Sony STR-DH540 5.2 Channel 4K A/V Receiver Preview

Discussion in 'Amps, Pre-Pros & Receivers' started by Steve81, May 11, 2013.

  1. Steve81 Audioholics 5-O

    Steve81
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    The Sony STR-DH540 is a 5.2 channel receiver boasting 4K compatibility (passthrough only), 4 HDMI inputs plus one output, and is specified to deliver 90 watts per channel into a 6 ohm load (2 channels driven, 20Hz-20kHz, 0.09% THD). Retailing for $279.99 and currently priced at $249.99 on Sony's website, the STR-DH540 is clearly an entry level product aimed at less demanding users. Does Sony have a solid A/V receiver for a starter system, or is the STR-DH540 not worth a second look? Read on to see what I think.

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    Executive Overview
    So what exactly goes into an entry level Sony AVR? As you might expect from a modern receiver, the feature set appears reasonably solid with a quartet of HDMI inputs that support 4K and 3D passthrough, and a single HDMI output that supports ARC (audio return channel). The STR-DH540 can of course decode modern audio formats including DTS HD and Dolby TruHD. One unexpected surprise in this price class is D.C.A.C. (Digital Cinema Auto Calibration), which is Sony's auto-setup/calibration system and offers 6 bands of correction in this implementation. Considering the modest asking price, the STR-DH540 seems to have a respectable, if not world beating feature set.

    Moving on to the topic that everybody wants to know: how does the STR-DH540 stack up in terms of power. Obviously being rated into a 6 ohm load versus the more typical 8 ohms, you can't compare Sony's ratings to that of other manufacturers apples to apples. Presumably Sony is rating output into 6 ohms in order to inflate their ratings a tad. Still, with a bit of knowledge gleaned from AV University, it's possible to get a fair idea of what the STR-DH540 can do. 90 watts into a 6 ohm load equates to ~3.87 amperes and ~23.22 volts. Assuming the Sony can't swing much more voltage, we can figure the STR-DH540 can cleanly deliver about 67 watts into an 8 ohm load, 20Hz-20kHz, with 2 channels driven.

    So how does the STR-DH540 hold up against some competition? The Pioneer VSX-523-K is also priced at $279.99, and is rated to deliver 80 watts into an 8 ohm load with 0.08% THD (though it isn't mentioned whether this is a 1 or 2 channel driven measurement). The entry level Pioneer also features a starter level of MCACC with 5 bands of EQ to compete with the Sony's DCAC. One area where the STR-DH540 has an advantage is that all speaker outputs feature 5 way binding posts, whereas Pioneer only outfits the front right and left speaker outputs with binding posts; the rest make due with spring clip connectors. Overall, I'd daresay Sony's entry level receiver seems to stack up fairly well against Pioneer's latest entry level model.

    Summary
    I'm always amazed by how much can be packed into a receiver for so little money. For the average guy who just wants to play a few tunes and watch a few movies at moderate volumes, you might never need more than what the STR-DH540 offers. Naturally if you're willing to spend more, you'll get a superior product; still, for what it is, Sony seems to have a very respectable entry level receiver on their hands. What do you guys think? Anyone who would want this for a starter system or a second system? Any interest in a review?

    Front.jpg Rear.jpg

    Quick Specs And Features:
    Amplifier Power: 6ohms, 20-20kHz, 2ch driven : 90W+90W / (0.09%)
    Auto-Calibration System: D.C.A.C., Band : 6
    96kHz/24bit : Yes
    DTS / DTS-ES (Matrix6.1 / Discrete6.1) : Yes (only Dicrete 6.1)
    DTS 96/24/ DTS Neo:6 : Yes
    DTS HD MA/ DTS HD HR : Yes/Yes
    Dolby Digital EX/ Dolby Digital : Yes (Dolby Digital EX and Dolby Digital)
    Dolby Prologic/II /IIx /IIz : Yes (Prologic, ii, iix, iiz)
    Dolby TruHD/Dolby Digital + : Yes (Dolby TruHD and Dolby Digital +)
    LPCM (2CH/5.1CH/7.1CH) thru HDMI : Yes (2CH/ 5.1CH /7.1CH)
    3D over HDMI : Yes
    HDMI In : 4 HDMI Out : 1
    Receiver Dimension (WxHxD inches) : 17 x 6-1/4 x 13 (430 x 156 x 329.4 mm)
    Receiver Weight (pound) : 16 lb 61oz (7.7 kg)
  2. Seth=L Audioholic Overlord

    Seth=L
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    I agree that this receiver fits the mold for the average consumer's requirements. It trims the ever so useless 7.1 feature which IMO, doesn't belong on any avr under $500 USD. Direct iPod connectivity, auto calibration, all the hdmi goodies aside from up scaling are there as well as high quality binding posts. Sony has a winner every now and again, if it holds up on the bench it could be excellent.
  3. roleydre Audioholic

    roleydre
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    i have the strdh800 7.1 receiver(and ive had it for bout 3-4 years)...love it...im gonna wait till the strdn840 i think it is ,to drop in price then i will be buying that...but i think the sonys are good receivers,for the money
    Last edited: May 29, 2013
  4. anamorphic96 Audioholic General

    anamorphic96
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  5. j_garcia Audioholic Jedi

    j_garcia
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    If you've tried any other decent brand, you might think otherwise. Feature packed yes, but performance has typically not been their strongest suit, at least on the non-ES lines.
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  6. roleydre Audioholic

    roleydre
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    yea i know they are not the best by any means but 110 watts a channel was the one reason i got it ,and hdmi inputs...but for my use its great ,i looked at other models ,but they didnt have one that i liked in my price range other than the sonys,with this much wattage per channel...and i payed 280 bucks shipped for it brand new...so if i ever get another receiver its gotta be cheap ...thats why ive only experienced sony cause denon and onkyo are to expensive....
    Last edited: May 30, 2013
  7. j_garcia Audioholic Jedi

    j_garcia
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    I understand and I've owned plenty of Sonys too. Denon and Marantz are more than I want to spend these days too. I have amps, so I didn't need to spend $1200 for a darn receiver this time.
  8. roleydre Audioholic

    roleydre
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    i do wish it had an equalizer....my other jvc rx5060b(my first receiver before this sony)had one but it was not for the future,i gotta wait to get a 4k receiver when they go waaay down...so itll be a while...i tell ya one thing ,i wish i could afford an oppo bluray player...
    Last edited: May 30, 2013

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