Joseph Palenchar On Sep 6 2012 - 12:00am

Sony Builds Control4 Automation Into AVRs


INDIANAPOLIS — Sony is turning A/V receivers into the brains of a home-automation system with the launch here of two new ES-series A/V receivers that incorporate full Control4 home-automation control to broaden the home automation customer base.

The $2,099-suggested STR-DA5800ES and $999 STR-DA2800ES deliver home-wide control of audio, video, lighting, thermostats, energy management and security. By integrating the technology in the AVRs, installers free up rack space and simplify the wiring and installation process, the company said. Out of the box, the system delivers home automation in one room using a setup wizard. With full integration from a Control4 installer, the AVRs provide full homewide automation, a spokesman explained.

Sony said it will be the first company to offer AVRs that double as the brains of a Control4 home-automation system. Audio supplier NAD had planned to offer an optional Control4 controller module that would fit inside select NAD AVRs, but the module never came to market.

A third new ES AVR, the $699 STR-DA1800, lacks integrated Control4 brain. All three models ship in October.

The top two models are the series’ first AVRs with 4K by 2K upscaling, and all three support 4K by 2K passthough. The $699 model is the company’s first ES AVR with built-in stereo Bluetooth and built-in AirPlay. It also features built-in Wi-Fi, like one other ES receiver.

The top two AVRs come with customizable scene settings that deliver one-touch macros that, for example, power on a TV and home-theater components, change components to the correct inputs, and dim the lights. The scenes can be controlled from Sony’s free Apple iOS and Android ES apps, which also control other AVR functions.

The two AVRs’ other home-automation features include ability to be controlled from Crestron and AMX home-control systems.

All three are networked AVRs incorporating more than 30 streaming services, more than any other AVR in the industry, Sony claimed. Streaming services include Netflix, YouTube, Pandora and Sony Entertainment Network, which delivers a mix of free and subscription- based audio and video streaming content.

All ES receivers feature pure audio-grade block capacitor custom made by Sony exclusively for the ES line, a power transformer said to have the largest core size for this class of AVR, and lead-free, almost pure tin solder for connections to maintain signal quality. Sound reproduction is also enhanced by Sony’s “fish-bone” circuit-board grounding system, which replaces multiple grounds with a single, thick copper wire of low impedance to eliminate distortion. The new receivers also feature Sony’s Sound Optimizer room-correction technology.

For its part, the $699 model features six HDMI inputs, two HDMI outputs, and full Zone 2 HDMI.

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