Sony is not new to the A/V receiver game, having have produced high-end gear under the ES (Elevated Standard) moniker for several decades. Sony is no longer the all-powerful consumer electronics giant it was when they launched the ES component line. Today Sony is a bit on an underdog, an engineering-centric company with a taste for high design and high concept, but without the cachet they once enjoyed as a designers of the very best gear. My first audiophile-quality CD player was Sony's landmark CDP-X7ESD, a perfect example of the level of excellence ES stood for: World class, no compromise performance.
Fast forward (or perhaps skip forward) to 2013 and Sony is at a crossroads. The PS4 is an announced product and it will feature 4K downloadable movies. 4K television is the one category where they are ahead of the competition, in terms of putting actual TV sets into stores and showrooms. Sony already sells the world's first 4K projector for home theaters, the VPL-VW1000ES. The Sony ES lineup now includes newly designed speakers and receivers. It certainly looks like Sony is making a move to re-establish high-end A/V credentials.
Key to this strategy is the nerve center; Sony needed an AVR with a feature that sets it apart from very stiff competition. Based on initial reviews, they have succeeded with the STR-DS5800ES A/V Receiver.
Specifications from Sony's web site are here.
Edited by imagic - 3/1/13 at 6:37am