Sony STR-DB840 A/V Receivers

STR-DB840

Dolby Digital/DTS receiver

User Reviews (64)

Showing 1-10 of 64  
myriad1973   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 18, 2006]
Strength:

Heavy duty construction (it weighs over 30 lbs), the pre-amp outs are nice to have for expansion, and a lot of other ES series elements are integrated into it.

Weakness:

The amplifier tends to hiss just a little, but you wouldn't notice it unless to put your ear to the speaker.

This is a good all around surround reciever that has everything to do the job.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
robi1138   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 05, 2004]
Strength:

An abundance of customizable settings Great sound for movies and music Heavier duty construction; not cheap plastic

Weakness:

No 7.1 capabilities No Dolby Pro Logic II (wasn't around then) Discontinued

I bought this receiver a few years ago at half price (originally $500) because Sony had just discontinued it and the store was trying to get rid of the few new leftovers it had. I bought it mainly for it's multi-channel features for movies, but I do listen to a lot of music as well. I'm not an audiophile (I own CD's, not vinyl) but the music reproduction has been very good in my opinion. I do not strive to get a completely flat response, but I have learned to tone down the bass and treble quite a bit for the sake of accuracy. This is made easy with the built-in equalizer, which is head and shoulders above any other receivers capabilities (including the current Sony ES line). There are separate bass, treble, and mid-range controls for the front, center, and rear speakers. For each you can adjust the boost/attenuation level and pick the frequency you want it to affect. The equalizer applies a bell curve effect to the surrounding frequencies. The result is a very customizable way to get the sound you want from your speakers. This feature is customizable for all of the music/movie processor settings. Speaker volume levels are adjustable in 1dB increments. For music I primarilly use the Small Hall DSP setting. The use of the rear speakers for reverb in this mode gives the music a fuller sound. The reason this works well is because you can adjust the amount of reverb it contributes and how long the reverb time is (as well as the amount of the overall processing that it does). If done properly, you can simulate a wide soundstage from average front speakers by making very slight use of the rear speakers; the effect is quite natural and convincing. The other music DSP modes are pretty useless. For movies, I absolutely love Sony's Cinema A mode. When decoding 5.1 movie soundtracks using the standard Dolby Digital/ dts decoding chip, the sound is very good, but somewhat localized (you know that you got only 2 rear speakers). Since movie theaters have multiple surround speakers, Cinema A mode (and Cinema B and Cinema C) uses a separate chip to simulate one of Sony's three soundstage theaters at Sony Studios. The result is a very convincing reproduction of multiple surround speakers that truly gives you a full 360 degree wall of sound (even without a rear center channel speaker). No bogus colorization here to make the sound better, just an effect use of Sony technology. This receiver is filled with loads of other useful features such as speaker distance compensation, variable speaker crossover frequencies if you set your speakers to "Small" and use a subwoofer, specifiable location of surround speakers, etc. Overall a very good receiver that I wouldn't want to part with. The remote looks cool, but its ergonomics absolutely suck...by a good universal remote. I use the Sony RM-AV3000.

Similar Products Used: Current system: VIDEO Toshiba Cinema Series 32AX60 Television Toshiba SD-2700 DVD Player Panasonic Omnivision PV-4569 VCR AUDIO Sony STR-DB840 Receiver Sony CDP-CX355 300-Disc CD Changer Sony RCD-W3 CD Recorder Sony TC-K461 Cassette Deck Sony MZ-R500PC Portable MiniDisc Recorder SPEAKERS JBL J900MV Main Speakers JBL SC305 Center Channel Speaker JBL J50 Surround Speakers (2) Infinity Interlude IL100s Subwoofer ACCESSORIES Sony RM-AV3000 Remote Philips F20T12/CW 20 Watt Natural Light fluorescent bulb w/ Rosco N.9 neutral density filter SpikeMaster SM-BB8S surge protector & line noise filter CONNECTIONS Monster Cable MV2CV component video cable Monster Cable IDL100 coaxial digital audio cable (for DVD) Monster Cable MD300 SW subwoofer cable w/ IHPY Y-adapter Monster Cable ILS100 optical digital audio cable (for CD changer) Monster Cable ILS100TM Toslink-to-mini optical digital audio cable 12 ga. copper speaker wire for L/R front and center channel speakers 16 ga. copper speaker wire for L/R rear surround speakers
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
wally blake   Audio Enthusiast [Nov 19, 2003]
Strength:

the total sound quality.to be able to listen to 6speakers+sub in stereo.dolby digital dts is awesome.

Weakness:

the remote.i only use it for volume control.

what can one say about the db840.read ecoustics.com review.the ultimate in surround sound amp.this baby does everything.the price of 160canadian is unheard of.i will never sell this receiver.buy one if you can find one.

Similar Products Used: kenwood vr-407.
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
ski4   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 18, 2003]
Strength:

sound and reliability

Weakness:

remote

after almost 3 years, i can say this has been a great investment. the sound is above average. set up was easy and it still works, the base management system is lacking and the remote is the hardest thing to work with. too bad sony has stopped this line of equi;pment.

Similar Products Used: older sony, yamaha, and luxman systems
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
snailwalker   Casual Listener [Dec 15, 2002]
Strength:

Cheap, can play at pretty high volume

Weakness:

Remote, noise when turned on, not good for stereo

I think that it is a okay reciver. I havn't discovred any problems when I used it at high volume. Though it still have some weaknesses. If you put your ear close to the speaker, you can hear some noise from the reciver when it is turned on

OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
4
Peter H   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 02, 2002]
Strength:

Cinema modes = super 5x100 in 8 or 4 ohm (switch) Stereo = Good+ 2x100 in 8 or 4 ohm (switch) pre out on all channels + dual pre out for sub.

Weakness:

Runs a little hot (not to hot)

I bought this reciver in second hand. It was then approx. 6 months old. I couldn't get more sound för the buck than this. Full price were at the time 600$. If you buy this reciver in second hand or at a sale, you'll have a great movie and music machine. You really can't expect it to do miracles. (High End costs a lot more than this). However it performes good and holds a great value for me (and probably most common people aswell).

Similar Products Used: Denon dvd 3000 Nad 214 2x80w 8ohm (2x120 4ohm) Homebuilt hexfet power amp 2x65 8 ohm (2x100 4ohm) Dali axs 8000 Dali sb8 (passive sub for center) Proson 66 conquest Solid solution s100 Solid so
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
florin   Audio Enthusiast [Feb 14, 2002]
Strength:

Performance in DD, good separation in DTS, big impact with the nasty noise in movies (gun shoots and the like), you can hear a lot of details in movies, hence I think it is a good balance between mycro and macro dynamic as concerns the movies. Easy to set up, two line outputs for sub, very solid construction. Never get too warm that finally could means good (heat sinking) design.

Weakness:

Not being an audiophile, the stereo performance is poor and annoying, despite the signal through Analog Direct is clean; you cannot improve by using separate equaliser but using a separate (integrated or valve if it is affordable) good stereo amplifier will give you a different sense of music. Too many buttons (would this be connected to reliability?) and the blue light is annoying. I use the remote only to increase the volume, otherwise you can forget it.

This machine is good for movies but it seems this is the price to pay with AV receivers in detriment the two channel stereo music. On my experience and after various listenings in the last two years I can say there are some receivers coming from Onkyo, Marantz, NAD, and especially ROTEL or Harman Kardon priced around USD 1,000 or little more that will sound acceptable good on stereo, but if you want to feel the emotion of the music you may want to spend around USD 500 more for a reasonable integrated amplifier that will sound far better than any AV receiver as concerns the stereo performance. You need understandable wife, a little more place, some more cables and additional gymnastics whenever you want to switch from movies to music or viceversa. Coming back to this machine, it is a good balance between the price paid and what it is offered, despite some more quality on the musical section would be a very sensitive improvement. I am thinking however, to give it a try to the new HK avr 7500 that for 2.5 more money offers as far as I have experienced better performance than this machine. This mainly because on the 12 months anniversary one channel (Front right) has suddenly gone and the machine needs repairs. Not very pleasant. Thinking to the reviews of the other people encountering problems with the hiss I can tell that I had a similar experience (I own average speakers, ober klasse the Germans would say, some jamo classic 6 front - good for details but not very warm, jamo 7.2 center - very good for movies and b&w 602 s2 rear - very good for music but not the difficult classical, anyway this is a different problem, b&w asw 500 sub) until I switched from 1.5 mm cables to 2.5 mm different brand (some German don''t know the name) and the annoying hiss dissapeared almost totally, except very high volumes but I never listen to that volumes.

Similar Products Used: HK 300 rds for 6 months, tested at home Onkyo TX DS 696, Marantz SR 7000 and HK avr 3000. To my ear and taste, the Harman''s sound was the best (even with the difficult classical).
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
3
Chris Pepin   Audio Enthusiast [Aug 18, 2000]
Strength:

Great looking (looks like the ES series), well built, excellent performance, Sound Fields, value for the money, easy to setup and use.

Weakness:

Remote control, tuner performance and usability, volume knob, bright blue light for digital input.

MY DECISION MAKING PROCESS
I had decided to replace my aging Sony STR-D1011 ProLogic receiver with a new Dolby Digital receiver to get the full effect of my Sony DVD player. I had decided to purchase a Sony from the beginning since I have been very happy with Sony's products over the years. All my audio and video components are Sony.

I first considered the Sony STR-DE845 receiver. It had the features I wanted, at a reasonable price. I went to a store and heard this receiver and I was very impressed with the sound. After additional research, I discovered the STR-DB840. The DB series, as I learned, was a new line of receivers first introduced in 1999. I wasn't able to see the STR-DB840 in a store. However, from pictures, I could see that the DB840 looks very similar to the ES series receivers and shared several of the ES series internal components such as a cast-aluminum heat sink. I liked the look of the clean and uncluttered aluminum front panel as well as the front-panel door. In contrast, the STR-DE845 looked cheaper and more gimmicky with more lights and buttons. Feature wise, the two receivers are almost identical except for a few minor additions included in the DB but missing from the DE. I was able to get price quotes for both models on the Internet although there weren't as many dealers that sold the DB series. In the end, I decided it was worth it to pay an extra $30 for the STR-DB840. I entered my price quote request at http://www.mygeek.com and within an hour I had a price quote from SoundCity for the STR-DB840 for $350 including shipping. The unit arrived double-boxed at my apartment 2 days later.

SETTING IT UP
Unpacking and setting up the unit was a breeze. The instructions were clear and I liked that fact that there is a separate instruction manual for the remote control. Focusing on the receiver, I was able to follow the instructions and get in setup to my existing system in less than 1/2 hour. When I powered the unit on, it went into demo mode which showed the features of the unit - a nice touch.

SOUND QUALITY
I was immediately impressed by the quality of sound both for DVDs and CDs. This receiver sounds noticeably better than my old Sony receiver with the Sound Fields turned off. Clean, clear and bright sound.

REMOTE
The remote control is good but not great and is definitely the weakest part of the package. The remote isn't as ergonomic as it could be. It's tough to use the master volume buttons and especially the channel up and down buttons while holding the remote. Also, the remote doesn't control all the cable box controls - only channel up and down. I'm also not crazy about flipping the door open to access d
No way to scan stations (tuner)

INPUTS/OUTPUT
Plenty of input/output for me. I particularly like the optical digital in which allowed me to connect a optical cable from my DVD player directly the receiver. I also like the front panel input.

LIKES:
- Outstanding sound quality
- Lots of Sound Field modes that sound great. Lots of ways to customize the sound
- Huge aluminum heat sink keeps the unit cool.
- Clean, clear display without flashing lights. I like the display that shows you what speakers are working.
- Aluminum front panel, aluminum dials. Looks and feels like high-end audio equipment should.
- Value. For $350, this is alot of receiver for the money.

DISLIKES:
- Blue light for Dolby Digital is too big and too bright. Make it smaller, and make it less bright please.
- Remote control (see above).
- Tuner. Sensitivity is poor. Small little buttons to scan the channels. No way to scan using the remote. Sony clearly decided to cut costs on the tuner features. Direct access would also be nice without having to use the remote.
- Volume knob is lit so you can see at a glance where the volume is (STR-DE845 doesn't have this nice feature). However, the lighted indicator is at the base of the knob, and not the top, so it is very tough to see the light unless you are looking at the knob dead on. For example, is the volume is at 25% and you are sitting to the right of the volume knob, you cannot see the light (it is hidden by the knob itself).

IN A NUTSHELL
Great performance and excellent value. A few flaws mentioned above keep this unit from earning a 5 star rating.

Similar Products Used: Sony STR-DE845, Sony STR-D1011
OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
David T   Audio Enthusiast [Oct 23, 2000]
Strength:

Great sound, for BOTH HiFi audio and DVD's (DTS, Dolby Digital, etc...) Very easy to set up, build quality is excellent, nothing in this price range even comes close.

Weakness:

If I had to list any at all, the remote could be a bit confusing at first. But you learn to master it and it becomes quite simple.

Here's my setup and it sounds great

Sony STR-DB840 receiver
Sony DVP-C670D DVD changer
B&W 302 speakers in front
B&W CC3 center channel
Infinity Infinitesimal 4's rear speakers
Infinity SSW-10 Subwoofer

Can't beat it for the price

Similar Products Used: Nothing similar
OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Bjorn   Audio Enthusiast [Jan 10, 2001]
Strength:

Looks great, solid, heavy, polescrews for speakers, very customizeable, good display, non-cluttered front-panel, lots of inputs (both digital and analog)

Weakness:

Braindamaged team making the remotecontrol, hiss in any mode except analog direct, plastic volume dial

Looks:
This receiver is one heavy and _large_ beast. It feels very solidly built, and the silver-version has a brushed aluminum front with a spartan look (the cluttering buttons etc. are hidden beneath a damped lid). Only thing that is bad about that design is that for some reason Sony decided to cheap out on the volume dial itself - it's made of plastic.

User interface:
The display is very readable with text-output using a dot-matrix method. As others have stated, modes are indicated using small icons and thus are visible from the couch (which the buttons with small red LED's on other receivers are not).

The RDS FM tuner was easy to setup (it found all the channels itself) and it caches the RDS station names so you can flip through and search for a station by name without waiting for the tuner to tune into the channel.

There are simple setups for speaker distance, eq settings etc. and these are remembered for each tuner channel or input choice. I did not find anything bad about the user-interface on the box itself. However the remote is crap, whoever thought of labeling white buttons with light green text ? It's almost unreadable even in normal light.. you do learn the placement after a while though.

There is also this bright blue lamp on the front that goes on when doing surround-sound. Others hate it, it depends on where your receiver is placed compared to the TV of course. I didn't really notice it myself.

Sound:
Here comes the bad part of this piece. As soon as I first plugged it in, I heard a hiss from the front speakers. Even though the volume was at 0. If the volume is turned up, the hiss grows and at a fairly high (but not uncommon) volume, the hiss is really loud. The same thing with the rear speakers.

The hissing comes from the DSP-board in the Sony, because when Analog Direct is chosen, the signal does not pass through the DSP and the hiss disappears (you can still hear it if you put your ear to the speaker, but almost any amplified does that I think). So the actual amplifier parts in the Sony are probably very good (QS assembly and all) but this is supposed to be a good surround-receiver - I should not have to switch off the DSP (and therefore the DTS/DD decoding or cinema modes) to get a good listening experience!

It should be noted that when running the DSP in DTS/DD decoding but with the Cinema enhancements turned off there is less hissing but it's still there and is hearable (and therefore annoying). Also remember that even though the hiss is quite weak compared to the actual sound-level, it ruins dynamic soundtracks where there is not a continous music-score in the background to mask it.

The sound itself is allright, and the Cinema modes were very nice (although mungling the way the producer intended the movie to sound :), even when listening to 2-channel music the Cinema modes splitted out the vocals into the front-speakers and the music in the rear making it sound a bit more vivid. My speakers are not super-speakers so it's impossible for me to say actually how well the amplifier sounded.

Conclusion:
I took my DB840 back to the store and got my money back, I could not stand hearing that hiss because it would remind me all the time that I had made a stupid buy :) However I have not listened to any other surround-receiver, maybe they all make noises and then I'm screwed... I'm a bit disappointed because the Sony does feel and look GREAT. Why couldn't they have put some dollars on making that D/A converter or algorithms better ?

Maybe that is the price to pay for a compromise model (the DB840 is between the DE consumer series and the ES "luxury" series)... Anyway it pulls down my overall rating to 3 stars, but it's probably still a good value for the money. I'm going to go looking at Denon and NAD's comparably priced thingies and hope they are not hissing at me :)


Similar Products Used: None
OVERALL
RATING
3
VALUE
RATING
4
Showing 1-10 of 64  

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