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208 of 219 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars (Almost) everything I wanted.. but VERY confusing/overwhelming
Let me start off by saying that I'm not new to home theater equipment. I've been using receivers for about 10 years now (SONY STR-* receivers) and have been generally happy with them.

When looking for an upgrade from my previous 7.1 receiver to one that supports the new HD audio formats (DTS-HDMA, Dolby TrueHD, LPCM), this one seemed to be the newest, cheapest,...
Published on April 29, 2011 by MiRSD

versus
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Only one little hiccup..........
This receiver works exceptionally well for the money. But be aware that the zone 2 option does not transmit signals from devices connected via HDMI. Zone 2 requires an additional power source to drive speakers (i.e. second receiver). So, by cleaning up my connections to main receiver via HDMI, I've pretty much made zone 2 output useless since the only signals I can...
Published on August 4, 2011 by pickled oldman


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208 of 219 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars (Almost) everything I wanted.. but VERY confusing/overwhelming, April 29, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sony STRDH820 7.2 Channel 3D AV Receiver (Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
Let me start off by saying that I'm not new to home theater equipment. I've been using receivers for about 10 years now (SONY STR-* receivers) and have been generally happy with them.

When looking for an upgrade from my previous 7.1 receiver to one that supports the new HD audio formats (DTS-HDMA, Dolby TrueHD, LPCM), this one seemed to be the newest, cheapest, full-featured model available (about 300 dollars) without going for last years' model for slightly less. When I mention my "previous receiver", I'm referring to a ~4 or so year old STR-DV10 receiver that cost about 200 bucks at the time (new/retail price).

The first surprise was that this is actually a 7.2 receiver (even stated as such on the box) - it has 2 Subwoofer outputs on the back (Amazon is listing it as a 7.1 channel receiver).

One important thing to me were the speaker outputs on the back - these are all "banana plug" style, making it MUCH more convenient to attach speakers (my previous receivers were the same, but looking at other models it seems like this isn't exactly something that comes standard on all receivers - the others I looked at used the spring/clamping connection method).

Regarding the speakers, one important thing to note is that the traditional 5 channels are all there (Center, Front left/Right, Surround left/right) but the other 2 channels are split between: SURROUND BACK, FRONT HIGH, BI-AMP, or FRONT B - this means you can only use one of these modes (so if you want to use a 7.1 system, you can't also have a separate "B Speakers" setup). Not important to me, but worth noting in case it's important to you. My previous sony receiver (STR-DV10) had 7 Banana plug inputs (for the 7.1) plus 2 Banana plug inputs for the "B" speakers.

Inputs on the back are:
4 HDMI in, 1 HDMI out
2 Component in, 1 Component out (it actually SAYS 3 component in everywhere, but unless the COMPONENT OUT can be swapped to Component In, there are only 2 inputs).
About 7 Stereo (red/white) inputs and multiple outputs, 4 of them having a video (yellow) input. (1 of these Red/White/Yellow inputs is on the front)
1 Digital Coaxial input
2 Optical Inputs
1 AM input, 1 FM input (plus antennas)
1 USB input on the front)

I will note that there is no S-Video input - my previous receivers had this and I *DID* use it years ago. I don't have any S-Video devices any longer, but it is worth noting (for those who do) there is no S-Video option here (RCA, Component or HDMI). My previous receiver had 3 S-Video inputs right next to the RCA inputs.

I didn't have a need for the RCA (red/white/yellow) inputs, so I can't go too into detail about them - if you have a specific question, leave a comment and I'll try to check for you.

It is a bit disappointing that there is a lack of Optical inputs - a number of my devices still use optical audio (and have no HDMI output -- the original XBox 360, some tuners and slightly older hardware - having only 2 Optical inputs is a problem for me (my previous SONY receiver had 4 optical and 2 digital coaxial)).

The design is somewhat good, somewhat bad.

I like the black metal - much nicer than my previous (Silver) sony receiver. On the downside, most of the buttons are removed from the receiver. My last one let you do just about EVERYTHING from the receiver, the new one seems to have combined buttons (the Input Select, for example, is no longer a button you press for the input you want (EX: Video 1, Video 2, Video 3, DVD, Game, Aux) but rather a jog-dial you turn to select what you want. The nice blue "Multi Channel Decoding" LED up front is gone, but not a big deal. Lastly, the RCA input on the front doesn't look too great - it would have been nice to have a flip-cover on this, but again that's just nit-picking.

One unexpected surprise is the inclusion of an iPod/iPhone dock - all throughout the materials it says "iPod/iPhone connection cord (sold separately)", but it includes a dock (with USB cable and Video cable) - both of these connect to the front of the receiver. In addition to the iPod/iPhone dock, you can plug in a USB drive or select MP3 players to listen to music. A nice addition.

Another surprise was the inclusion of a microphone for Auto Calibration. I haven't tested this, but the microphone has a nice reach (probably 15 feet?), making it long enough for most rooms. This is supposed to automatically set the levels of the speakers for you.

The remote control, to me, was a nightmare. It looks like the PS3 remote control (nice!) but is about 2" taller.

The problem is that they try to add EVERYTHING to the remote control. Half the buttons have multiple functions (theres a "shift" button), and it's near impossible to find some stuff.

AutoCal, Display, Sound Optimizer, Sound Field+, Sound Field-, Guide, GUI Mode, Tools/Options, Disc Skip, iPhone ctrl, Top Menu, Menu, TV Input, Wide, F1, F2, Auto Vol, Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, D. Tuning, Folder+, Folder-, to name a few.

I'm sure these are good to have, but it's just very confusing to deal with when you might rarely use any of these (which was nice previously when they were part of the physical buttons on the unit (or even menu options) on previous models. Having "Next Chapter" and "Shuffle" be the same button, "Stop" and "D. Tuning, " Auto Cal and Display, it's just confusing.
The purpose is so that you can program it to work with your TV, Blu-Ray player, etc.. but for those who just want to use it for the receiver functions (and use your existing remote controls) this is just a hassle.

Some buttons I don't even understand - I get the "Prev. Chapter"/"Next Chapter" button, the "Rewind"/"Fast Forward" button, but then there's another button for "Replay the previous scene or fast forward the current scene".

One thing my previous receiver didn't have was an onscreen GUI - maybe I was expecting too much from this (I was expecting an overlay on top of the screen input), it actually cuts out the video/audio and goes to a very basic GUI (graphical user interface) on screen. Fortunately you can control menu options by pressing GUI MODE on the remote control until it says "GUI OFF", then press the HOME/MENU button on the remote control to navigate the same options on the receivers' display.

The remote control has a "Bravia Sync" mode, which is supposed to let you control connected SONY products using the remote control. Check your products before though, to see if they work (the old, "Fat" PS3 doesn't support this, the new "Slim" PS3 does). This did cause issues with my Panasonic plasma (Panasonic has a feature called VieraLink which is supposed to do the same thing, but when BraviaSync and VieraLink try to interact, it causes the receiver to constantly go into MUTE mode. This can be solved by disabling VieraLink on the TV).

My next problem with this is the manual. So much of it is just downright confusing even for someone who has always "gotten" this stuff in the past). It refers to different logos ("Select (weird logo) then press (weird logo)". Sometimes these are a physical button on the remote, sometimes it's an odd icon you only see onscreen using GUI mode. It's also just downright confusing to read (not that it's too technical, but that some stuff just doesn't make sense)

So I've complained for almost this entire review, but I still gave it a 4-star rating. Why?

Well, I like it. The sound quality is great, it has a lot of HDMI inputs and can decode all the latest formats (Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio), has a lot of power and doesn't cost too much money. My issues are mostly with it being more confusing (they seemed to both simplify it and make it more advanced, and you can't really do both). For someone who has never had issues with receivers, this one was a nightmare to get set up properly, but once that's done it doesn't matter. I would have made some changes to it (7 RCA inputs but only 2 Optical inputs?), but overall it fit my needs. I'd recommend it if you have patience to fight through getting this set up.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reciever - couldn't be happier., May 27, 2011
By 
Dustin Childers (Grand Rapids, Michigan USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sony STRDH820 7.2 Channel 3D AV Receiver (Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I've owned this unit for 2 months now, and I'm very happy with it. I'm new to home audio, and by no means an audiophile - so this might seem like a layman review (which is probably a plus for many people researching). I paired this receiver along with a mid-range Polk Audio 5.1 speaker set and I'm floored by the difference...then again I'm upgrading from the terrible speakers inside my 50" Plamsa, so I knew I'd be happy with the difference. What I am also happy with is that I didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how to set this up. After getting my speakers in place (which was the biggest time consumer of this project) and the wires where I needed them, it took about 20 minutes to actually connect the wires and start calibrating.

What I love about this receiver is that it is "up-converting", meaning I could plug my Wii into it with the component cables, and it would output via the HDMI cable. So having only one cable going from the receiver to the TV was a big win for me. Not only that, this unit has an on screen graphical display so I don't have to try to decipher the short hand on the front of the unit. It's very easy to navigate, and the auto calibration with the microphone went seamlessly. I've been able to tweak levels as I see fit as time goes on very easily do to that on screen display.

Another thing I'll say is that this plays very well with my Samsung TV and blu-ray player, which was something I worried about, but all is well. It's very intuitive: if the blu-ray player or Wii is on before I turn on the unit, it automatically switches to whatever input is outputting a signal: big plus for my wife who might be annoyed by the amount of remotes and button pushing to get anything working.

I researched receivers for months before settling on this unit, and I couldn't be happier.
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58 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! An STR 8xx from Sony that works!, April 8, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sony STRDH820 7.2 Channel 3D AV Receiver (Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
Finally, Excellent!

A correction: This is a 7.2 Channel 3D A/V Receiver and not a 7.1, which is a nice thing. This unit has 2 subwoofer outputs vs. its two predecessors (800 & 810) which only have one. My comments on this unit are based on my comparative experiences with the STRDH-810 and the STRDH-800 models from Sony. I just purchased and returned 2 of the STRDH-810's, the first had a blown HDM1 port and the neither unit's input port assignment work properly, after searching on the net and reading reviews and comments on various web sites it's apparent this is a major design flaw on the previous models. I spent hours and hours trying to make this work until I finally realized it didn't. On this model, I had everything hooked up and working in 5 minutes.

Off the top, I've only played with this unit for a couple of days, this unit as perfect as perfect can be for a 3D A/V Receiver in this price range. Finally the input assignments are predefined and make sense. 3D Features, I don't know and I don't care since I don't like or watch 3D content. Input assignments, flawless so far. Ease of use and installation, excellent. As far as power, performance and the use of most features I will have to update my review after I receive and connect my subwoofer next week.

My setup consists of a Sony Bravia KDL 46" LCD, Cablevision DVR cablebox, Sony dual cassette tape deck, Sony DVD/VHS Combo Deck, Sony PS/3 game console, Sony Blue-Ray BD unit, Polk Audio Monitor 60's, a CS20 center channel, 4 Monitor 40's for rear and sides and I'm waiting for a Polk DSW Pro 600 to arrive.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice receiver overall, April 13, 2011
This review is from: Sony STRDH820 7.2 Channel 3D AV Receiver (Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I have owned this receiver for a couple weeks now, I'm using it in a 2.1 configuration.

I am using the 820's Bi-Amp feature, where the internal amplifier that normally drives the 'B' set of speakers is used at the same time as the 'A' amp to drive your front speakers. This allows one amp to drive the woofer portion and the other to drive the tweeter/mids for a slightly cleaner signal/sound (make sure to remove the conducting bridge on your speaker terminals if using this mode).

The on-screen setup menu is decent, giving lots of configuration options that are pretty standard for most mid-range amplifiers these days: speaker configuration, crossover point, etc. Inputs can also be assigned from here. My only complaint is the interface "feels" a little clunky (especially trying to setup stored radio stations), but if you're patient gets the job done.

The only real downside I've come across that probably won't affect most users is the pass-through resolution is limited to 1920x1080 (normal HD tv specs), so if you're hoping to use this for a computer monitor capable of 1920x1200 resolution I wasn't able to find any way to get it to display. This seems to be a limitation for most any consumer level receiver right now, so I can't really fault it for not providing this capability. Hopefully one day Sony will begin to support higher resolution (or release a firmware update, since HDMI 1.4a should be able to support 1920x1200).
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Step Up, July 13, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sony STRDH820 7.2 Channel 3D AV Receiver (Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
Simple answer: 'It goes to 11.' Buy it. It's worth it.

At this level I believe this to be one of Sony's mid-range receivers. It adds a few more watts than the 5 and 7 series below it as well as a couple of other bells and whistles that I might not have paid for had it not been so close in price making it sub $300 to my door.

The installation wasn't as difficult as some reviewers suggested - but it is also by no means completely intuitive either. A little stumbling and trial and error delayed my enjoyment by maybe 10 minutes.

One major challenge was the Audio set up with a PS3. Being Sony and a simple HDMI hookup I believed this would have been as simple as plugging in the HDMI cables. No - and perhaps the challenge was more with the PS3. From what I was able to determine (searching across the interweb) the PS3 and receiver are capable of communicating in pure HD format. No compression or conversion necessary. So DTS won't necessarily work (DTS light doesn't appear) - but the sound quality is there. You have to trick the PS3 into sending the DTS formatted sound to the receiver and it will work. You must also correlate this to your choice of digital sound mode (Hall, Movie, Music, etc.). Most options will turn 5.1 or DTS off and artificially try to create it.

What helped make all of that better was the Digital Cinema Auto Calibration. That's a fancy way of saying it includes a microphone that you set in the middle of your room and it automatically adjusts the audio of each speaker for you . . .no distance setting, no raising this one and lowering that one. It did it in less than 60-seconds and sounds fantastic!

Pros:
* 7.2 (I have only 5 speakers - but will add 2, but have 2 subs for full range of bass)
* HD Inputs - their website says 7, but only 4 are available
* Second Zone (great for outdoors or listening in another room - though as noted in others reviews it precludes the use of 7.2 if you use zone 2 speakers)
* 'Pass through' on HDMI - Lets you watch TV or Sat or PS3 or whatever w/o using receiver - but will require you to switch it on if you want to change from one to another.
* Bravia Sync - if you have a Sony TV as I do, it allows for control of TV and receiver (TV turns on/off automatically w/ receiver)
* Ipod hookup - not only can you hook up your ipod through the supplied base and associative USB cable, but it also sends video to your TV for track info and allows complete control (playlists, artists, songs, random, etc.)
* Auto calibration of speakers.
* The sound: no distortion, no hissing - crisp and clean!

Cons:
* A bit more challenging to set up than necessary (but not overly hard either)
* PS3 Audio set up (see above)

Would I recommend/do it again?
Absolutely. The sound is fantastic and the features are very nice. The price point isn't 'up there' nor I'm sure are all the features. Mine was a great upgrade from what I had and delivers fantastic sound quality and a bargain of a price. Even without some of the Sony features, it's still a great unit from day-to-day that won't make you sorry living with it for years to come.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sony STRDH820 7.2 hannel 3D A V Receiver bought at Amazon, May 5, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sony STRDH820 7.2 Channel 3D AV Receiver (Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I haven't used many of the functions yet.

All I can say for now is that I was a little disappointed that The two component connections can not be used if you use the HDMI connections that correspond to them.

I have to unplug the HDMI connections to use the component connections. I can use the other two HDMI connections with the component connections, and that's what I'm doing.

So in short, I can have 4 HDMI connections, or I can have two HDMI connections and two component connections at the same time. Not 4 HDMI and two component.

For what I'm using it for so far, the unit works great!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 1 misleading spec, August 14, 2011
By 
Chuck Nielsen (Arroyo Grande, Ca.) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sony STRDH820 7.2 Channel 3D AV Receiver (Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
One thing that surprised me was that there are exactly 4 inputs on this box. It lists 4 HDMI, 1 component, composite video, etc. If you use all 4 HDMI ports, you can't access the others. So just make sure you have 4 or less devices, regardless of their connection type.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sony strdh820 7.1 AV Receiver, April 13, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sony STRDH820 7.2 Channel 3D AV Receiver (Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I bought this receiver to replace an old Sony receiver I had for 10+ years. I recently bought a Plasma TV and wanted something that was not very expensive, and can upconvert analog over HDMI. For under $300 shipped to my door this receiver has done that. I am now running 1 HDMI cable from my TV to the receiver. I have my Wii, DVD, and Cable box all connected to the the receiver and so far its working like I had hopped. I havent messed with the other features yet, assigning or using the auto setup mic for setting the speakers. I usually manually set it anyway.

The only thing I feel I should mention, is once you fire up the TV it automatically signals to turn on the receiver. Once the receiver initializes the TV screen finally shows up. When this happens it takes as long as the receiver to be ready which isn't instant. If you can live with that you should be fine. Its probably a 5-10sec process.

If your looking for a decent optioned receiver without breaking the bank this seems to be the best deal for the $. And I was only able to find it priced this good on Amazon!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Value for High Tech Receiver - Read the Manual First!, December 29, 2011
By 
Arnold Bookheim (Shreveport, LA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Sony STRDH820 7.2 Channel 3D AV Receiver (Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I know ... I know ... real men don't read manuals. But no matter how knowledgeable you may be about audio equipment, if you fail to read at least page 34 (Initializing the receiver) you will not even know how to properly turn this unit on for the first time. I honestly don't know what the consequences of that would be, because I happened to have read page 34 before my unit arrived at my house. Most people who buy off the internet are aware of the fact that you can download manuals. So you can at least partially read the manual BEFORE you get whatever it is you have ordered. Having this receiver for a week now, and re-reading some of the reviews, it is apparent that many of the reviewers did not get to page 34, and/or did not read much of the manual or simply misinterpreted parts of the manual. In their defense I would add that Sony should have included the information on page 34 of the manual in the Quick Guide (which nearly everyone reads ... even real men!). Step 3 in the quick guide would lead you to believe that you simply push the power button, when in fact you must hold the power button for 5 seconds until "CLEARING" and then "CLEARED!" appears on the display. I thought it important to mention this in hopes that at least some of the operational problems reported in some of the reviews might be avoided. Reviews are not a substitute for reading a manual however. (A consumer review refers to a review written by the owner of a product or the user of a service who has sufficient experience to comment on reliability and whether or not the product or service delivers on its promises. Ref. Wikipedia)
... Here's mine.
I wasn't in the market for a new receiver, but when my fifteen year old Pioneer VSX-604S began smoking I figured it was time for a replacement. After cruising Amazon and other online sellers for a couple of days ... reading reviews and analyzing who the sellers are and various shipping scenarios, I chose the Sony STRDH820 for its great value in a mid-range AV receiver. It has everything I need and then some. Plenty of power, tons of features, great surround sound and plenty of hookups. Plus it is a fantastic price and shipped free from Amazon. I felt confident it would arrive in just a few days ... which it did ... five stars to Amazon!
The unit is well constructed and nice looking. Setting up the Sony was not difficult and actually eliminated some of the wires needed for the old Pioneer. I did have to fiddle with the speaker connections some (old folks like me will need lots of light to see exactly where to stick the wire). I considered getting some banana plugs which would have made connecting the speaker wires easier. I may do that later anyway, but right now I can't see why since they are connected and working (don't fix what ain't broke). The old Pioneer had spring clips which were very easy to use. I guess the banana option is now the standard and if you're buying this or any other similar receiver, I would recommend purchasing (from Amazon of course) a 24 pack of banana plugs at the same time. I also used optical audio cable (new to me) to connect some of the sound sources. It seems to make a difference, and allows for fewer wires. One HDMI Out to the TV handles all the Video (CATV, Blue Ray, DVD/VCR) except the Wii which is still connected by composite (not component) cables to the TV. The HDMI Audio Return Channel (ARC) did not work for me because my HDMI cables are not up to date and do not support ARC. This is NOT the fault of the Sony Receiver or the TV (which claims to be ARC capable as well) and is not considered in my rating. Straight TV sound and Wii sound in my setup is returned from the TV to the Sony Receiver by the Optical Audio Cable to the input clearly marked "TV optical in" on the back of the receiver. As for upconversion, non-HD TV programs don't appear to be any better than before. A VHS tape looked just as horrible as before. DVD's played in my Blue-ray player are nearly HD, but I'm not sure if that is done by the LG Blue-ray player or the Sony receiver.
The large selection of Sound Fields are fun to play around with. I find myself flipping to page 55 often to learn what some of them are. I'll probably settle on two or three of them for most of my uses. "Stadium" and "Sports" are very real sounding for watching football, but after awhile of that I'm glad I'm home and switch to something less boistrous.
I don't know when Apple and Sony got in bed together but I was pleased to hear mp3 songs play from my old Sansa Mp3 player! I just plugged it in the USB port to see what would happen (the manual lists only Sony and Apple products as compatible) and it worked and sounded great. I'm guessing nearly any Mp3 player will work with a USB cord ... good to know!
My only other nit-picks are:
Sony could have covered the front inputs with a small door to improve the look of the otherwise attractive front panel. Not a big deal. I don't expect someone to come into my house and say "Hey, nice looking receiver ... but where's the door?"
Sony likes to rename functions which have been generic to Audio Amplifiers and Receivers for many decades. The "Sound Optimizer" button is actually a "Loudness" control which increases bass and treble for a fuller sound at lower volumes. And the "Auto Vol" button is really a "Volume Attenuator" which reduces volume for commercials or whatever when you double press it ... nothing "auto" about it. (I guess if Sony built a car they could call the cruise control "The Auto Energy Supply Actuator" ... or ...?). Com'on ... what's wrong with Loudness and Attenuator? Okay, it's nice to have those controls on the Remote even if they do have funny names, are a bit small and require a "double push" to activate.
The remote control at first glance seems a bit daunting and cluttered. But it seems to have a button or buttons for every possible function or adjustment on the Receiver. Some are a bit tiny for large fingers, though with a little learning and practice I may never have to leave my recliner! ... Now what do those 4 colored buttons do?
The nit-picking is mostly lite-hearted and the bottom line is that this is an Excellent Piece of Audio-Video Equipment which will satisfy the needs and wants of most people with home theater setups. Amazon's price serves to make it an outstanding choice. I'm glad I bought it and if you're in the market, I recommend you do as well.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sony / Onkyo cage-match comparison., October 3, 2011
This review is from: Sony STRDH820 7.2 Channel 3D AV Receiver (Black) (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I hooked up the Sony STR-DH820 yesterday after a lightning strike fried my previous Onkyo HT-S5100 amplifier (AND my computer. AND my plasma TV). AAAARRRGGGH! I left the Onkyo's 7.1 speaker system in place, since it was unharmed.

The difference between the two amplifiers was startling! I put on my traditional setup Blu-ray of "Iron Man" and discovered many subtle sounds I hadn't heard before, from the clinking of the ice in Tony's glass as the Humvee roars down the road, to a soft mechanical hum in other scenes, to a MUCH more intense bass. The Onkyo was a good unit, but I LOVE the Sony's sound!

Pros:

1. I have a 7.1 speaker setup--seven surround speakers and a subwoofer. This Sony unit can power TWO subwoofers, but works terrific with one. Superior sound!

2. The audio calibration sensor is fast, simple and works great. Much less complex than the Onkyo's.

3. I use HDMI to connect this Sony receiver to an AT&T U-verse set top box and a Panasonic plasma television. I just discovered that turning on the AT&T box automatically controls the other devices! The Sony takes about 15 seconds to turn on, discover the signal, and feed the signal to the television. With the Onkyo, I had to turn on everything manually and do some complex button-pushing to get things to interface. I didn't know what I was missing!

Cons:

1. Sony's wiring connector setup is a pain if you use bare speaker wires instead of banana plugs. The knobs are placed too close together, it is difficult to see what you are doing, and the screw knobs have to be backed WAY out to insert the speaker wires, then must be laboriously screwed back in. Even the labeling is awkward. It took me 45 minutes to connect the speaker wires.

2. The instructions are kinda lame. The quick start guide is too simplistic, but the manual is dense, complicated and poorly illustrated. I have an electronics background, but half the time I don't know what the heck they are talking about! The remote control is about 2" longer my biggest remote and is densely packed with buttons that will never be used. They buried the pinhead-sized "mute" button among the buttons on the lower left.

I'd give this unit 4-1/2 stars because of the spectacular sound at a reasonable price, but deduct for ridiculous complexity and poor ergonomics. I'm also keeping Onkyo's iPod docking station because it appears heavier and better made.
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