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Sony STR-DN1030 Remote Control and Network Features

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I am always amazed by how poorly companies can design remote controls. One might guess that after many years of designing and manufacturing remote controls for products, companies would start to figure out how to make a functional, easy to use remote. And in truth, some companies have. Sony, however, seems to be purposely trying to make a convoluted, mixed up, confusing, and hard to use remote. Additionally, I have never seen a remote with so many gray, blue, green, purple, yellow, black, and white colored buttons that wasn’t intended for children ages 3-6. If this were the first Sony receiver with a poor remote layout, I would be a little more forgiving, but Sony’s AV products have consistently been some of the most difficult to use.

If you are familiar with graphing calculators, then you may feel at home with this remote. The “TV” and “SHIFT” buttons work just like the 2nd and 3rd buttons on a graphing calculator. The issue here is trying to keep track of what device you are actually controlling, and if the button on the remote will perform the command listed on the button, or the 2nd or 3rd commands listed above the remote. Other remotes incorporate similar functionality, but execute it in a simpler fashion. It seems that Sony tried to make a remote that was very intuitive and could fully control every device in your system, but the remote just ended up being overly complicated.

Network Features

iOS Media Remote App

Sony’s Media Remote app is meant to turn your iOS device into a full-fledged remote control. It isn’t specific to the STR-DN1030, but actually supports a whole host of different Sony devices, such as their Blu-ray players and TVs. Depending on what type of device you are controlling, the app will give you a different set of options. Given that I was controlling the receiver, it gave me the choices of simple remote, full remote, and keyboard. The simple remote is a directional pad with return, menu, and options buttons. The full remote showed a list of almost every button on the original Sony remote. In order to see all of the buttons, you have to scroll up and down on the iPhone. Neither of these remote options worked better than the original remote, so I didn’t use the app often. I was excited to use the keyboard option in order to enter text into the receiver, but it just kept giving me an error and I never could get it to work. The Media Remote App does not show you what is currently playing on the receiver, or give you advanced control over network features. The Yamaha AV Controller App, for example, tends to be easier to navigate and allows for complete control, including browsing of DLNA devices and attached USB drives. The Media Remote App is far behind what other manufacturers offer.

 bluetooth 1 bluetooth 2

bluetooth 3 bluetooth 4

USB/Direct iPod Control

I expected this receiver to handle a USB flashdrive just like any other receiver. However, upon inserting a flashdrive loaded up with lossless audio, I found that STR-DN1030 is only compatible with MP3, m4a, 3gp, mp4, and WMA. There is no FLAC support, so I was out of luck. Once I loaded up my flashdrive with some MP3 files, and organized them into proper folders, I was ready to take another crack at it. I was able to get music to play, but there is no indication of what folder you are in. The only folder navigation available is “next” or “previous”, so have fun finding the desired song. Imagine using a Sony 300 disc CD changer, but you can only change discs and tracks 1 at a time, and you have no idea at what disc or track you are starting at or where the desired disc or track is located.

Connecting my iPhone directly to the USB port on the receiver proved to be a more pleasant experience. The receiver defaults control to the iOS device, and shows nothing on the TV. Most receivers would show a message about controlling the iOS device directly, but throughout my time with the STR-DN1030 it would often shut off the GUI when not in use, as it did here. You can control the iOS device using the Sony remote and see a readout on the TV by pressing an “iPhone Control” button. Although the process sounds simple enough, I repeatedly had to switch the remote between “USB” mode and “Amp” mode in order to navigate the menu system.

Airplay, Bluetooth & DLNA

This year, almost every receiver supports Airplay and DLNA, but Bluetooth support is less common. Overall, all three features worked well, with the exception of a few minor issues. DLNA worked reliably but navigation was slow.  Airplay worked like a charm, even when the receiver was off it would show up as an Airplay device and selecting it on my iPhone would automatically turn on the receiver and set it to the Airplay input. Keep in mind that selecting it as an Airplay device will automatically override whatever input it is currently on, which could be used to play some great pranks on unsuspecting family members or friends. Bluetooth works similarly. If the receiver is turned off and you connect a Bluetooth device, it will automatically turn on and switch to the Bluetooth input. However, if the receiver is on and you connect a Bluetooth device, it doesn't switch to the Bluetooth input, which is a little odd. On the plus side, Bluetooth audio sounded great because the receiver supports A2DP and AVRCP Bluetooth profiles.

Sony Entertainment Network (vTuner, Music Unlimited, Slacker, and Pandora)

Sony’s decided to place vTuner (Internet radio), Music Unlimited (Sony’s music store), Slacker, and Pandora all under the umbrella term Sony Entertainment Network, or SEN. Fittingly, by pressing the “SEN” button on the remote, a list of the services is brought up on the TV. By including these services, Sony opened up the door for hours and hours of free music listening, which is something we at Audioholics are all for.

Before you can use the services, you must register the receiver with Sony. After that is out of the way, you can sync your current accounts with the receiver. Unfortunately, my experience using each of these SEN features was negatively impacted by a sluggish response, limited visibility of text (largely due to scrolling), and lack of visual cues to assist in menu navigation. Once I became used to the menu system, it worked decently, or maybe I just learned what services to avoid using. The sound quality of each service was great for background music, with the exception of some vTuner stations. I spent most of my time using Pandora because the user interface was the best out of the 4 music options. You are shown a simple list of available stations. It doesn’t show album artwork or give you the option to thumbs up/down or bookmark tracks, but you can add a new station. vTuner, Music Unlimited, and Slacker were very difficult to navigate, mostly because the GUI only showed 4 lines of scrolling text.  Each service consistently provided a good listening experience, but if you want to stream vTuner, Music Unlimited, or Slacker, I would recommend using a different device, such as a Blu-ray player.

pandora streaming
Sony STR-DN1030 SEN (Sony Entertainment Network) Menu

 

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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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