Denon AVR-4308CI A/V Receiver

With nearly 100 years of history behind it, Denon Electronics has high standards for any product it releases. The company is particularly strong in AVRs (audio/video receivers), with products ranging from the budget class all the way up to high-end models surpassing the $5000 mark.

The AVR-4308CI is situated between the AVR-3808CI and the flagship AVR-5308CI. With a price tag of $2499, it's $900 more that the AVR-3808CI, but nearly $2000 less than the AVR-5308CI.

Comparing the specs of these models, the AVR-4308CI has much more in common with the AVR-3808CI than the more expensive model, but with a few more bells and whistles. This begs the question, "Is there enough here to justify the price difference compared to its smaller sibling?" Let's see...

The AVR-4308CI has pretty much everything you would want in an AVR, including an iPod dock (which requires an optional accessory), HD Radio, and XM satellite radio. It can send A/V signals (S-video or composite video, analog line-level or speaker-level audio) to a second remote zone, and line-level audio to a third zone, all from independently selected sources. A fourth zone can receive digital audio from one of the optical outputs, which simply passes whatever is coming into the corresponding digital audio input.

Then there's something new°WiFi 802.11b and g. For those who prefer their network wired, there is an Ethernet port as well. Either way, you can play music files from a PC or DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) server, with support for AAC, WMA (lossless included), MP3, FLAC, and WAV audio files. You can also access JPEG photos on your networked PC and control the system remotely. The Internet capability also provides access to over 7000 Internet radio stations. For those who don't have a home network, a USB port on the front and rear of the unit lets you connect a USB storage device for audio and photo playback, though only one of these ports can be active at a time.

For the last a couple of years, some Denon AVRs have included the Audyssey system, which helps automatically compensate for troublesome room acoustics. The AVR-4308CI includes Audyssey's latest version of MultEQ XT with a new microphone, which is touted to provide more accurate measurements. Also included is the new ALFC (Adaptive Low Frequency Correction) algorithm for higher resolution processing in the low-frequency band.

Another technology that carries over into the current lineup is called AL24. This DSP algorithm reproduces analog waveforms from digital PCM sources while suppressing the quantization noise to which conventional D/A conversion is prone. The AVR-4308CI includes the latest iteration of this technology, called Advanced AL24, which can be applied to all channels. By contrast, the AVR-3808CI provides the previous-generation AL24+ for the front right and left channels only.

As with pretty much every receiver these days, The AVR-4308CI includes video processing°in this case, Faroudja's well-regarded DCDi. It can process any video signal, digital or analog, up to a full 1080p output. It can even process 480i via HDMI (last year's models couldn't) and pass 1080p/24 signals from HD DVD and Blu-ray players.

As you would expect from an AVR in this price class, the specs are pretty impressive. For example, it will decode DTS-HD Master Audio as well as Dolby Digital Plus and TrueHD, which I was particularly interested in testing. THX certification is strangely lacking, which doesn't necessarily mean a lack of quality, but it does tend to provide some peace of mind that the AVR has passed some pretty rigorous testing.