Sony snubs retailers with new 3D A/V receivers

Sony’s new ES line of A/V receivers are so full of 3D goodness that big-box retailers and online stores can hardly do them justice.

That’s why Sony will sell the new products exclusively through specialty A/V dealers and custom installers.

“The experience of the products requires that you go to it – see it, hear it, feel it – that you have that conversation with dealers,” says Brian Siegel, vice president of Sony’s home audio and video business, who presented the products to a small group of reporters last week.

The new 3D-capable receivers are the STR-DA5600ES, STR-DA4600ES and STR-DA3600ES. They will all ship this August or September, replacing Sony’s x500ES receivers but selling at similar price points ($1,100 to $2,000).

Among the many interesting new features – including integrated four-port Ethernet switches that mitigate the need for an extra black box in the rack – Sony is touting 3D superiority in the line.

“Sony’s value proposition in the 3D world,” Siegel says, “is we’re the only ones that can provide everything from actual content creation to in-home and in-theater experience.”

Indeed, during the press event, reporters were led through Sony Pictures Entertainment and the corporation’s new 3D TechnologyCenter. At the studios, Oscar-caliber technicians were hard at work converting old 2D movies to 3D, perfecting 3D film-making, and mixing 7.1 audio for 3D movies.

While ES (Elevated Series) products from Sony previously were sold online and through mass-market merchants, the company is yanking the line from those outlets.

Sony’s own research indicates that most customers who buy ES products off the shelf or online “don’t really know what they’re buying,” Siegel says.

He calls the line “mass inspirational. … We can promote to a mass audience that we continue to innovate – that we put products out there that are not available readily, that people have to aspire to.”