Excellent 7.2 audio and video upconversion. The Sony STR-DN1030's 7.2-channels of audio create a large, open and accurate soundstage, experts report, complete with spot-on dialogue and appropriately booming bass. Music sounds great, too. A built-in video processor converts and upscales visual signals to 1080p over HDMI, while the various streaming features work without a hiccup.
What doesn't this box have? While most home theater receivers force users to buy separate dongles if they want Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, the Sony STR-DN1030 has both technologies built right into the box. There's also the aforementioned video processing, unpowered second-zone audio, an automated speaker calibration feature, 3D playback and audio return channel support. Streaming options abound; there's DLNA (for streaming music from your computer), AirPlay (for streaming music from iOS devices) and Internet-based music streaming from Pandora, Music Unlimited, Slacker and vTuner Internet radio. A front-side USB port provides a hard-wired connection for iDevices as well.
Busy busy busy. Both the receiver and the remote suffer from an abundance of buttons, which make the Sony STR-DN1030 seem slightly less elegant than its competitors. An optional iOS and Android control app can help reduce the clutter. The build quality of the chassis itself is top-notch, however, and the receiver sports plenty of ports, though the five HDMI inputs pale compared to the Onkyo TX-NR515's (*Est. $500) eight digital connections.
Easy to setup, harder to use. Setup is a breeze thanks to Sony's automatic speaker calibration function -- which requires the use of an included microphone -- but the text-based onscreen interface impresses nobody. "The GUI on the STR-DN1030 is almost laughably bad looking and unintuitive," one Amazon.com user complains, though he says it's "perfectly functional with the assistance of the user manual." CNET reports having trouble navigating the various streaming music options due to the poor interface.
A bargain for a top-notch home theater receiver. The Sony STR-DN1030 costs the same as its competition but packs in more features -- including Wi-Fi and Bluetooth integration that would cost you hundreds of dollars to get in other receivers -- without sacrificing audio quality.
If you're looking for a top-notch home theater system that delivers excellent audio and checks all the boxes when it comes to features, the Sony STR-DN1030 is the receiver to get -- if you can ignore the ugly interface, that is. It even includes built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Excellent The Sony STR-DN1030 earns a strong 4 (out of 5) star showing in this review. It's called "one of the best receiver values this year." The review team hates the receiver's interface but finds little else to criticize.
Review: Sony STR-DN1030 review, Matthew Moskovciak and Steve Guttenberg, July 10, 2012
2. What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision
Very Good What Hi-Fi? reviews don't offer the same depth as some others, but the magazine reviews a lot of receivers -- and its editors say the Sony STR-DN1030 is one of the best, giving it a 5-star rating and calling it "a serious contender for class-leading status." The interface is the only drawback noted.
Review: Sony STR-DN1030, Editors of What Hi-Fi? magazine, Not Dated
Good The Sony STR-DN1030 doesn't have many reviews on Amazon.com, and the record looks mixed. The biggest issue is the interface, which several users take the time to pan. That said, most owners seem pleased overall.
Review: Sony STRDN1030 Receiver, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of Oct. 2012
Good The Sony STR-DN1030 lands on this list of the top 17 home theater receivers in the $400 to $1,299 price range, albeit in the No. 11 slot. The write-up itself is brief and doesn't seem to be based on hands-on testing, though it provides good analysis of the feature set. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: Home Theater Receivers - 400 to 1,299 Dollars, Robert Silva, As of October 2012