We spend a lot of time enjoying the glories and comfort of high-end gear. (Hey, I just returned almost AU$40K worth of Trinnov gear!) We can also be excited about the value of equipment that is closer to entry-level. Sony makes Sony Str-Dh790 Black Friday Deals 2021 equipment that is as affordable as any other company. This STR-DH790 is an upgrade to its base-level DH590 AV Receiver. It has a headline power specification x 7 of 145W, which sounds great and is up from the 140W in the previous model. However, power ratings can be complicated. This is the “Reference Power Output”, which is measured in six ohms at one kHz with a THD of 0.9%. A different measure would be used for comparison: 90W per channel over the entire audio bandwidth at 6 ohms with 0.09% THD, 2 channels driven. This would translate to an output of approximately 67W per channel in eight ohms. Or perhaps more, given the lower current demands.
There are seven channels, and you can use them to either bi-amp the front stereo pair or rear surround speakers or height speakers for Dolby atmos or DTS:X.
There are a few compromises. To protect your warranty, it is important to use speakers with a minimum six ohm nominal impedance. Four-ohm speakers will not be supported. Second, the spring-clip connectors are used for all channels except the left and right front channels. They do not have binding posts. They can accept cables up to 1.5mm thick but this is too much for economy.
Four HDMI inputs are available, each supporting all of the standard features you would expect. They support 4K and UHD at 60Hz, HDR10 and Hybrid Log-Gamma, 3D and Deep Colour. The HDCP 2.2 copy protection system is also included. One HDMI output is available.
There are no analogue video connections, but there are four stereo analogue inputs and one coaxial. Although not an extensive collection, it is sufficient to meet the needs of most systems and provide enough audio for entry and middling systems. The left side of the panel has a 6.35mm socket for headphones.
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This receiver does not include some items that people who have been used to high-end gear might expect. A second zone is not supported. Support for media from USB is not available. However, there is a USB socket that provides 5V/1A power supply so you can charge a phone or iPod when it is connected via an analog input.
Not surprisingly, there is no support whatsoever for either Wi-Fi nor Ethernet networking. Bluetooth is available, which could be a significant advantage for receivers at this price. It supports AAC codec so that most Apple users can enjoy the best Bluetooth sound. It does not support aptX or Sony’s LDAC.
Is the lack of support network a deal-breaker? No. Many of the network-related functions that AV receivers can do are also possible with cheaper Blu-ray or UHD Bluray players. In fact, the UBP-X700 Ultra HD Blu-ray player from Sony cost AU$349 and worked well with this unit (see panel below).
You may also find that some of the networking stuff is duplicated on your TV, especially since Sony’s own models (such our award-winning KD65A1 OLED) prefer the Android interface, which is completely born to network. The A1 wasn’t available, so I used the Netflix app on a LG OLED TV to deliver Netflix sound to my Sony receiver using the HDMI cable. The arrangement worked almost exactly the same way.
The two-prong power cord is lightweight and fixed. The remote control for the Sony infrared camera is also included. It is not possible to control the network or app via this remote.
The receiver displays a basic menu on the TV screen when it is started up. It can overlay any video signal being transmitted, including UHD HDR BT.2020 stuff. This menu can be invoked anytime with the ‘Home” key. There are four options: ‘Watch’ allows you to choose between the four HDMI inputs; ‘Listen’ lets you choose Bluetooth, the FM tuner (there’s no AM tuner), and SA/CD analogue/digital; ‘Easy Setup’ invokes a settings wizard. The ill-named “Sound Effect” allows you to manually adjust the speaker settings.
A calibration microphone is included with the receiver for use in the auto-calibration process. This sets speaker sizes, distances, levels and EQ. It was quick and simple to use and required only one position for the microphone. The process did not include a check step, so I checked the ‘Speaker Settings.’ While the distances and levels seemed correct, all the speakers were set to ‘Large’. Even the ceiling speakers. Although these Jamo two-way 8″ Jamo models are excellent as ceiling speakers, I don’t want them (or any other speakers) to be trying to deal with 20Hz signals. These settings were adjusted manually.
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The sound-field settings had a strong bass that was much more than what is normally available from AV receivers. It’s hard to believe, but it is possible. Yamaha, Denon and Marantz have a sub-dued subwoofer, while Sony has one at least six decibels above. Although I reduced the bass level slightly, you should let your subwoofer’s capabilities, your personal taste, and neighbours’ complaints decide the optimal level.
What about the Sound Effect entry on the Home menu? It didn’t make party noises. You can change the most important settings. It can be used to adjust the ‘Sound Field’. You can choose from Dolby Surround or Neural-X, Front Surround or ‘Audio Enhancer (yuck), Stereo, Multi-channel Stereo, and Direct. Each entry was given a brief description to explain what it does. This is a crucial feature as the plethora processing modes and surrounds can seem overwhelming.
You will also find a Sound Effect’, a Night Mode’ and an ’Equalizer’ for each channel pair. There is also a?Calibration Type’ where you can choose from ‘Engineering (the default), or a?Front Ref, ‘Full Flat,’ or ‘Off. This is the reference that the auto EQ curves attempt to approximate. Front Ref is for people who prefer their front speakers to sound natural and the other speakers to match them. Engineering makes sure that the sound matches “the Sony listening area standard frequency characteristics”. I found that information in the online manual. You can find the information you are looking for in both the printed manual and the online guide. The last setting is the Pure Direct.
A ‘Options” key opens another menu that displays soundfield and AV sync information. An ‘Amp Menu’ button opens a front-panel menu. At first, I thought Sony had gone back a decade in terms of how things were done. Adjusting while looking at a receiver’s display was a tedious task. But it turned out that most settings are simply duplicated from the on-screen menus. The Amp Menu can be helpful when the TV isn’t on. Some of the items that were not duplicated were HDMI settings, and so forth.
The HDMI equipment I used had some issues. I was unable to use my Beyonwiz PVRs with the HDMI input labeled BD/DVD. Both worked flawlessly with the Game or Media Box inputs. Although the Beyonwiz T4 worked well with the SAT/CATV input as well, the sound didn’t. I tried several HDMI cables. I don’t know what was happening there. The BD/DVD input worked well with my selection of UHD and Bluray players, as well as the Sony disc player. The remote has a useful button that displays audio and video signal information, so you have some information to use.
Sound? My speakers were installed in a basic 5.1.2 Dolby atmos layout. As I have said before, there is a very small difference in the experience of one listener between four and two overhead speakers. The speakers I used weren’t too demanding. Tonally, the Sony auto-calibration was excellent. It produced some very high-quality results. I tried to give up on the temptation to return to a high-priced receiver when it was time to watch Blade Runner 2049 Ultra-HD. But I refused to give up. The receiver was very efficient. The surround mixing panel was a fun place for the sound engineers. They used the Atmos object-oriented capabilities of Atmos to make Ryan Gosling’s flying car zoom in from my left shoulder. It also hovered overhead. It could have been done much better with a more expensive system. It happens quickly, and it was done convincingly by the Sony, I suppose.
Music was also very strong, provided that I used the correct speakers and stayed within the receiver’s capabilities. Also, I changed the stereo music sound to ‘Stereo’, ‘Direct’, or ‘Pure Direct’ instead of the stupid ‘All Channel Stereo’ default.
If you have four-ohm speakers, can you cheat and get them for free? Of course, we wouldn’t recommend it. If you have to, be careful with the levels.
Here’s my story. Although I did not use four-ohm speakers at the time, I had one minor problem with my speaker wiring. This was thanks to the adaption of my speaker cables to spring clip speaker outputs. The cable got loose and caused a short. It was a minor issue, but I’m happy to report it was not a major problem. The sound stopped. The receiver briefly displayed on its front panel something about overload or protection and then turned itself off. After I had checked the wiring, I switched it back on. Because the protection was turned off, the remote’s front panel on/standby switch wouldn’t work. The receiver was immediately on and ready to use. The receiver was silent, but I realized that it had turned down the volume to zero. This is another great design feature — people might simply switch it back on without further investigation when they encounter such a switch-off. All was restored to normal after the volume had been raised. Sony, you are a great engineer Sony Str-Dh790 Black Friday Deals 2021 , well-equipped receiver that can be used in conjunction with other Sony gear, provided the inputs are sufficient and the spring-clips do not deter.