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Sony STR-DN1010 review: Sony STR-DN1010

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The Good 7.1 channel AV receiver; four HDMI inputs; graphical user interface; analog video upconversion; audio return channel support; standby pass-through; 3D compatible.

The Bad Not our top pick for sound quality; requires $100 dock for iPod/iPhone connectivity; competitors offer more HDMI inputs; skimpy on extra features, such as traditional multiroom functionality and USB connectivity; dynamic range compression turned on by default.

The Bottom Line Sony's midrange AV receiver improves on its predecessor with new HDMI features like standby pass-through and 3D compatibility, but it lacks a compelling reason to pick it over its competitors.

6.7 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6

When Sony announced its 2010 line of AV receivers in February, the STR-DN1010 was the first AV receiver announced with 3D pass-through capability, and it was a step-up feature over Sony's STR-DH810. Since then, however, 3D compatibility has become commonplace, trickling down to receivers as inexpensive as Denon's $250 AVR-391 and Pioneer's $230 VSX-520-K. That largely tells the story of Sony's midrange AV receiver, which is certainly an improvement last year's STR-DN1000, but lags compared to competitors, which offer more HDMI inputs, better sound quality and easy iPod/iPhone connectivity. Even its once best-in-class graphical user interface has now been surpassed by the new menus found on the Yamaha RX-V667. If you're a fan of the Sony brand, there's nothing wrong with the STR-DN1010 and it still offers a good value, but there are better options available in the same price range for the majority of buyers.

The STR-DN1010 goes for a minimalist look, with a glossy front panel uncluttered by the usual knobs and buttons that tend dominate AV receivers. There's a power button the left, a large volume button the right (with a mute button), and an input selector button rocker--and that's it. We're fans of the "less is more" look, as we rarely feel the need to use front panel buttons anyway. If you do need them, they're still there, underneath the flip-down panel that runs along the bottom. There are a few buttons for changing sound modes, plus an AV input and the port for the automatic speaker calibration microphone.

STR-DN1010 flip-down panel
There's an extra AV input and the port for the auto setup mic under the flip-down panel.

Most gadgets have gotten much thinner over the year, but AV receivers still tend to require plenty of AV shelf space. The STR-DN1010 is a full-sized AV receiver, coming in at 16.9 inches wide, 12.8 inches deep and 6.2 inches high. It's actually quite a bit shallower than the competitors like the Denon AVR-1911 and Pioneer VSX-1020-K, so it might be a good choice if you have a tight AV cabinet. If you're looking for a substantially smaller unit, check out the slimline Marantz NR1601.

The included remote is better than average for an AV receiver. It manages to offer enough functionality without becoming overwhelming. Input buttons are given priority at the top of the remote, and the direction pad is below, for navigating the GUI. As with most AV receiver remotes, the STR-DN1010's clicker tries to do too much by being able to control other devices. That means anytime you press "BD" to select that input, the remote will then start trying to control the Blu-ray player, rather than the receiver. As always, it's worth considering an upgrade to a quality universal remote.

STR-DN1010 user interface
The STR-DN1010's XMB-inspired user interface is a step above the text-based interfaces offered by some competitors.

STR-DN1010 speaker setup interface
The GUI is most helpful for visualizing configuration chores like manual speaker setup.

If you press the large menu button, it will bring up the STR-DN1010's graphical user interface (GUI). Although the graphics are barebones--it's far from the eye candy you'd find on, say, a Blu-ray player--we do find that it's a worthwhile step-up from the blocky text interfaces offered on competitors like the Denon AVR-1911 and Marantz NR1601. We found it relatively easy to assign and rename inputs, and the visual nature of the menu was most helpful for visualizing setup tasks like speaker setup. Overall, we prefer the more colorful look and faster response time of the Yamaha RX-V667's menus, but the STR-DN1010's are a step-above the norm.


Key AV receiver features
Channels 7.1 Analog video upconversion Yes
Graphical user interface Yes Automatic speaker calibration Yes
Warranty 2-year
The STR-DN1010 has an excellent set of key features. Like all AV receivers at this price, it offers analog video upconversion, so your component and composite video signals can be output via HDMI. We were also pleased to see it offered a two year warranty, unlike the Pioneer VSX-1020-K's stingy one year warranty.

HDMI features
HDMI version 1.4a 3D pass-through Yes
Audio return channel Yes Standby pass-through Yes
The Sony comes with a full suite of the new HDMI features offered this year. Like nearly every receiver this year, it supports 3D pass-through, which means it can pass a 3D video signal from a 3D video source to a 3D HDTV. The STR-DN1010 also supports audio return channel functionality, as well as standby pass-through. Those features gives it the edge over the Pioneer VSX-1020-K in that department.

Audio decoding features
Dolby TrueHD Yes DTS-HD Master Audio Yes
Dolby ProLogic IIz Yes
Other: Night mode
As is standard, the STR-DN1010 includes onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DST-HD Master Audio, plus decoding for Dolby ProLogic IIz. While the Sony does have a "Night Mode," it doesn't have nearly as many sound options as competitors, many of which feature a full suite of Audyssey sound processing options.

Video connectivity
HDMI inputs 4 Component video inputs 3
Composite video inputs 4 Max connected HD devices 7
Four HDMI inputs are the minimum we expect at this price level, although many competitors offer six, including the Pioneer VSX-1020-K, Onkyo TX-SR608 and Yamaha RX-V667. The rest of its analog video connectivity is better than average, but that's less of a concern to us now that nearly every home theater gadget features HDMI. Altogether the STR-DN1010 can switch between seven HD devices at a time, but we still wish it featured more HDMI ports.

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