When I opened my humble little retail store, The Audiophile, back in 1973, Denon was a small company just entering the country. Giants like Yamaha, Kenwood, Pioneer, Marantz, and others dominated the receiver market. But I was a tweak and always looking for something better. My local rep would drive up on his moped to Venice, California, with the latest Stax headphones or a few other top-notch toys and a new moving coil cartridge from Japan. "Hey, check out this new Denon DL-103 conical moving coil cartridge." Conical? How could that be good? We would spend the afternoon listening in my high-end room to see how it stood up to the hottest cartridges of the day. They also had a few integrated amplifiers, but who would ever be interested in Denon...too much competition.
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But after 30 years of delivering some of the finest electronics in this category, Denon has earned a reputation second to none, consistently producing A/V receivers that are ranked at or near the top of the industry. And while the company's premier models often command a premium price (for example, their AVR-58o5 mkII costs $7,000), Denon's newest, the AVR-2807, is priced at an affordable $1,099. I also requested a matching DVD player (DVD-1920 at $369) to test the combo, so let's see how this duo works together.
Unique Features AVR 2807
It delivers the same HDMI digital video interface terminals and high-resolution 1080p video signal transmission offered on higher priced Denon units, plus all the features we've all come to expect from Denon--at an entry-level price range (well, sort of). Power is rated at 110 watts of power per channel--this is no lightweight! There's an enhanced version of the Audyssey MultEQ XT auto setup/calibration (which helps you achieve optimized system performance for your specific room), as well as support for the addition of any XM Connect-and-Play antenna module for integrated satellite radio reception. The powerful new 32-bit floating-point DSP automatically and accurately analyzes, adjusts, and sets the speaker configurations of your system. I'm a fan of Pure Direct mode: sonic quality gets enhanced as all of the unused circuitry is shut down for the cleanest and most precise stereo sound from any audio component in your system. The direct iPod/MP3 connector found on more expensive Denon models is lacking, but it will be compatible with a new iPod dock (the ASD-1R dock) that Denon is planning to release later in 2006. When available, the dock is expected to provide audio, photo, and video playback control via the 2807's remote.
Other key features should be mentioned--such as multi-zone audio capabilities, two assignable 12-volt "trigger" outputs, an RS-232 port for computer-controlled touch-screen operation, 200ms audio delay for precise synchronization between image and soundtrack. Need I mention that there's Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, DTS-ES, DTS 96/24, and Multi-zone 5.1 in the main room with stereo capability in a second zone, and the Digital bass management functions enable you to tailor the sound from high-resolution audio discs to a wide variety of systems--from full-size speakers to compact satellite/subwoofer setups.
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Unique Features DVD-1920
The DVD-1920 uses a 12-bit, 108 MHz video D/A converter to faithfully preserve the delicate low-level signals often lost during D/A conversion. It can upgrade DVD video signals to near-high-definition images for superior picture quality--you will get clear, rich, natural-looking video from all of your DVDs. In addition to these features, the HDMI port supports multichannel DVD-Video and DVD-Audio output when connected to HDMI compliant equipment. For sound, it is high-quality audio D/A conversion and Digital Bass Management that will bring out the best of not only Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio discs, but your entire CD collection as well. It also offers Progressive Scan technology using DCDi by Faroudja, which can process around twice as much video data and represents a vast improvement over the interlaced scanning method used in TV broadcasts and other conventional media. There's also manual IP detection mode selection, so even if a DVD-Video disc was mastered with the wrong progressive flag, or without a flag, the user can select a mode (Auto1, Auto2, and Video1, 2, or 3) to enjoy a higher performance of picture quality.
With 24-bit, 192 kHz High Resolution Audio D/A Converters, the DVD-1920 provides color component video (Y, CB/PB, CR/PR) output that ensures fine color detail with today's high-end video monitors and large screen projectors that feature component video inputs. Finally, there is support for CD-R/RW format. It plays finalized CD-R/RW discs (single-session or multi-session) containing MP3/WMA9, as well as reading still photos in the Kodak Picture CD or JPEG format taken by a digital camera.
Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
I have been a Denon owner many times over the past 30 years, and what I love about their products is the ease of setup and operation--straightforward connectors that are easy to use and get to. The marriage of these two units makes it a joy to set up. I replaced a review sample of my Harman Kardon AVR7300 with an older DVD player. I used Accell HDMI cables and other Monster and Audioquest favorites. The single remote capability and the simplicity of the layout made the operation a no-brainer. There was little need for the owner's manual, except for the Audyssey MultEQ XT auto setup/calibration that I wasn't familiar with. I used the Tannoy Arena system I reviewed for the April/May 2006 issue, as it is still in place, and I am having a hard time giving it back.
This is the best part for me as I am not much of a gear head... I love the music. After a little warm-up period, I jumped in with all my favorites, and I noticed an immediate difference from what I had been listening to. The weight of this receiver controlled the bass and image beyond my expectation. The biggest improvement was the delivery of the image from the DVD-1920. I felt as if I was experiencing a depth and sharpness from my display that I hadn't seen before. They are known for their stable power supplies, and it reminded me of separates performance, and the Faroudja processing was definitely noticeable. There was also an improved image in the very highest frequency, seeming to eliminate a slight veil I had heard prior to this test. I had recently listened to a few other lower priced receivers from the competition, but Denon has delivered a real winner. What I want to emphasize is that the feature/benefit package Denon has delivered on this duo is really great for a price under $1500!! If you are looking to upgrade your home theater and want separates, or even if the mega-receivers are out of your league, join me in owning an awesome combo that will bring the theater home.
AVR 2807 Receiver & DVD-1920 DVD Player