Sony Unveils Revamped ES AV Receiver Line With 360 Spatial Sound Mapping
Sony Electronics unveiled Wednesday its 2023 high-end custom installation ES series home theater AV receiver lineup, featuring the STR-AZ1000ES, AZ3000ES, AZ5000ES and AZ7000ES, with advanced HDMI 2.1 feature support and an updated high precision Digital Cinema Auto Calibration IX system.
Also announced was the STRAN1000 ($899.99 suggested retail) “flagship AVR for consumers looking to upgrade their current home theater system.” This, however, will lack some of the build quality and networking capability of the ES series models.
All models are available for pre-order now at authorized Sony and Sony ES series dealers.
Sony said it beefed up the design and components for the lineup to optimize tonal clarity through the use of a new large capacitor power transformer, a newly designed frame buffer board chassis, a new 32-bit DAC with buffer amp, an updated heat sink, use of lead-free solder and a Sony exclusive pre-amp integrated circuit.
Sony said the new frame beam base chassis (FBB chassis) in the new ES series combines a conventional frame beam chassis with a transformer base, providing high accuracy and stiffness. The frame is more stabilized, reproducing better sound with less distortion. Additionally, the overall thickness of the ES series now features a bottom that is 200% thicker and side wall that is 120% thicker than previous models.
Furthermore, Sony said it ensures the build quality of the series by backing them with a 5-year warranty.
To ensure precise speaker output for the listening environment, Sony added advanced on-board Auto Room Calibration system called Digital Cinema Auto Calibration IX (DCAC IX) that auto adjusts the output of each speaker for the correct distance, angle, sound pressure and frequency response by measuring placement in three dimensions.
THe DCAC IX includes a unique smile-shaped microphone spacer attachment with pickups positioned at each end to take exacting 3D sound measurements that effectively get discernible immersive effects. Measurements are taken from two positions to gauge the listeners’ specific seating height, distance and angle of view.
Sony said the system works alongside Auto Phase Matching, which aligns the phase of different speakers to compensate for challenging speaker placement, delay or phase shift.
This ensures sound and dialog hits the listener’s ear from the exact angle in relation to TV screen height and other variables for enhanced depth and realism. The setup process easily walked us through the user setup and calibration process to get impressive results.
Inputs include advanced HDMI 2.1 Ultra High Speed ports supporting Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and 8K-60fps/4K-120fps video throughput with HDCP 2.3 copy protection — four in the AZ3000ES and up, and two in the AZ1000ES (AN1000) models.
Additionally 4K/60fps HDMI ports are added for further flexibility — three in the AZ5000ES and AZ7000EX (front and rear) and two each in the AZ1000ES and AZ3000ES models.
Two analog audio zones are also available on each of the AZ3000ES and higher models, with one analog audio zone available on the AZ1000ES.
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All ES series models also offer two HDMI 2.1 outputs including one eARC/ARC port in each model.
The AZ5000ES and AZ7000ES models offer a center-channel lift-up feature that utilizes the front height speakers to help lift the center channel sound location to the center of the screen. Both models also provide a Dual Center Speaker function that allows for the use of a top and bottom center channel speaker to improve the center speaker experience on large screen displays.
However, the ES receivers lack phono inputs for connection to turntables.
Sony also provides new exclusive technology that works in conjunction with compatible Sony BRAVIA TVs to enhance center channel sound by having the center channel speaker and TV speakers work together for even fuller dialog and presence.
Additional, video support in each model includes the following: 8K and 4K video upsampling, Auto HDR Tone Mapping, Auto Genre Picture Mode (with supporting BRAVIA TVs) and support for the HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG high dynamic range profiles as well as IMAX Enhanced Certification.
Supported sound enhancement in each model includes 360 Spatial Sound Mapping, 360 Reality Audio 3D music, Hi-Res Audio, DSD playback,DSEE Ultimate, Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Digital Cinema Auto Calibration I.X. Dolby Atmos, DTS:X.
Owners of the AVRs can subscribe to Sony’s 360 Reality Audio 3D music service to get an enveloping surround sound effect from special supporting music content to get a convincing sense of a live performance happening right in the room.
In our listening tests running the AZ5000ES, the receiver’s sound enhancement for music, over a pedestrian 5.1-channel speaker setup, sounded significantly better than previous AVRs.
Multi-channel music lovers will find the receivers treat their libraries very well. When connected to supporting SACD or DVD-Audio players, we observed the AZ5000ES produced distinct, well isolated multi-channel 5.1 with noticeable presence and clarity, even at subdued volumes.
Dialog is also well isolated through center channels so that voices are always well out in front of supporting background sound effects or musical accompaniment.
Additional connectivity support features across the line include wireless Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, AirPlay, ChromeCast Built-In, Works with Google Assistant, Spotify Connect, Works with SONOS wireless music streaming, Sony Music Center Mobile Application, and ROON tested certification.
Popular streaming music channels like Deezer, Amazon Music etc. can be easily accessed from a mobile device app linked through Chromecast or over and eARC/ARC connection playing music from the TV app of those services. A home media library can also be easily linked via USB or a wireless DLNA network using ChromeCast and a mobile device app like BubbleUPnP.
Home control system support across the ES model line also includes Control4, OvrC, Savant, Crestron, ELAN, RTI, Domotz, URC and Vantage.
Other common features in the line include: simplified voice assistant setup, volume control from a mobile phone.
Each ES model breaks out as follows:
The new Sony AZ7000ES ($3,299.99 suggested retail price) features: up to 13.2-channel surround support, 150 Watts x 150 Watts of power (8ohms, 1kHz, 2ch., THD 0.9%), with 13.2 Pre Amp Outputs and 13.2 Amplification/Channels, support for Sony wireless rear channel speakers and wired and Sony wireless subwoofers, support for dual center speakers with center speaker enhancement.
The Sony AZ5000ES ($2,099.99 suggested retail) features: up to 11.2-channel surround with 130 Watts X 130 Watts of system power (8ohms, 1kHz, 2ch., THD 0.9%), with 11.2 Pre Amp Outputs, 11.2 Amplification/Channels, support for Sony wireless rear channel speakers and wired and Sony wireless subwoofer, support for dual center speakers with center speaker enhancement.
The Sony AZ3000ES ($1,699.99 suggested retail) features: up to 9.2-channel surround, 120 Watts X 120 Watts of system power (8ohms, 1kHz, 2ch., THD 0.9%), with 0.2 Pre Amp Outputs, 9.2 Amplification/Channels, and support for Sony wireless rear channel speakers and wired and Sony wireless subwoofers.
The Sony AZ1000ES ($1,099.99 suggested retail) features: up to 7.2-channel surround 100 Watts X 100 Watts of system power (8ohms, 1kHz, 2ch., THD 0.9%), with 0.2 Pre Amp Outputs, 7.2 Amplification/Channels, and support for wired and Sony wireless rear channel speakers and wired and Sony wireless subwoofers.
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By Greg Tarr
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