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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.