Before we begin our in-depth Sony STRDH590 5.2-ch Surround Sound Home Theater Receiver Review, let’s consider that many people think that surround sound is a relatively new concept. But, in fact, it started in the Second World War. It began because it was considered a great way to involve people more closely in the movie experience at the cinema.
The Disney film, Fantasia, was probably the first surround sound experience. That was 1941. It has come a long way since then, but early home theatres were still a long way off.
Next came multiple-channel stereo systems in the 50s and Dolby stereo in the 70s. With the advancement in technology, things move fast from there. The 90s saw the arrival of Dolby Digital Surround Sound. That was the moment that most of us consider it had arrived.
It has evolved a long way from having a “Bumblebee” seemingly flying all around us in Disney’s wartime Fantasia. It was now Home Cinema, and all in only 50 years.
A few years after Disney wowed audiences worldwide, Sony was founded in Japan. Their rise to prominence during the next 50 years was also mercurial.
Today, they are the first name that many would say if asked about home entertainment. Nothing has been off the radar as far as they are concerned. And there probably aren’t many people who haven’t owned something made by Sony.
They have been able to achieve what very few other companies have been able to manage. That is, to work at the very highest level but also provide a range of cost-effective products. They fill the consumer market from top to bottom and even work in professional sound and studios.
They are a remarkable organization.
So, let’s take a look at one of their latest products in our in-depth review of the Sony STRDH590 5.2-ch Surround Sound Home Theater Receiver, and see what it is all about…
If you are new to Home Theater or feel like you might want to upgrade, this is Sony’s answer. This is a system that has been designed to work with the latest technologies, including 4K TVs and High Dynamic Range (HDR) vision.
We shall look at those in more detail a little later. Their impact is significant.
Advanced features, plenty of inputs, and HDCP signal handling are all included. They ensure that you are going to get great performance in both sound and vision.
As we shall see, it is typical Sony in terms of design. Understated and unobtrusive, it blends into the background with ease and is not going to dominate your living space.
Excellent connections via Bluetooth that allow you to use it for playing music. This can be streamed from your smartphone or other devices.
Have we whetted your appetite? Hope so; let’s take a closer look at the Sony STRDH590 Receiver…
As we have already touched upon, the build is minimalist and simplistic. It is made of plastic, of course, but good quality plastic and feels strong in the hand.
What we like about the design and the build is that the front fascia has plenty of control options and two large knobs. But still, it does not impose. Being finished in all black, nothing grabs your attention. That is a big plus, in our opinion.
Not too large…
It measures 11.75 by 17 by 5.25 inches, which is not excessive. We think Sony might have designed this to fit in an audio/visual furniture unit.
The inputs and outputs are all located at the rear of the receiver. It sits comfortably on four non-marking circular feet.
The controls are kept to a minimum and are easy to use. They are displayed clearly and therefore offer no worries about their use.
We have looked at some of these units by other manufacturers. Sometimes it appears like they have been inundated with controls, buttons, and everything else. This is an effort to make them look complicated.
Likewise, this stems from the mistaken delusion that if it looks complicated, it must be complicated. And therefore, it must be good. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
The layout of the controls is a model of Japanese efficiency. There two main controls, in terms of visibility, are the Master Volume and Input selector. There are also sockets for headphones and the calibration mic. We shall refer to the mic a little later. Above them is the power button.
There are a series of push-button controls placed aesthetically along the width of the receiver. One of these controls turns off the speakers when you are using headphones.
It is a little surprising that when you plug in headphones that the speakers are not canceled out. However, that might just be us struggling to find something to complain about.
For the price point, there is very little to dislike about the controls on the Sony STRDH590. They are basic and clear. The manifestation of ‘easy to use.’
This is where Sony will normally excel. And with this receiver, it is no different. Yes, there are some features not included. Yes, you could complain about this or that not being included. But features cost money, and what the Sony includes for the price you pay is incredibly impressive, making it one of the best value for the money receivers you can buy.
This is a Sony receiver at a budget, entry-level price point. It might not have some of those things, but what it does have is reliably good.
A more advanced system…
It is a 5.2 channel system with 145 watts per channel, giving you 725 watts in total. A 5.2 system is more advanced than a 5.1 channel system. They will both power five channels for speakers. But the 5.1 can only handle one subwoofer.
The 5.2 system will handle two subwoofers. This, of course, will give you an infinitely better low-end. Something important to immerse yourself in with today’s movies.
New listening technology…
The surround sound experience can still be achieved with this receiver, even if you have only two speakers. S Force Pro will give you that.
S Force Pro is a Sony development that creates a sound in three-dimensions that is both realistic and natural. It will give you a simulated 360-degree surround experience from just the two front speakers.
We are not going to say that it is equal to full surround. But it certainly is a far better option than you would normally get from two speakers at the front. And it does give you that immersive cinema experience from a limited speaker set up.
Of course, the sound is important for a great movie experience but let’s not forget what you are looking at. We said previously that this receiver will work with 4K TVs. These are commonly referred to as UHD or Ultra High Definition TVs.
This is a design that has been implemented to improve the visuals on large screen TVs. It has increased the pixel numbers by four times. The result is a sharper image.
More on the visuals…
To add to the quality of the picture this receiver delivers, it also features HDR. High Dynamic Range has become one of the ‘must-have’ options for TVs these days.
With it, you get greatly improved color and brightness and an enhanced level of detail in the image. The best way to judge it is to place two TVs side by side, one with and one without. Then you can instantly see the difference.
The Sony STRDH590 also has Dolby Vision with 2.2 HDCP support.
Some more performance plus points…
It has a remote control that is much improved on Sony’s previous models. It is interesting to read how people complain that on previous models, there were not enough control buttons. Then when they address that, people complain there are too many. No pleasing some people.
In our view, as long as it isn’t crazy, the more options you have for control on the remote, the better. And Sony are not crazy. The remote is efficient, easy to use, and works well.
An extra built-in advantage is the FM tuner. For people who love their radio. (Yes, they do exist, not everyone likes to stream their music) it has 30 station presets.
This facility is not peculiar to Sony, of course, but it is an excellent feature that this receiver enjoys. This is performed using a mic inserted in the socket on the front of the receiver. It will help you adjust and correct speaker levels and distances to achieve optimum sound performance.
Sony has ensured you will get the best from this receiver by giving you enough connection points.
There are four RCA stereo audio inputs with an optical and a coaxial digital audio output.
There are four HDMI input connections and one output with a return channel for audio. And for private listening, a ¼ inch headphone socket.
Nothing is complete these days without a Bluetooth connection. Smart connectivity is important and allows you to hook up your phone or other devices to play music, movies, and various online sources.
Extras in the Box
Sony always likes to give you a bit extra if they can. With the Sony STRDH590, you get an audio cable for wired use and a charging cable. Along with foldable headphones and a carrying case.
Sony STRDH590 5.2-ch Surround Sound Home Theater Receiver Review Pros and Cons
- Good strong build quality.
- Nice understated design.
- S-Force Pro for surround sound from just two speakers.
- Excellent Sound calibration feature.
- Well equipped and easy to use remote control.
- Works with 4K TVs.
- HDR and Dolby vision.
- Great price point.
- Plugging in the headphones doesn’t cancel out the sound from the speakers.
- There is sometimes too much control information displayed on the TV screen, which you cannot remove.
Looking for more excellent Home Audio Solutions?
Also, check out our reviews of the Best Home Theater Speakers, the Best Wireless TV Speakers, the Best Floor Standing Speakers, and the Best In Ceiling Speakers, the Best Sonos Speaker, and the Best In Wall Speakers currently on the market in 2021.
Sony STRDH590 5.2-ch Surround Sound Home Theater Receiver Review Bottom Line
We think this is a well-equipped and very impressive Sony receiver. It has some great features, both with good audio and advanced visual technology. It looks good, is easy to use, and has very good connection options. And at the price point offered represents great value for money.
Are you entering the world of home cinema? Maybe want to upgrade a very basic system? If so, this could be the receiver for you.
And of course, it is Sony, so you are buying into a world of quality.
Until next time, happy listening.