Sony STR-DN850 AV-receiver

I have never actually understood why. Before lately, no Sony AV receiver had crossed my threshold. Consider that into consideration as I discuss my ideas on the organization 's STR DN850 7.2-channel AV receiver. I am not judging it against preceding Sony attempts, but alternatively attempting to evaluate how it stacks up in its own right against other receivers that are similarly priced, a lot of which I Have had the good fortune to audition.

The STR DN850 definitely makes an excellent impression coming from the carton, using its facade that is magnificent, its appreciable weight for this type of slender chassis, and the excellent inertia of its own volume knob. Longtime readers might know about my unique fetish for volume knobs.

I will confess, however, the carton itself did give me stop, especially the "150Wx7" symbol emblazoned upon it. 150 watts per channel, times seven channels, to get a just $499? Dig a bit deeper on the website of Sony, and you're going to find that these measurement standards that are questionable are made less unquestionable from the truth that the output signal of the receiver was quantified with only one channel driven to arrive at that amount. Hit on up the evaluation to two full-range channels driven, as well as by Sony's own measurements the STR-DN850 simply produces 95 watts per channel. Swap that hypothetical six-ohm load outside for typical eight-ohm loudspeakers, and you are getting something like half the electricity per station assured on the carton. To find out more on the connection between amplifier power and loudspeaker impedance, take a look at our primer on the area.

Most AV receiver makers play with this game as it pertains to power ratings, particularly with the lower-end versions. They hype the maximum spec that is potential, even supposing it's totally irrelevant to real world performance. My criticism here is that, while other producers also list power ratings with numerous channels driven into eight ohms, I really could locate no such spec for the STR-DN850 in any of Sony's literature...which makes it more difficult for the customer to compare the merchandise to its rivalry.

In other places, the STR-DN850 has a lot of features worth hyping. Built in Bluetooth and WiFi at no additional price? Assess. Assess. Spotify Connect? Yeah, baby. Along with Pandora and TuneIn, to boot.

One thing that actually makes the STR-DN850 stand out in a sea of $500 receivers that are similar is its stunning and very intuitive user interface, which I Will discuss more.

When it comes to connectivity, the STR-DN850 is quite clear-cut, for the reason that it does not feature much in the way of sound input signals from a smattering of stereo analog RCA ins, two optical digital ins, and a single coaxial digital in and lacks component video switching completely. The front-panel USB input signal supports hires sound playback as well as various file formats, including FLAC, ALAC, WAV, and AIFF. Without using that input signal, I 'd more than enough inputs to adapt my OPPO Blu- Dish Hopper DVR ray player, and Control4 HC-250 house control. It's possible for you to pass 4K signals through HDMI, yet this receiver doesn't provide video upconversion.

Sadly those channels can't be used by you as a second zone that is powered. Some shoppers might be concerned that this receiver does not support Dolby Atmos; but, until Hollywood begins producing some rewarding Atmos Blurays, I view this as largely a non issue (although your settings surely may differ from mine).

Allowed, the words were all that I Will chalk up to the fact this really is a review unit, not a retail carton. Even still, it took only seconds for me correct that minor mistake and locate the language settings. With other receivers, this could happen to be a nightmare, particularly given that I just understand a few (really filthy sounding) words of Deutsch. Sony's deft combination of words, images, and revered layout make browsing the menus an absolute breeze, much so that I can not picture anyone wanting an instruction manual during any step of the set up procedure or routine use.

Not to belabor that point, but it is worth giving at least one more concrete example of just what I am talking about. Something as easy as altering audio styles may be carried out in the press of the House button through the onscreen UI. There around everything and the display.

If this is not your bag, Sony also offers its control program, named SongPal, which may talk to the receiver either via Bluetooth or WiFi. While it's not quite as educational as the receiver's own onscreen interface, it is no intuitive and no less stunning.

In spite of the truth that the remote controls packaged in with receivers today are nearly universally hated by me, I've to confess that Sony's own wand-style real remote is a serious joy to work with. Given the simplicity of using the receiver, the remote only does not want many buttons, although it's not just a wonder of modern ergonomics or anything. The few that are vital are well placed and clearly labeled. Whichever command path you take, the STR-DN850 is a cinch to put in place as well as a no-brainer to work with.

Well, mainly. Rather than hissing or screeching at you, Advanced DCAC plays with a fast number of melodious evaluation tones which can be quantified from one location only. This makes the automated portion of the set up fairly snappy, but nonetheless, in addition, it provides less info to work with to the room correction system. Surprisingly, Advanced DCAC completely ace the loudspeaker spaces within my home theatre system that was secondary.

The crossover points involving the subwoofer as well as the satellite speakers? Those couldn't have been wrong had a lot of numbers just thrown and let my pit bull Bruno chew them all up and spit them out. The STR-DN850 establish the fronts to big (or total variety) and determined on a 160-Hz crossover for the surrounds (exact same loudspeakers, pretty much the same space from their closest border). The 5C center loudspeaker, meanwhile, has low frequency extension down to 53 Hz that is around, but its crossover was establish by the receiver. Arbitrary.

Similarly, it set the loudness degree of the subwoofer almost six dB too high. Amounts for the remaining loudspeakers were spot on and fixing the crossover settings was super easy, thanks to the outstanding UI of the unit. That, when it comes to set up (not functionality) is maybe the greatest difference involving the STR-DN850 and other similarly priced receivers. Almost all auto-calibration software will make booboos; few of these make it intuitive and simple to fix them as the Sony does.


Let us talk about Advanced DCAC from a sonic perspective to get a minute...because that is where it truly shines, for me. I started off my performance evaluation of the STR-DN850 by seeing Spike Jonze's excellent picture Her (Warner Home Video) on Bluray. I understand it is not the very first picture that comes to mind when you believe "surround sound demo." There's not much back-channel action. Occasionally it is the distant rumble of city life. Occasionally it is eatery walla. Occasionally it is exactly that silent electronic hum that permeates modern life which you won't see it before the power goes out and it's not there.

Many room correction systems, particularly Audyssey MultEQ, totally screw up the timbre of that droning backdrop veneer, plus they rob something vital specifically from this movie. Sony's Advanced DCAC, by comparison, does not appear to muck a whole heck of a lot with upper and midrange frequencies; as it passes awareness and the ambience of space in an audio mixture along undamaged. Mainly. There's a toggle in the loudspeaker settings menu to turn off (it is on by default) a feature called Automatic Period Fitting, which "corrects the period of loudspeakers to coordinate with the front loudspeakers and improves the environment field." Improves? Maybe. Changes? Definitely. I did not actually like on it.

I also discovered the Total Level setting did an outstanding job of largely leaving the mids and highs as I mentioned previously, while carrying out an extremely admirable job of whip the bass frequencies into contour, although I favored the last one. To put it differently, the DCAC lines of Sony up pretty darned nicely with my settings for a room correction system should act.

Here too the clear and equilibrium power of the bass was remarkable, and the STR-DN850 proved itself effective at providing the soundtrack dynamics, with identical parts detail, and clarity. Everything from the frequency-extensive electromagnetic pulse early in the sequence to the threatening grumble of Godzilla toward the conclusion to the staccato rat a tat of machine guns came through with just the correct amount of clout, feel, and absolute a point.

The Negative

Through the Godzilla sequence mentioned previously, if I fixed the volume such that dialogue quantified around 66 or 67 dB with dynamic peaks around 96 dB, on average, matters were quite comfortable. Shove on the volume considerably greater than that as well as the sound started to strain. I began to be concerned about clipping on the loudspeakers. This can be a subjective matter for me personally because, in a room that is smaller or for listeners who do not always like to listen to movies at benchmark amount the way I do, this likely would not be a problem.

Maybe a larger issue is the STR-DN850's emphasis on higher frequencies, which I Will confess I did not actually see until I changed to two channel music. With pictures, this nudging-forward of frequencies that are treble enrolls as additional spaciousness. With melodies, though, particularly ones I know by heart, the excess brightness had a twofold effect. It undoubtedly had what I'd consider to be an optimistic effect on the depth of the soundstage. Yet, in addition, it added a lot of the best records and a brittleness, particularly those recorded in the analog age.

It's not the thickest-sounding record in my group to begin with, but the STR DN850 shoved it over the border from "a little thin" to "full blown eating disorder," whether DCAC was participated or not.

This turned out to be a lot more noticeable once I changed over to more detail-forward loudspeakers like NHT's outstanding Absolute 5.1 surround system. The STR-DN850 does come using a user-customizable two-band EQ (aka bass and treble controls) that lets you make some alterations to match your listening tastes.

In the attributes world, I guess my biggest beef with all the STR DN850 is exactly the same beef I have with almost all receivers in this price range: the insufficient multichannel preamp output signals. I'd like to find this attribute be much more common around the $500 price point. For those starting out small, it will be fantastic to get the possibility of adding outside amplification down the path to beef up the home cinema abilities of the receiver.

Comparison and Contest

Yamaha's $450 RX-V477 comes to mind as a fairly clear rival to Sony's $499 STR-DN850.

Pioneer's $500 VSX-44 is a little more similar to the Sony, because it features seven stations that are amplified. Unlike the Sony, however, the additional two stations may be configured as an additional zone. On the negative, both Bluetooth and WiFi demand discretionary accessories.

Denon's $450 AVR-S700W might be the closest match of the group, with its built in Bluetooth and WiFi, along with its entire dearth of component video switching. It's fewer analog audio input signals than the STR-DN850, but its additional stations may be configured as a second zone that is powered.


When it comes to day-to-day the iOS program, either with its remote control or use, the STR-DN850 is just a joy to socialize with.

As for my problems together with the sound quality? Well, to be dull, how many $500-ish receivers is it possible to think of off the very top of your head that shine with two channel music? Onkyo's TX-NR636 comes to mind; past that, I am drawing a blank. Only understand going in the STR-DN850 is at its finest with movie soundtracks.

All in all, the STR-DN850's operation is about on par with the majority of receivers in its category, but its functionality is on another plane of existence entirely. If the brightness could tame a little and work to create set up parameters like subwoofer amounts and crossover points more precise with its auto-calibration routine, the organization would have an indisputable winner on its hands here. If anything, however, the STR-DN850 actually makes me need to audition Sony's step up versions.

Sony STR-DN850 AV-receiver photo