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Sony STR-DH700 does 7.1 for cheap, but lacks sweet sonics

CNET reviews the Sony STR-DH700, finding it an inexpensive 7.1 AV receiver, but that ultimately its lackluster sound and dearth of features make it tough to recommend.

Even for savvy home theater enthusiasts, buying an AV receiver can be a chore, requiring hours hunched over spec sheets trying to figure out what each model offers. From a general perspective, the Sony STR-DH700 looks to offer a good value, as a 7.1 AV receiver with three HDMI inputs, widely available for under $300.

However, the details aren't quite so kind to Sony's receiver, as it lacks onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio and an onscreen display--both of which are available on Pioneer's VSX-819H, which has a street price only slightly higher.

We could have overlooked this if the STR-DH700 performed better than average for its price, but we were mostly underwhelmed by its sonics, although it's a decent choice for movies as long as you don't crank it too loud. While the STR-DH700 is a perfectly capable AV receiver at a budget price, we think most buyers will be better served by alternatives.

Die-hard Sony fans, meanwhile, will need to spend more for one of the better-appointed receivers in the company's 2009 line-up.

Read the full review of the Sony STR-DH700.