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Sony’s New ES AVR is a Game Changer                                          

A dealer shares why Sony’s new ES receiver has become his company's primary line. And, Sony’s Jeff Goldstein reflects on the success of the standing-room-only live demos at CEDIA.

Sony – EX AVR
Left: Primetime Audio/Video’s general manager, Dirk Dutton, and senior AV System Designer Keegan West. Credit: Sony

Jeff Goldstein, head of sales for Sony’s Consumer Integrated Systems (CIS) division, is excited—really, really excited.

The ES AVR line made a big splash at a launch event in February 2023 and started shipping in March. Accolades from reviewers and custom installers immediately poured in.

In September, at the CEDIA Expo 2023 in Denver, for the first time, CI dealers experienced demos of Sony’s new line of ES receivers in two theaters on the show floor. “We got to use the full power of the ES receivers and give dealers an opportunity to hear it in action,” he said. The word quickly spread and there were lines outside the two theaters throughout the show. “The response from dealers who experienced the ES AVR  exceeded all my expectations,” Goldstein added. “That’s the exciting part for me.”

Primetime Audio/Video has been installing the ES AVR line since they were available and share in Goldstein’s excitement. “I’ve been a big believer in the ES line, and I personally have a 5000ES in my living room,” said Keegan West, senior AV System Designer at Primetime. While the company carries receivers from four manufacturers, he said, “The ES line is our primary line. Even though they have every feature that you could imagine, the menu structure is easy to navigate and my technicians love putting them in, they’re straightforward.”

Pure Power

Goldstein is usually so laser-focused on ensuring that the products are easy to integrate with control and remote monitoring systems and are overall easy to use, he paused and said, “The audio quality has taken such a leap from the last generation. It blew me and everybody else away. It took a long time to get to this recent generation, but man, it was worth the wait.”

“The fact that the 7000ES has 13 channels of amplification is a big deal because we’re seeing more and more spatial audio,” said West. The STR-AZ7000ES is Sony’s first 13.2 CH 8K A/V receiver and is precision-engineered with integrators in mind. The ES quality delivers crystal-clear music reproduction, object-based surround sound, and support for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and 360 Reality Audio for a truly cinematic audio/visual performance.

Sony ES AVR - Lifestyle
Credit: Sony

Works With Sonos

Sonos has become so ubiquitous that customers ask for it by name. “We’re a big Sonos dealer, West said. “The fact that Sony’s ES AVR line is Sonos certified has been a big selling point.” Sony receivers integrate seamlessly into any new or existing Sonos Home Sound System. With a simple setup, the Sonos app can power on the receiver, designate an input source, and control the volume.

West noted that with other receiver brands without a control system there are more steps involved by the end user to control the Sonos speaker. “But with Sony, if you hit ‘play’ in that zone and the receiver is not on or in the correct input, it’ll turn on the receiver, go to the correct input and you’ll have volume control over the receiver from the Sonos app.”

And from the integration perspective, once the Sonos network is set up, it’s about 30 seconds worth of work to connect it to the Sony ES receiver.

360 Spatial Sound Mapping

Digital audio calibration combined with 360 Spatial Sound Mapping (360 SSM) gives an integrator the tools to take a room where speaker placement might not be perfect for a variety of reasons and correct it. “It runs these amazing algorithms and it’ll make the sound stage sound larger than the physical layout of the speakers,” Goldstein explained. “And if there is not a perfect layout for the speakers, it’ll create phantom locations and correct the room to give you this perfect immersive audio bubble. It becomes a problem solver for the integrator.”

Primetime A/V has done just that. West said, “The one we use a lot is the ‘center channel lift’ function—it’s really cool.” In a movie theater, the center channel is placed behind an acoustically transparent screen where the dialog should be coming from. “But in most homes, the center channels are little too low by my true layout design standards,” he explained. “The center channel lift is using the DSP and some sort of timing to blend the center speaker into the left and right, which are usually a little bit higher up. Then it creates an audio image of the center channel above where the physical location of the center channel, so now the dialog appears to come from the center of the screen.”

Goldstein is particularly excited to demonstrate 360 Spatial Sound Mapping at CEDIA. “We’ll be able to turn it on and off and show that it’s really remarkable,” he said.

Ready for an Upgrade

If the audio features of the ES receiver aren’t enough reason to go revisit current customers to suggest an upgrade, it’s likely they are I already thinking of 4K or 8K content. Equipped with the latest technology, including multiple HDMI inputs and outputs supporting 8K and 4K/120 video sources, Sony ES receivers enable viewers to enjoy stunning picture quality and clarity.

Sony ES AVR in Rack
Credit: Sony

Integrator Optimized

Built for integration, the ES receiver line is optimized for connectivity and configurability with support for the leading control and remote monitoring systems, including Control4, Savant, Crestron, and OvrC. “We have strong partnerships with all the predominant control system platforms and remote monitoring platforms and are very proud that all of our key integration partners in the space had samples of this product well in advance of the product launching,” Goldstein said. “From the day we launched the product in February they had all been tested and certified.”

Because the receiver is a nerve center for the system, it becomes an important tool to allow the dealer to service the customer quickly and easily. “You can log into your browser and change all the settings from your laptop,” West said. “Our technicians can sit floors away from the receiver and configure it and set it up. We’ve got systems with multiple of these in the rack and you can hit a button on the front and gives you the IP address of the units.”

For remote management, integrators can use a support platform such as OvrC. “It’s really simple for the integrator to log on, see what’s happened, and basically handle it without having to roll a truck,” added Goldstein.

Sony ES AVR - No Antenna
Credit: Sony

Sony Support

“Sony as a whole has always been best of class when it comes to supporting their dealer network, but when it comes to ES AVR receivers, I do not believe any other manufacturer comes close,” said Dirk Dutton, general manager at Primetime Audio/Video.

“It’s an easy sale to the end user because you know you are selling them something that has a proven track record of performance, features, reliability, and an unheard of 5-year warranty. The team at Sony including sales, training, and support are also among the best, the Sony team shares all their contact info with you so if there is a situation it is easy to get resolved. The Sony team puts the customer first and asks questions later which is how most vendors were in the past.

My recommendation to any retailer or CI dealer not offering or truly supporting Sony ES AVR give them a try, just sprinkle some in and see what happens, I’m sure you will enjoy it,” Dutton concluded.

For a deeper dive on Sony ES AVR features, check out these videos