Sony STR-DA4600ES Review

While the Sony STR-DA4600ES receiver does offer some unique features its limitations in other areas are cause for concern.
While the Sony STR-DA4600ES receiver does offer some unique features its limitations in other areas are cause for concern.
While the Sony STR-DA4600ES receiver does offer some unique features its limitations in other areas are cause for concern.

Highs

  • Above average sound
  • 4-Port ethernet switch
  • DLNA support
  • Upscaled HDMI Video for Zone 2

Lows

  • Slow user interface navigation
  • Some limited flexibility
  • Lower power in surround modes
  • No USB, S-Video

DT Editors' Rating

Our last exposure to the Sony’s ES (Elevated Standard) A/V line was with their BDP-S1700ES Blu-Ray disc player, and the experience left us happy with its over-all performance, but a little bit boggled by the apparent loss of robust build quality that we’re used to seeing with ES gear. Here, we’ll take a look at Sony’s STR-DA4600ES A/V receiver and see how it holds up to the legacy of the ES.

Out of the Box

The 4600ES receiver came packed with most of the usual accessories. We found a power cord, calibration microphone, IR repeater, a full size remote, a small zone 2 remote, batteries for the remotes, a PC set-up disc, AM and FM antennae, a quick set-up guide, a graphic of the menu tree (nice touch) and a pair of full size manuals in both English and French.

Sony STR-DA4600ESThe receiver weighs just over 28 lbs with most of the weight leaning toward the power supply. Measurements are roughly 17” x 6.2” x 15.25”. The 4600 is entirely black and has a small window in the very center of the front face flanked by two control knobs on each side. The multiple knobs, window location and finish of the front face give this receiver a sort of dated look that isn’t quite “retro” and not entirely high-end looking either. There’s nothing blatantly unattractive about it, but the design doesn’t really fit the ES legacy of looking brawny yet refined.

Features

The 4600ES receiver is generically rated at 120 watts per channel x 7 channels. Closer inspection of the specs on Sony’s product page for the receiver reveal that the ratings vary from 130 wpc in stereo to 120 wpc in stereo, depending on the testing method. Conspicuously absent are the muti-channel power ratings, a curiosity made more intriguing considering some of our experiences with the receiver’s sound quality in surround mode…more on that later.

The surround output is fixed at 7.1. A user can choose to have surround back channels or front height channels, bi-amped front speakers or zone 2 speakers but not more than one at a time. The Sony does offer a “Speaker B” output for a remote set of speakers and can send zone 2 audio out via cat-5 if you like.

Video features on this receiver are considerably more advanced than its audio capabilities. The receiver has 6 HDMI 1.4 inputs and 2 outputs. The HDMI ports support pass-through in standby mode and audio return channel. The second HDMI output can be used for zone two and does take advantage of a second, dedicated Faroudja upscaling chip so that it provides up-converted video to the second zone. That’s pretty slick.

Sony STR-DA4600ESThe 4600ES offers some pretty good network media access. We have to give Sony props for putting a four port Ethernet switch on their three ES receiver models. Why hasn’t everyone done this? The feature allows the receiver to share its internet connection with up to 3 other devices. That could feed an Xbox, PS3 and Blu-Ray player all at once and eliminate another black box from an entertainment center.

The network menu provides access to Rhapsody, Shoutcast and audio/video files shared on a network. It does not, however, have an internet radio client. Generally speaking, the network music access is no better or worse than any other manufacturers. That is to say, it is marginally usable at best. Scrolling slowly through a massive music collection sucks the fun out of the experience and, therefore, doesn’t get a whole lot of attention during our reviews.

Here’s an oddity we noticed during setup: The remote control has input buttons for BD, DVD etc, it also has input buttons for HDMI 1, HDMI 2 etc. What’s odd is that HDMI port number 1 cannot be assigned to the BD input. In other words, if you only connect a Blu-Ray player via HDMI, you’ll have to punch HDMI 1 to see your Blu-Ray player, not BD. It’s counter-intuitive and had us searching the manual for a solution only to find there is none. Weird.

Home Theater

Boy dies after being electrocuted through his headphones

A 16-year-old Malaysian boy appears to be the latest victim in a growing list of people who have been electrocuted by their smartphones via their headphones. It's believed that a faulty charging cable is the culprit.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.
Gaming

Xbox One S vs. PlayStation 4 Slim: Which console is worth your money?

Microsoft's new Xbox One S and Sony's PlayStation 4 "Slim" have bucked the generational gaming console trend. But which of these stopgap systems is worth spending your paycheck on?
Home Theater

What are HDMI ARC and eARC? Here’s how they can simplify your home theater

HDMI ARC is one of the coolest TV features at your disposal. But if you're like most folks, you have no idea how it works, if you even know what it is at all. Here's our primer on HDMI ARC, as well as the next generation technology, eARC.
Home Theater

Step aside set-top boxes, the best streaming sticks are tiny and just as powerful

Which streaming stick reigns supreme? We pit the Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra against the Roku Premiere, Roku Streaming Stick+, and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K to help you decide which one will be the best fit in your living room.
Home Theater

Looking for the best 4K Ultra HD TVs you can buy? Here are five great options

If it's time to upgrade your old 1080p to a new 4K model but you don't know what to look for, fear not, as we're here with a list of the best 4K Ultra HD TVs to help make your buying process as easy as possible.
Product Review

AKG's signature studio sound goes straight to your head with these stunning cans

With gorgeous looks and great sound, AKG’s N700NC are a formidable entry into the wireless noise-canceling headphone race. We put them to the test to see if they can beat out the absolute best in the business.
Home Theater

Here's how to pick out the best TV stand to enhance your viewing experience

This TV stand buying guide will cover how much space you need for equipment, how the stand manages cables, and the size of the stand you need as you look for a new model that fits in your home.
Home Theater

Set your ears free with the best completely wireless earbuds

If you can't stand the tangle of cords, or you're just excited about completely wireless earbuds, you're going to need some help separating the wheat from the chaff. Our list serves up the best wireless earbuds around.
Movies & TV

Sit down and watch some of the best stand-up comedy on Netflix

Feeling a little funny? There are hundreds of hilarious comedy specials out there, and you can't be expected to comb through them all. Lucky for you, we've compiled a list of the best stand-up specials on Netflix.
Movies & TV

Lose the torrents. Here's how to watch 'Game of Thrones' online (legally)

Game of Thrones is one of the most popular shows on TV, but unless you're a cable subscriber, finding a way to watch isn't always easy. Check out our guide on how to watch online, whether you prefer using HBO, Hulu, or Amazon.
Home Theater

Block the outside world, tune into your own with the best in-ear headphones

Over-the-ear headphones offer top-flight sound, but they're not so easy to take along with you. If you're looking to upgrade your portable sound, check out our favorite in-ear headphones -- there's a model for every user and every budget.
Computing

Don't know what to do with all your old DVDs? Here's how to convert them to MP4

Given today's rapid technological advancements, physical discs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Check out our guide on how to convert a DVD to MP4, so you can ditch discs for digital files.
Home Theater

Get ready to ditch your amplifier: New LG TVs add a powerful way to go wireless

WiSA, a wireless technology designed for high-end home theaters, might finally start seeing more love. LG's top-tier 2019 TVs will be WiSA certified, and that could mean a new wireless future for premium surround sound.