I never thought I would write a review of a Sony receiver, but here we are. Years ago, I would never have considering a Sony receiver for any setup, but I must say they have come a long way and I would not hesitate to look at them today despite stiff competition from the usual suspects.\n\n\nUnpacking\nThe unit comes packed like any other receiver you would buy. Cardboard box, white sleeve, foam, tape on the pouch holding the remote, manual, and other things. Nothing special to report here other than packed well enough.\n\n\nFirst Impressions\nThe unit has a typical look for receivers in this price range. It has some weight to it, but not like a more premium product using aluminum or metal construction. That said, the lines are clean and it’s build quality is typical of what to expect in this price range.\n\n\nSetup\nThe Sony auto calibration systems moves quicker than any other I’ve used including YPAO which also works quickly. As with many systems, it got the speaker size wrong and the distance to the sub was off. Other than that, it did a good job. I was actually quite surprised with the results as Sony’s DCAC EX flattened the response almost as well as my very own Anthem ARC. It also didn’t touch frequencies higher than 500Hz (which I prefer); and most of the work took place between 100Hz and 200Hz in this particular room.\n\n\nRemote\nThe remote is the typical plastic variety you will find, but it’s well laid-out. Regardless, like most users I use a universal remote. I personally use Simple Control and it works fine after some messing around.\n\n\nSound\nWhere this receiver really shines is the sound. It produces the best sound I’ve heard for a receiver at this price. You do have to mess with settings such as turning the Digital Legato and Auto Phasing off, turning the treble down a hair on all channels, but once dialed in, it sounds fantastic. Unlike many systems using EQ, the Sony didn’t sound too flat and lifeless, rather, it had a dynamic sound which was downright seductive. Sony also includes a sound optimizer which doesn’t function the same as with some other receivers which is to try and make a 128 MP3 sound like more. Sony’s sound optimizer acts in a similar way to Dynamic EQ, but I felt it does a better job with low frequencies by not over-emphasizing them during low-level listening sessions. I appreciate this feature on all receivers as most of my usage takes place at night.\n\n\nProblems\nThe unit does get a bit hot during use.\n\n\nSummary\nIt amazes me what $500 buys when it comes to sound equipment. I know Yamaha, Onkyo, Denon, and Pioneer still rule the roost, but you would make a mistake in not listening to a Sony these days.