Sony STR-DG510 Receiver Overview
Sony's new STR-DG510 AV receiver provides 2-in/1-out HDMI pass-through switching for under $200! That's tough to beat if you're in the market for an entry level AV receiver. In addition to HDMI connectivity, you also get all the basics you would expect, a couple of nice surprise features, and not too many compromises.
This receiver should provide plenty of power for most home theater rooms with a total of 500 watts of power (100 watts per channel x 5 channels, @ 8 Ohms, THD 1%). One of the few compromises made however, is the presence of only 5 channels, which means you'll miss out on the added Surround Back channels which are so nice when used with Dolby Pro Logic IIx and 6.1 ES/EX software. The rear panel has oversized spring clip connections for the primary speakers (front L&R, Center, and surround) which will accept banana plugs. Regular spring clips are provided for the B channel speakers (L&R) which will accommodate bare wire up to around 16 gauge. The receiver also includes a rear panel output for a powered subwoofer, with accompanying bass management options for enabling the crossover, to handle all the low-frequency effects in your favorite movie soundtracks. Of course, one of the really nice things about the Sony STR-DG510 is that it includes a calibration microphone and a system whereby it will automatically set up your speakers for you.
Connectivity is one of an AV receiver's most important roles. If you think about it, what difference does it make how much power and cool features a receiver has if you run out of inputs before you run out of source components. For $200, this receiver gives you 2 HDMI inputs and 2 component inputs that are capable of passing up to 1080i video signals. This is both a nice surprise (HDMI switching at $200) and a compromise (not enough bandwidth to pass a 1080p signal, nor the ability to pull off HDMI audio). However, this should only be a limitation if you already own an HD DVD player or a Blu-ray player capable of 1080p output. The HDMI inputs are pass through inputs, so you'll have to connect your source's digital audio output via a coaxial or optical cable. The receiver also offers rear panel composite video connections, but no S-video connections. Additionally, no front A/V inputs will make hooking up your video cameras and other portable electronics a bit more difficult. On the audio side, the rear panel offers two optical and one coaxial digital inputs.
Onboard decoders for Dolby Digital, DTS, Dolby Pro Logic and Dolby Pro Logic II should have you set for all the latest movies as well as your old favorites. Another compromise with this receiver is it lack of inputs for multi-channel analog audio and there are no preamplifier outputs as well. DSP is minimal on this receiver and the 3 different sound fields for music and movies center around Dolby Pro Logic, Pro Logic II and multi-stereo (which is nice for parties as it utilizes all of your surround speakers from a two-channel source). For listening to two-channel music on full range speakers, you can activate Analogue Direct mode to disable the subwoofer and bypass all tone and crossover settings.
While there are some compromises to be made with this receiver, the Sony STR-DG510 manages to offer HDMI connectivity and pack many great features into a ridiculously affordable product. There are some things the receiver does not offer - like 1080p connectivity or multi-channel music inputs and outputs, but for $200 it is really tough to complain when you get so much.
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