The STR-DG1000 is XM Satellite Radio ready, which means you only need to connect an XM Connect-and-Play antenna (not included) to get XM reception--with a subscription, of course. It's also capable of receiving XM's two new HD Surround formatted channels.
Performance of Sony STR-DG1000
Instead of testing the stamina of the STR-DG1000 with a special effects blockbuster, we started with something a lot quieter--Robert Altman's life-behind-the-curtain-of-a-ballet-troupe DVD, The Company. The scenes in the rehearsal hall were incredibly natural sounding--we could hear every movement and breath of the dancers, their feet thumping against the floor, and even the sound of the texture of the dancers' clothing as they stretched. We felt like we were in the room with them.
The Sentinel DVD stepped up the demands on the STR-DR1000 power reserves. Bad people are plotting to off the president, and someone in the Secret Service is in on the plot. The movie made extensive use of the surround channels when the action heated up--with helicopters flying overhead and gunfire battles between Secret Service agents and the bad guys--and the Sony's steadfast grip never came up short.
Listening to Sex Mob's tasty new Sexotica funked-up jazz CD, we came away totally impressed with the STR-DG1000's bass. We listened in stereo without the assistance of a subwoofer over our Dynaudio Contour speakers, and the bass was not only deep and powerful, it was also beautifully defined. We could hear Tony Scherr's fingers pulling the strings on his acoustic bass, and that sort of tactile detail is beyond the grasp of most midpriced receivers. Compared to the Pioneer VSX-82TXS ($1,200) receiver, the Sony sounds smaller, flatter, with less treble detail and "air." But the Sony's bass had more impact and power than the Pioneer's.
Sony's not making any special claims for the XM decoding circuitry, but it seemed to sound a bit more CD-like than usual. The XM HD Surround also had better separation than some receivers we've tested.
We also tested the STR-DG1000's video upconversion ability, and we were mostly unimpressed. Running an S-Video cable from our Denon DVD-3910, we tested the STR-DG1000's ability to deinterlace the incoming 480i signal using the Silicon Optics HQV test suite. Resolution tests looked mostly okay, but we noticed the STR-DG1000's processing lost some vertical resolution. While it passed a test with a rotating line, it had only mediocre performance with three shifting lines--there were more jaggies than we'd like to see. On the upside, we were happy to see it had 2:3 pulldown processing, as it locked into film mode relatively quickly on a test with a racecar. This was a bit surprising, considering the more expensive Sony STR-DA5200ES couldn't handle this test. However, the STR-DG1000 continued to struggle on relatively easy tests. For example, a test judging the appearance of horizontally scrolling words--like you'd see on the bottom of a cable news channel--showed the existence of comblike artifacts. We also noticed the chroma bug error using tests from the Windows DVD Test Annex, although this would only show up on improperly authored DVDs. It's not the worst processing we've seen, but don't expect pristine image quality from your upconverted standard definition sources.
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