Sony STR-DN1040 AV Receiver Review

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Review By  for Audioholics.com

  • Product Name: STR-DN1040
  • Manufacturer: Sony
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStarhalf-star
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStarhalf-star
  • Review Date: July 17, 2013 07:55
  • MSRP: $ 599

Buy it Now!

Specifications:

General

  • 1ch RMS Power (watts):  165w 8 ohms/1kHz/0.9%THD/1 ch driven
  • 2ch RMS Power: RMS Power (watts):  100w + 100w 8 ohms/20-20kHz/0.9%THD/ 2ch driven
  • On-Screen Display:  Yes
  • Multiple Zones:  Yes, pre-out only
  • HDMI Standby Pass-through:  Yes
  • Video  Conversion:  From Composite/Component to HDMI
  • Internet-ready:  Yes, Ethernet and Wi-Fi
  • AirPlay: Yes
  • Blutooth: Yes
  • DLNA Certified:  Yes, Audio
  • Multibrand Remote Control : Yes, non-learning
  • Dimensions (W x H x D):  16.9” x 6.2” x 12.7”
  • Weight (pounds): 19.3lbs
  • Warranty:  2 Years parts & labor

Inputs & Outputs

  • Preamp Outputs: Zone 2 only
  • Phono Input: 0
  • Stereo Audio Inputs/Outputs: 4/0
  • S-Video Inputs / Outputs: 0
  • Composite Inputs / Outputs:  2/1
  • Component Video Inputs / Outputs: 2/1
  • Optical Inputs: 2
  • Digital Coaxial Inputs: 1
  • HDMI Inputs / Outputs: 8/2
  • Subwoofer Outputs: 2 mirrored

Pros

  • Bluetooth, WiFi, and AirPlay
  • Smooth user interface
  • Great sound quality

Cons

  • Disjointed network/app control
  • Poor zone 2 integration

Sony STR-DN1040 Review Introduction

Last year, we reviewed Sony’s bursting-at-the-seams-with-tons-of-features $500 STR-DN1030 7.1 receiver. It had all of the features we could hope for in a budget receiver, but a horrid user interface and sub-par sound quality held it back from going from good to great. So, this year, when Sony contacted us asking if we’d like to review the new STR-DN1040, we wondered if they had listened to any of our feedback (or feedback from consumers) about the STR-DN1030. The answer? Yes! They kept all of the great features from last year, like built-in Bluetooth, WiFi, and AirPlay, and added new functionality like FLAC decoding and a revamped user interface. Although we still have some gripes, the STR-DN1040 is a big step forward.

Features

By looking at the features and build quality of a receiver, you can typically tell who the target end user is. Some companies, like Sherbourn and Integra, target customer installers. Others, like Marantz and Yamaha’s Aventage series, sit more so in the middle between installers and mainstream consumers. There’s an emphasis on build quality while still having a solid set of features. Other manufacturers clearly go after mainstream consumers by packing their receivers with as many new features as possible. I would put Pioneer, Denon, and Sony in that last camp.

The STR-DN1040 is one of the, if not the, most feature-packed receivers in its price class. For starters, it has built-in WiFi for easy connection to the Internet. It also has an Ethernet jack for those who have the option to hardwire the unit. Surely, for most consumers, WiFi will be used.

Once online, the receiver works with a variety of music streaming services and protocols. It supports AirPlay for all those with iOS devices and Windows PlayTo for those sticking with Microsoft. It also has full support for generic DLNA and UPnP devices, allowing you to pull files off of network computers and storage devices. Expanding beyond your personal music library, Sony has incorporated support for a number of streaming services, including: Pandora, Slacker, vTuner, and their own Music Unlimited.

 Sony STR-DN1040 Front Panel

STR-DN1040 Front Panel

Sony STR-DN1040 Rear Panel 2

STR-DN1040 Rear Panel

For those whose devices lack both AirPlay and DLNA support, the STR-DN1040 also sports built-in Bluetooth and a USB port on the front panel. If your device of choice can’t connect using one of the options listed, then to be frank, it simply deserves to be thrown away (better recycled). It’s time to upgrade.

In terms of inputs for various AV gear, it has a total of 8 HDMI (1 on front, 7 on rear), 2 optical, 1 digital coax, 4 stereo audio, 2 component and 2 composite video. All video inputs upconvert to HDMI, but only 1080p/24Hz HDMI signals upconvert to 4k. 4k passthrough is supported for native UHD content. Options for connecting a display consist of dual mirrored HDMI outputs, 1 composite and 1 component.  All in all, there are plenty of inputs and outputs for most situations. While many manufacturers are scrapping legacy video support, it’s nice to see Sony include it.

When packing so much into a budget receiver, common sense dictates that something has to give. And a few things have. There are no multichannel pre-outs for use with an external amplifier, or multichannel analog inputs. Zone 2 capabilities were also sent through the chopping block. The STR-DN1040 still supports zone 2, but only via a set of preamp analog outputs and IR input. Audio support for zone 2 is relegated to analog only. And the analog “TV” input won’t work on zone 2 for some reason, leaving only 3 analog inputs + AM/FM radio. Additionally, neither mobile app controls the extra zone. Even more limiting is that the analog outputs are fixed, with no option for variable output.

The STR-DN1040 has a 7-channel amp rated at 165w 8 ohms/1kHz/0.9%THD with 1 channel driven. So, for those people who dig mono 1kHz pink noise, you are going to be rocking with this beast. Change that to 2 channels driven and a full bandwidth 20-20kHz load and it drops to 100wpc, a respectable amount of power if the amp can actually hit it. There are 7 binding posts on the rear of the unit, with one set assignable for surround back, bi-amp, front height, or front B duties. There are two RCA subwoofer outputs, but they are not independently controllable.

Build Quality

We tend to talk a lot about build quality vs. features (in the intro to this review, for example), and how a manufacturer can’t have both without bumping up the price of a receiver. Sony has tried to break out of that mold with the STR-DN1040. Well, in the marketing material at least.

It would be fair to call a few of their claims of sonic benefits from minor improvements somewhat dubious. For example, Sony claims that adding internal ribs to the feet “…improves overall structural rigidity and reduces vibration, resulting in a more stable signal and sound improvement. Sound emitted instantaneously such as the power of a drum, or a movie sound effect, along with percussive notes and the strike of a piano key, is greatly improved. As a chassis vibration does not remain for long periods of time, high and midrange resolving power is also superior.” I’m not sure Yamaha would even make such claims with their 5th foot.

Some of the other claims are a little more measurable, like “the board has been redesigned as a linear wide band power amplifier. This allows for a 20% wider frequency range than traditional discrete amplifier circuit boards… [and] improved noise reduction at the board level in the order of 1/10th.” They continue on the talk about improvements to the screw placement, torque tension, and support frames. While I am truly happy (really, I am) that Sony is taking these steps towards improved build quality, I could do without some of the fluff.

Sony STR-DN1040 Internal

STR-DN1040 Internal View

You have to be careful reading some of the literature, or you might end up thinking some of the build quality features are new to the STR-DN1040. For example, they mention an additional side bracket and front panel sub chassis, both of which were present on the STR-DN1030. Still, by glancing internal pictures of both receivers it’s plain to see that some things have been redesigned, like the bottom panel. They also dropped from 2 x 71V 10,000uF caps to 2 x 71V 8200uF. We actually talked (well, emailed) with Kanai-san, the lead engineer and Sony’s “father of audio” for some more info on the new caps. He mentioned that they chose a bigger transformer for the STR-DN1040 which is why they changed the value capacitance. He also said they jumped to a higher quality capacitor. In the end, the new receiver is supposed to sound better. For what it’s worth, I did think it sounded noticeably better than the STR-DN1030, mostly from better handling of transients.

 

Sony STR-DN1040 AV Receiver Review: WiFi, Bluetooth, and AirPlay Oh My! | Audioholics

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