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The Sony STR-DN840 is sure to be a crowd pleaser
on May 28, 2013
The "Product Description" and "Product Features" sections above report conflicting Wattage ratings for this receiver. The product description states 165W a channel. The product feature states 150W a channel. The correct Wattage for this receiver is 150W a channel. The STR-DN1040 is rated at 165W per channel.
The current trend in modern A/V home theater receivers is to embrace every possible form of modern technology that enables users to get the most out of their audio needs. This includes all forms of media, both online and in an enthusiast's personal collection, regardless of the digital or analog source. Sony has taken this into consideration with this new receiver but only for newer devices. Sony has been slow to add features such as AirPlay, Bluetooth, and WiFi to their receivers. Both the STR-DN840 and the STR-DN1040 now offer these features and they are a welcome addition. The Sony STR-DN840 and STR-DN1040 are both very nice receivers with some limitations that I'll describe below. They are designed to satisfy those who will integrate current technology, but are sparse in their support of older technology.
The STR-DN840 is a 7.2 receiver that delivers 150W at 8 Ohms into each of the seven channels. Frequency response is 20Hz to 20KHz with total harmonic distortion (THD) at a nominal .9%. The amplifier portion of the unit supports bi-amping and can handle 4, 6, or 8 Ohm speaker loads. These specifications are pretty typical for an A/V receiver and they support enough power to satisfy most consumer installations.
As far as connectivity, the STR-DN840 has six HDMI inputs; two AV inputs (one front and one back); two analog audio inputs; one coaxial input; two optical inputs; and one AM and FM antenna input, respectively. There is no phono input, so don't expect to add a turntable without a separate phone amp. Outputs include two pre out, one HDMI out, one composite video out/monitor out, and one headphone out. Network connectivity is provided by one Ethernet jack on the rear panel and integrated WiFi. Both 3D over HDMI and an audio return channel are also supported.
While the STR-DN840 offers a nice selection of inputs and outputs, it's not an appreciable amount of connections for those with a number of devices. For those with a TV, VCR, CD/DVD, Roku box, turntable, cassette deck, video camera, and Wii gaming console, the STR-DN840 doesn't offer all the connections needed to attach each of these devices. The lesson here is to list all your items with associated connections to be sure you'll be able to connect all of them to this receiver. In contrast, the STR-DN840s bigger brother, the STR-DN1040, supports a larger amount of connections. If you're interested in the STR-DN840 and find it doesn't offer all the connections you need, take a look at the STR-DN1040 and see if that better suits your needs. If you have a number of older devices to connect, manufacturers like Yamaha integrate a number of older-style inputs into their receiver; you might want to keep looking around.
The one feature that stands out for a receiver at this price is integrated Bluetooth and WiFi. Onkyo and Yamaha both offer these features at a higher price point than the STR-DN840, which is a nice selling point for Sony. Both the STR-DN840 and STR-DN1040 offer wireless capabilities with Bluetooth and WiFi. Some receivers offer network ability, but a WiFi adapter has to be configured separately to get wireless access with a local network. Sony integrated WiFi into the STR-DN840 and the STR-DN1040 and this is an excellent feature.
Another nice feature is 4K video pass through and upscaling, which supports the latest generation of 4K televisions. Upscaling ensures media at lower resolutions display on the 1080p format. Sony assumes you'll have this receiver for a number of years, so 4K video pass through is a nice feature. It allows the receiver to grow with you, if you plan to upgrade to this new breed of television.
Additional features supported by the STR-DN840 are iPod and iPhone connectivity by USB. You can also freely download Media Remote and Network Audio Remote apps to use your iPhone or Android device as a remote control. This is a relatively new feature many manufacturers are beginning to integrate. In addition, Sony has integrated the ability to sync to other Sony BRAVIA devices utilizing an HDMI CDC connection. These devices include Sony Blu-ray Disc players, BRAVIA HDTVs, and Sony home theater equipment.
Network services built into the receiver are music streaming through Music Unlimited, Pandora, Slacker, and vTuner. Music can also be streamed using Airplay. This opens the receiver up to a new world of musical content that extends far past the typical terrestrial AM/FM radio stations.
In terms of sound processing, the STR-DN840 has a number of sonic fields build into the unit. These sonic fields emulate the acoustic characteristics of different ambient environments, such as a jazz club, Berlin Philharmonic Hall, or a live concert. Some find this feature a novelty while others love it. It's an added feature worth exploring. Yamaha's RX-V line of receivers integrates a larger number of sonic fields. If this feature is important to you, you might want to also take a look at Yamaha's receiver line and compare it with other manufactures before purchasing this Sony receiver.
The STR-DN840 also supports the usual array of decoding formats required to reproduce many types of audio playback.
One feature missing is the addition of zone 2 playback, which would enable a second set of speakers to be installed in another location, like outside on the deck, downstairs in an office, or in some other room. Zone 2 coverage would make the remote app much more important because it could control the second zone from a different location within the living space. This feature is available in other receivers in this class range, but absent in the STR-DN840.
An additional feature missing is a phono input for those of us who still enjoy vinyl and want to connect a turntable to the receiver. This can be overcome by the purchase of a separate phono amp. These range in price from $50 for cheaper ones to hundreds of dollars for audiophile amps. The STR-DN840 isn't as accommodating for legacy (older) equipment and Sony obviously assumes most consumers are integrating newer, modern devices with the receiver.
Sonic quality is excellent for a receiver of this class. It has plenty of punch and power to drive a surround sound system and hold up against the workings of a decent subwoofer. Turning the volume down doesn't result in an appreciable loss in low end, as is common with cheaper receivers. Dynamic range is also good. Don't expect a thin and homogenized reproduction of sound. Music and movies play well with nicely detailed reproduction.
The STR-DN840 has a reasonable-sized footprint for having as much packed into it as it does. It measures 16.9" x 6.14" x 12.97".
Sony did the right thing by integrating Bluetooth and WiFi directly into the STR-DN840. These are very important features to many consumers and they make this receiver quite attractive. The STR-DN840 contains a nice selection of features at a very attractive price. It lacks multizone coverage and is a bit anemic in terms of connections for those with a number of components. It is also lacking in terms of support of legacy equipment, such as a turntable. For the average consumer, it has all the latest technological features built into it, ready for use. Sonically, it performs well as a consumer-grade receiver. It has clarity and detail that will certainly make it a crowd pleaser within its price class.