Sony STR-DN1080 home theatre amplifier review

The Sony STR-DN1080 amplifier has a fantastic sound, punch and dynamic performance. We experienced incredible detail, naturalness and three-dimensionality.

The STR-DN1080 has a rather chunky and well-built black chassis. The front panel features a handful of shortcut keys, smoothly functioning volume and input dials, and a simplified display that can be read at a glance. This is an easy-to-use amp. One of the main differences from the previous model in terms of appearance is the size, which you wouldn’t notice unless you placed the receiver next to its predecessor. The 1080 is slightly smaller than the 1070.

While Sony’s receivers over the past decade have been characterised by a bulldog-like appearance, the newer models are a little less striking. The STR-DN1080’s design is quite blocky-rough, rectangular.

The lightweight plastic remote control is easy to use, thanks to the logically placed buttons. Unfortunately, the remote does not have a backlight, which is a major drawback for a home theatre amplifier. Sony has used high quality components and advanced technologies in the manufacture of this amplifier. High-capacity power transformer and vacuum-coated internal wiring ensure powerful bass

The STR-DN1080 has been given a rather chunky and well-built black housing. The front panel features a handful of hotkeys, a seamless volume and input dial, and a simplified display that you can read at a glance. This is an easy to use receiver. One of the main differences in appearance compared to the previous model is the size, which we wouldn’t even notice unless we put the receiver next to its predecessor. The 1080 is slightly smaller than the 1070.

While Sony’s receivers have been bulldog-like in appearance over the past decade, newer models are a little less striking. The design of the STR-DN1080 is quite block-like and solid.

Using the lightweight plastic remote control is no problem either, thanks to the logically placed buttons. Unfortunately, the remote control does not have a backlight, which is a big enough disadvantage for a home theater amplifier. Sony has used high quality components and advanced technologies in the manufacture of the receiver. A high-capacity mains transformer and vacuum-coated internal wiring ensure powerful bass.

Other features of Sony STR-DN 1080

Sony-STR-DN1080-review

Power 165 W, weight 9.7 kg, dimensions 430 x 156 x 331 mm.

It can not only play Dolby Atmos sound up to 5.1.2 speaker configuration, but also supports the newer DTS:X format. HDMI 2.1 is not supported, but all six HDMI inputs on the rear panel are HDCP 2.2 compliant, supporting full playback of 4K HDR content. It’s worth noting that the ‘Video 1’ input is the only one that doesn’t support the full 4:4:4 sub-sampling specification – all other HDMI inputs do. There are two HDMI outputs, a handful of standard inputs, a single optical and coaxial input, and a USB port for charging your smartphone.

STR-DN1080-inside

The amplifier can play up to 24-bit/192 kHz files in all popular formats, and native dual DSD files via HDMI and USB. In fact, two of the HDMI inputs (BD/DVD and CD/SACD) are optimised for the best sound quality.

Phantom Surround Back allows you to simulate a seven-speaker configuration with just five speakers. The S-Force PRO Front Surround with 2 speakers can create a virtual surround sound field, an excellent choice for smaller rooms. It uses DSD pulse-density modulation as the encoding technique for audio storage, allowing for a natural, analogue-like sound, with the added benefit of a wide dynamic range and frequency response in excess of 100 kHz. The STR-DN1070 supports DSD (Direct Stream Digital) native playback.

The most popular streaming services are also available – Bluetooth, AirPlay, Chromecast and Spotify Connect are all built into the STR-DN1080. The amp’s DLNA certification means you can play hi-res music files from any NAS device or laptop on the same network. And don’t forget multi-room systems: you can connect the amp to other compatible Sony products using the Music Center app (formerly SongPal).

You can also control it by voice via the Google Home smart speaker. With the Google Home app, you can set the amplifier as your default music player system.

The Sony STR-DN1080 DCAC EX calibration system uses a rather unusual-looking plastic stereo microphone. Most receivers’ auto-tuning systems use a mono microphone, so we hoped that the STR-DN1080’s tuning results would be better than average.

As part of the STR-DN1080’s auto-tuning, you can choose from four calibration types.

Test

A room correction system alone cannot achieve perfect sound. A full manual adjustment usually takes less time when using a calibration system than it takes to correct errors in automatic adjustment. It is very important to treat the walls, window and floor surfaces of the home theatre or music room with acoustic panels. The testing location was a cinema room with correct acoustics, where double leather membrane sound absorbing panels and diffusers were installed on the walls and acoustic curtains were installed in front of the windows. The floor was covered with a thick, quilted acoustic carpet.

The amplifier has been tested listening to music and watching movies and did not disappoint. It was paired with Dali Oberon 5 speakers. We got a detailed, spacious and dynamic sound. This amp has won three consecutive awards, which says a lot. The Sony STR-DN1080 offers all the features you need in a modern receiver-multiroom music, Chromecast streaming, AirPlay, Dolby Atmos, and plenty of 4K-compatible inputs. Sound quality is excellent, especially for movies. The user interface is easy to follow and is paired with a friendly remote control. When we tested Sony’s previous model, the STR-DN1070, the sound was similar, although we felt the STR-DN1080 sounded slightly clearer and the STR-DN1070 more expansive.

Judgment

This AV receiver offers very good quality at a very affordable price. We really liked the sound, especially after cancelling the automatic setting and setting it manually to our own preferences. The Sony offers excellent home theatre and music performance and all the features you could possibly need. While watching the movie, some parts felt flat, but that’s nitpicking. The remote control could have had backlighting and we could have done with more extensive sound.

Written by Róbert Polgár