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Sony Upgrades ES AVRs, Adds AirPlay Speaker

9/19/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern
INDIANAPOLIS — Sony is replacing two of its three ES-series A/V receivers in November at the same price points as their predecessors but adding multiple new technologies, including the full range of Bravia Internet A/V streaming services.

The company also adopted Apple AirPlay technology for the first time and incorporated it into a wireless Wi-Fi Home Share speaker.

The new ES AVRs are the $1,099 7.1-channel STRDA3700ES and $1,999 7.2-channel STR-DA5700ES. Internet A/V services streamed by the receivers include Netflix, YouTube and Vudu. Their predecessors streamed audio via the Internet from Rhapsody and the Shoutcast station-aggregation site but did not stream video.

The new AVRs also add a setup wizard that prompts users through the set-up process, replacing a manual setup process. The duo also gets an activity-based user interface that lets consumers select an activity, such as TV watching or CD playback, from on-screen icons, in turn automatically changing audio settings and inputs.

In the top model, Sony ES is adopting DTS’s Neo:X post-processing technology for the first time to upmix stereo and multichannel audio programs to up to nine channels when a two-channel amplifier is connected.

The two new models join the carryover 7.1-channel STR-DA4600ES, which remains at $1,499, and a carryover two-channel stereo receiver.

Like last year, all ES receivers feature four-port router, and all continue to operate as DLNA clients. Also like last year, the top model continues to operate as a DLNA server, which can stream audio from a USB-connected hard drive, other connected devices, and networked-attached storage (NAS) drives to other DLNA-equipped devices such as TVs and PCs.

All integrate with multiple home-control systems and feature 1080p up-scaling,

Also like last year, the top model features DSP speaker relocation, which uses two presets to digitally “move” speakers on the horizontal plane to deliver best surround performance.

Both models can be remotely controlled from new iOS and Android apps that emulate both models’ new onscreen user interfaces.

In a separate audio introduction, Sony added the first portable AC/DC speaker to its line of Wi-Fi-equipped Home Share wireless audio speakers.

The conical-shaped $399 SA-NS500 Wi-Fi network speaker streams music via Wi-Fi from DLNA-certified PCs and NAS drives, from a wireless iPod dock, from select networked Blu-ray players, from one A/V receiver and from iPod-docking HTiBs.

The portable HomeShare speaker, which features 360-degree stereo dispersion, is the company’s first product with Apple AirPlay technology, enabling the speaker to stream music from an Apple mobile device or from a PC equipped with iTunes.

For HomeShare systems, the company is also launching a new control app that can be used on iPads, not just on iPhones and iPod Touches like before. The app selects songs from a DLNA-certified PC for streaming to up to seven Home Share speakers throughout the house, each playing back a different song.

In contrast, the Apple Remote app from Apple controls the streaming of songs from a PC to only one AirPlay speaker at a time, a Sony representative said. To stream songs from a PC to multiple AirPlay speakers at a time, the user must be sitting at the PC to set up the operation, the representative said.
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