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Review and Measurements of Sony STR-ZA1100ES AVR

invaderzim

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#21
This thing measures well, outperforming most 2-channel alternatives costing more than a quarter of the price (ie more per channel). I’m surprised by the negativity, as I find it very hard to imagine any of this unit’s failings could be audible.
Sometimes the quest for equipment that is 'better' where the improvement can't be heard reminds me of the quest for untestable but 'better' performance.

On the one hand if it is impossible to hear the improvement is there an improvement? And on the other if tests don't show an improvement is there an improvement?
 
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invaderzim

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#22
that thing is ugly with the front panel removed. When I first saw it in the pictures above I thought there was no way it was a modern amp. Then I saw it with the panel on:

 

estuardo4

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#23
What's not Hi-Fi about this device exactly? Are you sure you'll able to hear -87db distortion products in a typical room with ~30-40 db spl noise?
Just because it's amir's home it doesn't mean you have to agree with his golden ear/hi-rez pimping tendencies, a minuscule amount of people will be bothered by this kind performance in reality.
That's exactly what I've been saying from the beginning. Just because a piece of gear costs less than X amount, or is made at China (the so called Chi-Fi), or have less than 50 Watts per channel at 8 Ohms, or is an A/V receiver, doesn't mean it is not Hi-Fi. As you mentioned, for a typical volume, if you can hear distortion at -87db, by all means try other amp.

It seems that this amp is capable of reproduce tracks in stereo as well as other hi-fi amps. Please don't despise these products. That's why I tune to ASR, because Amir has discovered some jewels to try for my not that discerning ears.
 

invaderzim

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#24
Ah, that’s why, that mode should never be used. Audioholics has measured ample power in 4ohm with multiple channels driven.

All that is is to be able to reduce the power consumption enough to pass Energy Star ratings or whathaveyou.
Audioholics did a great job of explaining it.
https://www.audioholics.com/frequen...hm-speakers-to-an-8-ohm-receiver-or-amplifier

Upon further investigation on this topic we have discovered that in most cases the switch is doing nothing more than reducing the rail voltage. Please check out our measurements on page 2 of the Yamaha R-XV4600 review for more information on this.
As you can see the measurement differences between the "low" setting (less than 8 ohms) and the "High" setting (8 ohms or more). This is the reason I usually recommend keeping this switch in its default "High" setting and using common sense when mating a receiver with inefficient 4 ohm speakers in large rooms.
All the "Low" setting of the switch is doing is stepping the rail voltage down so when UL tests the amp at a specified distortion level, the amp will achieve that distortion level sooner since it runs out of headroom more quickly than it would in the "High" (8 ohm or more) setting. This in turn generates less heat since the amp isn't driven as hard. You really aren't buying any protection for driving low impedance loads as you actually risk clipping the amplifier more since it can run out of headroom more easily. The switch is there more for certification purposes.
The reason you don't see this switch on separate amps is twofold:

  • They typically have more heat sink area, and bigger power supplies and can better manage the heat
  • They aren't UL certified and don't have to meet the requirement.
They do go on to warn that you can risk cooking a lower end receiver with inefficient 4 ohm speakers
 

maty

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#25
This AVR has the potential to sound great with music (Pure Direct). That transformer is more than enough for stereo.

How many stereo amps do you know with this graph? At 1 watt THD+N is less than 0.02%

 

nightfishing

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#26
The analog to digital converter that is used on analog input suffers from higher noise then and sharp filtering. Note that if you are going to use the internal Room EQ, you would have to use the digital input/digitized analog.
Food for thought. I never thought about the room eq being done in the digital realm. I currently use an external DAC>analog in to my AVR(marantz)>built in Room correction (Audyssey)>analog out to amp.

In this scenario is the signal going from D>A>D for room eq>A ?

Wonder what the difference would be using the built in DAC; then are we looking at only D>room eq>analog?
 

maty

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#27
Years ago I was looking for a cheap second-hand amplifier for my second audio system (with PC) to test certain improvements I had read and other originals. Looking for information before buying, I found this graphic, which was the decisive factor for the purchase: there was a good base to work with.

https://www.soundandvision.com/content/marantz-sr4500-av-receiver-ht-labs-measures



Now it sounds much better than when it came to my hands, 2012.

[Spanish] https://nauscopio.wordpress.com/201...mprado-al-forero-audiomalaga-de-audio-planet/
 
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amirm

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#29
Amir, any plans on measuring receiver from 10-15 years ago in the same price range to see how it compares to new and "improved" technology? Onkyo 805 comes to mind, I believe you have it laying around. :)
 

Sal1950

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#30
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Sony STR-ZA1100ES Audio/Video Receiver
Thanks bud for doing another review on a multch rig!

So not embarrassing but nothing to match the ES sticker either.
Don't know about ES badging but not too bad considering all you get for a lousy $999.
I see @Kal Rubinson at Stereophile gave a rave subjective review to the Trinnov Altitude 32 pre/pro in this months (July) issue. Any chance you could use you weight in the industry to get your hands on one for measurement? I'd love to see how much more "real world performance" $27,500 will buy you. :)

I did not test HDMI. It is a pain to route my PC output to it but if there is sufficient interest, I can test that.
Since HDMI is the input used for most all of the sources of interest to folks who purchase these type components I would request that at least future tests show the performance in that configuration. ;)

What's not Hi-Fi about this device exactly? Are you sure you'll able to hear -87db distortion products in a typical room with ~30-40 db spl noise?
Just because it's amir's home it doesn't mean you have to agree with his golden ear/hi-rez pimping tendencies, a minuscule amount of people will be bothered by this kind performance in reality.
There is much to what you say on the audibility of the measurable failings when used well within it's very meager power capabilities But. I don't see any reason for the nasty attitude you put forth in the last sentence. That's what we do here, measure components and report the findings, letting the chips fall where they may. I heard absolutely nothing from Amir in the way of "golden ear/hi-rez pimping", no comment at all was made in the subjective vane. Actually overall the big picture of the review was quite positive. Can the attitude please.
 

Blumlein 88

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#31
Sometimes the quest for equipment that is 'better' where the improvement can't be heard reminds me of the quest for untestable but 'better' performance.

On the one hand if it is impossible to hear the improvement is there an improvement? And on the other if tests don't show an improvement is there an improvement?
In this case I doubt this unit is audibly transparent despite the okay measurements. With the limited current, and tiny transformer connect this unit to a moderately difficult speaker with some fair reactance in the load, and I believe it will choke audibly. Even on 2 channels. Use it with something purely resistive like Magnepans (which it probably lacks the power for in 4 ohms) or a very efficient speaker requiring very little power and it will be okay. I think a real high quality amp will sound better than this were it tested with speakers.
 

b1daly

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#32
Thanks bud for doing another review on a multch rig!

There is much to what you say on the audibility of the measurable failings when used well within it's very meager power capabilities But. I don't see any reason for the nasty attitude you put forth in the last sentence. That's what we do here, measure components and report the findings, letting the chips fall where they may. I heard absolutely nothing from Amir in the way of "golden ear/hi-rez pimping", no comment at all was made in the subjective vane. Actually overall the big picture of the review was quite positive. Can the attitude please.
Just curious as to how you see anything over 100w per channel as "meager" power capability? That amount of power should create a stupendous SPL in any home environment. Especially with reasonably efficient speakers and an active sub. Definitely in the physically dangerous realm.

This is the kind of unit I would be curious to see a careful ABX listening test of it's internal DAC vs a higher performing external DAC running through direct mode. My guess is that it would not be audible.

If one could be assured the internal DAC sounded "good enough" there is vastly more value to these devices due to the ability to use internal processing. It also simplifies the setup and saves money. In the living room, one box can do a lot.
 

Blumlein 88

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#33
BTW, @amirm do you have any plans to cook up a reactive speaker test load?

I suppose it would double what is required to test amps and AVRs, but it might be useful. Or maybe if you did some sort of tone burst testing with a reactive load. While a watt or two will give the average listening level with many speakers, you'll have perhaps 20 db peaks at times above that level meaning a watt or two might become 100 watts or more momentarily. I think such a thing will strain these AVR's when done momentarily into a real load because of the added current called for into reactive loads.

I also know you get the question well which reactive load like what speaker? A load similar to a moderately reactive 6 ohm rated ported speaker might be a good target.

PS-I know the active load recommended by AP is too, too expensive.
 
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amirm

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Thread Starter #34

Sal1950

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#35
Just curious as to how you see anything over 100w per channel as "meager" power capability? That amount of power should create a stupendous SPL in any home environment. Especially with reasonably efficient speakers and an active sub. Definitely in the physically dangerous realm.
@Blumlein 88 answered this in the posts just before and after yours much better than I could, there's much more to a amp than just it's power spec. But within limits you are right, the question then becomes "what limits"? Remember that itty-bitty power supply etc is expected to rock 7 channels. :eek: If you had something like 7 Klipsch Legacy 104+db efficient speakers you might make some quite respectable sound at reasonable spl's. But as the load gets more demanding things will start to change fast.
I will though repeat what I said earlier, for a stinkin $999 bucks, how much more can you ask? :) Pretty well done I think.
 

Blumlein 88

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#36
Not for full power tests. The concern is damaging them.
I knew that would be concern, especially for loaned gear. That is why I mentioned tone bursts. Not testing to maximum tone burst capability, but measuring to tone burst level equivalent to your already measured max continuous power.

I wonder if doing all the tests a second time with the reactive load at 25% of the tested max resistive load power would show anything?

Or does somebody have a better idea.

One of the most telling experiences was years ago knowing someone with early Maggies. I didn't know much about stuff then. Receivers if a little higher than your 40-50 wpc rating would play them alright. Switching to big serious amps didn't make all that much difference. Then try smaller receivers on something like Thiele CS 2.2's and ouch. You needed a real amp then. The phase angle isn't all that crazy on the 2.2, but it occurs where there is also a dip to 2 ohms.

1560915083483.png


When I see these little AVR's with the tiny heatsinks and/or trannies, I've a feeling they won't do their part with anything other than easy speaker loads.
 
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amirm

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Thread Starter #37
I wonder if doing all the tests a second time with the reactive load at 25% of the tested max resistive load power would show anything?
I have done some testing with capacitive loading and all it does is lower the impedance at higher frequencies, naturally resulting in more distortion there. It didn't seem to reveal anything that could not be predicted.
 

Blumlein 88

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#38
I have done some testing with capacitive loading and all it does is lower the impedance at higher frequencies, naturally resulting in more distortion there. It didn't seem to reveal anything that could not be predicted.
Well, reactance will stress the output transistors as they have to dissipate extra wattage. Then at the same time less wattage goes to the speaker. And the transformer has to push out more VA for that to happen. Does leave a rather big gotcha in amps though just going by measurements. I suppose with phase angles not usually being greater than 45 degrees you can get away with derating by half power or so. Which is only 3 db. Maybe 6 db if you wanted to be extra careful.
 

trl

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#39
Allow me an evil :cool:

The Pure Direct reminds me that many say (multimedia forums) they are unable to tell the difference, like so many others with MP3 vs FLAC and... You know, my theory/speech about bottlenecks.

- End off topic -
Direct or Pure Direct or CD Direct a.s.o. are relays that takes out of the signal path some active stages like Tone Control board, so this basically gets rid of ht internal preamplifier. It will instantly lower the background noise and THD as well. This is happening on all amps out there; if not, then something's broken inside.

On my Pioneer A209R and Yamaha A-S701 the difference is evident and needs not much attention, all you need to do is to pause the music, engage the volume button over 2 o'clock then press/unpress the Direct button and hear the noise difference. Regarding the A-S701, Audioholics did some tests that show THD reducing too (not much).
 

restorer-john

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#40
Or does somebody have a better idea.
The EIA toneburst won't damage a thing, it gives a very good indication of dynamic capability and some people will argue a more representative 'real-world' performance.

20 cycles at 0dB, 480 cycles at -20dB 1KHz.

The EIAJ/JEITA is [email protected] and [email protected]

This worrying about blowing stuff up is misplaced. I regularly put 45+ year old gear, highly collectible and valuable gear through a full barrage of high power tests and don't have failures. But then again, the old gear is mostly way better made.
 
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