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First Look: A temptingly modern AV receiver

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First Look: A temptingly modern AV receiver

3:17 /

The Sony STR-DN1040 is a truly first-class AV receiver, boasting tons of wireless technology and a pretty user interface, at a premium price.

Hey, I'm Matthew Moskovciak from CNET. And today, we're gonna take a look at the Sony STR DN1040. This is the top of Sony's main line of AV receivers featuring built-in Bluetooth, airplay and Wi-Fi and it's currently selling for $600. This is a big bulky full size AV receiver. The Sony has actually done a nice job of giving it a clean and modern look. It's relatively uncluttered with buttons which has the volume and the input nav grabbing most of your attention. Unfortunately, that minimalist look doesn't quite carry over to the remote which is covered top to bottom in buttons that makes it tough to use and it pushes crucial buttons like the volume rocker all the way down to the bottom. Now, most AV receiver interfaces look hopelessly out of date, but Sony really did an excellent job of updating this model with crisp, high-def graphics. You get really nice plain English options like watch and listen and the most impressive part maybe how responsive it feels. It feels like you're navigating a PlayStation 3 rather than the typical sluggish AV receiver feel. There's nothing else like this for $600 and it gives the whole receiver more overall polish feel. The big features inside the receiver are built-in Bluetooth, airplay and Wi-Fi. Bluetooth makes it easier to wirelessly stream audio from nearly any Smartphone or tablet, while airplay offers slightly better sound quality from iOS devices. Wi-Fi is also nice because it lets you take advantage of the integrated networking features without needing a separate Ethernet connection. Those features include; smartphone control and streaming services like Pandora, Slacker, Sony Music Unlimited and internet radio. That's not quite as many services as on other receivers but it doesn't matter that much since you're usually better off streaming from a mobile device, anyway. The Sony is also packed with ports including 8 HDMI inputs, which is more than any other receiver at this price. I doubt anybody really needs a port, but since nearly every device supports HDMI these days, it's nice to have some spare inputs for feature devices. Sound quality on the STR DN1040 is excellent. We had resident audio file Steven Guttenberg, give it a listen and he was really impressed with its clarity and depth. It could deliver powerful sound on movies but then it also did an excellent job when we set to more subtle acoustic recordings. We auditioned a handful of 2013 receivers so far, and so far the STR DN1040 stood out as our favorite of the bunch. So overall, you're really getting a lot with the STR DN1040. And the main question is whether it's worth the extra money over Sony's other excellent AV receiver, the STR DN840. The 840 also includes Bluetooth, airplay and Wi-Fi and it cost $150 less. And while it doesn't have a neat interface or the 8 HDMI inputs, it's plenty well featured for the average buyer. Still the step ups on the STR DN1040 are pretty nice so it's a tempting option if you have a bigger budget even though most buyers will get an overall better value from the STR DN840. I'm Matthew Moskovciak and this is the Sony STR DN1040.

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