Sony’s new AV receiver with support for PS5 and Sonos is the future-proof option we need
I recently had the opportunity to get a hands-on look at Sony’s new line of ES AV receivers at an event in unseasonably cold Austin, Texas. Fortunately, the power stayed on long enough — during my stay, freezing rain kept 120,000 Austin customers out of service — to fully demonstrate these impressive models, the first new ones from Sony in five years. receiver.
There are five new models in total: four ES receivers for professional custom installation channels, and one consumer-grade model. All receivers share many of the same features, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding and multiple HDMI 2.1 ports that support 8K, 4K 120Hz, Dolby Vision HDR, and IMAX Enhanced.
They also support Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), making them a future-proof option for gamers. Sony TV and PlayStation 5-specific perks include automatic HDR tone mapping and pass-through of automatic type picture modes, features designed to optimize the image quality of certain PS5 games on compatible Sony Bravia TVs.
ES models are designed to fully integrate with many of the major whole house control systems on the market such as Crestron, Savant and Control4. Plus, they’re Works with Sonos certified to connect to multi-room wireless Sonos systems.
- STR-AZ7000ES: 13.2 channels ($3,299.99)
- STR-AZ5000ES: 11.2 channels ($2,099.99)
- STR-AZ3000ES: 9.2-channel ($1,699.99)
- STR-AZ1000ES: 7.2-channel ($1,099.99)
- STR-AN1000: 7.2-channel ($899.99)
All receivers are available for pre-order now and come with a 5-year warranty.
ES Series power output specifications range from 100 watts per channel for the 7.2 model to 150 watts per channel for the 13.2 flagship model. The 7.2-channel STR-AN1000 consumer model is rated at 165 watts. Sony’s new receivers all feature a series of design changes aimed at improving sound quality and reliability, with a new 32-bit DAC, high-capacity power transformer, and frame buffer board chassis. The ES product has also been strengthened, with a base plate 200% thicker and side walls 120% thicker than previous models.
A new processing feature for Sony’s 2023 receiver lineup is 360 spatial sound mapping. Previously used on the company’s HT-A9 wireless speaker system, it fills the sonic “gaps” in typical 5.1.2 or 7.1.2 Dolby Atmos speaker configurations. 360 spatial sound mapping is enabled through the company’s new Digital Cinema Calibration IX, which uses stereo microphones to take variable height measurements of the distance, angle and sound pressure of each speaker and creates a 3D sound map of the room. When you’re done, you press the 360SSM button on the Sony remote, and 360 Spatial Sound Mapping creates phantom speakers between the system’s actual speakers for an enhanced sense of immersion.
In addition to the Phantom Speaker, Sony’s new receiver also supports wireless receivers. There is an option to add the company’s SA-RS5 and SA-RS3S wireless models as rear channel speakers, and the same option applies to its SA-SW5 and SA-SW3 wireless subwoofers.
new audio options
Streaming music to Sony’s receiver is easy with ChromeCast, AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect support. Working with Sonos also means you can integrate the receiver with your home’s wireless multiroom system and use the Sonos S2 app to control music playback when connected to devices like the company’s Port.
The new receiver is also Sony’s first model to support 360 Reality Audio. Music encoded using Sony’s proprietary Spatial Audio hybrid format can be found on services like Tidal and Amazon Music Unlimited, and you can stream it to your receiver via Chromecast, or from a connected Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K or Apple TV 4K Play on the app.
Analysis: A/V receivers are finally ready for the future
We’ve been hearing about new Sony AV receivers for a minute now, but these latest models seem to have been worth the wait. This delay may actually be strategic to the company, as HDMI 2.1 hardware that supports the full capabilities of HDMI 2.1, including 8K and 4K 120Hz pass-through, is not readily available to manufacturers, some of whom have released half-baked products promising “future More features are enabled in Firmware Update”.
this best av receiver Now with full HDMI 2.1 support, making it the perfect companion for the next generation of home theater game console 5 and Xbox Series X |S Console. Sony’s latest models fit right into this category, and they offer a host of technologically advanced expansion options on top, including integration with Sonos and other whole-home features.
At Sony’s Austin event, I had the chance to listen to music encoded in 360 Reality Audio (pass, by HER and Chris Brown) and an object-based adventure that takes full advantage of the 360-degree space. Binaural music can also be upmixed to 360 Reality Audio, so the feature can also be applied to legacy sources.
The home theater demo room where I watched movie clips and listened to music was powered by Sony’s new flagship STR-AZ7000ES, and the 9.6.4 demo – also using KEF speakers and subwoofer – was powerfully immersive. There are so many speakers readily available that the receiver’s 360-degree spatial sound mapping is unnecessary!
I’m sure the 360SSM will improve the performance of my own 5.1.2 channel system, and since Sony sent me a STR-AN1000 to test, I’ll be able to report on that soon.