Sony STR-DN1030 7.2-channel home theater receiver with Airplay and Bluetooth hands-on

Truth be told, we spend a lot of time listening to music, movies and hands-on video clips through our headphones and laptop speakers, but when it comes time to sink into the plush leather seats in a proper home theater, you better believe high-quality audio is a top priority. Sony's STR-DN1030 serves as an update to last year's STR-DN1020, and promises to deliver on that quality promise, with a bounty of connectivity options to boot. WiFi and built-in Ethernet enable the 7.2-channel digital receiver to stream from AirPlay, along with Sony Entertainment Network (SEN) music services including Music Unlimited, Pandora, Slacker and vTuner. The device is also DLNA compatible, IP controllable and it can power on (from standby mode) whenever you begin to stream a song over AirPlay or Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR connections.

We dropped by Sony's NYC headquarters for a quick peek at the DN1030, which we're told very quietly made the rounds at CES but has yet make its official debut. The receiver, which boasts 145 watts per channel (not including those dual powered-sub connections), was paired with seven high-end Bowers & Wilkins speakers and a powered Sony subwoofer. It's nearly impossible to pass complete judgement on any high-end audio product after a brief demo in a room that isn't optimized for sound, so audiophiles should certainly hear this thing for themselves before coming to any conclusions of their own. Still, we were quite pleased with performance from what we saw today -- Bluetooth and AirPlay connections appeared to be seamless, Slacker loaded quickly and audio quality was quite solid from all of the wireless sources, along with Avatar and a recorded Cream concert on Blu-ray. Best yet is the receiver's price -- the STR-DN1030 will set you back just $499 when it hits stores in mid-July. %Gallery-158292%

Edgar Alvarez contributed to this report.