Denon AVP-A1HDCI AV Preamplifier Reviewed

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denon_avp_a1.gifThe home theater world has been turned on its head in the last year or two. The battle between Blu-ray and HD DVD is now finally over, but the dust is far from settled. The new connector we need to use for either high definition disc, HDMI, has already undergone three major version changes in its brief and very acrimonious lifespan. Makers of AV preamps, especially on the high end, have been scurrying (mostly unsuccessfully) to get to market with current products, trying to provide easy access to the chipsets, connectors, firmware and software to make everything work as the consumer expects, while at the same time keeping Hollywood studios happy with copy protection on sources like Blu-ray players. It's a difficult challenge and the only players to market right this minute are the big boys, specifically Denon and Integra.

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Denon was the second manufacturer to ship a truly current HDMI 1.3-capable AV preamp. The Denon AVP-A1HDCI sports an impressive six HDMI 1.3a inputs, as well as processing for of all the newest and legacy audio codecs. The feature sets here are enough to leave even the hardest-core home theater maniac very happy. This AV preamp has it all, from 12 freely assignable balanced and single-ended outputs to wi-fi music streaming capability to AM/FM and HD radio tuners to being XM-ready, as well as sporting the Silicon Optix Realta chipset for exceptional 1080p video scaling and transcoding of all formats to HDMI. You get all the stereo analog inputs you could ever need, even a MM phono input, as well as a pair of balanced inputs. Control features are all here, too, from IR ins and outs to DC triggers and dual RS-232C controllers.

Denon implemented their new graphic user interface (GUI) to make set-up as straightforward as possible, but beware, you (yes, you - the guy who doesn't ever read manuals) might need to read the manual first, in order to make this preamp get up and dance. Each input can be set up with more options than you could imagine. Should you wish to do so, you can select the Audyssey room correction for any source, and you can store two different correction profiles for different environments or listening positions. Each input can be totally customized and labeled to suit your tastes. An optional two-way RF remote allows you to see what is displayed on the face of the AVP on the remote. In addition to the main remote, a second remote for zone 2 is included. You'll have to work out how you want to control the other two additional zones yourself. Yes, this unit will do four zones and, depending on how you set up the outputs, can even run two independent 5.1 home theaters at once.

Click to Page 2 for The High Points, The Low Points and The Conclusion.

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