Sony STR-DH800

Finding a very affordable home theater A/V receiver that integrates well with a standard home theater can be tricky since they are often heavily stripped down versions of their flagship products. What matters most is what features are removed and which ones actually remain to justify its price. The Sony STR-DH800 which falls under this category plays it safe just under the STR-DH800 by retaining the onboard decoding features and HDMI inputs and sacrificing the user interface and slick design of the DN1000 for a product that is $100 cheaper.

Sony STR-DH800 Receiver

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Design

The Sony STR-DH800 shoots for the traditional black finish look while adding a few design elements of its own bearing similarities to the more affordable and basic STR-DH700. A thick silver bar divides the receiver into two while containing several buttons that set the different modes, adjust the tuning, and more.

Above this strip of buttons are three knobs with two small knobs on the left functioning as the tone adjustment and input selector respectively and the larger knob on the right serving as the master volume control. The power button is found on the upper left just above the speakers button. The info display resets on the top center which looks big at first, but only has a small operating area in the center.

Below the silver strip are all jacks including the phones jack on the far left and the trio jacks consisting of the video in and L and R audio labeled as “Video 2 IN” The auto calibration microphone that the Sony STR-DH800 comes with can be inserted in the small jack just left of the “Video 2 IN”. The logos that highlight all of the technologies that the player supports are neatly arranged on the bottom of the player.

Actual user review:
“Great unit! I received in a timely manner and quickly un-crated it. Took less than 10 minutes to remove the old akai unit and install this one. Being new to 7.1 technology, I needed to read the users manual to figure out how to configure my speakers, but it was time well spent. I would recommend this unit to anyone looking to upgrade.” – C.Ferris (NY,USA)

 

Performance

Performance-wise, the Sony STR-DH800 delivers with good connectivity options and complete onboard decoding support for Blu-ray titles to be playable at good qualities. Four HDMI-enabled devices can be hooked up to the system allowing different possibilities for a complete home theater experience. A Blu-ray player, a modern gaming console (such as the Playstation 3), and several other input devices bearing HD technologies can take full advantage of the connectivity along with three additional component inputs for older devices to utilize HD features.

Features

The Sony STR-DH800 takes full advantage of Blu-ray players connected to the receiver by offering decoding support for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio formats. These are the two core formats that are needed to reproduce the high definition sound offered by any Blu-ray content the way the makers intended it to sound.

It is the best valued system to support a 7.1-channel configuration in Sony’s lineup and setting up all these speakers are simple using the Digital Cinema Auto Calibration feature. Although the dynamic range compression needs a little bit of fine tuning, the STR-DH800 does an excellent job in utilizing the calibration microphone that it comes with to automatically adjust the speakers to fit any desired listening position. It has a distinct advantage compared to other players that use this method by doing the tests faster and allowing different profiles to be stored.

BRAVIA users will get the complete package as it has the BRAVIA Sync capability which allows the home theater to turn on the HDTV and other home theater components through the HDMI interface just by pressing a single button on the remote control. There are also a couple of extra features that benefit users with certain accessories like the connectivity to the Sirius service to allow XM channels to be listened to with great sound quality through the antenna accessory. The S-Air transmitter and AirStation client allows music to be shared in other rooms so they can be listened to as well.

The Sony STR-DH800 boasts some interesting video features as well including the 24p True Cinema support to eliminate the need for conversions in order to enjoy Blu-ray movies and video games in their true 24 frames per second. It is combined with the Enhanced Color Range which is a fusion of the Deep Color and x.v.Color technologies in order to display brilliant images when Sony Blu-ray disc players and BRAVIA HDTV displays are connected.

Bottom Line

The Sony STR-DH800 may seem like a stripped receiver when compared to the ES Series, but the essential features add up nicely and can power any standard home theater system.

Average User Rating:

  • “I searched for several months before pulling the trigger & buying the STR-DH800. Despite Sony bashing by many, I am very satisfied with my purchase. All of my other toys are HDMI equipped & up conversion was not a consideration. It has a decent amount of power & plenty of connections for virtually any device the average consumer will own. My suggestion would be to invest in banana plugs & save yourself a headache when connecting speaker wires, they saved me quite a bit of time. The auto cal. does a great job at setting up speaker levels & distances. Night mode is also nice. The manual & menu may not be friendly to a newbie. An onscreen menu function would have been nice. If your seat is more than 10 ft. away, as mine is, you will end up standing or straining your eyes to make small adjustments. The receiver is relatively tall, but it is not very deep. It has a nice & simple layout. The buttons & knobs have smooth action & the display is not distracting while watching movies. It does not generate very much heat. It has been a long time since I purchased home theater equipment & I am very satisfied with my purchase. At its current price, this receiver is definitely worth a look. I am sure you will not be disappointed.” – J.Davis (GA,USA)
  • “I thought that I needed new speakers to get better sound from my Blu Rays, but as soon as I plugged the HDMI from the Blu Ray to this receiver the sound was amazing. Even my wife could tell a difference and that is saying something! I would recommend this to anyone that wants great sound but is on a budget. I would recommend this to a friend.” – K.D.Hill (OH,USA)

 

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