Sony Launches Its First PS5 And Xbox Series X-Friendly AV Receivers
It might have taken much longer than most of its rivals, but Sony has finally got round to launching a range of AV receivers capable of handling all of the latest gaming capabilities we’ve long had access to on the brand’s massively popular PS5 games console.
All four of Sony’s new PS5-friendly AVRs (the gaming features they support also play nicely, of course, with the Xbox Series X and high-end PCs) slot into the brand’s premium Elevated Standard (ES) product category. This means the STR-AZ7000ES, STR-AZ5000ES, STR-AZ3000ES and STR-AZ1000ES all benefit from superior build quality whereby a conventional frame beam chassis design is combined with a transformer base, leading to better, less distorted sound. The thickness of the new ES models’ exterior bodywork has been greatly increased compared with their predecessors too, by 200% on the bottom edge and 120% on each side.
While the four new ES AVRs can, of course, be bought and installed by anyone, Sony has worked hard to appeal to the custom install market by building in a number of high-end system integration features – including flexible connectivity and advanced IP control compatibility with leading control systems.
Looking in more detail at the new gaming features of Sony’s latest ES AVRs, each model carries HDMI 2.1 inputs and outputs able to pass through 4K resolution graphics at 120Hz frame rates and support variable refresh rates. They also support HDMI 2.1’s Automatic Low Latency Mode switching, as well as Sony’s so-called ‘Perfect for PS5’ features of Auto HDR Tone Mapping and Auto Genre Picture Mode.
All of the new receivers will even handle 8K graphics at refresh rates up to 60Hz if you have a PC rig capable of delivering such bleeding edge experiences. The PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles have yet to embrace their once-touted 8K capabilities…
With the buggy HDMI 2.1 ports that have plagued a number of AVRs from other brands over the past couple of years now seemingly now a thing of the past, we should be able to expect the new Sony ES AVRs to deliver their cutting edge gaming features without any problems.
Sony’s new ES AV receivers are the brand’s first to carry support for the brand’s 360 Spatial Sound Mapping technology. This creates multiple phantom speakers around the room to generate an immersive cinematic experience that sounds like it’s being created by more speakers than it actually is.
If you’ve had the chance to experience Sony’s 360 Spatial Sound Mapping system in action, you’ll know that how effective it sounds depends heavily on how well the phantom speakers take into account the specific characteristics of your room. With this in mind, the new AVRs use Sony’s Digital Cinema Auto Calibration IX system to correct the distance, angle, sound pressure and frequency response of each speaker by measuring the speaker placement in the context of a 3D audio space using a supplied microphone.
Naturally the ES receivers can also play Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object-based audio tracks, with the calibration system again able to adapt the way these premium formats sound to your specific room conditions.
The new receivers’ HDMI ports are capable of passing through the HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision HDR formats, though there’s no mention of the HDR10+ format used on some content as an alternative to Dolby Vision. There’s also confirmed support, though, for pass through of IMAX Enhanced video sources and the IMAX Enhanced variation of the DTS:X audio format.
As you would expect of modern high-end AVRs, all four ES series models will play high-resolution audio files, including native support for the high-quality lossless DSD format.
Sony doesn’t have a particularly great record of its different departments working together to deliver value added ‘Sony system’ features. The new ES AVRs, though, do deliver a few extra goodies for owners of other Sony kit beyond the previously mentioned Perfect for PS5 features.
If you connect the AVRs to a Sony Bravia XR TV with Acoustic Center Sync functionality, for instance, the AVRs will combine the audio from the TV with the audio from the center speaker channel to enhance the sense that center channel sound – especially dialogue – appears to come directly from the mouths of people speaking on the screen.
The new ES AVRs can be controllable using Sony Bravia TV remotes too, and can connect wirelessly to Sony speakers such as the SA-RS5, SA-RS3S, AS-SW5 and SA-SW3 units originally designed to be optional rear and subwoofer extras for Sony’s HT-A7000 soundbar. There’s support, too, for numerous third party connection systems, including Works With Sonos, Chromecast built-in, Spotify Connect, and Apple Airplay.
Looking at the key differences between the four ES models, the flagship AZ7000ES supports 13.2 channels, carries seven HDMI 2.1 inputs and two HDMI 2.1 outputs, and will cost $3,299.99 ($4,499.99 CAD). The AZ5000ES supports 11.2 channels, also carries seven HDMI 2.1 inputs and two HDMI 2.1 outputs, and will cost £2,099.99 ($2,999.99 CAD). The AZ3000ES supports 9.2 channels, carries six HDMI 2.1 inputs and two HDMI 2.1 outputs, and will cost $1,699 ($2,599.99 CAD). The AZ1000ES, finally, supports 7.2 channels, six HDMI 2.1 inputs and two HDMI 2.1 outputs, and will cost $1,099 ($1,699.99 CAD).
Joining the quartet of new ES AVRs is a new STR-AN1000ES receiver Sony has created ‘for consumers looking to upgrade their current home theater system’. It doesn’t feature the premium build quality of the ES series, but it still delivers 7.2 channels, more 8K and 4K at 120Hz/VRR HDMI support, Hi-Res audio playback, Sony’s Digital Cinema Auto Calibration feature, as well as offering support for Sony’s 360 Spatial Sound Mapping system. The AN1000ES can be yours for $899.99 in the US, or $1,199.99 in Canada.
Sony hasn’t yet confirmed a final release date for its new range of AVRs, but they are already available for preorder on Sony’s US and Canadian websites.
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