Sony has stepped up their game with the Sony STR-DN 1040 a/v receiver. Like last years STRDN1030, the 1040 has built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. It also has 8 HDMI inputs and 2 outputs which is a little surprising at this price point. A/V receivers have typically had archaic and difficult to use interfaces. Although we’ve seen improvement in recent years, most a/v receivers still suffer from poorly designed and difficult to navigate interfaces. Sony with the STRDN1040 has perhaps one of the most attractive UI’s of any a/v receiver. In fact, if you’re familiar with the interface on the PS3 then you’ll feel right home with the 1040’s setup menus, it’s slick looking and easy to use and other a/v manufacturers should take notice.
Sony STRDN 1040 Appearance and Connectivity
The Sony STRDN1040 has a more minimalist look than last years models. Last years 1030 had a cluttered appearance, the STRDN1040 has a much cleaner look. Don’t get us wrong, like most a/v receivers it’s still big and bulky, but it has a much more refined appearance than most a/v receivers. It’s design is reminiscient of Onkyo’s, the buttons on the front are small, rectangular and unobtrusive. The right side has two knobs, one for the input selection and one for the volume control. Overall, it’s a nice update over previous models.
Turn the Sony STRDN1040 around and you’ll see the variety of connectivity options you have at your fingertips. As mentioned above, it has 8 HDMI inputs which is unheard of at this price point and 2 HDMI outputs. It also features 2 digital optical and 1 coaxial connection to go along with 2 analog audio and 2 component inputs. The Sony STRDN1040 doesn’t have a ton of analog connections, but this isn’t too much of hindrance since most modern a/v equipment utilize HDMI connections.
Sony STR-DN 1040 List of Inputs / Outputs
- HDMI: 8 in /2 out
- Digital Optical In: 2
- Digital Coaxial In: 1
- Component Video In: 2
- Analog Audio/Video In: 2
- Ethernet: Yes
- Headphone Out: Yes
- Subwoofer Pre Outs: 2
The STR-DN1040 of course has a wired Ethernet connection which has become a standard in recent years. However, a few features that are slowly starting to break into the a/v arena are WiFi and Bluetooth. Last year Sony was one of the first a/v manufacturers to incorporate WiFi and Bluetooth into their mid-range receivers. This year, Onkyo followed Sony’s lead by offering WiFi and Bluetooth in their 626, 727, 828 and 929 receivers. The Sony STRDN1040 continues this trend in wireless connectivity. The benefit to this is numerous. For instance, for consumers in an older home the WiFi makes it incredibly easy to get online without the need to run Ethernet cables throughout the house. Firmware updates are also easier than ever since you can wirelessly download the latest updates for the receiver. The 1040 is also Airplay compatible which means you can wirelessly stream music from your apple device directly to the receiver. The Sony STRDN1040 also gives you access to a variety of streaming radio stations such as Pandora, Slacker and vTuner. Other manufacturers such as Onkyo do offer a wider variety of internet radio stations to choose from, but this isn’t too much of a drawback considering the ease at which you can stream music from your Apple or Droid device. WiFi and Bluetooth are just beginning to show up in modern a/v receivers and unlike some technology trends, hopefully this is one that will stick around.
Sony STRDN1040 Features
Of any home theater receiver currently on the market, the Sony STR-DN1040 may have the nicest looking interface. Years ago when the sony playstation 3 first launched Sony had stated that they’d hoped to carry the PS3’s user interface throughout it’s entire product line. When you first start up the STR-DN1040 you can definitely see the influence of the PS3. The interface is very clean and intuitive and if you’ve used Sony’s PS3 before you’ll be right at home. Options are cleanly labeled with titles such as “Watch”, “Listen”, “Sound Effects” and “Settings” with large and simple graphical icons that look great on an HD display. One thing that’s a little disappointing is that you can’t rename the inputs but that’s a small gripe.
The 1040 is rated at about 165 watts per channel (165W x 7 @ 8ohms 1kHz 0.9% THD with 1 ch. driven). Please notice the 1 channel driven designation. In reality if your running all 7 channels simultaneously, you can expect to have a much lower power output. Probably in the range of 90 – 120 watts per channel. This is still plenty of power to run most dedicated home theaters without a problem.
For anyone with a 3D compatible TV, the Sony STRDN1040 is capable of handling 3D content. Although we question the viability of 3D in its current format especially with ESPN recently announcing the cancellation of their 3D channel one has to question how much life current 3D technology has left. However, one technology on the horizon that will probably have more staying power than 3D, is 4K. 4K is roughly 4x the resolution of 1080p. Despite the current lack of content and affordable displays, 4K probably has more potential than 3D does in its current state especially with screen sizes getting increasingly bigger. The Sony STRDN 1040 is capable of 4K pass through and upscaling which is a definite bonus.
Sony uses their own calibration software called Digital Cinema Auto Calibration (DCAC). Like Audyssey and other calibration software used by other manufacturers, it automatically sets the speaker distances, levels etc. for an optimal listening experience. Typically, Sony’s calibration software does a good job, however one reviewer over at CNET who also reviewed the 1040 said they had issues with it mislabeling speakers as “large” when they should have been designated as “small”. Usually Sony’s calibration software is pretty accurate so it’s a little surprising that it made such as an egregious error.
The Sony STR-DN1040 also features sound optimization software which helps balance out the sound levels even at low volume levels. The big benefit of this feature is that It also helps to maintain sound volume levels when switching between sources. So you don’t have to worry about shockingly loud TV commercials when you’re watching your favorite TV program. For those of you looking for a receiver that offers 2nd zone operation you’ll be glad to hear that the 1040 does support 2 zone operation. The one caveat is that it’s not powered zone 2. So ideally you’d either need powered speakers in the 2nd zone or a separate amplifier.
There’s a lot to like about the Sony STR-DN1040. It’s $599 price tag is a little steep, but when you factor in the built-in WiFi, Bluetooth and it’s great looking user interface it’s actually not such a bad price. It would have been nice to have powered zone 2 operation however, this is a feature that most people probably won’t use. At the time of this review, Onkyo is the only other a/v manufacturing offering WiFi and Bluetooth on it’s mid range receivers. And in this price range the Onkyo 626 compares most favorably to the Sony STRDN1040 with the 1040 slightly edging out the 626 in terms of power output and Airplay capability. Overall the 1040 has all the features that you need for a home theater setup in fact, it may have too many for some.
|Onkyo (800) 229-1687 onkyousa.com||Denon (201) 762-6665 usa.denon.com||Yamaha (800) 4-YAMAHA usa.yamaha.com|
|Pioneer (800) 421-1404 pioneerelectronics.com||Harman Kardon (203) 328-3500 harmankardon.com||Samsung 1-800-SAMSUNG samsung.com|
|Seiki Digital 1 (855) 697-3454 www.seiki.com||Sony (877) 865-SONY sony.com||Sharp USA 1-800-237-4277 sharpusa.com|