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Sony Moving Into Cheap End Of Hi Fi Market

By Wire Service & Staff | Thursday | 03/03/2011

Do you remember when Sony Hi Fi gear use to be really good, then like a lot of Sony gear it became cheap and nasty or simply disappeared from the market.

Well the Company is back taking a stab at the bottom end of the Hi Fi market, with a new range of A/V receivers (AVRs) which in the US is priced between $230 to $500. This price could take a belting in OZ if Sony Australia's track record is anything to go by.

According to TWICE, all models feature Dolby Pro Logic IIz post processing to add front-height channels to a surround system. The feature is currently available in three ES-series models.

 The $500 7x100-watt STR-DN1020, due in May, also offers three other features currently available only in the ES series $1,099 and up. They include Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) certification to play music stored on a networked PC or other connected DLNA device; Internet radio; and the ability to be fully controlled from an iPod/iPhone app.

 The new model can also be controlled via an Android app.

The $500 model is also the company's first AVR with wireless HomeShare capability, enabling it to stream music via Wi-Fi to powered Wi-Fi speaker systems introduced at International CES. The speaker systems also stream music wirelessly from networked PCs and network-attached storage drives, from a wireless iPod dock, from select networked Blu-ray players, and from two of three new iPod-docking HTiBs.

All the AVRs feature HDMI standby passthrough, but decoding of all Blu-ray surround formats and HDMI 1.4a inputs and outputs now starts at $230, the company said. 1080p up-scaling continues to start at $400, and HDMI 1.4 audio return channel (ARC) continues to start at $230, a spokesman said.

The lineup looks like this:

 The STR-DH520 7.1 Channel receiver, due in Match, features 7x100-watt amplifier, HDMI 3D passthrough, audio return channel, standby HDMI passthrough, four HDMI inputs, Pro Logic IIz, decoding of all Blu-ray surround formats, automatic volume control Bravia Sync, and Bravia Widget unified on-TV interface.

The  STR-DH720, also due in March, features 7x105-watt amp and adds up-conversion/up-scaling of analog video to 1080i over HDMI, iPhone/iPod video and music playback via USB, graphic onscreen UI, and Digital Cinema Auto Calibration to correct for room acoustics characteristics.

The STR-DH820, due in March,  features 7x110-watt amp and adds up-conversion/up-scaling of analog video to 1080p video via HDMI, included iPod/iPhone dock to connect to the USB iPod interface, Digital Legato Linear (D.L.L.) advanced sound processing, second-zone audio and video output, and dual subwoofer pre-outs.

The top-end STR-DN1020, due in May at $500, is rated at 7x110 watts and adds access to streaming Internet radio services Slacket an vTuner, compatibility with Sony HomeShare wireless network speakers, iPhone/iPod touch remote control app,  DLL advanced sound processing, sound optimizer for compressed music, and IR in and out.


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