When I was looking to upgrade my receiver from the Sony STR-DB930 I really didn’t know what to purchase. I wanted to stay with Sony because all my other components and TV are Sony. I started digging around on the forums and many people suggested trying Denon and HK. Many people were very passionate in their views of these companies products and said the sound of these units surpasses the Sony in that price range. I did as much research on the various units as I could. Unfortunately, I could not find much in terms of professional reviews and comments on the DA5ES. This is part of the reason I am writing this little review. I asked around and got opinions and did some price shopping and decided to stay with Sony. I got a good price on it and had it shipped out from Oade (great company to do business with). I got it 2 days ago and thought I would post my first thoughts. I am not a professional writer, so I will probably jump around a lot, sorry…Ok, here goes…….….. The first DVDs….Toy Story II, Gladiator DTS, Jaws DTS I can not believe how much of a difference it is over my old STR-DB930. The improvement is dramatic with movies. I was expecting a slight improvement and was greatly surprised. This is not the subtle improvement I thought it was going to be! It just sounds much more natural. I really don't know how to put it into words, but I will try…..….. The entire ambience of a movie changed, like the movie takes on more of a ‘mood’. In other words, the intended ‘mood’ of the scene comes through and you really feel like you are there. I did not have this same sense of emotional, mood evoking sound with the DB930. Another thing I noticed immediately was that lower volume passages of dialogue are much, Much, MUCH more clear and detailed. On the DB930 I had to turn up the volume higher to clearly hear quiet passages. Thus, everything else seemed to get exponentially louder and I was worried I was going to upset my neighbors. But on the DA5ES, when I turn up the volume dial, it does not seem to have as great of an effect. It’s like the dynamic range improves and I can listen to it at a louder level, yet it isn’t as obtrusive as it was with the 930. The omnipresent soundstage……..……… The blending of the speakers’ output to form the soundstage is more natural. There just seems to be more detail everywhere. It makes my speakers sound like entirely different ones...in a great way. The DSP sound fields sound more natural and do a better job than the 930s as well Warm, Bright, Harsh and other adjectives……… Prior to buying this receiver, I kept hearing that the competition’s products sound warmer and that Sony tends to be bright. The DB930 was my first HT receiver, so I really didn’t have anything else to compare it to. I could not comprehend what was warm (or what warm meant for that matter!) I didn’t know if my DB930 was warm or bright. All I know was that I got a decent deal on it and it has served me well for a couple years. Now that I have the DA5ES, I think have a better understanding of what warm is. (I think !) 5.1 sound just tends to wrap around you very naturally. It just grabs hold of you and snuggles you into a soundfield where your ears meld into it. Hardware and Features………………… This thing is a tank. It is a good 3-4 inches deeper than the 930 and quite a bit heavier. It just reeks of quality construction. One thing I thought was cool is that you can name your inputs. Instead of Video 1, Video 2, Video 3, I now have: Sony VCR, JVC VCR and XBOX ! It also downloads these names to the 2-way remote so when selecting inputs you will see the correct names on the remote LCD display. Not sure if this was possible with the 930. I may have just missed it. Another cool thing is that there is a visual indication of volume level via the digital readout. It displays the volume in db. This is something that was sorely lacking on the 930. The digital audio inputs are assignable. You can assign them to any input you wish (with slight restrictions). I know the 930 did not do this, because I remember wishing that it could at one point. 5 equalizer presets. I don’t think the 930 had this either because I know I would have experimented with them. You can easily switch between 5 different sets of EQ settings. The bad and the ugly…………… One of the only negative things I can say is that bass seems to be less prominent. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like big boomy bass. I like clear, detailed and pronounced bass, which is what I had with the 930. Before I did not see the need for a subwoofer (although I did still want one). Now it seems like I will have to add a subwoofer to complete the sound. I have not played much with the equalizer and crossovers, mainly because I have no idea what is the correct way to adjust. I just don’t understand what I am adjusting with the frequencies. Another possibility that I just realized I may have overlooked in regards to the bad bass response is speaker position. In addition to the receiver, I also added a 61” HS20 TV. I had to spread out the speakers a little more to make way for the TV. I guess it is possible that maneuvering these speakers around could have had an effect on the bass. I will have to experiment more with that. The remote still s*cks. It certainly is feature rich and functional, but it is just a bad design for a multifunction remote. The flip cover with tiny buttons….yeccch. Verdict in a sentence……… I am by no means an audiophile, however if future upgrades make such an impressive improvement as the Sony DA5ES did, I eventually may turn out to be one!