Sony STR-DN1030 - Is it the new King of bargain AVRs (sub $500)? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 5 Old 12-22-2012, 06:35 AM - Thread Starter
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I just picked up the STR-DN1030 - over the next few days I'll be checking the unit and all of its capabilities. For me it is an upgrade to the STR-DH820 - an older, very similar looking receiver that does not perform nearly as well and lacks a whole world of connectivity. Even with the wifi and bluetooth, if there is one thing that stands out with the 1030, it is the huge improvement in SQ. It seems that Sony put everything they've got into this sub-$500 contender.

This thread will be updated and filled out with any information I can gather over the next day or so. In the meantime be aware the Sony STR-DN1030 is being discounted $100 at all retailers (including Sony direct) bringing the price to $399 - Quite a bargain when you realize how feature-packed this AVR is.

CNET reviews the 1030: http://reviews.cnet.com/av-receivers/sony-str-dn1030/4505-6466_7-35332546.html
HomeTheater.com chimes in: http://www.hometheater.com/content/sony-str-dn1030-av-receiver

The hometheater.com review's lab measurements confirm something I could tell immediately upon listening to it. There is essentially no roll-off in the bass, even at 10hz. In direct mode, the roll-off is -.05db at 10hz, and only -.4db with DSP. Dual subwoofer outputs with plenty of voltage are the icing on the cake.


First impressions: Sony changed remarkably little in terms of layout. The remote, the front and rear panels - all the virtually identical to the retired 810. The front panel adds a USB port for mobile devices (although bluetooth is supported) and the LED panel moves to the top. The similarity to the older unit is cosmetic, but it contributed to a feeling that perhaps this upgrade was not going to be much of an improvement. No worries there, the DN1030's improved sound quality is immediately evident. This is especially evident in the '.2' LFE outputs, which deliver a considerably tighter - and more brutal - quality of bass. The difference is stark enough for me to declare the 1030 my favorite source for rendering bass tracks - and I spent all summer trying out tons of sound cards in a quest for tight bass. Ultimately, the Sony's bass 'quality' reminds me of the Asus Xonas Essence - dubstep fans take note, this receiver does it right.

Second Impressions: I've had a few days to listen, configure, tweak. I have yet to connect the AVR to a TV in order to use the built-in wifi streaming functions. This is largely because the 1030 is so sonically captivating. It's practically a cliche that new gear lets you hear new things in your music collection, yet the DN1030 delivers on this front. Truly great recordings (Abbey Road) stand out over more mediocre fare in a way I have not enjoyed since I owned twin monoblock amps. Worth mentioning: the receiver sounds best operating either in 2.1 mode or else all-out in 7.2 mode. I found the Sony 'engineer' EQ setting to be the most pleasing followed closely by 'front reference'. 'Flat' sounds as it should.

Third Impression: It's gone. The DN 1030 was worth $400 towards a Pioneer SC-55 that was on clearance for $550. I love the SOny dearly, for the money it really sizzled... but it is totally and utterly outclassed by the Pioneer - which weighs twice as much and sports an MSRP 3X higher.

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post #2 of 5 Old 12-25-2012, 07:49 AM - Thread Starter
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I've found one glitch in the 1030's operation that's driving me crazy. When I switch the speaker configuration from 'real' center channel to 'phantom' center, the receiver resets speaker size to 'large' every single time. I enjoy switching between the modes - in fact I wish the remote had a dedicated button for that feature, but I digress. It's a pain in the butt because it makes switching between the two modes a multi-step process.

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post #3 of 5 Old 12-25-2012, 09:55 AM
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how often do you need to switch from center off and on? What's the point?

Why not change sound mode to stereo if you don't want to use the center speaker?

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post #4 of 5 Old 12-25-2012, 12:15 PM - Thread Starter
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I listen to certain albums which I think sound best in 7.2 surround, without an active center channel. There are a few albums that fit the bill - the Tron soundtrack is a good example. It's only for solo listening, with company the center stays on. It's also about the only gripe I have with the receiver. The sound stage is more open and holographic IMO.

Truth be told, I don't need to do it often. Using a center channel is fine, and 2-channel mode sounds spectacular by any standard - with plenty of 3D projection coming out of only 2 speakers. A fun future project I am planning is to start cataloging which mode best compliments the mix of popular albums.
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Originally Posted by afrogt View Post

how often do you need to switch from center off and on? What's the point?
Why not change sound mode to stereo if you don't want to use the center speaker?

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post #5 of 5 Old 12-28-2012, 08:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Well it's been a fun few days playing with the Sony DN1030 but now it's gone. Just when I had finished 'dialiung it in' I saw an opportunity to pick up a Pioneer Elite SC-55 for only $150 more than the Sony. As much as I like the 1030, it's not in the same class as a 37lb 9-channel THX-certified beast. It did allow me one final opportunity to contrast the 'new' Sony sound with a more refined, capable unit. The DN1030's audio quality is better than decent - the biggest issue is that highs are a bit ragged, leading to hissy raspy 'ess' sounds. The counterpoint is that the DN1030 might just produce the most intense bass of any AVR I've had the please of hearing - and I've been pursuing bass by various means for some time now. The second issue with the Sony is it suffers from inadequate power. I found the ideal was to run in 5.1 configuration with bi-amped front L/R since 7.1 mode clearly over-taxed the receiver. Preamp outputs for front L/R channels would have made this receiver unbeatable, without that crucial expansion capability it will forever be handicapped by power supply issues. Best to shop for efficient speakers to pair with the Sony DN1030.

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