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Hey All, I was very pleased with Sony ES, whether it be their amazing debut BDP-S1000ES BRDVD Player, DAT decks, tape decks, and most importantly three consecutive ES "second from the flagship" AV receivers for many years. I am still using an STR-DA4ES receiver, which is a 50 pound, fire breathing, room shaking, versatile AV receiver. Since 2000, it has not so much as hiccuped once. Its' performance on the BR DVD "Mad Max Fury Road" was spectacular. All 7 of my DIY matrixed JBL S26II/CCI surrounds were working overtime, and my two subwoofers were never so active, shaking the floor. I used the Sony Digital Cinema Sound Mode B, Night Mode on, the volume was no more than -30dB. I never heard nor saw a more spectacular example of BluRay performance, using an admittedly technologically outdated sled. I do not care for the trend in the most recent "ZA" line of ES receivers. Not enough analog ins/outs, ditto for Toslink and coax audio, too many Ethernet jacks, but mostly a lack of user adjustable audio effects. Also, no Night Mode and any sort of "Loudness" switch, which is basically what my sled's Night Mode does, with the unfortunate addition of the Dynamic Range Compression being set to maximum and not adjustable. With the viewing of "Fury Road", I was left wondering what it would have sounded like with a Dolby Atmos enabled receiver. My next purchase will not be a Sony ES. My budget is $1K max for the receiver. I don't mind buying off the net from "unauthorized" distributors, as long as the unit is meant for the North American market. I never have seen a real "grey good", have you? With Sony, as long as the UPC label was printed in English and French, you were good to go. True, no 5 year ES warranty, but I never had an ES receiver need any service at all, never mind in the first five years. What manufacturers have the reputation of putting out the most dependable units? All input appreciated. JS
 

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Still using my DA4ES too. I have no desire to buy a new one. This beast is still performing perfectly. Don't want to "upgrade" and get stuck with a lemon. I been using it every day since 2003. Happy with the sound fields. I get my Lossless Audio fix with my Oppo Blu Ray thru the Analog Ins. That's when it really shines and puts a big smile on my face.

Maybe your just looking for a change. You'll have to spend a lot of money to find something of this Sony's build quality.

PS: Not a lot of Sony fans on this site.
 

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You were very fortunate with your Sony. I had a $1500 STR-DA5000ES for 10 years and it gave me nothing but problems. Overheating, into protect mode, relatively weak output, broken volume knob.

I recently purchased a Marantz, but my son has a $500 Denon, and it's wonderful for surround. Denon seems to be fairly reliable and has great features.
 

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I think the build quality went down after the Sony era of the DA4ES. As much as I like my Sony, that don't mean my next one will be a Sony. I will be doing some serious research on my next purchase when the time comes.
 

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This is a transition year ..... if you don't expect to upgrade to a 4k TV in the near future, you can get some great deals on last year's non-HDCP 2.2 2014 models, while if you are in the market for 4k, you'll likely want to purchase a new 2015 model. Note that in addition to Atmos, DTS is soon to release their new DTS:X firmware for the 2015 models only. Denon will offer the new DTS:X firmware on all but their lowest 2015 model (S510BT) while all of the 2015 Marantz models will get the update. You may want to consider the new 2015 Denon X3200W or last year's X4100W as well as the 2015 Marantz SR5010 or last year's SR6009.
 

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++ on the Denon/Marantz "twins". I would lean toward the Marantz due to their "Audiophile" tuned DAC and (still for now) complete set of analog I/O's.

On the other hand, I am about to throw in the towel on the Analog world. I have been running Sony E9000/P9000/N9000ES separates for over 10 years with few issues (NONE with the analog setup, had to cannibalize another E9000 when my original's power supply died a couple years back).

My struggle is with the analog P9000 sources. Had a Sony ES SACD changer and an OPPO BDP83 connected to it (still swear to this day that NO other SACD sounds as good as Sony- BOTH in the Analog and Digital setups). My changer died couple of weeks ago, "found" a Sony XCD-777ES on E Bay. That thing was EXACTLY what I needed to replace my (not the most robust build, but sounded AWESOME) changer. Paid "dearly" for it and was pleased when it showed up here the other day in PERFECT condition (all 45 pounds of it). I was encouraged when I unboxed it and not only did it power up, but loaded and read a CD I had in the garage changer. Went ahead and swapped it out with my changer (NO easy task with the 24 analog Monster interconnects going to the P9000). Got it all hooked up and was ready for the "main event". Put in my "reference" multi channel SACD (Roxy Music-Avalon), and to my horror, it would ONLY read the CD layer and NO sound out of the 6 channel outputs. I thought I was royally screwed, but (much to my surprise) E Bay sent my return shipping label and it's going back out today.

Gonna try one more "Hail Mary" with a DVP999ES SACD I am watching that (if it works) should perform at least as well as my (former) changer. I actually have a (NON ES) SACD changer in the garage that has always worked and sounds pretty decent, can use that in a pinch.

Until my amp (N9000) bites the bullet, I'm gonna keep the system running and complete. I have moved on to PC high rez as well and the E9000 sounds SWEET with 24/96 PCM from my DAC (Musical Fidelity V-Link)

I think I'm probably one of the few fans left with a COMPLETE Sony high end system (SS-K90ED towers, SS-CNK10ED center, Sony SAW-X700 dual 10" digital sub,SS-K30ED surrounds, Sony XBR-55HX929 full array LED)

I stress on what I can do when I HAVE to redo the entire thing, I agree the "new" Sony ES stuff is definitely NOT of the same caliber as the stuff from around 2000-2005.

In my living room I DO have a Denon X4000 and it does a very nice job the few times I get a chance to run it (Wife runs JUST the tv speakers-LOL) .
 

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About 10 years ago I was visiting an audio dealer friend. He took me back to the repair shop to show me something. He had two CD players. One was a Sony ES and the other was a Sony player that cost about 1/4 the price of the ES. The interesting thing was that the circuit boards for the two units were identical although not all of the features of the board were implemented in the lesser model. The CD laser and mechanism were also the same except for external cosmetics. The ES unit was in a larger case, had more features using more of the features of the circuit board and had an iron plate installed in it to increase its weight. Both CD players worked just fine and performed the same. The differences were an iron plate, a few more buttons and connectors and 4 times the price for the ES unit. Sometimes the perceived differences between models is not much more than perception.
 

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^
Off topic but that sorta reminds me of Lexicon (I think) putting a Oppo Blu Ray player inside their chassis. Busted !
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Skytrooper et al replies...

Much appreciated. I have witnessed the decline of Sony ES, probably precipitated by Howard Stringer's disastrous tenure as CEO. As for an ES product being the same as a "regular consumer line" counterpart- I have had my ES tape decks apart many times, and one non-ES dual deck from the same era. The ES decks were much more sturdily built- larger power supplies, heavier duty drive mechanisms, the only chronic weak point of the dual well ES cassette decks was drive belt longevity. The drive mechanisms of the ES decks is very complicated-- the replacement of the "Mode" belt is not for the faint of heart. There is a world of difference between the weight, performance and features between my BDP-S350 BRDVD and the BDP-S1000ES. However, the STR-DA4ES, the BDP-S1000ES, and the TC-WA9ES products are all from the turn of the century, 2002 was probably the beginning of the ES decline, all across the board. The "Protection" mode is notorious in the regular "big box store" line of Sony receivers, it happened to me. Once I switched to the ES line, it never happened again. I can't vouch for today's line of ES products, surely. (The few that still are being produced). I will cool my heels on procuring a new sled and see if hopefully ES can regain its' former status. I somehow doubt it. It probably did not help when ES production was offshored to Malaysia from Japan proper. Thanks for the thoughts. JS
 

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About 10 years ago I was visiting an audio dealer friend. He took me back to the repair shop to show me something. He had two CD players. One was a Sony ES and the other was a Sony player that cost about 1/4 the price of the ES. The interesting thing was that the circuit boards for the two units were identical although not all of the features of the board were implemented in the lesser model. The CD laser and mechanism were also the same except for external cosmetics. The ES unit was in a larger case, had more features using more of the features of the circuit board and had an iron plate installed in it to increase its weight. Both CD players worked just fine and performed the same. The differences were an iron plate, a few more buttons and connectors and 4 times the price for the ES unit. Sometimes the perceived differences between models is not much more than perception.
I can relate to this. My 2006 Sony STR-DG1000 AVR shares a service manual with the STR-DA3200ES AVR. Some of the externally available connectivity that's present on the latter, however, is not implemented on the former. FWIW, the DG1000 has never hiccuped since I installed it in January 2007.
 

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Hey All, I was very pleased with Sony ES, whether it be their amazing debut BDP-S1000ES BRDVD Player, DAT decks, tape decks, and most importantly three consecutive ES "second from the flagship" AV receivers for many years. I am still using an STR-DA4ES receiver, which is a 50 pound, fire breathing, room shaking, versatile AV receiver. Since 2000, it has not so much as hiccuped once. Its' performance on the BR DVD "Mad Max Fury Road" was spectacular. All 7 of my DIY matrixed JBL S26II/CCI surrounds were working overtime, and my two subwoofers were never so active, shaking the floor. I used the Sony Digital Cinema Sound Mode B, Night Mode on, the volume was no more than -30dB. I never heard nor saw a more spectacular example of BluRay performance, using an admittedly technologically outdated sled. I do not care for the trend in the most recent "ZA" line of ES receivers. Not enough analog ins/outs, ditto for Toslink and coax audio, too many Ethernet jacks, but mostly a lack of user adjustable audio effects. Also, no Night Mode and any sort of "Loudness" switch, which is basically what my sled's Night Mode does, with the unfortunate addition of the Dynamic Range Compression being set to maximum and not adjustable. With the viewing of "Fury Road", I was left wondering what it would have sounded like with a Dolby Atmos enabled receiver. My next purchase will not be a Sony ES. My budget is $1K max for the receiver. I don't mind buying off the net from "unauthorized" distributors, as long as the unit is meant for the North American market. I never have seen a real "grey good", have you? With Sony, as long as the UPC label was printed in English and French, you were good to go. True, no 5 year ES warranty, but I never had an ES receiver need any service at all, never mind in the first five years. What manufacturers have the reputation of putting out the most dependable units? All input appreciated. JS
The easy way to tell if something is a gray item is by looking at the box on the carton- if it has J, it's not meant for US, Euro or any other market beside Japan. If it doesn't have a U and you're in the US, it wasn't meant for this market. If you buy from nonauthorized resellers, you don't get a warranty.

BTW- you understand that the ehternet ports are there because that AVR has a network switch in it, right? Pretty convenient, if you have streaming devices and want them to work reliably, right?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
To Highfigh and All, Streaming

Thanks for all the replies. It appears my observations about the decline in Sony ES is shared by more than a few persons. I will continue to use the DA4ES, I wonder how much better the Mad Max Fury Road BluRay would have sounded on an Atmos/DTS Neo:X enabled sled. Most probably even better ( hard to imagine), but not worth scrapping a perfectably reliable battleship like the 4ES. I have been trying to resist the streaming world, but I recognize it is the wave of the future. I wonder if in 10 years there will be any physical media sold at all. I see a "Metropolis" like vision of AV consumers being herded from streaming source to source to get the content they want. I am old, so have become accustomed to physically possessing the media, whether it be BluRays, 480iDVDs, or 44.1K CDs. I got the "Fury Road" BluRay DVD, single disc, brand new, in a plain plastic case for $12.00 delivered. Could it be a copy? I'm no expert- I know if you hold it up to the light, it is semi-transparent, like all of my other factory sealed BRDVDs. If it is a knock-off, it is a perfect one. I wonder if you can stroll the back alleys of Shanghai and get BRDVDs of movies yet to see the silver screen here? Off topic, sorry. When my DA4 does finally either break, or becomes hopelessly outdated, I will consider Onkyo, Denon and Yamaha, with a preference for units still manufactured in Japan proper. My 4 will probably end its life in a spare room, supplying 2.1 channel rock&roll throughout the home. Thanks for all the replies. JS
 

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Glad to see you're sticking with your DA4. You never mentioned what kind of Blu Ray Player you had. (I think) If it had Analog Outs or not. The wife and I watched Interstellar on Blu Ray yesterday. She at times had her hands over her ears and the walls were shaking. Wow.Lossless audio is awesome. Not bad for a 12 year old sled. Of course my 2 subs had a lot to do with it.
 
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