Top positive review
549 people found this helpful
Best Available at This Price
on December 23, 2012
First, let's get the power specifications out of the way. An expectation of a robust 135wpc at this price and weight class is unrealistic, and is something of an overstatement for this receiver. Note that Sony only specifies this output at 1khz, not all across the audible range. The more revealing power spec they provide claims 90wpc from 20hz to 20khz (which includes all audible frequencies, of course) into 8 ohms with .09% distortion. That's good. However, it would have been even more informative if Sony had also provided 4 ohm power specs, which would have given an even better idea of how much oomph the amp section is capable. At this price, size, and weight such an omission is understandable. Therefore this receiver should be viewed as, at best, a 90wpc model. That is actually very good for the price, especially for those who understand that power output is not a linear scale - there really isn't much difference between 90wpc and 135wpc. Suffice it to say that most people will be able to crank up the volume louder than they care to listen with most speakers.
The reasons I chose to purchase this receiver are it's low price and the fact that I still own and use one of its very similar predecessors from a decade ago, the STR185DE, rated 100wpc at this same price. I almost never turn it off - in other words after roughly ten years of virtually continuous service, it still looks and sounds new, and the remote control as well as front panel controls all still function properly. I anticipate that this descendant of the 185 will perform just as reliably. I also believe that the other brands available at less money will neither hold up so well, nor sound as good. This belief is based on many years experience as an audio enthusiast, and former audio salesman.
Which brings us to sound quality. I have several systems in my home which include such brands as Lexicon, NAD, Adcom, Paradigm and ADS - highish end brands much more expensive than this receiver. I'm using this Sony to drive a pair of ADS L-780 speakers which, though 20+ years old, still look and sound wonderful. I previously used an NAD receiver which cost more than $500 with these ADS. The sound quality is virtually identical using the Sony; I'm sure that if blindfolded I'd be unable to distinguish between them, and the ADS are very revealing three-way loudspeakers.
If you do want a better receiver than this Sony, then I'd suggest you check out the Yamaha R-S500BL also available via amazon but at about three times the price. The Onkyo TX-8255 might be a contender at only about $50 more than this Sony, but is not clearly superior in my mind. Or if you want something truly special, look at the Outlaw RR2150 also available here for almost six times the price - I'd love to have one of those myself, but it isn't in the budget right now. Plus, I already own some high end separate components anyway (my Adcom power amps are the big ones, originally priced at almost three grand for the pair). I didn't write this to brag; I simply wanted to show that even knowledgeable 'audiophiles' sometimes need a more budget-friendly solution to their audio needs, and that we make careful choices when compromise is necessary. This Sony lacks some of the features of the Yamaha and Outlaw models mentioned above, but nothing else I know of near this price range delivers the sound quality I demand as adequately as does the Sony. Good affordable stuff.
UPDATE: Nearing a year of daily use now. Not a glitch, not a hitch. Not the smallest glimmer of a problem. Looks new, sounds new, operates flawlessly. I admit that in this room, I don't push an amp hard at all - when I want to crank hard I have other systems which will do that, no problem. But it's in my computer room and gets used daily, connected to a pair of Paradigm Mini Monitors v3, which despite the name is a pair of decent-sized bookshelf speakers capable of surprisingly deep bass (they're about 14" x 8" x 12" hwd). They sound great with this affordable Sony receiver. So I'm still happy with the purchase.
Two-year Edit: Still works and sounds like new. Am amazed that this model is currently under review by Amazon due to customer complaints. Mine has been solid. Just ordered two more as Christmas gifts for my sons; I hope theirs are good, too.
Third Year Edit: The Sony just keeps working perfectly, remote control and all. Still looks new. This year I gifted another of these, bringing my total to five purchased during these three years. All sound great and I continue to get thank-yous from owners. Great value, especially at sale price.