The first 2 days with my new Sony STR-DA5ES

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Dan Kolacz, Apr 18, 2002.

  1. Dan Kolacz

    Dan Kolacz Stunt Coordinator

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    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!
     
  2. Samuel Des

    Samuel Des Supporting Actor

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    Great review. I am nearly persuaded to buy another receiver! [​IMG]
     
  3. Angelo_Petralba

    Angelo_Petralba Second Unit

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    Ahhhh..Yet Another Satisfied Customer
    Great Review!
    Angelo
     
  4. Sean Eldridge

    Sean Eldridge Second Unit

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    Great review. A sub will add tremendous impact to your DVD viewing. I'll be getting a DA5ES as soon as my tax refund is put in the bank. I can't wait!

    Sean
     
  5. John Tompkins

    John Tompkins Supporting Actor

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    I read somewhere on the forum that Oade Bros is now selling the strda5es for 750.00 shipped, is this true ?
     
  6. Angelo_Petralba

    Angelo_Petralba Second Unit

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    yes..its true
     
  7. Will Gatlin Jr

    Will Gatlin Jr Stunt Coordinator

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    I have the 555ES in my bedroom, and it's great. My L/R spks are different from my centre/surr's. The Sony EQ let's me tailor the spks to a perfect blend. No L/R spks can put out like a great dedicated sub. Be good to yourself, get a very good one. It'll make a world of difference.
     
  8. james e m

    james e m Second Unit

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    Patti...

    Thanks for the review. Just curious what kind of speakers do you have and have you been able to mess with the eq yet to see if that helps your lack of bass?

    James
     
  9. Gil D

    Gil D Supporting Actor

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  10. Richard Burzynski

    Richard Burzynski Second Unit

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    Come on John - we both one. I can't really use it, but at that price, it's quite the bargain. Maybe it would make the ultimate bedroom receiver? What do you think?
    [​IMG]
    Rich B.
     
  11. Juan_R

    Juan_R Supporting Actor

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  12. Phil Tomaskovic

    Phil Tomaskovic Supporting Actor

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    I paid $750 + $30 shipping a couple weeks ago.
     
  13. Earl Simpson

    Earl Simpson Supporting Actor

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    Wow!!!!!!! Yes! Check all your speakers set to large. And set the equalizer for each channel on your large speakers to boost the 99 cycle point one notch. Also, make sure you have de-selected the sub.
    Patti, be sure to do a follow up, since you are the only one to do a complete review.
    OK, you fence riders=TODD, go get the 5es.TODD [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  14. David_Rivshin

    David_Rivshin Second Unit

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    I paid $750 + $25 shipping from Oade 2 weeks ago. Seems most pay $30 for shipping, but when I got my quote I was also asking about the CE775 which might have had something to do with it. I later decided not to get the CE775, but on the phone they didn't have any problem spotting me $5 shipping [​IMG] I almost feel bad haggling down an extra $5 when it was already such a wonderful deal, and from what appears to be such a great company to buy from. Btw, if you get both the DA5ES and CE775 from them you get an even better packaged deal, although their normal prices are pretty good to begin with. Funny thing is that I don't think it's a savings on shipping, since I doubt they could put them both in one box and still expect UPS to haul it around...
    In any event, my only complaint so far is that the DA5ES does not save the volume setting independantly for each source, so I have to tweak it when moving from DVD to CD or TV. Not a deal breaker, but a user interface annoyance.
    Meanwhile I'm waiting patiently for my new speakers to arrive... the pair I stole from my Awia shelf system just doesn't do the DA5ES justice...
    -- Dave
     
  15. Dan Joy

    Dan Joy Supporting Actor

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    This receiver, while only 3 weeks old gets better each week. I was never a DSP fan(way too much echooooo!) but the DPLII and Cin studio ex B works great for all of my vhs tapes(it makes my sub come alive). I am growing fonder of the two way remote and the EQ has definitely boosted some of my old cd's.

    I watched SPY GAMES last night and that had some serious sub/surround material. I rented T2 tonight(its been a long time). I have been using the EQ to watch satellite, it seems to add the added punch to muy sub with adjustable volume. The checks on the NHL's hockey games were very impressive(my wife even noticed).

    I, like Patti, have noticed excellant channel seperation compared to my STRE-835.

    Does everyone with subs have your LFE cutoff set at standard, if not what are your settings.
     
  16. Warren_Sc

    Warren_Sc Second Unit

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    Has anybody experimented with this feature set on the Sony DA5ES?
     
  17. Dan Kolacz

    Dan Kolacz Stunt Coordinator

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    I went home again last night and was playing around trying to figure out what is going on with my bass issues. I hope I don't have a defective unit since I had no luck. My problem may be user ignorance when adjusting the EQ. I have a question about this:
    On the DA5ES, when selecting EQ for fronts, it gives 2 options, the level and also the freq. What exactly is this freq setting for? Is it just a cutoff or can you adjust the +/- levels for EACH frequency under BASS independtly of one another?
    In other words, by default under BASS it says 250hz for freq (i think) OK, so now I set the level to +5 for when it is showing 250hz.
    Now if I move the freq one notch up/down can I then adjust the level for this new freq? Is it different than the +5 I just set previously?
    If so, I think this may be where my problem lies. I was just bumping up the BASS level to +10 when the freq was showing 250hz. This adjustment showed very little improvement in bass response. I did no other adjustments.
     
  18. Earl Simpson

    Earl Simpson Supporting Actor

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    Bump up the 99/that is as low as the 5es goes on the equalizer. Make the 250 at 0 or flat( the 5es lets you do every channel over the whole spectrum individualy). That will be the adjustment for only that speaker. You must do all the speakers you want bumped up. Did you check that all your speakers are set to large and that you have not selected a sub woofer in the options. Anything else you need real help from Keith, Geo, or another 5es owner. If you have a sub selected, you may get little to no bass. Crossover freqs should be NA since you do not have a sub.
     
  19. Dan Kolacz

    Dan Kolacz Stunt Coordinator

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    Yes, all speakers set to LARGE.

    Sub is set to NO.

    ------------------------

    I also tried setting fronts to LARGE, and Center and Surrounds to SMALL. My fronts have two 8" drivers in them. With my old DB930, I could literally feel the movements of the air during certain scenes in movies when there was a lot of bass.
     
  20. Angelo_Petralba

    Angelo_Petralba Second Unit

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    Patti-

    It is MUCH easier to adjust the settings under the OSD (on screen display) where you actually see a visual EQ. I know this helps me out a lot when setting my EQ.

    Good Luck
     

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