If you're looking for a premium home theater receiver that delivers superb sound and is jam-packed with features, the Sony STR-DN1040 is the best choice -- if you don't mind its large, bulky exterior. The receiver delivers excellent 7.2-channel audio, lots of advanced extras and great connectivity.
Excellent 7.2-channel sound. Experts say the 7.2-channel Sony STR-DN1040 provides a wide and enveloping soundstage, as well as excellent sound quality. Music sounds great, and Cliff Heyne at Audioholics.com says imaging is "spot-on" with instruments placed accurately across the soundstage. Sound quality in movies is full and dynamic, and dialogue is crisp and clear. The STR-DN1040 includes a built-in video processor that can upscale all the way to 4K over HDMI. There's an automatic speaker calibration feature. CNET says that Sony's system has worked well for it in the past but that there were some notable errors this time around.
Loaded with premium features. Network features are a major selling point with this year's home theater receivers, and the Sony STR-DN1040 does not disappoint. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are built in, as is AirPlay support for iOS users. Built-in app support is not extensive -- Pandora; Slacker; and vTuner, which gives you access to thousands of streaming radio stations. However, one of the eight HDMI inputs is MHL compatible, which means you can plug in a Roku Streaming Stick (Est. $50) for access to tons of additional audio apps. The receiver is also DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) compliant for streaming your own audio from a computer or other DLNA device on the same network. The 7.2 channels of audio mean that you can set up speakers to act as surround back channels, front height channels (Dolby Pro Logic IIz is among the plethora of Dolby and DTS audio formats supported) or Zone 2 audio.
So. Much. HDMI. The Sony STR-DN1040 is a full-sized, bulky receiver that doesn't score many points on aesthetics. But the front panel isn't too cluttered with buttons, and it's not hideous looking. Connectivity is excellent. It sports eight HDMI inputs -- more than any AV receiver in this price range -- and two HDMI outputs. While most users will prefer to use Wi-Fi, there's also an Ethernet jack as well as a front-facing USB port for iPod/iPhone devices and USB flash drives.
Responsive, well-designed onscreen display. While many AV receivers suffer from user interfaces that are overly complex -- or don't offer much more than simple lines of text -- experts say the Sony STR-DN1040 sports a plain language graphical interface that's better than anything else in its class. "It's not perfect -- you can't do simple tasks like renaming input types or changing icons -- but it's a huge step in the right direction," says CNET. "It's hard to complain when most AV receivers look closer to a command-line interface rather than something that should be on your HDTV," the editors add. The remote is another story, however, cluttered with buttons to the point where simple tasks can be frustrating. Experts recommend buying a universal remote.
You get what you pay for, but do you need everything you pay for? The Sony STR-DN1040 offers premium performance and features that more than justify its price tag. But most users will find many of the extra features to be superfluous. Very few home theater setups at present will make use of all eight HDMI inputs. Ditto for 4K upscaling -- at least for now. If you're looking for something a bit cheaper but still want the STR-DN1040's networking features -- such as built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and AirPlay support -- then consider the Sony STR-DN840 (Est. $400) , which is a terrific value for those who don't need to have it all.
Editor Matthew Moskovciak reviews the Sony STR-DN1040, giving it 4 stars out of 5 at CNET. Here he calls it a "truly first-class AV receiver, boasting tons of wireless technology and a pretty user interface," though he says it's a bit more than what most buyers need.
Review: A Temptingly Modern AV Receiver, Matthew Moskovciak and Steve Guttenberg, June 14, 2013
The Sony STR-DN1040 receives 4.5 stars out of 5 for both performance and value at Audioholics.com. Reviewer Cliff Heyne praises it for its wireless features, "smooth" user interface and "great" sound quality, though he says it's not the best receiver for "zone 2" setups.
Review: Son STR-DN1040 AV Receiver Review: WiFi, Bluetooth, and AirPlay Oh My!, Cliff Heyne, July 17, 2013
3. What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision
The Sony STR-DN1040 receives 5 stars out of 5 at Britain's What Hi-Fi? magazine, where editors call it a "superstar in the making." Highlights include its network connectivity and sound quality, especially for playing multichannel soundtracks.
Review: Sony STR-DN1040, Editors of What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision, Not Dated
The Sony STR-DN1040 receives an overall score of 4.1 stars out of 5 at Amazon.com following more than 35 reviews. Most owners are exceedingly pleased, though a few less happy ones note some HDMI issues.
Review: Sony STR-DN1040 7.2 Channel 1155-Watt A/V Receiver, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of September 2013