Putting the “V” in Your AVR Sony STR-DA4300ES
For this survey, Sony sent its $1,299 STR-DA4300ES, which is one step down from its flagship AVR. The STR-DA4300ES is part of Sony’s Elevated Standard line and is optimized for HD sources. It is the only receiver in this group to incorporate the Cortez video processor, which is the first chip from Genesis/Faroudja to offer full HD video processing.
Sony seems to be incorporating the same stance as most of the other companies by not allowing video processing of incoming HDMI signals. This is fine if the input source is of the highest quality, like Blu-ray, but has its disadvantages for DVD and cable sources. You now have to rely on the processing in your display device, which, as mentioned, will produce varying results. On the bright side, the digital switching is excellent, with no signs of signal loss or compromise, regardless of the resolution passed through.
The STR-DA4300ES offers full deinterlacing and scaling for analog video inputs before sending them out via HDMI. The Faroudja HD processing does a great job with film-based 1080i-to-1080p conversion but doesn’t handle video-based 1080i well. I’m surprised by this, considering Faroudja’s history of video-based processing, including the award-winning DCDi processing. The same results occurred with SD sources, making this a good choice for film-based content and some broadcast programming.
The analog-to-digital conversion resulted in some slight rolloff with both luma and chroma information, resulting in some slight softness in fine detail. The scaling also showed some slight moiré in our resolution charts that may affect fine detail in SD sources being scaled to HD resolution.
With Sony’s Blu-ray players offering source-direct outputs, and this receiver incorporating the latest in Faroudja HD processing, I’m kind of disappointed that Sony didn’t offer full processing features for digital inputs. This receiver does a good job overall, though, making it a strong entry in our survey, especially considering it’s the least expensive.