This Sony’s solid A/V performance comes with a few ergonomic quirks, but built-in Control4 helps it to stand out from the crowd.
• Zone 2 HDMI output
• Solid music DSP options
• GUI can be cumbersome to use
• No pop-up onscreen displays
+ 9 x 130 watts (2 channels driven)
+ Control4 certified; can integrate into full Control4 home-automation system
+ 9 HDMI v1.4 inputs (1 front panel), 3 outputs (1 with Audio Return Channel)
+ Transcodes component, composite video to HDMI
+ 4K pass-through; upconverts lower-rez analog video up to 4K format on HDMI
+ Decodes Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master, and DSD (SACD); includes Dolby IIz surround, DTS Neo:X, 12 proprietary DSP modes for movies and music
+ Proprietary D.C.A.C. auto-setup/calibration, room/speaker-EQ system
+ Streaming via wired Ethernet; integrated 4-port Ethernet hub
+ New graphical onscreen menus
+ FM/AM tuner with 30/30 presets
+ Assignable powered A/V Zone 2 or front-biamp amp channels; single-cable A/V second zone via HDMI or Cat-5
+ Direct iPod/Phone/Pad via front-panel USB port
+ Free iPhone/Pad/Android app delivers extensive control
+ Multicomponent pre-programmed/ learning remote
+ R in/out (1/4), 12-v trigger (3), RS-232 serial port
Dimensions + Weight
17 x 7.5 x 16.6 in; 39.7 lb
Sony's new flagship receiver is a brute. It’s got as many or more features, channels, HDMI jacks, and control options as any competitor I can think of, along with a snazzy new rotation of onscreen menus. The STR-DA5800ES is also the latest to join the 4K brigade, being able to pass-through, and upscale to, the possible-future Ultra HD video format. More on this in a year. Or two.
Sony’s new onscreen display design for the 5800ES abandons the “Xcross Media Bar” metaphor inherited from the PlayStation family and used on earlier (and lower current-range) models in favor of a more straightforward, large-icon-based layout. For setup, I found it handsome and generally intuitive.
Sony equipped the STR-5800ES with no fewer than nine HDMI input jacks (eight on back, and one up front). I don’t know what I’d do with that many HDMI inputs, but they’re there if you need ’em. There are also dual HDMI outputs, selectable via the remote, plus a third for the receiver’s Zone 2 output.
Another feature, sure to be widely appreciated, is a built-in 4-jack Ethernet hub. Most systems these days will, like mine, require multiple Cat-5 connections, and anything that cuts down on cable clutter is enormously welcome.
The 5800ES’s auto-setup calibration mike is a stereo-pickup, two-element bar. Otherwise, the automatic routine proceeds with a series of bloops and bleeps that “find” and “size” your speakers, set crossovers, and invoke speaker-/room-correction equalization. There’s a rather confusing (and poorly documented) range of auto-EQ options. Basically, the Sony’s EQ can be applied to three different “target curves,” as well as a user-defined curve, at run time. The 5800ES’s interface design makes it nearly impossible to A/B these with unequalized reproduction, but in general I preferred the “Front Reference” curve.
Speaking of “auto,” the 5800ES is the first A/V receiver to incorporate certification for Control4 home automation, including lighting (via a supplied wireless lighting-control adapter), that can be integrated into an extensive scene-recall scheme named Easy Automation. This can store virtually every user-definable parameter to one of four pre-programmed, but editable, scenes, accessible whether or not Control4 is implemented — very cool.
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