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Sony STR-DN1030 Menu System

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Sony employed a new menu system for this year’s receivers, so I had high hopes. Unfortunately, Sony took my high hopes and dashed them against the rocks, then they reveled in my anguish as I tried to blindly find my way through the menu system. Well, maybe I am being a little dramatic. Before I go into detail, I should say that, even though the menu system is far below sub-par, it is the best I have seen from Sony; with the exception of Sony’s new ES receivers, which have the best menu system I have ever seen.

Unsurprisingly, the menu is low resolution with a black background and gray text, but that is par for the course. The first major issue is that the GUI is designed for a 4:3 display, so it will not take advantage of your nice widescreen television. What makes it worse is that it doesn’t even take advantage of a full 4:3 display. Much of the text scrolls across the screen, only showing about 13 characters at a time. This means that when there is an entire sentence of instructions, you need to sit and wait for all of it to scroll by. This may not seem like a huge issue at first, but it makes using DLNA or other network features much more difficult than they should be. Most receivers help you navigate their menu by showing a list of icons at the bottom of the screen indicating what function each button does. Sony doesn’t offer any help along the way, so I was left clicking random buttons and looking through the manual until the system did what I wanted. Eventually, I did get used to the menu system and was able to navigate it almost reasonably well, but it took way too long to get to that point.

Power Amplifier Assignability & Speaker Setup

The speaker setup portion of the GUI is also confusing, but worked well after I got used to it.  In order to select your speaker layout, you scroll through a list of preset options. Instead of preset layouts, I would have liked to see a list of speakers with enable/disable or yes/no options next to each speaker, but that is just my preference. For consumers who don't understand all those "channel" designations, having an icon-based solutions is actually pretty sensible. The receiver does support surround back speakers or front height speakers, but not both at once. If you are only running a 5.1 system, you can assign the extra set of speaker jacks to “speaker B” or “bi-amp” options, which is a nice feature. Each speaker can be fine tuned in .5db increments for level, 1” increments for distance, and 10Hz increments between 40Hz and 200Hz for crossover frequency. I was impressed that Sony chose 10Hz increments for crossover adjustment all the way from 40Hz to 200Hz. I recently reviewed the Yamaha RX-A2020 (a $1700 receiver) that didn’t have even have all those crossover options. As expected, the two subwoofer pre-outs are treated as a single output, meaning there is only a single distance and level adjustment.

speaker setup

Sony STR-DN1030 Manual Speaker Setup (before adjusting settings)

Setup Mic

Like Pioneer and Yamaha, Sony uses their own proprietary setup mic. The mic is pretty typical of gen 1 microphones: a small plastic circle with the microphone in the middle, though it lacks a threaded insert for a tripod. The mic only takes measurements at one location, and the measurement takes significantly less time than any other setup mic I have used. Consequently, my expectations were low, but I was pleasantly surprised. The mic did a great job of flattening out frequency response between 340Hz and 20KHz, where it smoothed out a big dip at 1Khz. Between 140Hz and 340Hz it did nothing, absolutely nothing, which was a bit peculiar. Below 100Hz it was essentially useless. While it did make significant adjustments, they seemed to be in the wrong direction. I dug back through the settings and found out it upped my subs by a few db and set all of my speakers to large. I can promise you that my Martin Logan LX16 bookshelf speakers, which sport a 5.25” driver and a reported -3db point at 60Hz (but I don’t really believe that) should not be set to large. After I turned all of the speakers back to small and adjusted the subs down by 5db, everything flattened out below 100Hz. I have found that many setup mics set speakers to large when they should be small, and most mics do a very poor job with bass management. Therefore, I must say that I am impressed with the results from the mic given the price of the receiver, only one measurement position, and a very short measurement time.

 

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Recent Forum Posts:

sterling shoote posts on September 30, 2012 20:22
PENG, post: 910623
I don't doubt your ES gears are nice products, even my much lower quality DAES2 and ES4 were very decent. The bad experiences with Sony cited here just seem so out of proportion to me, that's all I am saying. I bet on world wide basis Sony probably are still selling quite well relative to others without the seemingly bad reputation around here. I am not sure if it is the same over at the avsforums. I may just check it out, just out of curiosity, no other reasons. Just checked: seems to be the same over there, weird..

Looking at product warranty claims on a percentage basis might reveal Sony to be more reliable than other brands. At any rate, my son just returned the second Onkyo surround sound receiver he had recently purchased after it suffered a catastrophic failure as had the first unit he had purchased after several weeks of use. I have empathy for him. Although he got all of his money back he is disappointed as well as disillusioned. The golden age of HT and stereo may have ended at the beginning of the first world recession back in 2004 or perhaps even earlier in 2001. Maybe it's time to buy vintage stuff.
PENG posts on September 30, 2012 10:01
sterling shoote, post: 910609
I've been a Sony fan for over 30 years. Prior to Sony I was persuaded by advertising from Marantz; but, for me, the reality of Marantz was that most everything I purchased needed warranty service. I was not satisfied. At any rate, at the time, I was also not satisfied with any of the turntables/cartridges which I had purchased until a Sony PS-4750 attracted me. I purchased it; and, I have now enjoyed it for over 30 years without incident. My satisfaction with the Sony turntable made me receptive to other Sony stereo, HT, and professional audio products, which now dominate my system. I have some Sony components, like the TT, which have never needed service, and others which have served me for at least a decade before needing any attention. My Sony TA-E9000ES pre/pro and TA-P9000 preamp, which are the heart of my system today were both manufactured over a decade ago and appear to have been designed so well, that when connected to something like a current Blu-Ray player, 5.1 state of the art is realizable. In other words, with my Sony system I want for nothing. I am completely satisfied; and, I am over purchasing anything with the exception of perhaps a new Blu-Ray player, maybe one from Sony, if they produce one for their ES line which is competitive with the OPPO 95.

I don't doubt your ES gears are nice products, even my much lower quality DAES2 and ES4 were very decent. The bad experiences with Sony cited here just seem so out of proportion to me, that's all I am saying. I bet on world wide basis Sony probably are still selling quite well relative to others without the seemingly bad reputation around here. I am not sure if it is the same over at the avsforums. I may just check it out, just out of curiosity, no other reasons. Just checked: seems to be the same over there, weird..
sterling shoote posts on September 30, 2012 08:31
I've been a Sony fan for over 30 years. Prior to Sony I was persuaded by advertising from Marantz; but, for me, the reality of Marantz was that most everything I purchased needed warranty service. I was not satisfied. At any rate, at the time, I was also not satisfied with any of the turntables/cartridges which I had purchased until a Sony PS-4750 attracted me. I purchased it; and, I have now enjoyed it for over 30 years without incident. My satisfaction with the Sony turntable made me receptive to other Sony stereo, HT, and professional audio products, which now dominate my system. I have some Sony components, like the TT, which have never needed service, and others which have served me for at least a decade before needing any attention. My Sony TA-E9000ES pre/pro and TA-P9000 preamp, which are the heart of my system today were both manufactured over a decade ago and appear to have been designed so well, that when connected to something like a current Blu-Ray player, 5.1 state of the art is realizable. In other words, with my Sony system I want for nothing. I am completely satisfied; and, I am over purchasing anything with the exception of perhaps a new Blu-Ray player, maybe one from Sony, if they produce one for their ES line which is competitive with the OPPO 95.
PENG posts on September 30, 2012 07:28
I can never understand why on this forum there seem to be much more people who have had bad experience with Sony receivers. I have had experienced with a few and never ever encounter any problems, not even minor ones. I would consider their AVR any time if they have all the features I need but they are missing a couple.
Steelheart1948 posts on September 29, 2012 21:01
In my almost 35 years in this insane hobby, I've made only one purchase that I seriously regretted. You guessed it: a Sony receiver back in the 1980's. Nothing but trouble.
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