Sony STR-DN1070 Design
Let’s face it, when it comes to AV equipment function beats the crap out of form every time. AV receivers are unabashedly utilitarian. The Sony STR-DN1070 doesn’t deviate from this. It’s more or less just a rectangular black box, however, the front of the unit is clean and free of button clutter which gives it an undeniable modern look and feel.
The on-screen interface for the 1070 is just as clean and smooth as I remember from last year’s models. The interface uses easy to navigate big graphical icons that make shuffling through the amps settings easy. After spending some time with the unit I couldn’t help but think that Pioneer used this as the inspiration for the new interface on the Pioneer VSX-831.
The Sony STR-DN1070’s remote is just as simple and sleek as the on-screen interface. Over the years, as AV receivers became more complicated, so did their remotes. Thankfully, we’re starting to see a reversal of this trend. The 1070’s remote has done away with the number pad. This omission allows the other buttons to utilize the real estate more efficiently. As a result, the buttons are larger and easier to use.
Abundant connection options including a couple of analog and digital inputs are included on the Sony STR-DN1070 AV Receiver. However, the inputs you’ll probably be most interested in are the HDMIs. The Sony Receiver has a total of 6 HDMI inputs and 2 outputs. If you have a 4K TV then 1070 is more than capable of pushing Ultra HD signals to your set. The receiver supports 60p 4:4:4, HDR, and HDCP 2.2 copy protection. The 1070 can also upscale regular HD video to near 4K standards. Most 4K TVs are able to do this on their own, however, if you need an AV receiver that can perform this duty then you’re in good hands with the Sony 1070.
WiFi and Bluetooth are embedded inside of the 1070. If you have an iOS device Apple’s AirPlay gives you an additional method to stream audio to the receiver. The Sony STR-DN1070 also has a feature called LDAC. According to Sony LDAC allows for 3x the data transmission via Bluetooth. The one caveat is that only select Sony devices support LDAC so the average consumer won’t reap any benefits from the feature.
SongPal is Sony’s answer to MusicCast. If you have multiple Sony audio products you can use the app to stream audio to these devices throughout your home. Since the last time I used it, Sony’s made some improvements to the app’s usability, however, MuiscCast edges out SongPal slightly with its intuitiveness.
The Sony STR-DN1070 handles standard HD formats such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master audio. However, I’m a little disappointed that Sony decided not to support Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. Much of their competition in this price range support both of these new formats so it’s disappointing that this 7 channel amp doesn’t. I will concede that neither format has yet to really take-off, however, if you plan on keeping your receiver around for several years you’d want it to be as future-proof as possible.
On the music front, the Sony 1070 supports MP3, AAC, WMA, WAV 192k, FLAC 192k, ALAC, AIFF, and DSD (2.8MHz). So it can handle most hi-res and compressed music files you send its way. The amp also employs want Sony calls DSEE HX, which upscales compressed music files to near HD quality. Nearly every manufacturer employs something similar to this on their amps nowadays. You can detect a slight difference when playing MP3s when using DSEE HX, it’s not night and day, but there is a noticeable improvement. Music sounded fuller and richer, however, I wouldn’t say it had the same level of detail as native hi-res audio.
Sony uses its own proprietary calibration system called Digital Cinema Automatic Calibration (DCAC). Like all other calibration systems on other amps, the receiver blasts out test tones thru your speakers and uses that data to set up the appropriate speaker distances, levels, and crossover frequencies. Calibrating the STR-DN1070 went off without a hitch as it accurately detected the correct speaker sizes and crossover frequencies for my setup.
With the specs of the Sony STR-DN1070 AV Receiver, it should be a brawny receiver. Based on my listening tests, it is. It amply handled the soundtrack for Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. The chaotic battlefield on Pelennor Fields was reproduced in splendid detail. Every clank and crunch of battlefield armor could be heard. The roars and grunts of the Uruk-hai paraded around my surround channels enveloping my listening area. When the Oliphaunts thundered onto the battlefield I was punched in the chest by the low-frequency power of the 1070. Overall, the receiver gave an impressive performance.
The Sony 1070 also showed finesse. During a short scene in the movie when Gandalf quietly tries to boost Pippin’s spirits, the Sony STR-DN1070 gave his speech enough detail and volume that it was easily audible. I point this out because many amps that I’ve tested have a difficult time with this particular scene. Gandalf’s speech sounds like a faint whisper on other amps which usually resulted in me cranking up the volume. With the 1070 it wasn’t necessary.
Cueing up John Wick on blu-ray gave the 1070 a change of pace. While John Wick is heavy on action, it’s also heavy on dialogue. The Sony STR-DN1070 reproduced clean accurate dialogue. When the action picked-up the amp didn’t skip a beat, easily transitioning from dialogue to action.
Related: Sony STR-DN1080 AV Receiver Review
The Sony STR-DN1070 also employs a feature called S-Force Pro Front Surround. This works a little like Yamaha’s virtual cinema front system. S-Force approximates a surround experience with only 2 front channels. After using this feature I can say it does widen the sound field and on occasion, it did give the illusion that surrounds speakers were present. It’s no replacement for a true surround setup, but if you only employ two speakers in your setup it definitely helps and is worth investigating. The 1070 also lets you set up a set of compatible Sony wireless speakers for your rear surrounds. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any on hand at the time of the review, but using wireless speakers for rear surrounds does give you flexible placement options.
On the music side of things, the 1070 displayed a full-bodied precise sound. Kicking back with George Benson, the STR-DN1070 showed its mellow side. Instruments were well defined and detailed. When it came to vocal performances, the 1070 brought forth a life-like and rich performance. With Bluetooth playback, you do get a noticeable drop-off in sound quality, even with Sony’s DSEE HX employed. However, this is just the norm with Bluetooth audio.
The Sony STR-DN1070 is a great all-around amp. It has a solid sound quality for music and movies. Although I think it sounds slightly better with movies, I think most people will be very impressed with its musical chops. I do wish that Sony had included Dolby Atmos and DTS:X among its list of features, however, it makes up for this with great sound quality and tons of additional add-ons.