In 2011, Sony launched the Sony STR-DA5700ES as their flagship home theater receiver product. As part of the special ES or “Elevated Standard” series, the STR-DA5700ES featured higher power outputs and a vast amount of connection ports to support multiple zones along with some extra ports for custom installers. While it had some favorable reviews from customers, it wasn’t exactly a top seller compared to some of the other models sold by competitors. Sony clearly understands that their next flagship has to have something that no other receiver has. As a result, the company came up with the Sony STR-DA5800ES the following year and added home automation features along with some other fine improvements so this receiver can compete with the bigger leagues.
While the Sony STR-DA5800ES still retains the same design as its predecessor, the design is still one of the most unique home theater receiver designs out there compared to other home theater receivers including the other models in Sony’s portfolio. Rather than having just two knobs for input selection and master volume adjustment, the Sony STR-DA5800ES features a total of 4 knobs the two knobs on the left are the same size as the input selector knob but they control the tone and tuning respectively. The buttons on the front side are pretty standard but the two buttons that are worth mentioning are the easy automation buttons which are basically configurable presets that can alter various attributes of the receiver as well as any components that use home automation. The phones jack is the only visible connection port while the other ports are hidden beneath a panel. The usual group of ports can be found on the bottom left in case you want to use the calibration mic, USB port or composite inputs. There is an HDMI port as well although it is found on the opposite end beneath its own panel.
The STR-DA5700ES already had a dizzying array of ports on the back and now the STR-DA5800ES takes things to the next level. The Sony STR-DA5800ES takes the leap to 9.2 channels allowing the receiver to have separate ports for the Front High and Front B. The number of HDMI inputs have been increased to 8 and there is now a total of 3 HDMI outputs with one HDMI port reserved for a Zone 2 configuration. Taking the component inputs into account, you can connect up to 11 HD devices to the receiver.
The STR-DA5800ES also has more Ethernet ports than most receivers with 4 of the Ethernet ports having the same role as an ordinary 4-port network switch while the fifth Ethernet port is for Zone 2 video out. On the custom installer side of things, the number of IR remote outputs have been doubled to 4 compared to its predecessor.
Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.
The Sony STR-DA5800ES delivers the same amount of power per channel at 130W but a 9.2-channel configuration is supported making this receiver clearly more powerful. It also adds support for 4K video pass-through so those next generation home theater components are able to transmit those ultra-high-definition sources to 4K displays.
But the biggest new addition is the Control4 support which shows this receiver’s emphasis towards the custom install market. To take advantage of this new functionality, you have to contact an authorized dealer and pay some extra costs. But once you have gotten past those hurdles, you will enjoy a very simple process in getting the custom build up and running since the software is already integrated.
In fact, setting up the system as a whole is very straightforward. The easy set-up wizard takes you through a friendly process where you can configure the various input, output and network connections. You can also let each speaker configure itself individually using the Digital Cinema Audio Calibration EX system which relies on the included microphone.
Once the network and home automation connections are complete, you can do several things that you normally won’t be able to do with other home theater receivers. A great way to get started is to try the custom scenes feature where you can assign your favorite volume setting and other receiver settings to one button. In addition to the receiver settings, you can also configure how dim you want the lights to be providing that they are integrated with the home automation experience. This makes it much easier to set up your entire living room for your favorite movie or gaming sessions.
A network-connected STR-DA5800ES can also receive commands from Android or iOS smartphones and tablets through the free ES Remote App. The app interface is also friendly making it easy to adjust settings without using the remote control. Since the Sony STR-DA5800ES doubles as a hub for the home automation system, you can control things like the lights, cable box and Blu-ray player using the same mobile app. The only downside is that you have to connect the receiver to the router via Ethernet cable. There is no built-in Wi-Fi component or extra accessory that adds wireless connectivity. Even AirPlay isn’t supported which is strange because the new entry-level Sony STR-DA1800ES features it.
But the STR-DA5800ES still functions as a great network receiver with streaming support for a number of popular services like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora and several others. It is also DLNA compliant so you can stream multimedia content from any PCs that are DLNA compliant as well (Windows 7 or 8). An active Internet connection also means that you can retrieve the latest firmware updates in case Sony decides to issue them.
As an AV receiver, the Sony STR-DA5800ES performs wonderfully with natural sound texture and detail across the entire frequency range. Even higher volume levels resulted to very clean sound. Video quality is also very good thanks to some technologies like the Faroudja DCDi Cinema Technology which smoothens the visuals and corrects jaggedness.
$2,099 can be a lot to pay for an AV receiver that isn’t THX certified and lacks built-in wireless features. But that shouldn’t matter because the Sony STR-DA5800ES is up-to-date with 4K support and the sound quality is simply amazing. Plus, you won’t find any other home theater receiver with Control4 support at the time of this writing. The extra 5-year warranty which Sony gives to ES home theater receivers is also a nice added bonus.