Denon AVR-2307CI A/V Receiver Page 2

The Short Form

Price $800 / / 800-497-8921
A solid mid-price receiver that offers superb audio and video performance and valuable features such as XM and iPod options - but not video deinterlacing or scaling.
•Top-shelf power, audio quality •HDMI switching, and converts analog video to HDMI •Available iPod dock (optional extra)
•Only two HDMI inputs •Does not scale video •Onscreen displays only in 480i, even via HDMI
Key Features

•100 watts x 7 channels •2 HDMI inputs •Converts S-/composite-/component-video to HDMI •Auto-setup/room EQ using supplied microphone •iPod playback/control expandability via optional dock •FM/AM tuner with 56 presets; XM expandability via optional antenna/tuner •RS-232 serial port •Zone-2 audio/video; back-surround channels assignable to Zone 2 or front-channel biamp •8-device preprogrammed/programmable system remote control

MUSIC AND MOVIES It's becoming a real challenge to cover today's A/V receivers with any sort of brevity, but I'll do my best.

Power? Check. The Denon's rated 100 x 7 watts easily drove my medium-sensitivity speaker layout to fully cinematic levels, and even a slightly less sensitive suite waiting its turn in the test-report queue.

Clarity and definition? Check-plus. Denon lists the 2307CI as employing a new-generation audio digital signal processor and 192-kHz/24-bit D/A converters. Whatever the case, the receiver sounded first-rate on every music or movie program I tried: clean, dynamic, transparent. Top-quality recordings - sadly, even today this usually means specialty "audiophile" productions - sounded simply superb via Dolby Pro Logic IIx Music. On one occasion I found myself checking to see if I weren't accidentally playing a disc's SACD-multichannel layer direct-in rather than stereo via the digital input - high praise indeed.

Video performance? Check. The 2307's HDMI paths will accept and switch signals from 480i right up to 1080p. My 50-inch Samsung DLP cannot handle either extreme, but every other format looked great via both HDMI and component video. The Denon converts incoming analog video to digital HDMI output but does not scale: What comes in on composite-, S-, or component- goes out on HDMI in its original resolution. (This is not necessarily a cause for sorrow; there's no guarantee that any individual scaler will be an improvement over another, and your system probably has at least one already in its cable/HD and DVD signal-chains, in addition to the one in your HDTV itself.)

It does, however, limit HDMI utility with those TVs (mine included) that cannot accept 480i over HDMI. Even this would be unimportant, given the ubiquity of 480i-to-480p deinterlacing, except that the Denon's onscreen displays travel in 480i over all outputs, including HDMI. Result: no onscreens via HDMI in my system, requiring a component-video (or S- or composite- video) connection as well, with accompanying toggling TV inputs, to view them. Furthermore, since my set will not display picture-in-picture with HDMI (as I believe is quite generally the case), I couldn't even use the PIP-menus-window trick I learned back in those halcyon days when many component outputs lacked the onscreen graphics. Ah, progress.

Direct comparisons of my best video sources on their component outputs direct-to-screen versus the Denon's converted-to-HDMI version showed the converted image to be slightly - very slightly - softer and, I felt, a hair less saturated. Not enough in either case to dissuade me from using a single-cable setup - at least not if I had been able to get onscreen displays.