with most audio system? In all probability not lots, however should you’re chasing extra energy or have finicky audio system, then possibly the Onkyo TX-NR6100 is a greater wager.
The Sony options six HDMI inputs (two with 8K compatibility) and two 8K outputs. The receiver additionally consists of help for video requirements similar to Dolby Imaginative and prescient, HDR10 and HLG. So far as analog inputs, the Sony gives 4, although it does lack a devoted phono enter. If you wish to spin vinyl, we propose you get a Schiit Mani 2 preamp ($149) or the step-up Cambridge Audio Duo ($349).
Streaming: AirPlay, Chromecast, Spotify and Sonos
By way of streaming options the STR-AN1000 rivals the equally well-appointed TX-NR6100. Connections embrace Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, AirPlay, Chromecast Constructed-In, Spotify Join and Roon Examined. The AN1000 consists of “Works with Sonos” compatibility enabling customers to combine their stereo into their whole-house system, however with a catch. For this, you may want to attach a $449 Sonos Port to permit the receiver to be managed through the Sonos app.
The receiver gives a bunch of digital speaker applied sciences together with Heart Speaker Raise As much as middle the dialogue in your display screen and Acoustic Heart Sync, which includes a Bravia TV’s onboard speaker.
The AV receiver’s distant is the smallest of its sort we have seen from Sony; it is the identical measurement as the corporate’s Blu-ray remotes. Many of the requisite capabilities are on there, however I’d have favored one thing extra premium-feeling with a $900 receiver. One factor I’d change in regards to the distant is that the Settings button is tiny and likewise proper subsequent to the HDMI output change. As soon as I by chance hit HDMI Out, thus turning the HDMI output off, and it took a while to work out what was unsuitable.
On-screen interface, guide and auto-calibration
I discovered the Sony STR-AN1000’s interface to be rather less pleasant than the earlier mannequin. The place the STR-DN1080 had a full colour dwelling display screen, the AN1000 is simply white textual content on a black background. No less than the textual content measurement is bigger than earlier than, so you will not have to squint should you ultimately purchase an 8K TV.
The Sony now gives an upgraded model of its calibration routine, now known as Digital Cinema Auto Calibration IX. This includes a brand new stereo microphone and a natty plastic stand — the place opponents’ are cardboard — and it now accommodates a number of seating positions. If you happen to want to do a guide AV receiver calibrationthen the system is kind of highly effective because it now permits you to set the peak of the display screen and audio system, which isn’t one thing most receivers allow you to do.
Within the settings you’ll be able to add wi-fi audio system as a part of the preliminary setup. After connecting the SRS-SW5 I obtained a message saying the RF channel was weak, however it additionally gave the choice to vary it, and I had no issues after that. As I had already linked a wired sub, the system was sensible sufficient to disconnect the present sub and exchange it.
I carried out two setups — each manually and utilizing the DCAC calibration routine — and ended up utilizing the automated one as a result of it provided higher integration between the audio system. My solely tweak was to scale back the amount of the subwoofer, however I do not blame Sony for that. I’ve but to discover a bundled microphone delicate sufficient to precisely measure bass volumes.
As it is a 4K/120Hz or 8K compliant receiver, I examined to ensure it may output to a 4K/120Hz TV. After hooking the Xbox Sequence X as much as a appropriate TCL TV, I acquired affirmation that it was compliant. If you happen to’re a gamer, this receiver will have the ability to sustain with the newest video games.
Listening exams: How does the Sony STR-AN1000 sound?
I in contrast the Sony on to the Yamaha RX-V6A, and so they sounded comparable, which is to say wonderful (sadly I did not have the Onkyo TX-NR6100 accessible). Each proved capable of drive my Q Acoustics 3050i system with out effort and with a great deal of finesse. I listened to a number of digital tracks plus Blu-rays and flicks streamed through Vudu.
I began with the Arctic Monkeys’ traditional Do I Wanna Know?, which I favored a bit of higher on the Sony because it provided a keener separation between the devices. The vocals and bass line have been tighter than on the Yamaha, although the RX-V6A was a bit of extra dynamic on the refrain.
As this receiver is ready to play each Dolby Atmos and 360 Actuality Audio, I attempted the Apple Music Atmos mixture of Daft Punk’s Get Fortunate. The Sony provided tighter bass and a extra cohesive sound discipline than the Yamaha. On the 2:45 mark when the tune breaks right down to voice and handclaps, the Sony sounded extra strident. The Yamaha was a bit of overbearing as nicely, however higher.
Subsequent I attempted the 2 receivers with the Blade Runner 2049 4K Blu-ray disc. Whereas the Yamaha provided a gripping efficiency with the ultimate chapters of Blade Runner, the Sony pulled forward. The Sony’s bass was tighter and the sound discipline extra cohesive and dynamic — particularly within the climactic combat scene the place gunshots “powed” and waves crashed over the actors as they fought on the web site of their crashed automobiles.
With Mad Max Fury Highway, the Yamaha provided a greater sense of peak, although I could not get the rears quiet sufficient, regardless of measuring with a decibel meter. Once more, the Sony was capable of combine the rears higher and provide sound that was extra cohesive and dynamic.
Must you purchase it?
With the STR-AN1000, Sony is again doing what it does greatest: making high-impact audio gear with the entire options you would need. Whereas it seems to be the identical as earlier than, it is had a redesign on the within with up-to-date connectivity help and even higher customization choices. The Sony is ready to provide wonderful sound high quality for each motion pictures and music.
As I stated to start with, should you’re taking a look at these fashions when it comes to pure value per pound, the Sony STR-AN1000 is a bit more pricey and rather less highly effective than its opponents. Get it should you’re into streaming music, however the Onkyo TX-NR6100 gives an identical function bounty for $100 much less.