Sony’s New Lineup Brings End-to-End 4K UltraHD Home
Audio Advice has been a fan of Sony products for almost three decades now. Their video products have always been top-notch and the audio build quality on their receivers is evident with their industry leading 5-year warranty. As you may well know, Sony makes most of the cameras that shoot movies we all enjoy. Now the entire movie industry is transitioning over to Sony 4K cameras capable of HDR. When you make the camera that captures the image, the production boards for editing, and the projectors and displays for showing the finished product, you certainly learn more than a company who just makes one of those products. All of this shines through with several new Sony product releases. Let’s take a look at the new Z series TV, new Dolby Atmos receiver, and their great lineup of 4K front projectors!
Z Series TVs
Sony has once again set a new bar for the best possible TV picture! Just a few short years ago in 2012, Audio Advice was lucky enough to be one of the first dealers to introduce Sony 4K with their 85” model. Sony is now introducing three flagship models incorporating technology never before found in a TV. It’s called the Z Series and is available in a 65”, 75”, and 100”. We can clearly state, it is the best-looking TV we have ever seen. And best yet, they actually listened to their customers and did not clutter up the look with speakers!
The tech found in these new sets is very impressive and is about two things Audio Advice has always felt made for the best picture: great video processing and a really well-thought-out panel design.
We’ve always said you can tell if a company has invested in a great video processor by looking for artifacts you see in an image. The Z Series uses Sony’s new X1 Extreme processor. This chip is actually 64 times more precise than the one used in their best model on upconverting regular content into 4K. What this means is that your cable, satellite, and streaming (such as Netflix) look far better than you could imagine. 4K content, which is now becoming more and more available, is simply jaw dropping.
One thing all TVs have struggled with until now is reproducing the changes in a color gradient, such as you may see in a sunset. Many times you will see small lines where the color changes. Sony uses object-based mapping to give us smoothest, natural picture we have ever seen in this regard.
A totally unique feature is the dual database video processing, Sony has taken all the data about video that they have amassed through decades of experience and put it into a huge database. The processor actually refers to this database constantly as it is processing the image. Every TV has some sort of video processor, but few of them refer to a database and none of them have the database Sony has. And Sony has even developed one database for noise reduction and another for upscaling conventional content to 4K. Every part of the image is looked at separately for noise and upscaling. No other sets do this and seeing it just elicits a “wow!”
The other unique tech found in the Z Series is what Sony calls “Backlight Master Drive.” When LED-based flat panel sets first came out, the best-used edge backlighting. Backlighting done properly lets you see deeper into the picture with more life-like contrast. As tech developed, Sony and others developed full panel backlighting across the whole panel. However, until now, this was done in zones of the set. Sony’s new method allows them to control each of the backlighting LEDs individually, another industry first. But they did not stop there. Backlighting can actually have a negative effect and wash out the picture or make it look almost cartoon-like if not executed properly. Sony calibrates the beam of each LED so it only shines on the exact area needed! The results here are spectacular, make black appear as deep as anything we have every seen with rich, vivid color.
To say we like these new Sony TVs would be a huge understatement. We love them! We are especially thrilled that they only focused on making a great picture and have a very clean look with no funky speakers sticking out the sides! We invite you to come and experience the Z series for yourself. We should have a 65” model in each of our stores soon after you read this. The pricing will be $5,999 for the 65”, $8,999 for the 75”, and $59,999 for the 100” coming later this year.
STR ZA5000ES Receiver
Sony has always been known for building their ES series of receivers like a tank and the ZA5000ES is no exception, weighing in at almost 40 pounds! We are very happy to see Sony deliver a receiver with both Dolby Atmos and DTS-X with nine channels of amps on board to handle most Atmos systems and the ability to add another amp for full 11.2 surround sound.
Atmos decoding is fantastic with great separation on both Atmos encoded movies and movies it upconverts. Sony paid special attention to the audio path with the use of glass epoxy circuit boards and heavy duty speaker binding posts.
What we really like about the ZA5000 is the way they designed it to be an entertainment hub. First of all, the back panel is extremely well thought out for us hook up geeks. Everything is logical and you’ll even find an eight-port gigabit ethernet switch to help minimize clutter in your equipment rack. Following the Audio Advice philosophy of keeping it simple and easy, the ZA5000ES is not loaded with all kinds of network, Bluetooth, or streaming stuff. They realize the person buying this is going to use a Roku or Apple TV, so why clutter it up? We agree!
It is one of the few receivers out there to offer really good upscaling of non-4K content to 4K-like quality. So you can turn this on if you have an older non-4K set and get better video or set it to pass thru mode if you have a great 4K TV. Another great feature is its zone two outputs. It is one of the first receivers we have seen that allows you to send a 4K signal down the zone two outputs. This means you can feed 4K from this great hub to another room, perfect for a second TV zone on the porch or in another room. Finally, another neat feature we have not seen in any other receivers is Sony’s speaker height technology system. In many systems, to keep clutter down it is necessary to have all in-ceiling speakers. If you tell this Sony receiver your front speakers are in-ceiling, it processes the signal in a very convincing way that brings the soundstage down into the room. Pretty cool!
Set up is super simple with a great menu system, but as with every receiver we have seen with auto set up, we highly recommend just measuring the distances and levels yourselves or if we are installing it for you, we will do this for you.
All in all, this is one great sounding receiver with the best warranty in the business!
Sony 4K Front Projectors
We saved the best for last. Sony introduced the world’s first and only 4K projectors a few years ago and they quickly became our favorite projector line by a mile. They now have four models in their 4K series, each offering great value in their price range.
A lot of you reading this probably have a great home theater room with an older projector. You may have 1080p, 1080i, or even less in resolution. You spent a lot of time designing your room back when you built it, but many years ago, an awesome projector could cost close to six figures or more. Nothing has changed more in the world of home entertainment than front projection technology over the past five years. We’ve seen everything that matters happen with these new projectors from Sony.
- The light output has increased dramatically over what used to be available, so much so that daytime viewing even in a room without a lot of light control is now possible.
- Lamp life is now much longer than in the past and the lamps themselves no longer cost $1000+.
- Cooling technology has greatly improved so you no longer need to worry about a noisy projector in your room.
- All of this comes with a picture that was not even possible five years ago. The new Sony projectors just look downright incredible!
The first is their entry level 4K model, the 365ES. If you are doing a 16:9 screen that is not too large (under 135” in diagonal size) this projector is a winner for you. It will upconvert all of your normal video content to 4K for a stunning image, and you’ll experience 4K that will blow you away. This projector is also compatible with Sony’s long list of “mastered in 4K” Blu-ray discs. These discs play in a normal Blu-ray player and the projector senses they were mastered in 4k and upconverts them beautifully to 4k. And when Sony’s true 4K Blu-ray player hits the market in the first part of 2017, you’ll be ready to roll! You’ll also get a lamp with 6000 hours of typical life. Not bad for $9,999.
The next step up is our best selling series. The Sony 675ES is their first projector in the lineup to give us the option of doing true widescreen 2:35 movies. We are finding many of our home theater clients are redoing their screen wall to hang a new, wider 2:35 screen for a fully immersive 2:35 experience. Most blockbuster movies are done in 2:35, and now you can get the full theater experience in your home with this type of projector. And don’t worry, your sports and normal TV content will look incredible in normal HDTV.
The 675 also adds a new technology called HDR or high dynamic range. We have demos set up to show you the advantage of this upcoming new content delivery system. Blu-ray players capable of playing it back and tons of movies are coming just around the corner. The difference is huge compared to non-HDR. We have this projector in both of our stores and everyone who sees it is amazed. You get a stunning 4K picture with the capability of 2:35, 20% more light output than the 365, and the same type of 6000-hour lamp. When you consider the video you used to get for $15,000, it makes the price of the 675ES at $14,999 seem like a great deal, and it is.
Now if you are into photography, you’ll appreciate the difference when you step up to the 1100ES. The 1100ES gives you the same great option of either 16:9 or 2:35, and has one of the best lenses we have ever seen on a projector. Any serious camera enthusiast will tell you it’s all about the lens, and the lens on the 1100ES is a monster weighing in at almost 20 pounds. The 1100ES ups the light output about 10% over the 675, but where it really shines is its ability to do amazing contrast. Its contrast ratio is three times that of anything close to it, including the 675ES.
If you are the type who can appreciate the difference in a great lens compared to a very good lens and want some of the best 4K you will ever see, you should consider the 1100ES for $27,999.
But what if you want the best of everything: 16:9, 2:35, HDR, and an awesome lens? Well, the 5000ES is your answer. The new 5000ES uses a laser light engine. It has the purest color you have ever seen. Every single person who has seen one in our stores on demo has just been mesmerized by how real the picture looks. Not only is the image super clear and natural, it is as bright as real life. The 5000ES laser light engine can produce a whopping 5,000 lumens, which is 250% more output than the next step down.Plus, it is a laser engine with a 20,000-hour typical life span, so you don’t even have to think about replacing a lamp.
All this adds up to you having the best time ever thinking about upgrading your existing projector to the new Sony 4K technology. And if you are just starting to plan your home theater, we can help guide you there as well, it’s what we love to do!