I have read glowing review after glowing review of the Sony STR-DN1080. So many, in fact, that I decided to buy one to replace an older Denon that served us well but recently had met an untimely demise. If you want to cut to the chase, I returned the Sony after a week of using it as my primary a/v receiver in my 5.2 setup and replaced it with a more powerful Onkyo receiver that was a slightly older model.
Let’s start with the good, though.
The DN1080 is an attractive receiver. The menu systems are truly excellent, with one exception (how to wipe all personal data). I couldn’t find any menu that actually seemed to wipe my data, and I didn’t find any instructions in the manual about how to do it. I finally found a note online that said to turn the receiver off, then hold the power button for five seconds. That worked. But the menu itself is the best-looking menu I have seen on a receiver and likely has a lot to do with all the glowing reviews.
Some of the features that drew me to the Sony at this price point are the built-in Chromecast (that’s our smart home ecosystem), multi-zone support, built-in WiFi, built-in Bluetooth, and the ability to output HDR and Dolby Atmos. In addition to the menus being excellent, another area in which the Sony shines is Chromecast integration with my phone and Google Home. It worked seamlessly.
Sound is clear and bright. I had to warm the sound a bit by nudging the bass up and treble down. It’s a matter of personal preference, but my speakers are very clear, so the pure bright sound of the Sony was a bit much. Once I adjusted the built-in digital equalizer settings (again, very easy to do), the sound was much improved.
Specs from Sony:
NUMBER OF AMP. CHANNELS
NUMBER OF DECODABLE CHANNELS
7ch + Phantom 2ch
165 W (6 ohms, 1 kHz, 1ch driven THD 0.9%)
2ch Stereo, Direct, Multi Ch Stereo, Dolby® Surround, Neural: X, Front Surround, Audio Enhancer, Headphone 2ch
HDR (HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE)
AUDIO RETURN CHANNEL
HDMI® PASS THROUGH
3D OVER HDMI
4K 60P 4:4:4 SUPPORT
Yes (except VIDEO1 input)
BRAVIA® SYNC™ (CEC CONTROL)
Yes (One-Touch Play, System Audio Control, System Power Off)
SOUND ENHANCEMENT TECHNOLOGIES
DSD Native Playback, DSEE HX, Pure Direct, Sound Optimizer, Center Speaker Lift Up, Digital Legato Linear, In-Ceiling Speaker Mode
Auto Speaker Calibration
DCAC EX; Speaker Relocation; Phantom Surround Back; Automatic Phase Matching; Calibration Mic (Stereo)
PRESET CHANNEL (FM/AM)
HDMI SUPPORTING HDCP2.2 IN/OUT
INPUT AND OUTPUT TERMINALS
Audio Input Opt (1); Audio Input Coax (1); Analog Audio Input (4); Pre Out Subwoofer (2); Composite Monitor Out (1); Headphone Output (1); USB (1 Front); Ethernet Port (1)
SPEAKER OUTPUT TERMINALS
Front A, Center, Surround, Surround Back, Zone2 (Common with Surround Back), Height (Common with Surround Back), Front B (Common with Surround Back), Bi-AMP (Common with Surround Back)
Decoding Format for HDMI
DECODING FORMAT FOR HDMI
DSD, LCPM, Dolby Atmos®, Dolby® Digital, Dolby® Dual Mono, DTS: X, DTS HD MA, DTS HD HR, DTS, DTS-ES (Matrix6.1/Discrete6.1), DTS 96/24
Decoding Format for USB/Network Client
DSDIFF (DSD): Up to 5.6 MHz 5.1ch, DSF: Up to 5.6 MHz 5.1ch, WAV (LCPM): Up to 192 kHz/24 bit 7.1ch, AIFF (LCPM): Up to 192 kHz/24 bit 5.1ch, FLAC: Up to 192 kHz/24 bit 5.1ch, ALAC: Up to 192 kHz/24 bit 5.1ch
[MP3].MP3, [AAC/HE-AAC].m4a, .AAC, [WMA9 Standard].WMA
Bluetooth® Receiver, Bluetooth® Transmitter, NFC, Wi-Fi®, AirPlay, Mobile Control Application, Wireless Multi-Room
Custom Install & Control Features
Speaker (Variable) / Line (Variable, Fixed)
IR REPEAT (IN/OUT)
GUI (GRAPHICAL USER INTERFACE)
YES (Only through HDMI)
Size & Weight
DIMENSIONS (W X H X D IN)
430 x 156 x 331
The view from the back shows few limitations. You can only have up to two zones for listening, but you can also have two outputs, which is a nice bonus at this price range.
The receiver supports a 5.1.2 setup or a 7.1 setup. Sony also has a setup feature that can use your existing speakers to create “phantom” rear speakers, so your 5.2 system can sound a bit more like a 7.2 system. Honestly, this seems more like a parlor trick at this point. I thought I could tell some difference, but not so much that I was convinced it wasn’t just in my mind.
So far, so good. So why did I return it? Two primary reasons.
One, no matter what I did – including following several tricks I found on the internet – I could not get it to work with my Roku after the receiver performed a software update. It worked with the Roku before the update, but then no mas. I have to presume there was either a glitch with ours or Sony will quickly fix the Roku issue. It seems to be a bit hit-or-miss, though, as I read online, and that concerns me. I can’t afford to have a receiver that doesn’t work with our primary streaming device.
The second reason is that even though I could warm the sound up a bit, it still lacked a bit of oomph that I wanted in our primary system. Our defunct 10-year-old Denon system had, frankly, sounded better to me. To be fair, the Denon was a higher-end receiver in it’s day, but I had thought a decade of advancement and a multitude of glowing reviews would lead to even better things from the Sony.
At the end of the day, my overall recommendation is to buy a higher-end model from last year at a discount. That’s exactly what I did after I returned the Sony. Whereas the Sony had an MSRP of $600 and is commonly sold at about $500, the receiver I replaced it with had an MSRP of $1400, and I purchased it new for only $50 more than I had paid for the Sony.
For a budget system, the Sony STR-DN1080 offers a lot of features. And the sound, while not my cup of tea, isn’t bad at all. My final rating may seem harsh, especially given all the things the Sony does well; but for a very similar price, I found much more powerful system that actually works with all my devices.