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Sony STR-DN1060 review: Connected AV receiver boasts big sound

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The Good The Sony STR-DN1060 offers solid design, a high level of usability, and excellent home theater surround sound. The AV receiver offers a number of useful features including Bluetooth headphone support and multiroom capability.

The Bad Its sound is somewhat more suited to movies than music. The multiroom SongPal Link app isn't as robust as some competitors' offerings. Spotify Connect not available at launch.

The Bottom Line The Sony STR-DN1060 AV receiver offers great sound and is chock full of solid streaming audio features, but rivals are nipping at its heels.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 9
  • Sound 8
  • Value 7

For the past several years, Sony's midrange AV receivers have enjoyed a healthy mix of extensive features and compelling performance. For 2015, the STR-DN1060 ($600 list, widely available for $50 less) is the best model in Sony's middle tier (stepping up to the high-end ES line hits price points at $900 and up). And while some of the new bells and whistles don't work perfectly, the STR-DN1060 still offers a healthy upgrade from 2014's STR-DN1050 , along with a similar view to sonic performance.

Sony has beefed up the STR-DN1060's wireless functionality with the addition of both Google Cast (the ability to send audio from phone or tablet apps at the touch of an onscreen button) and Sony's own SongPal Link multiroom system. While it seems the company is still ironing out some kinks (Spotify Connect is due to come in July 2015, and the SongPal Link app wasn't as robust as vanilla DLNA) these tweaks help keep the product fresh, especially in the face of few other hardware changes.

With excellent surround sound performance and solid music quality, the Sony STR-DN1060 is still one of the go-to receivers if you're looking to spend in the region of $500 to $600. Only the Onkyo TX-NR646 -- with its more-advanced Atmos and DTS:X surround support -- could potentially put a dent in the Sony's widespread appeal.

Design

Sarah Tew

While the company's high-end ES receivers have received a bit of design spit and polish this year, the DN line looks exactly the same as previous iterations. In other words, expect the same brutish black box as usual -- but at least the design standards and layout should be very intuitive to home-theater fans.

Sarah Tew

While most AV receiver manufacturers will put the input selection knob on the left and the volume on the right, Sony likes to arrange them both on the right-hand side. To their left is the large, blue LED readout, which is underpinned with assorted buttons and switches. It's a fair size receiver at 17 inches high by 6 7/8 inches high and 13 inches deep.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Sony overhauled its receiver interface in 2013 after using the PlayStation-inspired XMB (Xross Media Bar) for many years. The DN1060 presents an attractive home-screen with colorful icons and readable text. While most options offer simple, friendly icons, the Settings menu is still a long list accompanied by a scroll bar.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The remote control is economical in the amount of buttons it comprises, and it is easy to access the things you need.

Features

Sarah Tew

The Sony STR-DN1060 is a 7.2-channel receiver that offers a high level of physical and wireless connectivity. The receiver's built-in Wi-Fi supports Apple's AirPlay streaming protocol, DLNA for playback of songs stored on your home network, Spotify Connect (coming July 2015) and now Google Cast, all of which combine to replace the onboard apps of previous generations . Now, instead of a list of available apps, selecting "Music Services" from the Home Menu simply gives you instructions on how to use Google Cast. And, in addition to supporting straight-up Bluetooth streaming from mobile devices, the receiver is also able to beam out to a set of Bluetooth headphones -- great for late-night listening, for instance.

What all that means is that the Sony receiver is well-positioned to take audio from nearly any phone or tablet -- iOS, Android, whatever -- and stream it in one form or another. And by offloading most of the heavy lifting to your mobile device or PC, the apps at the source get the burden of staying up-to-date -- which is good, because they'll invariably be updated much more frequently than Sony would upgrade its receiver firmware.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Think you want DTS:X and Dolby Atmos -- the latest, greatest surround sound formats? Well, Sony doesn't think you do. While one of the Sony's biggest competitors, the Onkyo TX-NR646 , features both of those next-gen surround technologies, Sony has opted for greater connectivity instead. It's worth noting that the Onkyo is only capable of driving either front or rear height speakers at once, which is less than optimal than the simultaneous front and back, as Dolby recommends.

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