Looking for a new Receiver...should I even consider Sony ES Line?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Rob Peloski, Jul 22, 2003.

  1. Rob Peloski

    Rob Peloski Agent

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    I need some help picking out a new receiver.

    I'm currently looking for a receiver to upgrade my Sony STR-DE945 which has served me well since 1999. It powers my Athena S3 mains, S1 Rears, C1 Center and feeds my P3 sub giving me what I consider to be great sound quality. Although I don't "really" need to upgrade, I would like to get a newer receiver which supports the newer formats (especially DTS NEO6, DTS 96/24, and Prologic II). While I'm at it, I might as well get something with better amplifiers (after all my DE series receiver was never considered high end in the amplifier section)

    Looking at Sony equipment, the receiver that seems to fit my needs best is the DA4ES. It supports the formats I want (not really concerned about a THX sticker on the box), has the 4 optical inputs I need, has nice bass management (even my 945 has better bass management than many "higher end" receivers I've seen), has dual multichannel inputs (useful if I want both DVD Audio and SACD), and standard 5 year warranty.

    My problem is that almost everyone I talk to says that my Sony receiver is a piece of crap and isn't letting me take full advantage of my speakers without me even mentioning whether I have a DE, DB or ES line receiver. On many places on the internet, Sony owners seem to be considered "inferior" because you don't have Denon, Onkyo, Harman Kardon, Marantz, etc equipment. It's as if Sony audio equipment is considered a joke everywhere...even ES stuff. This makes me second guess even considering another Sony product if everything else is "so much better"

    The receivers from other brands that I've been looking at primarily are the Onkyo NR900, the Denon 3803, and the Harman Kardon AV7200.

    The Onkyo NR900 seems to be the closest match to the DA4ES but it lacks the extra multi-channel input. It also lacks the RS232 port for firmware upgrades but I don't know how important this is anyways.

    The Denon 3803 also seems to be a worthwhile choice. It has tons of inputs and has some neat looking video features like converting composite and svideo to component but lacks the RS232 and extra multi-channel inputs. The 4802R also looks rather interesting but it doesn't have the new video features of the 3803 (although it has 3 component video inputs) I guess they want you to get the 5803 which is way out of my price-range so I'm not even considering it.

    The HK 7200 is a bit of an oddball, but my friend who is worked in the HT industry loved the sound on the older 8000 model. The 7200 is the closest they have but it only has 2 optical inputs and all my devices except my DVD are optical only.

    There is also the Sony DA7ES which is the most expensive of the receivers I've mentioned (excluding Denon 5803 of course), but I don't quite understand what the extra money gets me in terms of sound quality besides 10 watts/ch extra. (the fancy remote does nothing for me since I already have an AV3000 and I don't need 3rd (or even 2nd) room output.

    So I guess my question is this, are the Sony ES Receivers really that bad compared to some of the others? If so, which of the non-sony receivers that I've mentioned would you people recommend considering the requirements I've given?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. John Morton

    John Morton Stunt Coordinator

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    I currently have a Sony DB930 (some ES components) and it has served me very well for years. I think you can't go wrong with any of the higher end receivers, the ES line included. I'm also looking at either the 4ES or 7ES, but am waiting to see how the new models sound and what they will offer before I purchase.
     
  3. Mark Hedges

    Mark Hedges Second Unit

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    There are quite a few happy DA4ES owners on this board, myself included. I would absolutely consider it if I were you.

    As far as the DA7ES - it is virtually identical to the 4ES, but with a better remote, a 3rd room function, and another 12V trigger. I do not think it has any more power than the 4ES - the 4 and the 7 share the same transformer, at least in the US. I think it is labeled 120 instead of 110 as a marketing ploy, to make it seem better than the 4ES.
     
  4. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    I own a 2ES and a 4ES, and they are terrific receivers. They have their detractors, as do all other AVRs you'll read about on HTF. Definitely consider the 4ES.
     
  5. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    You may want to hold out until this fall. Sony has announced new receiver models in their ES line. See their press release in the link below:

    http://news.sel.sony.com/pressrelease/3739

    I think a lot of the negative comments regarding Sony receivers are directed at their entry level DE line, and people fail to realize that Sony offers a higher quality line of products as well. Before upgrading to a Pioneer Elite 1.5 years ago, I was a very pleased Sony DA50ES owner for 3 years. I would consider their ES products in the future if they fell within my price/performance target.
     
  6. Don Barduca

    Don Barduca Stunt Coordinator

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    I would consider the 4ES, the Denon, and the HK. Likely leaning towards one of the first two since I like to use my receiver for movies far more than music and the characteristics of the Sony and Denon lend themselves better to that use. However I do like the Logic 7 feature on the HK (better than DPL2 IMHO). And HK, while always considered tops for music, has been getting pretty good press on their current line up recently for HT but the price of the AVR7200 would likely be too much to disuade me from the 4ES.
     
  7. Don Barduca

    Don Barduca Stunt Coordinator

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    Re:

     
  8. terence

    terence Supporting Actor

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  9. Steve_L_B

    Steve_L_B Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree that most of the detractors are biased because of the DE series of receivers. I have used a DB830 for three years and I was so satisfied with it that I recently upgraded to the DA4ES. The DA4ES is a solid, great performing piece of equipment. You can get one for about $600 online from an authorized dealer and at that price, it's tough to match its performance and features. They are in short supply, but you can still find them.

    -Steve
     
  10. CurtisC

    CurtisC Second Unit

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    If you have a very good ear(music) and demand reliability the Denon 3803 is the best sound,feature,value combo,imho.I'm not saying the Sony ES is crap,I own lots of Sony stuff,phones,boombox,dvd,cd etc.etc..I tried the 4es,it sounded ok.Onkyo,I've owned a few,656,777,898,they kept costing more and sounding worse(musically)at least,they were reliable.HK,great sound and poor reliability issues,lots of em',all different kinds.
     
  11. Rob Peloski

    Rob Peloski Agent

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    Thanks for all the replies. What I will probably do is wait a bit and pick up a DA4ES just as the new line is coming out. The price will most likely drop around then as places try to clear them out.

    Other than the Video upconversion to component, I don't see any reason to rush towards getting the DA5000 (which seems to be the replacement for the 4ES) unless these digital amps are something really revolutionary.
     
  12. Nathan Porteous

    Nathan Porteous Stunt Coordinator

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    If you wait until the new es line comes you might be hard done by to find a 4es, I own one and i think its one of the best purchases i've ever made, for what you get for your money. I've never owned a sony anything before my 4es because of the "Sony Crap" advice from others but es line is a different story. After doing weeks of research, I made my choise based on customer, audio mag, and this fourm along with auditions of course to cone to my decision. Onkyo, HK, Denon I wouldn't say there any better or worse for that matter its just preference let your ears decide. Good Luck!
     
  13. Steve Adams

    Steve Adams Second Unit

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    I dont think the es line is any differnt, I have owned es equipment, and it broke and stopped working like the rest of sony's line. If you have a sony peice that worked perfect, great. but, for the money there is way better gear!
     
  14. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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  15. Andrew Pierce

    Andrew Pierce Stunt Coordinator

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    If you get a DA4ES, you'll soon find out why people badmouth Sony receivers -- your poor DE945 will suddenly seem woefully inadequate, compressed and muddy sounding by comparison. I myself upgraded from a low end Sony to a DA4ES. The difference is night and day.

    As for the new Sony ES gear, digital amps are definately the future of amplification. But there are some downsides which need to be solved. They require extremely high frequency switching in order to sound good, and they are more sensitive to certain differences between speakers. They will eventually surpass solid state amps in terms of performance, quailty and cost. The cheap versions are already forcing out solid state in the HTIAB market, but it remains to be seen if the current state of the art can impress the audiophiles. The fact that Sony is putting them into their ES line is a tremendous vote of confidence, or a huge marketing bluder.
     
  16. terence

    terence Supporting Actor

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  17. Patrick M

    Patrick M Auditioning

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    Today I got to listen to a pre-production 9000ES, the soon to be flagship. I really think Sony got something right with this one, cuz it wowed most of us listening to it. It is going to retail for $4499, $3000 more than the 5000ES.

    I listened to a number of different musical cuts and a scene from the Matrix via Boston Acoustics new VR3's and Velodyne's new SPL1200II. It really sounded great. And although I didn't want to, I liked the sound of it's Cinema Studio DSP modes better than it's regular Dolby Digital processing.

    Some things that raised eyebrows:

    - Digital amplifier allowing full resolution and range when the volume is turned down. Accomplished by "turning down power supply" rather than degrading signal or removing info.

    - 9.1 channel inputs
    - Two multi-channel inputs
    - DVI Switching!
    - Front optical in
    - 200 watts per 7 ch
    - Software upgradeable

    Seems like some good stuff to me.
     
  18. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Producer

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    Yes, I too have heard the new ES line with the digital amplification. While I'm sure, like any new technology, it will improve vastly over time, I was not impressed. I will not fully blame the ES, as I heard it relatively briefly in a demo, but it was powering the new Dynaudio Contour series, and the sound was not as I would have expected it. At this point, because i've heard other dynaudios in that and higher series that are always impressive, I am tentatively placing the "blame" for the less than super sound on the new digitally amplified ES component. There are a lot of good brands out there, and sony ES is quite a step above regular sony crap, so I would consider it in any purchase. I personally would go towards HK, marantz, and denon, but that's just me [​IMG].
     
  19. Mark C.

    Mark C. Supporting Actor

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    I'll buy a Sony camera or monitor any day, because those in professional broadcasting swear by them. But receivers are another story. My complaint with Sony's ES line is that the company seems inconsistent in the quality of its ES products. One year Sony will put out some really quality stuff, then the company seems to ride the wave of customer enthusiasm into the next year, when overall quality seems to decline. A year or two later, the ES line is rejuvenated. If you want a good Sony ES receiver, you have to possess good timing.
     
  20. Steve Adams

    Steve Adams Second Unit

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    Well, I for one, will not buy the overpriced sony equipment anymore. My new tv that I picked up yesterday, Has just as good a picture as the sony it competes with. I wont say that it's as good as a 2000 dollar sony, but the cheap one, my tv will keep up with it any day! for 200 bucks less.!
     

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