Tech Model

August 28th, 2011

A/V Receivers: Sticking with Denon

Denon AVR-3312CI Integrated Network A/V Receiver

George Lucas said it best when he said “Sound is half the experience.” It is the other piece that draws you in. Try it. Go watch a movie in Imax, walk into a local Best Buy that has a home theater room setup, come to my place. You’ll catch yourself hanging around longer than you thought, getting lost, developing that little smile that says “this is awesome”.

Now it’s a tough job for anyone taking their first steps into starting a Home Theater of their own. The choices can be overwhelming, the options may not make any sense, and it doesn’t help that in this field people are very vocal and opinionated about which setup leads to the best results. There is one thing, though, that you will see everyone agreeing on and that is making sure you pick a setup that sounds good to you. So the best thing you can do is go out and sample as much as you want before you make a final decision.

At the heart of your first decision will most likely be an A/V Receiver (or separates for you fancy pants out there). This is for a good reason. The A/V receiver is the central hub for your home theater and because of newer features, like Air Play and Internet Radio, becomes the gateway into all of your devices and services. If you’re buying one for the first time, or just looking to upgrade, I strongly recommend picking up a Denon as your first choice.

Denon is a company that has been doing their thang for more than 100 years. More importantly, they are highly regarded for pioneering the audio field and manufacturing high quality products. In fact the draw to buying a Denon is that they often offer more over their competitors. The most important differences being in audio and video quality, build quality, and feature set. Below is a general summary for most of the major A/V Brands.

Denon

What you get: Top of the line sound and video, outstanding with highs and details, great tight bass, excellent for both movies and music (and games), AirPlay, Audyseey, Equal Power Amp Design, runs cool, all of the latest features, easy to expand to an amplifier.

What you loose: GUI could be a little better, just would like to see a hair more rawness and punch to the sound.

Pioneer Elite

What you get: Truly great sounding receiver, THX certified, great video support, AirPlay, good GUI, deserves to be at the top of the list when picking an A/V Receiver.

What you loose: Lack of a few more HDMI inputs, Poor support for streaming services, drops Audyseey software (preferred) for their own in house software, Denon handles detail just a little better.

Anthem

What you get: What might be considered the best sound out of the lot, Anthem proprietary ARC room correction which does a fair job.

What you loose: Just about everything else, Anthem has the lowest feature set of any receiver.

Onkyo

What you get: Great immersive and ambient sound, Excellent video, THX, Audyseey.

What you loose: The sound is a bit too brute force lacking the finesse and detail of other receivers, known for running hot, no AirPlay, also known for having board issues.

Integra

What you get: All the same things you’d get with Onkyo, just a little bit better.

What you loose: Costs a little more than Onkyo, but carries the same faults (Onkyo and Integra are produced by the same company).

Yamaha

What you get: Really great sound, one of the best GUI around, great streaming music support.

What you loose: Everything else is run of the mill, no AirPlay, no Audyseey.

Marantz

What you get: Great mid-range sound, Audyseey.

What you loose: Lacks in the high and low sections compared to other brands, poor video quality.

Sony

What you get: Ok receiver.

What you loose: Better off going with almost every other brand.

While most Denon’s will serve you just fine, I suggest going with the AVR-3312CI. Having a THD of .05 (which is craaaazy), 125 watts per channel, MultiEQ XT, pre-outs to expand to an amplifier, and Denon’s proprietary D.D.S.C.-HD and AL24 Plus processing technology makes a huge difference over the other models. The downside is that it is right at the consumer breaking point of $1000 (MSRP is $1099.99). However, my long standing advice when buying anything is “If you’re going to do it, do it right.” So my suggestion is if you’re already planning on spending $600 or so on a receiver, I would sit down and consider saving an extra paycheck or two for this one. A good receiver will last you for a long time. Likewise if you were planning on spending more, unless going to separates, I would save the money and put it towards your speakers.

Above all else have fun with this. I hope you have great results with your setup and hope that in someway or another this helped out. Thanks.


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bradfordltaylor





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