The new STR-DA x600ES-series receivers will replace Sony’s x500 series, but the retail prices will remain the same. Among the highlights:
3D Video & Audio (all models)
Naturally, 3D pass-through is a serious selling point of Sony’s new receivers. Thanks to its film-making arm, Sony Pictures Entertainment, “we’re the only ones that can provide everything from actual content creation to in-home and in-theater experience,” says Brian Siegel, vice president of Sony’s home audio and video business.
In addition to 3D video quality, Sony is focused on bringing 7.1 sound to the 3D experience. Drawing on work done by Sony’s Greg Russell, a 12-time Oscar-nominated re-recording mixer, the company is able to “create true 3D sound … allow[ing] consumers in the home to have fully immersive theaters,” says Siegel. “When you’re using a Sony Receiver, you’re getting the experience of Sony Pictures’ dubbing studios.”
DCAC EX Calibration (STR-5600ES)
Like its predecessors, Sony’s 600-series receivers feature the company’s Digital Cinema Auto Calibration (DCAC) with Automatic Phase Matching (APM). Without changing the front reference speakers, APM corrects for phase differentiation between front, center, and surround speakers, ensuring an ideal sound stage regardless of speaker type.
New to the calibration feature set is DCAC EX, which includes speaker relocation. The settings adjust not just for the distance but also the angle of the listening position to create an optimal listening environment.
DLNA Server (STR-5600ES)
The 500ES-series receivers all served as DLNA clients – allowing the products to stream audio, video and photos from any DLNA-compliant device – but the new 5600ES also has DLNA server capabilities. That means the product can stream live audio, like from Shoutcast and Rhapsody, to other DLNA clients on the network.
Multiroom Distribution and Upscaling (DA5600ES and DA4600ES)
Both audio and video can be distributed via a second HDMI output to a second TV zone. In addition, Sony has added a Cat 5 output that can be used to distribute video to the second location.
In addition, the two higher-end receivers have a second Faroudja chip so the units can deliver a TV GUI and upscale the video in a second zone to 1080i (1080p in the main zone).
Integrated Ethernet Switch (all)
Brand new to Sony receivers – and a novel feature for any receiver—is an integrated four-port Ethernet switch that eliminates the need for another black box in the A/V rack.
Richer Two-way Integration with Control Systems (all)
Sony is more serious than ever about integrating with third-party control systems. Receivers can be challenging to fully integrate, but Sony is making sure that all key features are accessible through third-party remotes and touchscreens. The company was the first with a Control4-certified receiver, and is also working with Crestron, AMX (Device Discovery Partner), Savant, URC, RTI and others.
“We’re being very proactive to get drivers out there,” says Amy Lloyd, product manager for Sony’s home audio and video group.
The 2010 ES receivers feature IR input jacks and two-way serial and IP control.
iPhone/iPad Control (all)
While a whole-house control system is nice, you no longer need one to operate Sony receivers and connected components from a second zone. A free Apple app features zone control, a full GUI menu and Sony’s Quick Click remote function that lets users control source components (such as Blu-ray players and settop boxes) from a second TV location.
View the complete product line, specs and pricing here.
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Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.