Sony STR-DN1080 £550
A close battle, but there’s one clear winner... for now
In our introduction, we said that the £500 AV amplifiers was one of our most nail-biting categories, and in the event, it turned out to be every bit as close a test as we predicted it would be.
All three receivers on test here are blessed with a similarly lengthy list of features, which include 4K, HDR and Dolby Atmos as well as multi-room and hi-res streaming), so audio performance was going to be the decisive factor.
On that note, the STRDN1080 delivers a compelling, confident performance that brings a flavour of cinematic magic into your home. We’re no strangers to how accomplished a £500 (or £550, in Sony’s case) AV receiver can be, but it’s such a step up in performance – especially compared with the new and improved Denon – that we can’t help but be impressed.
We did wonder, when we first tested the Denon AVRX2400H, if the incremental changes to the amp’s sound would leave it vulnerable to attack from its Sony and Yamaha rivals – and we were half right.
Denon’s conservative approach may be bested by Sony’s subtler, punchier and more dynamic performance, but it still holds its own.
The Yamaha RXV583 is the relative disappointment here. Despite being powerful and energetic, and delivering its usual brawny, large-scaled sound, it lacks the poise, precision and punch to balance out all that muscle. Denon’s articulate and agile character offers more satisfaction, whereas the Yamaha goes about things a bit bluntly.
Sony still has to face rivals from Pioneer and Onkyo before the year is out, but after seeing off the Denon and Yamaha it can go into that fight with a bit of swagger. The excellent STRDN1080 emerges as the clear winner in this test.
If you’re after an affordable AV receiver that’s decked out with the latest format technology, streaming smarts and superb surround sound, this is the amp to buy.