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.

Product Review

Microsoft’s $350 Surface Headphones are a good first try, but not good enough

Microsoft’s Surface Headphones are stylish, comfortable, and have great noise-canceling, but at $350 a pair, they’ll have a hard time matching the industry leaders like Sony and Bose.
Home Theater

These awesome A/V receivers will swarm you with surround sound at any budget

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to shopping for a receiver, so we assembled our favorites for 2019, at multiple price points and all loaded with features, from Dolby Atmos to 4K HDR and much more.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny, muffled 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.
Trash

These awesome A/V receivers will swarm you with surround sound at any budget

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to shopping for a receiver, so we assembled our favorites for 2018, at multiple price points and all loaded with features, from Dolby Atmos to 4K HDR, and much more.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now (April 2019)

Amazon Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be a major undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Home Theater

Sony’s 2019 TV lineup includes a 98-inch 8K OLED that costs more than a Corvette

Sony's 2019 TV lineup is revealed, including 8K and 4K models ranging in size from 43- to 98-inches and in price from $650 to a number much, much larger. The models will be available between May and June.
Home Theater

Google brings ad-supported YouTube Music to its Google Home speakers

Hot on the heels of Amazon's announcement that it's adding a free version of its Amazon Music service to Alexa-powered speakers, Google is adding a free, ad-supported version of YouTube Music to Google Home smart speakers.
Home Theater

Bowers & Wilkins’ Formation Suite is a stylish, high-end Sonos competitor

With high-end audio specs, and gorgeous designs, B&W's Formation Suite is the company's first foray into wireless home audio. Starting at $700, B&W hopes to outclass Sonos, by offering high-res audio and "perfect" synchronization.
Home Theater

No car? SiriusXM’s $8 a month streaming plan has everything but Howard Stern

SiriusXM is stepping into the streaming music ring with an $8 per month plan designed specifically for people who get their music via smartphones and smart speakers. It doesn't work on SiriusXM radios, and Howard Stern is extra.
Movies & TV

Want to make Netflix browsing even easier? Try this useful trick

If you know exactly what category of film you're looking for on Netflix, you'll find this hack for the streaming service useful. It allows you to manually browse genres and subgenres of interest.
Home Theater

Here’s what’s new on HBO and what’s leaving in May 2019

Whether you're a cable lifer or a staunch cord cutter, there's never been a better time to get down with premium TV. May 2019 brings the Deadwood movie, the final episode of Game of Thrones, and the PG-13 version of Deadpool 2 on HBO.
Home Theater

These TVs might cost less than $1,000, but they certainly don’t perform like it

Check out our picks for the best TVs under $1,000 to enjoy top-shelf features like 4K Ultra HD, High Dynamic Range, and gorgeous image processing. Park yourself here to find the absolute best values in TV land.
Home Theater

FiOS problems: The potholes in Verizon's fiber internet and how to fix them

Verizon FiOS offers no just fiber internet, but TV and home phone service as well. See what kind of problems, issues, and trouble other Verizon FiOS users have reported before you decide to sign up for the service.
Home Theater

Bose QuietComfort 35 II wireless headphones get a $93 price cut

Good head-fi is expensive, but a premium set of headphones is worth it. The excellent Bose Quietcomfort 35 Series II is on sale right now from Rakuten with a two-day coupon code that can save you more than 90 bucks.