Sony STR-DA3000ES impressions - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 277 Old 09-24-2003, 08:53 AM - Thread Starter
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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
SVS 25-31
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).
Mits 55809
Hughes E86
DirecTiVo

Looks:
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.

Menu:
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.

Remote:
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.

Setup:
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.

Video output:
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.

Sound:
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.

The bad:
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.

Zone 2:
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.

Kevin
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post #2 of 277 Old 09-24-2003, 09:50 AM
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Kevin,

Thanks for the early review. I am very interested in the new ES line. I had a salesman show me the now-discontinued all-in-one AVD-C70ES and was very impressed (I was reluctant to even listen to something that looked like it should be sold at Sears). However, I'm not sure it is flexible enough to serve as HT center (am hoping the new 700 may improve on this) and so I am looking at the stand-alones as well.

In addition to hearing your detailed review of sound/features, I was wondering if you could tell me how "hot" the unit runs. The all-in-one ran cool to the touch even after playing at some serious volume for awhile. If the sound/features hold up, this might be a tie-breaker for me in choosing a unit as I will house it in a cabinet and it would be easier not to have to get elaborate with ventilation concerns.

John
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post #3 of 277 Old 09-24-2003, 10:20 AM - Thread Starter
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I have my gear in a cabinet with computer fans blowing in the equipment. You can see it if you follow the URL in my sig.

The 3000es was cool to the touch after two hours last night. Granted, I was using it at low volumes, but the Yamaha 1400 gets very warm when listening at low volumes.

There is one almost-warm section on the top of the unit. The transformer must be just below that section.

Over at audiocircle there is a lot of talk about the all-in-one units. They don't seem to have quite the functionallity to run an entire system, but they are supposed to sound incredible. The thread over there is one of the reason's I wanted to check out Sony's new digital amps.

I forgot to mention: I do think that after my A/B comparisons with the Yamaha and Jolida, if I decide to keep the Sony I will probably end up downgrading to the 2000ES. The only benefits that I currently see to the 3000ES are that the volume is adjustable on the 2nd zone, the component video upconversion, and a few extra watts. The volume in the 2nd zone dosen't matter since it isn't powered.
The manual for the 3000ES is also for the 5000ES, so the 2000ES might be missing more features. That will probably be the deciding factor if I spend the extra $200 on the 3000ES.

Kevin
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post #4 of 277 Old 09-24-2003, 11:27 AM
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Quote:
I forgot to mention: I do think that after my A/B comparisons with the Yamaha and Jolida, if I decide to keep the Sony I will probably end up downgrading to the 2000ES.
Kendrid, the 2000ES does not have preouts for all channels so you must have enough confidence in the 2000ES's internal amps.
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post #5 of 277 Old 09-24-2003, 11:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally posted by NickSP
Kendrid, the 2000ES does not have preouts for all channels so you must have enough confidence in the 2000ES's internal amps.
Thanks - I forgot about that.

The 'digital' amps are the main selling point of these units, so if I decide to keep the 3000ES (or 2000ES) I plan on using the internal amps. Of course 3 years from now that might change, so the preouts might not be a bad thing to have.

Kevin
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post #6 of 277 Old 09-24-2003, 03:04 PM
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How do you compare it to the sound quality in home theater to the Yamaha, I've been thinking of getting either one of those.

Thx,

Eric

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post #7 of 277 Old 09-24-2003, 03:04 PM - Thread Starter
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stieger - I won't comment on that until I do some direct comparisons. YPAO vs the 'sound' of digital amps (and the 100% digital processing). I will also compare the Yamaha without YPAO. I will say that I often find it difficult to tell the difference between receivers with HT, unless one is horribly bright or has some flaw. Music is what sets components apart (for me anyway).

Also, for anyone wondering about Sony's 'new' digital amp technology, check out this review.

Then you look at the thread here called '$300 Krell Killer', and you start to see that people are being very impressed by this new line of amps and processing. The next few years are going to be interesting. Room calibration will become more advanced, along with digital technology.

Kevin
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post #8 of 277 Old 09-24-2003, 07:04 PM
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Doing some more exploring I found this review on the 3000:

http://www.agoraquest.com/viewtopic....=9628&forum=51

There was no conclusion, but it looks like the reviewer had that "hiss" issue as well.
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post #9 of 277 Old 09-24-2003, 07:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for that link. I post my issue on that board. Hopefully it is isolated to the first run. If not, it could seriously hurt these units sales, even though they sound great.

I will try a DVD scene with only dialog to see if my hiss is audible.

Time to go listen to some music.

Kevin
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post #10 of 277 Old 09-25-2003, 08:27 AM - Thread Starter
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I hooked up all of my video through the unit last night. I noticed no noticeable loss in video quailty.
But, I am going to revert back to running everything into my TV. I use PIP/POP quite a bit, and I often listen to a CD while sports are on. I haven't found a way to listen to one source and watch another. I haven't read the remote control's manual yet, but I have tried every button and I don't see a way to switch video inputs without also switching the audio ijnput.

Music still sound great. Friday night I will be hooking up both the Yammie and 3000ES to a switch box and comparing two channel music.

Kevin
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post #11 of 277 Old 09-25-2003, 08:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Kendrid
I haven't read the remote control's manual yet, but I have tried every button and I don't see a way to switch video inputs without also switching the audio input.
On my older DB-940, there's an input mode button that toggles the input dial between audio, video, and second room inputs. I also see that button next to the knob on the crutchfield picture of the 3000ES. I suspect the functionality is there with that button, though obviously, without one, I can't know for sure. Also, on my DB-940, if I select a video input via remote, and then switch to an input that ONLY has audio input, only the audio changes, and the video still shows the old source... So, if you want to watch sports and listen to a cd, select your sat/cable box. Audio and video both switch. Then select CD. Because the CD input doesn't have a video input, only the audio switches. Now, if you play your CD's through your DVD player (which would have a video input), when you select DVD, the video would switch too...

Let me know if this works on your 3000... Also, it looks like the component video inputs are not assignable, correct? That would help with hookup flexibility.
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post #12 of 277 Old 09-25-2003, 08:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
it looks like the component video inputs are not assignable
That is correct, they are fixed to TV and DVD inputs.

Thanks for the info on the video switching. I will try it tonight.

Kevin
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post #13 of 277 Old 09-25-2003, 08:48 AM
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Kendrid, I am debating between the 1400 and the 3000ES myself and would like to see how the amps in the 3000ES hold up and at what volume do you get them to clip. I have the Wharfedale Emerald 97s with a sensitivity rating of 87dbs and am very interested in reading your detailed report.
One think about video quality on the 1400 was I did feel that the quality on my Proton prepro was slightly better than on the 1400.
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post #14 of 277 Old 09-25-2003, 08:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Nick - I should be able to push the 3000ES pretty hard this weekend. I can't at night because our baby is sleeping. The one time I have pused it with LOTR it did fine. I will get the SPL meter out next time and measure how loud it will go.

I also want to push the unit so see how noticeable the hiss is at louder levels. It is definetly an issue that needs to be resolved. Once more of these units are on the market we will know if all of them are affected or just a few. I hope it is just a few.

About heat: The receiver was on for about 6 hours last night, and when I shut it down the top was warm. This is in an enclosed cabinet with my cooling fans off. It is much cooler than any other receiver I have used.

Kevin
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post #15 of 277 Old 09-25-2003, 10:57 AM
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Hi,

I am somewhat "inbetween" units right now - either deciding on the new ES line or the 2400.

Last night I went and picked up the 3000ES, and immediately after plugging it in, did the calibration to SPL 75dB. I turned on my DTV tuner, and immediately noticed the hissing sound you guys are talking about. Upon calling the dealer (Magnolia) the guy said, well sure, you're going to get that hiss at high volume levels (I still had it set to 75dB, which isn't very high volume at all), because the amp in the ES unit is a class "D" amplifier. The benefit is the digital amp doesn't need to warm up like a traditional mosfet amp, the negative is you'll have that hissing sound..."

So, I tried a DVD, played at a normalized 75db, with peaks up to 105dB, and that hissing was very present indeed. So much so, I called Magnolia and told them I was returning the unit. Totally unacceptable for a new reciever - regardless of price.

I returned it, and got the Denon 3803. No hissing, and sounds 90% as good as the B&K seperates (Ref 50 and 125.7) which I had set up in that room.

My room is 11ft wide x 19ft deep x 10 ft high, so it doesn't take much to get very loud. I'm powering an Atlantic Technology 450e THX speaker system, 8 ohm, 91 dB sensitivity, so they are quite easy for the amp to drive.

Anyway, I really like the Denon - just hate the old look of it. Anyone compared the Pioneer Elite "53" model? I don't think it would sound any better than the Denon, but I like the look of it (more classy).

Eric

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post #16 of 277 Old 09-25-2003, 11:13 AM - Thread Starter
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YMMV, but I preferred the Elite 45TX to the 3803.

Why didn't you try the 2400 at home? I have been happy with my 1400 for HT, and it does well with music.

What your dealer said may be true, but until I hear of everyone having this issue and Sony doing nothing about it I won't give up on the unit (unless after A/B comparing it against the 1400 and Jolida it dosen't do any better). I've read reviews of 'high-end' digital amps and they don't mention any hiss. It could just be a manufacturing flaw on the first units. It is hard for me to believe that they would 'risk' their ES line's reputation with products that exhibit extensive hissing.


EDIT (update): Over at AudioCircle someone just confirmed that their all-in-one Sony 70ES unit is "dead silent". Edit 2: Another user just confirmed that their 70ES is "dead silent" also. Seems classD does not mean the amp must hiss.

I am going to pick up a AVDS50ES tonight to see how it compares to the 3000ES (mainly regarding noise).

Kevin
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post #17 of 277 Old 09-25-2003, 04:14 PM
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Hi,

New here, but I have a 3000esssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss also.
I have experienced this problem, but did not return it yet. I had hoped it might dissssssipate after breakin. However, I may need ssssssssssspeech therapy if this doesn't change soon. Pushing the "Direct" button behind the front panel hushes the hiss as the changover from a sound mode occurs, but once changed over the hiss returns. Try it on an input not currently being used with the volume up.

I hope this is just a problem with this first batch! Otherwise it is a great receiver.

Paul

Oh, I tried out a 70es a few months ago and did NOT have any hiss to speak of.
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post #18 of 277 Old 09-25-2003, 06:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Henry - thanks for the info. If this is not fixed it will kill this unit (and possibly the 2000 and 5000).

Another person at AC has confirmed that their AVD-S50ES has a hiss - but only at 100% volume and 1" from the speaker. That is pretty normal.

Kevin
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post #19 of 277 Old 09-26-2003, 07:31 AM
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Interestingly, the 5000ES is upgradable. I wonder if it will support dolby pro logic IIx.

Also, I wonder if the hissing problem is present in the 2000ES and 5000ES.

Scott
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post #20 of 277 Old 09-26-2003, 07:53 AM - Thread Starter
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The 2000ES is a different chassis (at least it looks like it), so maybe it won't have the issue. The manual for the 3000 and 5000 is the same, the 5000 just has a few more features. They are most likely the same unit, the 5000 just having features 'turned on' (plus a few extra watts).

I tried a Monster line conditioner last night and it did not help with the hiss.

Tonight I will be hooking up my switchbox to A/B compare the unit to the Yamaha.

Kevin
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post #21 of 277 Old 09-27-2003, 10:24 PM
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Hi folks.
I just got back from a trip to Portland OR, and while there I checked out the 3000 at a Sony dealer (I had not read this thread or any hiss reports prior to the trip to the store). I had only listened to a couple of tracks when I noticed the hiss. The sales guy acutally mentioned it before I had the chance to point it out. He said the same that was quoted above from another salesperson, that the hiss was inherant in the class D amps. Like most everyone else here, I don't buy that argument and I think that there is something decidedly not right about this model. One other interesting note about the 5000... According to the manager at the store, he said that the 5000 is a very different unit internally from the lower models in the ES line. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to get any major details, but I'm holding out a little hope that this issue will be addressed in that unit, because from my brief audition the noise floor of the 3000 is not acceptable.

jm2c
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post #22 of 277 Old 09-28-2003, 08:26 AM
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I find it amazing that a hiss problem can go from prototype to finished product and no one at Sony hears it and stops production until the problem is fixed! Noise is a HUGE problem in any music/movie system and is as annoying as anything, especially in quiet parts of the movie/music. I was interested in this unit but not now. SHAME OF YOU SONY!
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post #23 of 277 Old 09-28-2003, 09:29 AM
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kendrid,

I know you've tried a lot of units out for your HT. Did you look at or consider the HK digital (DPR-1001)? Its "only" 50W per channel, but may compare pretty closely to the Sony 2000 if the typical HK understatement/Sony overstatement on specs holds.
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post #24 of 277 Old 09-28-2003, 09:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Since people have reported that the Sony all-in-one units that use digital amps do NOT hiss, I can't see how it is 'the way class D amps operate.'

johnnyKay - I have seen that system, but I have not tried it yet. The Sony all-in-one units are rated at 80wx5 and 100wx5, and reports say that they do not hiss.

I am going to wait for the 2000ES to hit the street this week. If it hisses, I guess I will be giving up on Sony, even though it sounds great.

I did some Yamaha vs Sony comparisons this weekend. I will post them later.

Kevin
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post #25 of 277 Old 09-28-2003, 11:47 AM
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I'm opening up my 3000ES in a couple hours. We'll see real quick if this is an across the board issue.

Apparently, some people have not reported the hiss. Like everyone else, I can't believe this is "inherent". It might just be a defect and Sony will take care of those of us with the hiss.

Matt

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post #26 of 277 Old 09-28-2003, 11:51 AM
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Also regarding the comment that the 5000 is a different unit than the 3000... There is a very technical document regarding the ES recievers that can be found here

http://www.iq.sony.com/srvs/sosdocs/default.asp

... type in STRDA3000ES and it is the first item. Anyhow according to that... the 2k-5k are all identical except the ratings for the power supplies... though the 2k does have some differences. The 3k and 5k however are from every observation I have had, identical except for 3rd room/3rd zone, the Lip Sync thing, and 50 wpc.

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Rec.: Sony STR-DA3000ESsssssss
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Spk.: Polk CSi30/RTi38, HK HTS5 surrounds, HK 10" 100 watt sub
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post #27 of 277 Old 09-28-2003, 02:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by weinmatt
... Anyhow according to that... the 2k-5k are all identical except the ratings for the power supplies... though the 2k does have some differences. The 3k and 5k however are from every observation I have had, identical except for 3rd room/3rd zone, the Lip Sync thing, and 50 wpc.
Doh!! I meant the 9000ES. My mistake and sorry for the confusion. From briefly glancing through the link (thanks for that, BTW), there appears to be a number of differences between it and the rest of the line. Looks potentially exciting...
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post #28 of 277 Old 09-28-2003, 04:16 PM
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I have the hiss!

Other than that the unit is great. I think... now hear me out on this... that the amplification is not occuring enough at low levels.... what I'm saying here is that... on other recievers I have demo'ed/owned... once you push it to a very high level you do get an audible hiss. But, this is only at VERY high levels. Anyhow... I say, maybe the preamplification needs to be +20.0db or something. I am going to play with it, maybe there is something being overlooked.

Will be calling Sony tomorrow to discuss this with them... obviously I have 15 days with which to deal with this before I would have to send it back to OneCall. Anyhow hopefully Sony can propose an adequate solution.

T.V.: Sony KF-42WE610
Rec.: Sony STR-DA3000ESsssssss
DVD: Panny DMR-E80HS
Spk.: Polk CSi30/RTi38, HK HTS5 surrounds, HK 10" 100 watt sub
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post #29 of 277 Old 09-28-2003, 05:08 PM
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OK.... more updates... called Sony. Spoke to them, they were unaware of anything... obviously there are very few of these on the market.

The woman I spoke to was very friendly... she assured me that whatever the problem was, it would be fixed and not to be concerned. From Maxxwire @ Agoraquest's review of the 5000es, it seems this hissing is isolated to the 3000es. So, I'll wait a couple weeks... nonetheless the sound is amazing; it isn't going back to OneCall.

Matt

T.V.: Sony KF-42WE610
Rec.: Sony STR-DA3000ESsssssss
DVD: Panny DMR-E80HS
Spk.: Polk CSi30/RTi38, HK HTS5 surrounds, HK 10" 100 watt sub
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post #30 of 277 Old 09-28-2003, 05:22 PM
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Try feeding it a very high level variable signal into the analog inputs, ideally the 5.1 inputs. You'd need a preamp to do this.

It could be, as suggested, that there is a problem with the digital input level.

Steve
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