"Best mid-range receiver for HD Audio"4.5 starson by spacesheep1
Pros: Looks great, excellent sound quality, all HD decoding, auto-calibration works exceptionally well with included mic, GUI menus, lots of connections, easy to setup, good remote, price
Cons: on screen GUI menu doesn't overlay, slow response, beware of TV+AMP HDMI audio setting
Summary: I don't conciser myself an audiophile, so when I decided to replace my aging Yamaha receiver I spent about 2 weeks researching AV receiver that could fit my needs. I wanted something inexpensive that can support both DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD which is now standard on Blu-ray discs. I have a very modest $200 5.1 Sony speaker setup so I was looking for something that can accommodate this and didn't really have need for 7.1 receiver and I didn't want to spend much more than $300. Sony STR DN1000 seems like a perfect candidate, it had great reviews, price and all the features I needed (and some that I didn't).
One thing I noticed out of the box, is how great this receiver looked. Pictures don't do justice. Although shiny front of the DN1000 is a fingerprint magnet, I can't imagine too many people complaining about it. Why would you want to touch your receiver? It goes into a cabinet next to the TV and you suppose to use either included or universal (i.e. Logitech Harmony) remote.
Setup was somewhat easy. Menu system is more or less intuitive and I was able to find all the settings without looking at the manual. However I did have few gripes with Sony's GUI menu system. Biggest one is that it doesn't overlay over existing HDMI signal, so when you switch to it, you loose image and sound coming from your HDMI source. So if you are watching movie you have to pause it first. Logic wise, settings that needed the most were buried furthest, and arrowing thru them was very slow and frustrating. Things like source selection should'v been on the bottom of the menu because it has dedicated button on the remote so you won't be switching it from the menu, while other important settings such as switching HDMI audio from AMP only to AMP+TV should really have dedicated button on the remote. Speaking of which, it took me a while to figure out that setting HDMI audio to AMP+TV will disable any kind of decoding! I like sound to come out of my TV when I'm watching regular TV programs, but apparently I can't really have both and it's a real chore to switch it off every time I want to watch a blu-ray.
STR DN1000 comes with calibration microphone which has a very long cable. It was enough for my large living room to reach all the way to the couch. Calibration itself worked great, and all my speakers were detected correctly with exceptionally precise distance measurement. I did have to bring dB value of my sub-woofer manually because of the neighbors.
HDMI switching worked well. There was a few second delay when changing from one HDMI channel to another but I had no issues with connectivity even with old Category 1 HDMI cables.
Speaker cables can be slightly difficult to connect unless you have banana plugs (which I strongly suggest).
And finally audio quality was good in my opinion. Decoding worked great, you see LED light on the receiver when it detects multichannel audio. Even with stereo audio STR DN1000 does pretty good job simulating surround sound.