The Sony STR-DN1040 AV receiver packs a powerful punch (165W per amplified channel). More importantly, the DN1040 provides a long list of features not often found in a mid-range AV receiver.
Many 2013 models from numerous manufacturers are including some form of Ultra HD (4K) Pass-through and Upscaling, but at the DN1040's price, it is rare to find a comparable unit with a built-in Wi-Fi adaptor (with online music services like Pandora, Music Unlimited, Slacker and vTuner) and two HDMI outputs (ideal for a viewing room with a projector and a TV).
The DN1040 also offers AirPlay, Bluetooth and MHL connectivity options.
With these features and many more, the Sony STR-DN1040 AV receiver proves to be a serious candidate for the hub of your home theater.
(Editor's note: Sony also offers the STR-DN840 ($449) with a little less power and fewer HDMI inputs and only one HDMI out. With those differences in mind, this review of the STR-DN1040 can apply to the DN840.)
Out of the Box
I can't muster much enthusiasm about the outward appearance of the Sony STR-DN1040. Its black brushed face could easily become lost on a showroom's shelf of AV receivers.
To be fair, the design is elegant in a minimal manner, the LED display is informative and the layout of the buttons on the front is efficient.
Among the usual buttons and knobs, lies four connectors: a headphone jack, an HDMI input (MHL compatible for smartphones), a USB port (for flash drives), and an input for the Auto Calibration microphone, which I will discuss later.
With an AV receiver, which is often hidden in a cabinet, what are important are the components inside and the construction of the container.
Sony has a long history of producing audio equipment and the engineers have crafted a solid reinforced structure that helps reduce noise and jitter in the digital signal.
Sony states that for USA and Canadian models of the DN1040, the Minimum RMS Output Power is 100 W + 100 W (6 ohms, 20 Hz - 20 kHz, THD 0.09%); Stereo Mode Output Power is 120 W + 120 W (6 ohms, 1 kHz, THD 1%); and Surround Mode Output Power is 165 W per channel (6 ohms, 1 kHz, THD 0.9%).
If you desire to examine the DN1040 innards, Sony has posted this blog with photos.
If you are ready, walk this way around to the rear of the DN1040.
As you can see from the enlarged image, Sony provides seven HDMI inputs and two HDMI outs (Out A is ARC [Auto Return Channel] compatible). You can connect native 4K sources in the HDMI inputs labeled BD, Game and Video 1.
In addition, the panel provides plenty of RCA type AV connections for more legacy equipment, along with two optical and one coaxial digital audio inputs and a LAN port to connect to your network.
The seven speakers connections (Front, Center, Surround and Surround Back) are compatible with banana plugs. If you want to employ two Front Presence speakers, they plug into the Surround Back outputs, therefore you cannot use the surround back speakers and the front high speakers simultaneously.
The DN1040 also includes two RCA outputs for powered subwoofers and two Zone 2 RCA outputs.
And for those so inclined and equipped, the DN1040 is PARTY STREAMING compatible, which means that it will communicate with other PARTY STREAMING devices and allow you to play the same music throughout your home network.
DN1040 can decode the following audio formats:
- Dolby Digital EX/ Dolby Digital
- Dolby Prologic/II /IIx /IIz
- Dolby Dual Mono
- Dolby TruHD/Dolby Digital +
- DTS HD MA/ DTS HD HR
- DTS 96/24/ DTS Neo:6
- DTS / DTS-ES (Matrix6.1 / Discrete6.1)
- LPCM (2CH/5.1CH/7.1CH) thru HDMI
And here is a chart listing many of the features that the DN1040 provides.
Many of the above options are common with AV receivers. HD Digital Cinema Sound is a new Sony processing algorithm that adjusts your receiver to mimic the sound characteristics of movie theaters.
As I have mentioned before, an AV receiver is the most complicated component in a home theater setup and its remote reflects that complexity with its numerous small buttons with even smaller labels.
Then again what would you expect from a remote for the DN1040, which sports eight HDMI inputs, USB and Bluetooth connectivity and a built-in tuner to boot, each with their dedicated buttons.
Only a few of the buttons on this long (10" x 2") remote are backlit and the tiny labels are hard to see even in a well-lit room. In a darkened room, good luck trying to locate the Bluetooth button.
To soothe your eyestrain, the designers at Sony have improved their DN1040 menus that are displayed on the TV.
Click the Home button on the remote and the menu pops up on the TV, (image on the left). From there you can navigate onscreen to all of the DN1040's features.
As an alternative to the remote control, Sony created the Media Remote App which you could download onto your compatible smartphone or tablet.
Recently, Sony has expanded the functionality of that app and has rebranded it as TV SideView (available from iTunes App Store or Google Play). Now, you not only get a simplified remote control, but also TV listings and a connection to social media.
I downloaded TV SideView on to my iPad and my Android smartphone. I was disappointed that this virtual version of the DN1040 remote was pared down from the actual remote. Gone are the dedicated buttons to switch between inputs. That function is carried out through the Watch menu on the Home Screen.
I also noticed that the app was constantly trying to reconnect to my smartphone. I reckon that some of this rocky operation is due to the "Low Maturity" of the app. Version 2.01 was only released a couple of weeks ago.
With all the extra programming content available with TV SideView, I suggest you run it on a tablet, or at least a phablet, where the interface is easier to see and operate.
Setting up a modern AV receiver like the Sony STR-DN1040 is not for the fainthearted. Not only do you have all those devices to attach, you also have to deal with speaker placement, connections and calibration.
Sony does attempt to facilitate the ordeal with their Easy Set-up Wizard which offers on-screen instructions for basic set-up, including speaker and network settings. (Here's a tip that I'll pass along: when navigating the menu, press the "AMP" button, this will ensure the remote controls the DN1040 menu.)
The wizard will step you through the Auto Calibration process where you plug in the supplied microphone and place it where you sit. Then the receiver sends test tones through the speakers and adjusts their output accordingly. The procedure is quick, easy and effective, definitely worth doing.
When you have completed the initial set-up, you can dive back into the onscreen menu and experiment with options like the Sound Optimizer and Sound Fields.
Finally, I suggest that you keep the 136 page manual nearby. The STR-DN1040 contains numerous functions and unless you are an AV receiver savant, not all of them are self-evident.
The Sony STR-DN1040 contains the muscle to cleanly power a fairly substantial 7.2 channel speaker system. And it provides the tools to shape the sound to your aural aesthetic, though if you prefer your audio unadulterated, the Pure Direct mode delivers the content as it was mastered.
With the prevalence of compressed streaming music, the DN1040 does it damnedest to expand the sound back to its original format. Just don't expect miracles.
Overall, the Sony STR-DN1040 performs excellently. Of course, a sound system is only as good as its weakest link and if you have scrawny speakers expect puny audio quality.
There is no shortage of well-performing AV receivers in today's highly competitive marketplace.
The $599 price places the Sony STR-DN1040's in the mid-range receiver category, but its power rating and features like built-in Wi-Fi and extensive connectivity send it to the head of the class.
I am not finding much wiggle room from Internet retailers on that $599 tag. Do I wish it were a bit less, of course, but considering the DN1040's performance and features, I think it's still a good value.
If you can settle for a little less power, six HDMI inputs and only one HDMI out, then take a look at the $449 Sony STR-DN840.
The Sony STR-DN1040 7.2 channel network AV receiver furnishes all the essentials necessary to easily power and deftly control a modern mid-sized home theater system at a price that won't break the budget.
With Bluetooth, Airplay, MHL and Wi-Fi connectivity, the flexible DN1040 gives the streaming music lover access to the trove of digital content and renders it with the best quality possible.