There are a good number of home theater receivers that are above the $1,000 price tag and with the many A/V receivers below that amount have a reasonable set of features, receivers like the Sony STR-DA4400ES still deserve a good look because they sport features that would likely interest those that have bigger and/or more advanced home theater systems. Some high-end devices like good HDTVs and Blu-ray players require a receiver that is well-rounded with both audio and video features.
Sony STR-DA4400ES Receiver |
The design of the STR-DA4400ES marks a transition in the series separating it from all the lesser models under it. The same silver bar that was used in the STR-DH800 to divide the receiver in two sections makes a reappearance and is a bit slanted, but the layout changed significantly with the location of the info display being most notable. In fact, the display looks a little high and may look strange to some that are used to seeing it in the exact center. The buttons below the display are better positioned along the divider and are aligned with the power button on the left side and two other buttons for HDMI IN and MULTI CH IN on the right.
Some changes were made to the bottom end of the player too with only the Multi Channel Decoding blue indicator in the center and the knobs that adjust the tone, tuning, input selector, and master volume in their usual places with the first two on the left and second two on the right. The related mode can be found above the smaller knobs with the exception of the input selector where the zone functions are found. The speakers control is no longer a button and is replaced with a 4-mode switch where A, B, or both speakers can be used or it can be off altogether.
The auto calibration mic jack has also been relocated above the speakers switch, but the other jacks stay on the bottom left. For protection, a panel covers the DPT and Video 2 jacks.
Actual user review:
“All I have to say is I owned a denon before this and it is way better. It has 6 HDMI ports and I can view the Receiver interface from my tv in HD. Not all receivers can do that at least not older ones the price is a little high but amazon and other online stores have it at a much lower price. Only down side is, with my PS3, it only does LPCM and the receiver will not display the new formats name on the screen. Not the receivers fault if you want to display DD HD audio and DTS master audio on the screen you have to use a standalone BD Player but thats only if you really need to see the audio in bitstream. Not a big problem because LPCM is just the same. Maybe they will update the PS3 firmware so it can do HIGHDEF audio in bitstream.” – N.D.Duverge (Iraq)
The Sony STR-DA4400ES builds on the STR-DA3400ES by offering 6 HDMI inputs all equipped with the Active Intelligence technology which means that all connected devices are more tightly integrated with the HDTV connected to it ensuring that the best signals go through. The 3 HD component video inputs are retained allowing even more devices to utilize the power of high definition. The “Elevated Standard” means that video switching is very easy regardless of the HD source.
Like all of the other Sony receivers, the STR-DA4400ES puts the audio features upfront allowing many of the latest audio formats to be reproduced including DTS-HD, Dolby TrueHD, DD+, and Linear PCM with 8 channels supported. This translates to a very good experience for watching Blu-ray movies when a Blu-ray player is connected through HDMI or experiencing a real gaming experience when a Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 is plugged in. Direct Stream Digital which is used for Super Audio CDs is also supported.
Visuals are just as good supporting both the Deep Color and x.v.Color video signals for decent HD quality. It is compatible with both the 1080/60 and 1080/24p HD video signals to take advantage of certain content being displayed in the top BRAVIA models. The Faroudja DCDi Cinema 1080p Upscaling Technology brings the old analog signals to good high definition quality using an upscaling technique that improves the colors of the image and removes the jagged effects.
The easy setup options make the Sony STR-DA4400ES despite its advanced looks with a supplied learning remote and Xross Media Bar interface to make the receiver easy to use. Calibrating the system shouldn’t be a problem with the Digital Cinema Auto Calibration feature. Setting it up with the BRAVIA HDTV only requires an HDMI connection because the BRAVIA Sync does the rest requiring only a single remote to operate both. It is possible to take advantage of multi-room HD video for up to 2 rooms or multi-room audio for up to 3 rooms. The digital media port along with the 12V triggers, IR repeaters, and RS-232C allows plenty of other possibilities with other accessories. Finally, the STR-DA4400ES is Sirius Satellite Radio ready.
The Sony STR-DA4400ES is bigger, mightier, and can handle bigger home theater systems with more audio and video features to make it more than worth its $1300 price tag.
Average User Rating:
- “I bought this receiver because it covers all the bases. Almost every audio option is supported (Logic 7 would be nice but Lexicon/Harmon Karden keep that one on a tight leash). The GUI is very PS3 like which is okay with me however I find that it’s integration with the remote to be less than desirable. The biggest disappointment is the lack of a switched AC outlet. I have a powered sub and the lack of the AC outlet requires me to manually turn the sub on. Oh and the calibration mic claims that my speakers are not in phase when I know for a fact that they are. I use a PS3 for blue-ray and it works well with the receiver but I can’t get the multichannel audio programs to work when I stream the audio using the PS3 from my PC. I think that this is a limitation of the PS3.” – H.Ostrow (CO,USA)
- “I have spent about a week with the 4400es and it is without a doubt a great and versatile product. I have my cable box, pc, wii, ps3, xbox, and hd dvd all hooked up to it. It all sounds and looks great.” – J.Manuel (TX,USA)
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