I received my STR-DA3000ES yesterday. The unit's street date was supposed to be the 1st of September, then Sept 15, Crutchfield says the Sept 31st, and then I was told October 15th by Tweeter and Abt electronics. Tweeter happened to have one in the warehouse that, according to the saleswoman at the store, was supposed to be for an in-store demo. It was NIB and she sold it to me for 10% off, which I don't consider bad for a unit that is hard to obtain.
This is not meant to be a true review of the 3000ES. I have had many people email/PM me asking me to post my impressions when I received the unit. I have not performed an A/B comparison of the 3000ES to my Yamaha 1400 or Jolida 1501RC integrated tube amp yet, so this is more of a 'features overview'. Once I spend some time with the unit and compare it to my others, I will post more detailed thoughts.
My associated equipment:
ACI Sapphire main speakers (86db efficient, so not an easy load)
Rocket RSC100 center (to be the new ACI center when Mike gets done with it.. :) )
Axiom QS4 surrounds
Music Hall CD-25 cd player
Sony 400 disc player (hey - the unit re-clocks and supposedly gets rid if jitter, so why not try a POS CD player).
The unit is seems well built, although it is light since it does not need massive heat sinks. The front faceplate is thick and the knobs and display look nice. It is very a 'industrial' looking unit, which some people will like and some will hate.
The menu system is graphical and moderately easy to navigate. Any section that cannot be currently accessed because of the mode you are in is grayed out. This is nice as when I was in two channel mode I could still see all of the menus that are available when the unit is in a surround format mode.
The menu is very easy to use from the display panel on the front of the unit. You can adjust everything you see from the monitor outputs on the LCD screen. This is nice because if I need to adjust a setting when listening to music I do not want to turn on my TV.
To try and simplify the massive remotes that come with most receivers, Sony has tried to make a remote with less buttons. There are no direct access buttons for each source. If you look at the picture of the remote at Crutchfield, at the top just below the LCD you will see a button that is about a 1/4" wide. You push it up or down to scroll through the sources on the LCD. When you are on the source you want, you press the button in to select the device. I found it somewhat of a pain to use, as when I would push the button in I would accidentally scroll up or down. I have a Pronto so this is not a huge issue for me, but it might be for others.
The rest of the remote is fairly standard.
The front speaker's distance is grouped together, so if one speaker is farther than another the manual states to set the distance to the closest to you. The adjustments are made in 1 foot increments. This is less detailed than the Yamaha 1400 (.5ft increments), but I am not really sure if it matters.
Speaker levels are easy to adjust. The sub crossover can be set from 40Hz to 200Hz (I think). I do not know of the unit performs bass management on the external inputs. I thought I read that it did, but the manual says nothing about it. I will be hooking up my DVD-Audio player tonight, so I will find out.
All of the digital inputs can be assigned to different sources.
According to the manual, there are three user presets that will save some settings. I have not used this feature yet, and the manual is not clear if it saves all settings (levels, xover, etc) or what exactly is saved.
The unit transforms composite->svideo->component. When doing an up-conversion you can adjust the hue, sharpness, and color. I did not hook up my video components to the unit yet. I should be testing this out tonight.
Ah, the important part. All of this was done with my 400 disc changer using the optical output. I will do analog vs digital comparisons later.
I was very tired last night, so I had planned on going to bed at 11 (I had the unit hooked up by 10). I didn't goto bed until 12.
FYI: When I listen at night, it is at low levels since my wife and baby are sleeping. I prefer soft, detailed music to a loud over-the-top wall of sound.
I was very impressed with the sound coming out of my speakers. The sound-stage had pinpoint accuracy and it was very wide. The unit has an almost-tube (almost) sound to it. The midrange was very sweet. Since I didn't do any comparisons to my other gear, it might have just been a good night for my ears or brain. I couldn't get over the fact that a receiver with the word 'Sony' on it could sound this good (I am NOT a Sony fan). The first time I really considered the ES line was six months ago when my Rotel dealer suggested I buy a ES receiver instead of the Rotel 1055 (he sells both lines). In his opinion, a cheaper models in the ES line do just as good as the Rotel for HT and they save you money. I still bought the Rotel, but had issues with it so it was returned.
This morning I tried LOTR. Dialog was clear, and it easily drove my speakers to insanely loud levels. I didn't get out the SPL meter yet, but it had no issues driving my speakers far louder than I would ever listen.
I noticed one thing that will be an issue for some. I was going to hold off on posting it until I can further diagnose it, but it probably is not going to stop so here it is:
At high levels (-15 on the display, which goes to +5), there is a hiss from all of the speakers. It is only audible from 6-9" away from the speakers, but it is there (we are heading down the Outlaw 950 path... :)) At +5 it is audible from a couple of feet away. +5 would also destroy my speakers.
-15 is pretty loud. I had music at -40 last night, so it was not close to being an issue. LOTR was at -20 and that was louder than I would normally watch a movie, unless I was messing around or showing off the system. The hiss comes from all speakers, even if you are in 2 channel direct mode. It probably has to do with the S-Master Pro chip outputting to all amps even though only two are being used (just a guess here).
I have not tried analog connections yet to see if it is still present. I have also not tried unplugging other inputs, etc. I will do a little experimenting to see if I can get the hiss to go away.
You cannot use the surround back amps for zone 2. At first I was annoyed with this, but then I realized it is probably because of the digital amps and processor. The processor probably cannot decode and output 2 signals at the same time. This is my theory anyway.
I will obviously do more listening and try out the other features and post a follow-up to this. If you have an questions, I will try to answer them.