Product review: Sony TA-AN1000 AV receiver


Having kept its AV receiver range firmly in the entry-level arena, Sony’s absence after the discontinuation of the award-winning STR-DN1080 was keenly felt. To fill the void, however, Sony has released the modernised TA-AN1000 amplifier – but will it live up to the lofty reviews of its predecessor?

The STR-DN1080 was a bit of an outlier in the AV market as it displayed traits you would normally expect to find in a hi-fi amp, such as a traditional straight line volume control rather than the decibel curve found in AV receivers. It also had a stripped-back user interface that prevented too much toying with the settings. However, it was comfortably one of the most popular AV receivers in its class due to its other features – 7.2 channels, Atmos-ready and 2 zones, to name a few.

After HDMI 2.1, HDCP 2.3, and other anagrams and numbers made it less viable, it was retired. Sony didn’t immediately release a replacement as we would have expected, so now that it has, let’s see how the TA-AN1000 compares to the current competition.

Out of the box, the TA-AN1000 is reassuringly well built. It’s designed with a similarly rigid frame to the higher end of the Yamaha AVENTAGE series and has been made to minimise distortion at higher power. This is helpful when the amp is kicking out 120W of power into 6 ohms, not an inconsiderable amount for the price point. The screen and user interface are still simplistic, but with many being intimidated by the options, choices, and lack of clarity in most AV receivers, this is no bad thing.

After time off from this market, Sony has also made sure that this new model is packed with every feature it needs to remain competitive in its class. Ready to work with Sony’s own PS5, the amp’s HDMI board is all ready for every gaming feature you could need from Variable Refresh Rate to Auto Low Latency mode.

Combining brilliant sound with system flexibility, the Sony TA-AN1000 makes the perfect AV amplifier for any movie, music or gaming fan – or all three!

It’s also got Sony’s own 360 Spatial Sound mapping, in addition to the industry-standard Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, for listening to the likes of Tidal’s immersive 360 Reality Audio for your music streaming. The set-up for the Sony is refreshingly simple. With less in-depth questions about speaker size, crossover, and placement, you can simply plug in the set-up mic to quickly calibrate the amp and you’re good to go.

Once up and running, we go for the modern classic (or at least good surround test) of Avengers: Infinity War. The amp manages to keep dialogue clear amidst the dramatic soundtrack and you feel every punch of Thanos v Hulk in the opening scene. Later, when the Guardians have their explosive meet-up with Iron Man and co., the Sony puts you firmly in the seat of the action – hearing blasters from behind, quips from the front and grinding space metal and soundtrack all around you.

It lacks a degree of raw muscle and power found on the likes of the Onkyo TXNR7100, but it’s still extremely respectable. Musically, the Sony is keen to flash its credentials – literally, in the case of the Hi-Res badge on its front – and it also includes Spotify Connect and AirPlay 2.

While it manages to give a decent amount of detail and separation, it struggles to give as coherent a soundstage as the likes of the Denon AVCX3800H and Yamaha AVENTAGE range with their slightly more ‘hi-fi’ build quality. Having said that, the ‘Works with Sonos’ feature is hard to ignore if you’re keen to integrate a new AV amp into your Sonos ecosystem seamlessly (so long as you have a Port or Connect).

Overall, we’re all glad to see Sony back with a solid mid-range amplifier. It is at its best when being used for a range of content and as an all-round home entertainment hub. It might not be as cinematically focused as the likes of Marantz or Onkyo, or have the hi-fi credentials of an Arcam, but it’s full of features, functionality, and fun, and has already won a What Hi-Fi? Product of the Year accolade. If you’d like to hear the receiver for yourself, why not book a demo at your local Richer Sounds store?

 

Author: Tom, Cardiff Store

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