Sony STR-DA5500ES receiver
This 7.1 Sony A/V receiver has integrated media sharing through DLNA and Internet radio support
- Internet radio integration, plenty of HDMI inputs and outputs
- Media sharing only works with a small range of formats (and no HD streaming), very expensive
If you've got a large shared music library or love Internet radio, Sony's STR-DA5500ES is an excellent choice for an A/V receiver. It will perform its best when paired with a high quality 7.1 set of home theatre speakers, a good television and a range of digital video devices. If you don't need all this connectivity, it's a rather expensive proposition.
Price$ 3,999.00 (AUD)
The Sony STR-DA550ES is a 7.1 channel home theatre receiver with Ethernet connectivity for Internet radio access and DLNA media streaming. It's got a plethora of video and audio inputs and plenty of audio oomph for connecting surround sound speakers.
Sony STR-DA5500ES: Design and A/V connections
The Sony STR-DA5500ES is, as home theatre equipment goes, attractive — in a Star Trek-esque way. Its glossy black front fascia is chock-full of buttons, knobs and dials, with a clear white-on-black display. You'll need a quick run-through of the manual to understand what each button does, though — A/V receivers are complicated beasts at the best of times, and the Sony STR-DA5500ES packs in more features than most. Seven 120W channels and a subwoofer pre-out allow plenty of speakers to be connected, with dual sound zones available for wiring speakers in different parts of your house.
The STR-DA5500ES comes with two remotes. The larger remote, which has all of the buttons you'll need for advanced operation, is designed for use in the same room as the receiver. It's a learning remote so you can use it for controlling your TV or Blu-ray disc player. The smaller remote, with basic controls such as volume, is meant for use wherever you've got a secondary sound zone set up. However, it requires wiring an infrared receiver to that room.
The Sony STR-DA5500ES receiver has all the connections any home theatre we can think of would need — well, almost any. Six HDMI inputs (including one on the receiver's front) and two outputs are joined by three component and five composite inputs with a single output for each. Six optical and three coaxial digital audio inputs take care of audio-only devices like CD players and media players like the Olive Opus No.4. This is a massive amount of connectivity that should see all but the most hardcore home cinemas covered.
Sony STR-DA5500ES: Internet and network connectivity
One novel feature of the Sony STR-DA5500ES is the Ethernet port for connecting to your home network and the Internet. It can connect to and stream Internet radio stations from a list of thousands, so whatever your musical taste there'll be something well suited. We gave this a quick run and found plenty of interesting music from a huge variety of genres. The abundance of international stations means that even if you're listening in the dead of the Australian night, there'll be someone broadcasting from another part of the world for you to listen to.
DLNA media streaming is a boon for anyone with a large photo, video or music library. Using the on-screen display, browsing various shared folders on the network is a simple. Load times when navigating through folders are longer than we would have hoped, though. We were disappointed with the narrow scope of the Sony STR-DA5500ES's file support — only MPG2 and WMV video formats are supported, alongside MP3, WMA and AAC audio and JPEG, BMP and PNG picture files. The maximum streaming video resolution is 480i, too — so streaming high-definition movies from your PC, NAS or laptop is not possible. This feature is in its infancy and isn't a massive drawcard, but some users will find it useful.
The Sony STR-DA5500ES is a perfectly competent A/V receiver that can handle multiple digital video and audio devices simultaneously. Support for multiple sound zones and plenty of amplification power means it's no slouch for playing audio, and the Ethernet port means access to a wide range of content from your home network and the Internet is possible. It's an expensive device, but if you take advantages of all the features the Sony STR-DA5500ES has to offer you won't be disappointed.
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