Denon AVR-3312CI A/V Receiver Page 2

Associated equipment included five Paradigm Reference Studio v.4 speakers, a Paradigm Seismic 110 sub, and an Oppo BDP-83 Special Edition Blu-ray Disc player. All movie demos (and one music demo) were Blu-ray Discs with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks.

All-Around Performance
The AVR-3312CI was a strong all-around performer. In most of the demos, it tended toward the dark-toned side—although not severely—with a warm, full bass above and below the 80 hertz crossover I typically use. I would not attribute this to the interaction of Audyssey MultEQ XT with my room. If anything, turning off the room correction thickened the tonal balance even as it weakened the soundfield—again, these were subtle differences—so I kept it on most of the time.

Killer Elite brought together Jason Statham, Clive Owen, and Robert De Niro in a tangled tale of feuding assassins. This high-caliber action movie had the kind of hard, clattery soundtrack typical of Statham vehicles, and the receiver did little to sugarcoat it. The first exploding car had me seeking sanctuary in Audyssey Dynamic EQ and Dynamic Volume, with the latter at its lowest setting (my default setting when I use DEQ/DV at all). Dialogue was clear in this and all succeeding selections.

Final Destination 5, a vehicle for savage and mocking bloodshed, was front-loaded with a spectacular bridge collapse that gave the receiver a chance to deliver bass-heavy all-channel effects through my speakers (of average sensitivity) without flinching. The opening music was rich and warm, signaling that the clattery sound of the previous movie was characteristic of the movie, not the receiver. Bass lines were fattened (like me), but not morbidly obese.

The Ledge is a drama whose complex weave of characters and themes—the romantic triangle, the gay-versus-fundamentalist angle, the suicide counselor struggling with paternity issues—culminated with the leading man on a building ledge, ready to jump. Dialogue was everything, and the receiver delivered it all clearly. Voices had a more nasal emphasis than in the previous movie demos, but since it occurred only in this selection, it must have been content-induced. Again, the bass component of music was thick but not overdone. Audyssey Dynamic EQ and Dynamic Volume continued to subtly firm up the soundfield, but I followed my usual practice of turning them off for the music demos.

Yes on Steroids
Symphonic Live is the decade-old, demon spawn of Yes and the European Festival Orchestra with conductor Wilhelm Keitel. I liked it better than I’d expected to. Chris Squire’s bass and Alan White’s meaty drums benefited from the room correction with both a generous bottom end and plenty of Rickenbacker bass-guitar twang at the top end. Jon Anderson’s voice cut through the mix —yet the receiver did not let it go thin, and it retained its youthful suppleness. There were many moments when I wished the receiver had delivered more transparency to separate the many layers of orchestral and rock-band sound, especially when the

band drowned out the orchestra, but at least these were sins of omission. The orchestra still had its chance to shine in the floaty bits of “Close to the Edge” and the reimagined “Long Distance Run-around.” Steve Howe’s acoustic guitar solo was a model of multichannel recording and playback, here with 5.1 of the receiver’s channels combining to produce a nuanced account of a single, woody instrument.

In the French Impressions CD, Joshua Bell and Jeremy Denk offer sonatas for violin and piano by Saint-Saëns, Franck, and Ravel. Operating in stereo, the receiver had no trouble imaging the famous violinist within a convincing soundstage. It wasn’t as wide, deep, or precise as I’m used to getting with top-of-the-line, boutique receivers or pricey, two-channel components, but it was balanced and pleasing.

Madeleine Peyroux’s Half the Perfect World was a more casual demo than the others—I ran MP3 files encoded at 192 kbps via AirPlay, hardly an audiophile-approved choice. But the miracle of AirPlay never ceases to amaze. As usual, I had to spend a few moments rooting around in the GUI to enable Network Standby. After that, it was simple: I started the album on my iPod touch, tapped the AirPlay logo on the touchscreen, selected the AVR-3312CI, and then the receiver did the rest, powering itself up, selecting the right input, and streaming the music. The Steely Dan-ish gloss of producer Larry Klein stood up well to lossy compression when played at low to moderate volumes. I don’t play MP3s any other way.

The Denon AVR-3312CI is a fine-sounding receiver with a definitive feature set, especially for those intending to integrate it into a custom installation. Many features are especially suitable as the death spiral of the CD format accelerates: This receiver will stream from Rhapsody, Napster, or your iThing, or pull media out of your PC, or even play vinyl (turntable not included). These are the choices that listeners increasingly demand. So this is far more than another dumb black box—it’s the nerve center for a 21st century audio system.

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msardo's picture

Just curious as to why there was no "Top Pick" designation for this receiver? Reading the review, it sounds like it met all of the criteria (in my understanding, which could very well be wrong). Please know that I do understand that most products do not get the "Top Pick" designation while at the same time, they remain to be excellent products.

Two other points:

1. I have this unit's predecessor - the AVR-3311CI. Except for the "setup wizard", and the front of the unit, it sounds (pun fully intended) that these are very much the same two products. Can you tell me if the 3311 has the same construction regarding power supply and vibration that was mentioned in this review?

2. I noticed that this week, Denon has started to release its next round of receivers, the xx13 models, starting with the bottom up. I must say, I appreciate, and feel, that it must be tough for you folks to stay on top and review all of these products while they are still current. Thanks for the work.


Mark Fleischmann's picture
When selecting TPs, I'm not asking myself "why not this?" but rather "why this?" A TP has to be more compelling than a whole bunch of other products, many of them quite good, especially in such a crowded category with so many good choices.

I'm not sure about the build question but I'll put the question to Denon.

Mark Fleischmann's picture
In response to msardo's question about build, Denon says: "Regarding Power Trans we have made minor improvements for better audio quality such as fixing the trans differently to reduce the leakage but basically both are designed the same and equally good."
Mjpearce023's picture

I just recieved the June issue and I am shocked by the 6006 review. I don't understand how the 3312 received 4 out of 5 stars for audio when the Marantz 6006 received 5 out of 5. This is clearly a case of hearing what you want to hear in my opinion. D&M owns Denon and Marantz and is using the same designs in both these receivers. You can look at the insides of the 6006 and 3312 to see that they are virtually identical. With the same amps and same MultEQ XT I see no way that their can be a difference in audio quality between the two. I also see no reason why the 3312 would get 4 stars for value and the Marantz got 5 stars and it's $100 more expensive. The only difference between the 3312 and 6006 that i know of is the case and the 7.1 analog inputs. The weight is the same and the test bench are pretty much identical so I don't understand the difference in scores.

Mark Fleischmann's picture
The two models differ markedly in power specs and have radically different feature rosters. In addition D&M offers this response: "Denon and Marantz share the same parent company as well as several core AV receiver technologies and features. There are, however, significant differences in the overall design, goals and audio circuitry employed by the two brands. Probably the biggest difference is in the somewhat esoteric nature of the overall audio experience. How you listen to music and what moves you is by definition subjective. While neither brand is 'better' per se than the other, they do vary, and each has its own specific 'audio signature.' This is why we encourage potential owners to audition products side-by-side whenever possible. In addition, in most cases Marantz offers more analog audio and video connectivity to facilitate the use of legacy equipment, which has special appeal for a certain type of consumer."
jdwii's picture

Hey I would like to know when the newer pioneer receivers will be reviewed on would like to know if the Pioneer 522-k is the same as the 521-k in terms of audio quality. I would also like to see a review on their new elite receivers that have class D3 amps. SC-61 is only 1100$ and i'm sure by the end of this year i could probably find one for 800$ and that would be one heck of a deal.

Mark Fleischmann's picture
Michael Fremer reviewed the SC-57 and liked it a lot. I have a review sample of another SC Elite receive coming. It will be a lower price point. Look for it in a few months.
byack's picture

After hearing this compared to my current 3808ci I would have to say that Denon has slowly moved in the wrong direction. The amount of HDMI inputs and processing power is great but the amplifier efficiency isn't what it should be for this price point.

HTM_cushman_23's picture

I see that they list the component video in/outputs as 60MHz. Other AVRs I've seen have a 100MHz bandwidth for them. Is this a real limitation for HD content (I assume 1080i).

Another question: does the 2 HDMI outputs work at the same time (i.e. same input to 2 different TVs) or can you assign them to zones (i.e. zone 1 has HDMI 1 and zone 2 HDMI 2 output)? If they are the same output at same time, can one be 1080i and the other 1080p?

Mjpearce023's picture

"The two models differ markedly in power specs and have radically different feature rosters"

I see a 5 watts or so here and there but it doesn't seem to be much difference with the amps. Also the only feature the Marantz has that the Denon 3312 doesn't is 7.1 analog inputs unless there is something I am missing.

"Denon and Marantz share the same parent company as well as several core AV receiver technologies and features. There are, however, significant differences in the overall design, goals and audio circuitry employed by the two brands"

I would love to see some pictures of the 3312 and 6006 with the case off if that would possible to show what different components the Marantz and Denon are using.

"While neither brand is 'better' per se than the other, they do vary, and each has its own specific 'audio signature.' This is why we encourage potential owners to audition products side-by-side whenever possible."

Both receivers used Audyssey MultEQ XT so I don't see how these can have different sound signatures. Doesn't Audyssey use the same curve for the Denon and Marantz or are you saying Marantz has its own house Curve when running Audyssey?

Also I would love to see some Blind A/B test on your receiver reviews. I think it would be interesting to see what receivers would win in a showdown with the nameplate being visible.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

Blind A/B testing is not necessarily as straightforward or revealing as you might think. See the discussion here:

Mjpearce023's picture

I did some googling and found the pics here of the Marantz 6006 and Denon 3312 with their case off. See post #25

I still haven't figured out where the difference in sound quality would come from between the two.