The Sony STR-DN1080 is a 7.2-channel home theater receiver with excellent power handling and exceptional connectivity. It’s one of the few receivers with two HDMI outputs, which complements its two-zone audio. The amplifiers, which can power up to seven speakers, are the most powerful in our review. In addition, it has a comprehensive list of audio decoder options. For these reasons, the Sony STR-DN1080 is our Top Ten Reviews Gold Award winner for best AV receiver.
An AV receiver’s amplifier is critical to making sure your speakers have a clean audio signal and enough power to produce accurate sound. Rated for 130 watts per channel on an 8-ohm speaker and 165 watts on a 6-ohm speaker, the STR-DN1080 has the best power output for a stereo receiver in its price range. It’s certainly strong enough to power high-end home theater speakers.
Since this receiver has two-zone audio, you can separate two of the 7.2 channels. There are many ways you can take advantage of this, but most people send the second signal to speakers in a different room. For example, this allows you to play music in your office while your family watches a movie in the theater room. However, since the STR-DN1080 has two HDMI outputs, you can also use the two-zone audio to watch a movie in one room and a second movie in another.
Movie directors usually mix their soundtracks in 5.1 format, although 7.1 is becoming more popular. Unlike regular music, which only has a left and a right track, these formats have unique audio mixed specifically to the front center, front left, front right, middle left and middle right. To experience the sound as the director intended, you need a decoder for the Dolby or DTS version of the audio. Fortunately, the STR-DN1080 has all the necessary audio format decoders.
While all the AV receivers we reviewed have the Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD decoders, this receiver also has the Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoders, which add two overhead channels to the mix. It also has Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS Neo:6 to upmix a stereo signal to surround sound or 5.1 surround to 7.1 surround. These decoders analyze the audio signal from the source and then separate it into parts that are sent through the individual channels. In other words, they take a signal that isn’t designed to fit your surround system and try to make it sound as though each channel was mixed independently.
Unfortunately, the matrixed decoders don’t always create good results, which is why it’s important to have more than one upmixing option. The STR-DN1080 is the only receiver in our review that has legacy decoders too – Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X. AV receivers typically come with either the newer upmixing decoders or these older, legacy ones. Some users prefer the older ones to the newer ones and vice versa.
A good AV receiver should be the hub between your input devices and your television. The Sony STR-DN1080’s six HDMI inputs can pass through all video formats, including 1080p, 4K and 3D, from your Blu-ray player, gaming console, and satellite or cable receiver. Since it’s one of the few receivers with two HDMI outputs, you can connect it to more than one TV.
This Sony model also has legacy inputs for analog and digital audio, including composite inputs. In other words, if you have an old gaming console or video camera, you can connect it to this receiver. In addition to legacy inputs, the receiver is equipped with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and AirPlay, so you have plenty of wireless options for streaming audio and controlling the STR-DN1080’s settings and features.
The only missing connectivity option is a phono input, which is for turntables. Phono inputs require a separate amplifier. Record players are turntables with a built-in amplifier and an output to speakers, so you don’t need a phono input to connect a record player to your receiver.
Sony offers a two-year warranty on the STR-DN1080, which is average for the industry. It offers phone and email support and has a social media support team. One of the best things about Sony's support is that it offers help over live chat, so you can get assistance without going through a frustrating phone menu.
The Sony STR-DN1080 is the best AV receiver we reviewed because it is powerful and has excellent connectivity and audio format options, all of which make for a great home theater experience. It has six HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs, the latter of which is rare for an AV receiver. At around $500, this is an excellent value for a capable home theater hub.