SONY STR-DA5700ES HIGH-END AV RECEIVER REVIEW
Looking back the past couple years I have Reviewed quite a lot of Receivers. Mainly Onkyo. Sure I have played with other brands like Denon, Pioneer and HK but I was really excited when I found out I would be turning on my first Sony AVR. Having the Onkyo 3009 and Integra 80.3/HALO A 51 Parasound here it was a good thing Sony sent me their latest Flagship model the STR-DA5700ES. Coming from the best sound I have had to date in my Theater the 5700ES would have to be up for quite a challenge. Taking it out of its well packed box the 5700ES looks very impressive. Well designed and definitely well built! The stickers on the front indicated an impressive features package. Video Streaming (like Netflix) is really a cool option to have. I am used to having it from my Blu ray players, iPads and or TVs. The 5700ES is rated a 7.2 Receiver (130 watts per channel) but it is capable of doing 9.2 with an external AMP to drive either your Height Speakers or your Surround Backs. More on that a little later. The 5700ES has 6 HDMI inputs. One hidden nicely behind a sliding cover on the front. HDMI inputs are not always created equal. The 5700ES's do a great job of accepting all resolutions (including 3D) and passing it right through untouched. My last few Onkyo models I have had seemed to always have issues sending the signal out without issue of both HDMI outs. The Sony did it without so much as a blink. In the menu under Video it allows you to set the parameters for your HDMI signals. As many who read my Reviews know I am an avid fan of Dual HDMI Blu ray players. The Sony 5700ES is the first Receiver I have had where I can honestly say I could use a regular 3D Blu ray player and be fine. I am currently checking out the new Panasonic BDT 320 which has "only" one HDMI out. I have tested the signal with both the 5700 and using a Sewell 1X2 HDMI splitter and the results were the same. I like using both HDMI inputs (1 for TV and games and the other for Blu ray and 3D) on my Sony VPL VW1000ES 4K projector and finally having a Receiver with competent HDMI switching is a breath of fresh air. Now I should point out that the 5700ES does not offer any video scaling via HDMI. It does with analog (you remember those component red/green/blue and RCA yellow/red/white cables) so I was a little surprised the Faroudja Chip (same as in some of the Onkyo models) did not. The results were always very good in other brands. Most displays these days do a pretty decent job of scaling but it is nice to at least be able to do A/B comparisons. Maybe that is the price we pay for perfect pass-through? Either way I still won't knock the 5700ES because its main priority is sound and that is where it does excel. Read on...
Setting up the 5700ES was so easy. The On Screen Display is first rate. The graphics and images were actually the best looking I have ever witnessed on a Receiver. You get two remotes which neither are backlit but most of us use Harmony or some other type of Universal remote so no big deal there. I will say the mini remote is really nice and allows you to sit anywhere in your room with it and it not be in the way. Both are simple to use and work nice in your hand. I like the Netflix command on the main remote. Allows you to go straight there without having to navigate through a menu system. I also love the HDMI out (both remotes) direct button. This allows you to make sure you have both HDMI outs on the back going simultaneously or select A or B without having to take a roadtrip deep into the menu. Nice! The other options like Volume and Movie Modes are also well layed out. The HOME button which is the set up menu is easy to find. At the top we get all of our input selections. I have a DirecTV HR24, Panasonic BDT 320, PS3, Xbox 360, old TIVO and a Security System going through the 5700ES. All accessible by the tap of a button. Doing the calibration was also very easy. I am used to a 20 minute mic calibration not the DCAC (Digital Cinema Auto Calibration) the Sony did. Just make sure you get the wand (5700ES's mic) lined up correctly (Left and Right) because if you have it aimed backwards at the speakers it will tell you and make you redo it again. Not a pain since that is only 45 seconds or so of start up. The OSD is very simple to read and understand. Following the set up procedure was so easy a cave man can do it. Speaking of making life easier the 5700ES has a 4 port Ethernet switch that allows you to connect everything! I seriously hope this takes off and many others follow. This is a cool feature!!!
I was surprised how easy it was to configure the 5700ES. It gives you various options for speaker set ups and allows you to assign either the pre outs or the speaker terminals for Height or Surround Back. This is where you can make the 5700ES do 9.2 channel sound instead of "just" 7. For the purpsoe of this Review I used the 5700ES for most of my listening. Of course I also used it as a pre pro with my Parasound HALO A 51 too. I will discuss sound results a little later. I will say that I have never had an easier time setting up a Receiver. Many might think my set up is somewhat a little complex but it still took about 5 minutes to have the 5700ES up and running. Before long I was testing my DirecTV DVR movies and football games. Not long after I would be onto Blu ray as well. The longest part was setting up my Amazon On Demand and Netflix accounts. Still not hard to do! With the 5700ES having all this control it really does have the feel of a mini space station. A one stop/shop if you will...
Sony has their own HD-DCS (HD Digital Cinema Sound) which is not bad at all. I am liking it for some of my DirecTV general viewing but the 5700ES really flexes its muscles with Dolby PLIIz Height and DTS NEO: X sound. This is when it is a great idea to go with 9 channels. If not you are still hearing terrific sound! I used to always start off with Troy on Blu ray. That first scene when Achilles takes on the giant warrior has always left hairs standing on my neck. WIth the 5700ES it was no different. I still felt that effect when Brad Pitt shouted, "Is there no one else?" The spear which is chucked behind you and the one that lands in his sheild sounded amazing. I then moved along to the start up of Darkness Falls. The narrator's voice is distinct and eerie at the same time. I really appreciated the amount of detail I was able to hear. Then it was time to move onto my usual movies with rain, helicopters, bullets and dinosaurs. The sound placement was right on. I never felt the Center was overwhelmed. The calibration was pretty right on. I did sneak into the menu to increase the intensity of my Heights some but that was about it. I will say I am still having a tough time deciding between NEO: X and Height though. My latest rule of thumb is if it is in DTS-HD go NEO: X and anything else just do Height. If you haven ventured into the Height speakers yet you are really missing out. Receivers are getting better and better with it. Movies with rain (like The Covenant or Friday the 13th) sound amazing. You may actually think it is raining in your room! If I had only one choice I would take Height speakers over Surround Backs. Especially since football (or sports) has an even bigger impact with them. Peyton Manning (now a Denver Bronco) sounds like he is in your room barking out the signals which you hear perfectly clear in the Height speakers. The crowds whether they are booing or cheering make you feel as if you are at the game sitting front row. I was able to watch (and listen) to some of the NCAA Tournament games this past weekend and between the incredible image from my 1000ES projector and incredible sound from the 5700ES Receiver I seriously might as well as been there! The 5700ES has some cool Sound Field modes as well. They have a Sport, Stadium as well many others. They are fun to experiment with. I still like NEO: X or Height but you might enjoy the others.
Hands down this has to be the absolute best On-Screen set up guide I have ever seen. Colorful and easy to follow it just does not get any better than this!!!
As impressive as the 5700ES is with movies it also does a terrific job with music. As far as performance goes I really have not had any complaints with it at all. Sony poured a lot into their Flagship model and it really shows. The 5700 really deserves the ES (Elevated Standard) title which comes with a 5 year warranty. Sure it has a couple shortcomings but even Bryston just released a new pre amp which is $9,500 and it does not have video processing either. Maybe we are heading to a new trend where less is better? I know I prefer easy in and easy out instead of all those HDMI handshake issues. The 5700ES with its complete Music and Video Streaming does offer a lot in one 39 pound black box. Movie soundtracks are next level and leave you wondering if you heard that the last time you watched it? Sports put you front and center with the crowd whether you are cheering or booing! Either way you definitely will be cheering for the 5700ES.
EQUIPMENT USED FOR ALL OR PART OF THIS REVIEW:
SONY STR-DA5700ES Receiver, SONY VPL VW1000ES 4k 3D Projector,
Onkyo TX-NR3009 pre-pro, DirecTV HR24 500, Xbox 360, PS3, Simplay EDGE GREEN Video Processor, Monster Power HTS 5100, Panasonic BDT 320 3D Blu ray player, MonsterVision 3D glasses, Sony 3D glasses, Parasound HALO A 51 AMP, Antec Component Coolers, Vutec SilverStar 120.5" screen with a Carada Masquerade Masking System. Pinnacle Speakers- Center BD600, Heights BD500 OWs, Left and Right and Surrounds Super K555s and the KLCR for surround back. Subwoofers- Pinnacle Dig 600, plus four MTX Lolita Low Profiles. 8.6 Sound! Remotes: Harmony 1100. Monster M1000 Ultimate HDMI cables top to bottom.
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Even Jaclyn loves the SONY STR-DA5700ES Receiver!!!