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4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 20 May 2014
Having received this beast about 3 weeks ago from Amazon, we felt it was time to add a review since it is really hard to decide whether or not to go for it.
Having had several AVR's before (two Yamahas and a JVC) I can only rave about the sound this Sony delivers. The online reviews and awards are certainly justified on that front. It packs a mighty punch on soundtracks - so mighty in fact that anyone living in a flat will probably opt to turn on Dynamic Compression because there seems to be vast 'distance' between loudness extremes when such compression is turned off, just as would be the case in a cinema. So yes, you will feel 'blown away' when watching action movies, but also enamoured when watching a delicate movie too. It all sounds crystal clear and embued with remarkable depth. Reviews have mentioned a sense of 3D with the soundscapes this AVR presents, and I can certainly go along with that, both for music and film. By contrast, my previous Yamaha was certainly a bit lacking in highs, and the JVC veered to a grating sharpness on highs but was otherwise better than the Yamaha for clarity, surprisingly.
Tip for PS3 users: To get full HD surround sound, set sound output to HDMI and PCM to let the PS3 do the decoding as the PS3 otherwise does not output the best HD sound - and don't worry that your amp doesn't show HD sound, you will still get all channels in amazing HD sound and this is verified when checking the output sound via the PS3 display button.
Also of interest are several other audio features: Sound Optimization, Pure Direct and Digital Legato Linear. Sound Optimization is Sony's own equivalent of a Loudness button. It very successfully enriches midtones and clarifies high range sounds at low volumes, so you can continue enjoying the soundscape of an exciting film if your partner goes to sleep or whatever. It can be turned on with a Low or Normal setting according to preference. Pure Direct shuts off all digital circuits in the machine, including its front panel display, in order to boost clarity of sound by eradicating very low level hum that is associated with complex digital circuitry. It only works with analogue inputs, so I don't really bother with it too much but it does sound nice and clean. Digital Legato Linear takes a typical 44khz recording (e.g. CD or MP3) and upscales the audio to higher resolution, with the result that it sounds more airy and vital, yet has as much or more punch where needed - I have found setting 2 to be the best of the two on offer.
While the Sony is rather outdatedly aimed more to please Apple fans with Airplay whilst bizarrely omitting Bluetooth for UK Android users etc., it is worth remembering that sound quality on these methods is inferior to the wonders that will be experienced with HDMI cable connection.
And how about the auto-setup? Well, I am having to use a mix of speaker brands and none are particularly recent. The Sony comes with a mic supplied. You connect it to a front socket, place it on the listening position and then start the auto-calibration process. In a remarkably short space of time (about 60 seconds) it proceeds to first emit a few musical notes to alert that the process is starting, then a few beeps from each speaker in turn, then moves on to some subwoofer thuds at increasing volume before a few more notes close the process. Sony have done really well with this sweet and fast system which is actually quite fun. That said, as reviews have noted, it tends to set small satellite speakers to 'Large', thus significantly diminishing bass which should instead play via the subwoofer. Once you know this, you can just do the calibration then set a front speaker to 'Small'. Automatically all the other satellites will also convert appropriately. Distances were mostly accurate, but remember the detected 'distances' are actually based on the speaker's detected performance and return of sound. Thus, it would be foolish to tweak them to match the distance you would find with a tape measure. More revealingly, detected distances describe where the system's weak links are, if there are any, such as one side of the room having a wall while sound at the other side drops away because of an open-plan design etc. In most instances the sound will be so good that detected settings can be left without any need to dip into the simple bass / treble equalizer found elsewhere in menus. However, I say this with a caveat: Repeated auto-calibrations delivered very clear punchy sound that was definitely light on the subwoofer, even with the aforementioned tweaks. Then I decided to approach the process differently. Instead of placing the microphone flat on the chair as in Sony's on-screen diagram, I placed it on top of my old AVR turned on its side at the middle of the sofa, so it was at ear level. After a few goes it returned some seemingly bizarre crossovers for my speakers. So much so that the first time I ignored them. Then when it happened a few times later, I realised it was correcting a centre speaker that was a bit too light by diverting centre channel frequencies below 200hz to the sub (normally crossover is set to around 80-120 or so). It was also wanting to set my satellites at 120hz yet I knew the manufacturer stated they only went down to 140hz at best. So ... I respected the seemingly shocking 200hz centre channel setting because the sub is directly beneath anyway, and set the satellites to cover a margin of roll-off too. Their crossover was changed to 150hz. Then I listened ... and WOW was I pleased. Each speaker performed to its best capability and the bass was so rich and balanced. Of course, a system with better matched speakers would do even better, but trust me, we are talking about it seeming as effective as many cinemas. I kid you not. So, I would argue that it is worth doing repeated auto-calibrations to verify that you have the best setting, certainly if you are unsure about the sound you are getting because the AVR can perform incredibly well.
The UK 1040 sports fewer online radio services than the American version (only Sony's own subscription service or Vtuner). Thankfully, Vtuner opens the door to many great stations and I am happily hearing about pussy cats rescued from trees in New Zealand or reminiscing to Spanish stations playing hot dance music and the like. Sound quality can more or less equal CD when the station outputs 320kbps. As with MP3 files, such compressed signals benefit from a 'Portable' soundfield setting especially designed to enrich compressed audio and restore its dynamic range. Audiophiles will no doubt prefer Pure Direct listening but I have found great pleasure from hooking up two front height speakers to make use of Pro-logic IIz capability on music and movies. Opinions vary on whether this sound processing method is a significant enhancement. I would argue that those who stick with it much find that there really are some outstanding moments that warrant its use. It takes a mono channel usually used for atmospherics and ambience and plays it through a speaker three feet above your front left and right speakers. Rainfall sounds 'brighter' and more immediate. Distant storms rumble with the sense that they are further away but incredibly menacing. Water falling at the start of Prometheus sounds gigantic and disturbingly violent, as it should. Not every film is mastered for this but when it works it works wonderfully well. Out of Pro-Logic IIz the front heights lose their specificity, and it has two modes, one for music and another for movies.
The On-Screen Display interface is beautifully designed, as good as they get, but I think one of the four vertical panels could be split to include more direct entry into Audio settings. Instead the panels are titled, Watch, Listen, Sound Fields and Settings.
Generally, we noticed a modest improvement in already superb HD picture once passed through this Sony. For instance, Blu-Rays from a PS3 looked a fraction sharper with slight increase in vibrancy, probably due to the AVR's processing.
Network connectivity was EASY to set up for a BT Broadband Hub. Just enter the password on the back of the hub and all is GO.
All this raving positivity aside ... Sony's firmware updates need to tackle a glaring issue. HDMI connectivity is glitchy. Sure, unplugging for about 15 minutes resets this usually, but come on. It is a hassle and we would rather not be plunged into having to read a book for 15 minutes when we want to watch a great movie or listen to internet radio stations etc. The first time I set the AVR up, I ended up going out to spend a fortune on better insulated cables to remedy what I thought was interference, but it was just this glitch!
Even taking that into account, I am so utterly thrilled with the sound that I am hoping Sony will rectify the HDMI firmware issue. The AVR is a revelation at £500, let alone the lower amount we paid. Its sound is nothing short of spectacular. We went to a brilliant Goldfrapp concert and came home, and played favourite tracks. All the magic was there, with the superb acoustic range and tons of punch and detail. The AVR does so much that I guess glitches are to an extent inevitable. For the moment, they certainly seem paled by comparison to towering, exciting and robust sound performance.
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on 5 May 2014
Just bought one of these units from Richer Sounds after reading the various reviews. The first thing I did after the initial set up was a software update which took around 30 minutes to complete. This really is a fantastic unit compared to the year old Yamaha i was using. It has many useful features, but most of all the sound is fantastic. Crisp treble with excellent soundstage. Considering this unit was £500 last year and now can be had for a shade under £300, it should be on anyones shortlist as a contender.
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on 12 August 2014
Initially I was avoiding the Sony brand when it came to looking at receivers, this was a big mistake as I soon realised that names such as Denon, Yamaha and Onkyo to name a few seem to go with their reputation rather than current technology for standards in a price band. Although this is now last years unit there is nothing outdated on it what so ever.

Sound quality is fantastic and livened up an old very poor quality set of sony speakers initially whilst waiting for my new package of Tannoy’s to arrive. The receiver allows you to plug all your other equipment in via HDMI’s and you can output to two TV’s, one in your main room and another in a close room for duplicating the output. This goes for the audio too, you have the ability to output in 7.2 which you can have various speaker setups or send your additional speakers to another room or if you want to get fancy bi-wire your expensive speakers to allow double the amplification to the fronts for instance.

In the menu’s you are able to rename your devices from AV1 to Apple TV or Xbox360 for example, these then show on the front screen of the receiver when you select the input you want. You can press a button on the remote to still show AV1 or show the name you gave it. What I would like to see is the ability to select which items are Live, i.e. the inputs you are not using don’t come up for selection on the small dial when rotating, Let’s say I have the Apple TV, Sky, and Xbox360 Connected all I want to see on the available inputs is these options plus the AM / FM - I don’t want to be able to select the other 5 devices / inputs I don’t have connected. It’s these simple things that let devices down for me.

With Wi-Fi built in you can save yourself the using the LAN cable (this option is still there if you have poor signal though). With this I can play my DLNA media off my NAS drive with ease.

Being an Apple fan I can take advantage of the AirPlay features too, makes life pretty easy for any Apple devices to connect to and far easier than the Apple TV. Not sure if the Bluetooth features don’t work on iPhones but I understand the unit to have bluetooth however I haven’t tried / found this yet.

Volume turned up to a similar lever you’d experience at the cinema there’s no distortion. I can agree with what I read in What Hi-FI Magazine, the more you turn it up the more the sounds open up and develop, it’s like a good bootle of wine. I’m no audiophile but I can tell good quality when I hear / see it. Sound modes such as Berlin, Stadium and so on I usually find to be complete gimmicks, watching a concert I set the sound to Stadium and I was transported out of the room and felt like I was actually at the venue, it was not gimmicky at all. The sound processing of these modes has been very cleverly designed.

AM/FM reception, the included AM and FM antennas aren’t worth bundling in, I cut my aerial cable and attached connectors to allow it to feed into the receiver on it’s way to the TV for FreeView, after doing this I found radio stations I didn’t know existed! However programming the RDS names could be easier, I found that once the station had a strong signal and it found the RDS name I had to go to the save option twice to store the RDS name without typing it myself, a little bit of a chore but you’d expect better with a receiver of the quality.

As per most Sony remote controls… Button overkill! You’d think you could operate your toaster with it due to the sheer amount of buttons. I’m a big techie but it gets to the point where there are buttons you won’t really use on this piece of kit but would work your Sony TV or Blu-Ray player, this annoys me as I bought the receiver not the other bits and therefore only want the buttons I need - should I want a one remote does all I’ll buy one! The central directional buttons are a little annoying as they seem to stick momentarily, these are the rubber keys which you can feel which is which easily without looking but the sticking is a little tedious.

It’s worth noting that any modern TV with ARC (Audio Return Channel) will allow you to use the TV remote to control volume on the receiver and turning either the TV or receiver to standby will do that same to the other unit at the same time, long gone are the days of pressing varying amounts of buttons to get the sound to go with the TV image - that used to be a nightmare when the parents came over and were asking what do I press…

Setup is a breeze and a real nice experience as you plug in the provided microphone, place it where you want the centre stage of the surround to be (ideally where you’ll sit) and let it do its thing for 30 seconds. You can adjust things manually but there’s really no need to as I found the automatic settings perfect on both speaker setups.

The unit looks sleek and actually has some nice flush mounted buttons on the front panel which keeps it aesthetically pleasing, the downside here is the two dials, they feel solid and have some resistance when turning them but they are only made of soft plastic with a sprayed coating. Within the first few minutes of getting out of the box I managed to scratch the bigger dial by placing it near the all to connect all the cables, the softest touch to a indoor painted lounge wall scratched the surface which I found quite annoying.

Some other reviews I’ve seen stated the receiver could get very warm, I have not experienced this as yet ( a few weeks in) and would assume it was a faulty model. As far as I can tell thus far the unit runs pretty cool as it has plenty of ventilation and is also silent, no humming or vibrations.

Overall an amazing piece of equipment if you can grab for half the price of the 1050 your laughing! Highly recommend and I can see why it won awards. For an example comparing this to a Sony DVD cinema 5.1 system, you’d hear somethings towards the rear channel but not be able to tell 100% what it was, this receiver on the other hand even with the same speakers gave definitive clear audio that you could tell instantly what was happening. Playing video games and rotating a character around 360 degrees you’ll get the speech clearly moving around your room, the comparison of the two setups is chalk and cheese.

Lost a star for the soft plastic dials and couple of tweaks needed to the software, and tbh I'm being picky! it should really be 5 stars...
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on 9 April 2014
I had a Sony STR-DA5200ES which was a great receiver, but, after eight years it threw in the towel. After reading many reviews I opted for the STR-DN1040 and have to say I am very impressed with the sound reproduction. Clarity is excellent and volume is strong and punchy.
Add to this the HDMI 1.4 compatibility and the fact that it is future proofed to an extent with 4K support, you get an all round quality piece of equipment.
Highly recommended!
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on 28 July 2014
For the price ,this unit is great value. I have mine connected to.....
Oppo103d Blu Ray
Panasonic 60" lcd
Sat box
B&W 603S3 Fronts
B&W 603S2 Surround
KEF Back rears
B&W HTM 62 Centre...
Setup is easy but after room correction using the supplied mike it showed my speakers as large.
Movies sound great but this together with the Oppo plays any music either streamed or from disc beautifuly,so clear and clean but also warm and rich.(clichés I know but this has transformed my music collection).
I cannot recommend this product enough , but you should read the reviews from Home Theatre sound and vision, Home cinema ect all giving top marks and winning product off the year.
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on 29 December 2013
After trying two of these units, they were both returned and replaced with a Yamaha receiver. Like many others I am sure, I sifted the reviews and found this to receive numerous accolades. What Hi-Fi chose it as a favorite, and it had all the bells and whistles, including 2 HDMI outs and many features of more expensive units.
In short, a powerful unit, great fidelity, solid controls and a useful app, even solid speaker terminals on the back. Nothing flimsy here.
So why just two stars? First off, the unit could heat the house on standby, secondly, and most importantly, the screen just went white and stuck on (regular) occasions. Nothing short of unplugging the unit and replugging it would solve this. And because I also have a Sony blu-ray which suffers from the same problem, this was just too much for me. The ability to control both units from the same remote was appealing, (despite the ridiculous mute button), but the constant unplugging and plugging in became a joke. And for the sake of neatness, this usually meant delving behind the TV and fiddling with leads well hidden. And this on two of these units (and the blu-ray player) !
If you google this issue you will find it common. For me, it was the end of the story, and probably future purchases of Sonys AV equipment. Its like a restaurant - you may have a bad experience which you may write off as a quirk - but if the same thing happens over (and over) again, you may just conclude that life is too short - there are other places to eat.
Sony really needs to address this issue. If you choose to buy a unit, hopefully you will get a good one, and if you don't, hopefully the problem will become self-evident within your grace period, so you can return it to Amazon, and settle for something else. For me, it was a Yamaha RX-A1020.
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on 20 December 2013
The unit arrived promptly and well protected.
Set-up initially was straightforward and is easiest if you can connect all you input sources and TVs using HDMI.
There was a problem with FreeView (Humax box) where sound only appeared on HD channels but a reset on the FreeView box cured this issue.
Having used the supplied microphone to set-up the audio there was a firmware update for the unit and on playing Blu-Ray Little Shop of Horrors the vocals were poor with low clarity and volume compared to the music. Doing a new set-up of the sound with the mic has solved this problem so it is likely such a sound retune is needed after any firmware update.

In use the unit has many many options however taking time to read the PDF manual downloaded from the SONY site and a little looking terminology up on the Internet it became quite easy to configure the unit to my preferred settings.

There are at least a couple of Apps for IOS (iPad and iPhone plus Android) The IOS versions allow some control remotely of the unit and a channel guide to programs available. The sound quality is superb and a huge improvement on my previous 10 year old Pioneer.

This seems an excellent price for a well made and thought out piece of kit and has exceeded my expectations.
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on 14 September 2014
I replaced an older Sony AV receiver with this one and am generally pleased with it. Plus points are a good range of connection types which help with legacy kit. I have inputs using a Toslink, component video and HDMI. You can configure connections to suit your needs via the option to assign inputs. Sound is very pleasing though it should be noted that if you need to fiddle with equaliser settings etc, you use the TV as a monitor when doing so. I've found cinema surround sound much improved over my previous Sony too.

Works great over home network and NAS. I use an Apple iPad app to manage the stream, which is a nice little app.
Airplay is good too,.

Now the negatives.
HDMI passthrough. Does not work as advertised. So if you put the amp into standby, within less than a minute all signals to your TV will cease. So if you want to watch say Sky, using the tv speakers only, you need to leave the amp on all the time. I've contacted Sony for support and got nowhere. I was hoping a recent firmware update (mid Sep 2014) would resolve this, but it makes no difference. Annoying but can live with it. I just don't care for products that don't work as advertised.

Bluetooth input/connectivity. If you search the web for review videos you'll see cases where BT is clearly being used as a source, even showing on the display of the review model. I suspect only US models have this feature, so beware if in the UK and expecting it, because it isn't there.

And finally, vTuner. This is the feature used for internet radio (as the receiver is not DAB spec) One of my criteria for purchase. Once again the Sony app for iPad can be used to browse and play a myriad of stations. Great stuff. Except that as from early Sep 2014 it doesn't work any more. For anyone scratching their head, it's not your amp nor your internet connection that's at fault, so don't bother trying to mess with those. The problem lies either with Sony or vTuner, but either way it's Sony letting customers down. There is no information on their support pages and annoyingly they still advertise this as a feature. I've been passed around by Sony support in a generally dismissive manner. They are giving no information as to the cause of the problem, nor setting any expectations as to when this will be resolved. Very poor customer service in my view. I dearly hope this is a temporary issue, but if it doesn't get fixed I feel this is falling into the territory of goods not being sold as advertised and a refund may be sought.
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on 9 June 2014
Definitely the best option for a receiver in this price range, and the vast amount of features available make it much better than even some of the more expensive ones. Paired mine up with monitor audio bronze series speakers and am more than convinced i could not have got better within my budget.
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on 31 July 2014
I read numerous reviews and whilst initially there were some issues as reported, there were no problems once I carried out the recommended Firmware update. All I can say is this AV Receiver is a bargain and it is worth 5 stars. I hard wired to my Ethernet Switch and the extra functionality for a 1 metre patch lead was well worth it. Picture and sound quality is first class and so far I have 4 devices connected via HDMI. The Auto calibration via the included microphone was a doddle to complete.
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