Sony STR-DN1080 £550

A close bat­tle, but there’s one clear win­ner... for now

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Av Amplifiers -

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.

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