The AV receiver market is one of the fastest evolving areas in modern home theater. Just a few years ago, HDMI didn't exist and, shortly before that, DVI-D was only an odd AV experiment that never really caught on. Today's high-definition discs (think Blu-ray) provide us all these wonderful, new uncompressed 7.1 movie soundtracks that all tend to require HDMI connections. Denon, which has been in the high-performance AV receiver business for quite a long time, has always managed to keep pace with the latest industry trends and provide a strong product for the money. The current big dog in their receiver line, the AVR-5308HDCI proves that point very clearly. At a price of $5,500, the AVR-5308HDCI costs as much or even more than some separate components, but comes so feature-packed you couldn't come close getting all the bells and whistles this has for anything like a comparable amount in separates.
The AVR-5308HDCI offers 150 watts per channel of power for all seven channels, Audyssey MultiEQ XT auto calibration and room correction and, for a small fee, you can easily upgrade to the MultiEQ Pro calibration if you or your dealer want more comprehensive room correction. It is XM satellite radio-ready and has its own HD radio tuner, as well as FM and AM tuners. Of course, the unit is THX Ultra2-certified, ensuring the best sonics for your film experience. It also decodes all the new codecs via its six HDMI 1.3a inputs and dual outputs, which can handle 24/96 uncompressed audio for SACD playback over HDMI, too. All the legacy video connections are here as well, including composite (video eight in, three out), S-Video (eight in, three out) and component video (six in, three out). The receiver has a total of nine digital inputs, five optical and four coaxial. Four optical digital outputs are here, too, as well as digital to analog record out to any of the three rec. outputs. Analog inputs abound, totaling total 15, including USB/Net for streaming audio from your computer, for which it will decode MP3 and WMA, XM and iPod inputs, stereo analog and even include a moving magnet phono input. In case that isn't enough, there's an eight-channel analog input. All connectors are gold-plated and the speaker terminals are high-quality five-way binding posts. Two RS-232 controls are also here, as well as an Ethernet port. Oh, and, of course, the AV-5308 is DNLA-compliant, so you can control the entire unit from your home network or even your iPhone for any of its four different zones. Video is transcoded between all analog sources and HDMI, with scaling up to 1080p, using the Silicon Optix Realta HQV chipset, allowing very good video up-conversion from your legacy sources.
With all that connectivity, this receiver is huge at over 17 inches wide, eight inches tall and 19 inches deep, weighing over 62 pounds, but what did you expect? Denon pulled out all the stops here and made a receiver that can easily not just be the hub of a high-end home theater, but the center control unit for a medium to large-sized home. Not only is it flexible, but the AVR-5308HDCI offers great sound with smooth highs and mids and powerful bass. Thanks to the Audyssey room correction and the extra attention to detail, including the eight independent power supplies powered from the one main toroidal transformer and four sub-transformers, the sound won't get blurred together with this unit.Read about the high points and the low points of the AVR-5308 on Page 2.
• When you buy into an ultra-premium receiver like this, you get all you pay for and more. In fact, most people will never come close to using all the features of this unit, but you never know when your needs will change, and all the flexibility offered by this receiver will ensure that you won't need a new one for a long time. They have included everything in here, including XM, HD radio, a USB and an iPod connection, as well as a moving magnet phonon section. I assure you, even in a complicated system, the AVR-5308 won't run out of inputs.
• You get tons of HDMI video inputs, very good video scaling and processing/decoding of all the new uncompressed audio codecs, including DTS HD Master Audio.
• The Denon AVR-5308 allows you to instantly have a music server for all your PC's MP3s.
• Thanks to the DNLA compliance, you can easily control the unit by any computer or even your iPhone in case the two included remotes aren't enough for you.
• This receiver is big, it's heavy and it isn't cheap, but you get what you pay for. It's loaded with features and power.
• The Denon AVR 5308 doesn't offer any balanced inputs or outputs, though it does have 12 preamp outs should you want to add different amplifiers now or in the future.