You may have noticed lots of Denon receivers at big-box and other discount stores. If you’re interested in high-quality audio, don’t count them out. Denon is in fact well known for the excellent sound and loads of features you might expect to pay a lot more for. Evaluating sound is subjective you need to take a look at listener reviews and ideally listen yourself to really be convinced. This is especially true for music listening. So lets talk about the features built-in to these a/v receivers.
Digital video switching has been a part of home theater receivers for many years. Most Denon receivers can select from 4 to 6 HDMI 1.4a ports. This means you can connect to your cable box, Blu-Ray player, DVD/CD player, game console and HDTV with just a single cable each. Recent models include Windows 7 Media compatibility so that you can stream audio from your PC or laptop. Some models including a learning remote. In many instances this lets you replace all your hand-held remotes with just the one from Denon.
Dolby surround-sound audio processing comes in numerous packages, and Denon a/v receivers include nearly all of them. Low-cost models deliver 5.1 channel surround sound (2 front speakers, 2 rear speakers, a center-front speaker and a sub-woofer). Other models add another pair of speakers and one more sub-woofer to deliver 7.2 channel sound. The additional speakers can be mounted in front to add a vertical-dimension of sound, or used to deliver stereo in another room. Dolby processing, once limited to hiss and noise reduction, now decodes additional audio channels for a dramatic home-cinema experience.
Audyssey digital audio processing improves sound quality in several ways for many models. DynamicEQ adjusts both tone and surround-sound at low volumes. Without it you miss a lot of the bass at low listening levels, and may not notice any surround-sound effects at all. Receivers with Audyssey multiEQ do even more. Using an included microphone, the receiver will measure your room’s response at multiple frequencies and locations. Using this information it will then automatically equalize tone responses to get the best sound possible. This is usually better than you would get with professional installation and tuning. Automatic equalization lets you get the most out of your speakers, and often avoid the expense of a speaker upgrade.
Network interfaces are built in to some models, connecting your home-entertainment system into your home network and the web. With this feature you’ll be able to listen to internet radio, such as Pandora, Napster, and more, without having a PC directly connected. You can also access stored digital music files. Some recent models even allow you to control the receiver from any networked device that has a web browser.
Denon also listens to Apple lovers. Many models include a USB port compatible with iPods and iPhones. Some receivers can work with a free Denon app that lets you control on/off, volume, and source selection from your iPhone. A few recent models even have Airplay wireless streaming built-in.
Recent a/v receivers include a host of great features to deliver enhanced sound and connect your entertainment center to your home network and the World Wide Web. Unless you’re one of those rare individuals with golden ears there’s no reason to spend more than a thousand dollars on a receiver. And most of us will be quite happy with a home theater receiver costing half or even a third of that.