Denon AVR-4810CI A/V Receiver Page 2

On the back panel are five more HDMI inputs and two outputs, plus enough component video jacks to bump the AVR’s HDTV-friendliness to a grand total of nine inputs and four outputs. I’d love to see snapshots of a system that uses all of them. There are three subwoofer outputs, but I didn’t explore this feature. Other connectivity goodies include phono, Sirius, XM—and even more interesting, an Ethernet jack and a WLAN antenna input. The latter is also present one model down (in the AVR-4308CI, $2,699) but not two models down (in the AVR-4310CI, $1,999). Thus the receiver can perform a variety of networked audio tricks through either a wired or wireless connection.

Adventures with Wi-Fi
It took me about 20 minutes to set up the Wi-Fi connection, but it was worth it. I screwed the supplied rod antenna onto the AVR’s WLAN port. Like many networked devices, this one can connect automatically or manually. I picked the automatic option, found my router’s security scheme among the three choices given, and the AVR recognized my router. Then I keyed in the router’s password with the remote, OK’d media sharing on the PC, and stepped into networked nirvana.

The AVR-4810CI’s coolest trick is operation through the Web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari) of a network-connected computer (Windows or Mac). This was easy. I looked up the AVR’s numeric Web address in its Network Info menu, typed the number into the Web browser’s address bar, and bingo. The AVR’s main Web menu has four big colored buttons for MainZone, Zone2, Zone3, and Zone4 Control, plus Setup Menu, PDA Menu, and Web Controller Configuration. Although the interface is slightly different in structure from the GUI, it was easier to use because it put more options on the screen. For instance, it listed all of the inputs as icons on a single screen. I loved grabbing the volume bar with the mouse and dragging it from soft to loud. The only hard part was getting back to the AVR’s home page—the Denon logo in the upper-left-hand corner didn’t function as a home-page link.

Streaming works with the Windows Media Player 11 in XP and Vista, WMP 12 in Windows 7, or iTunes via TwonkyMedia Server on PC or Mac. Both networked and USB-connected functions are grouped under the input name NET/USB. Networked audio menu options include Favorites, Internet Radio, Media Server, Napster, and Rhapsody. USB will also appear if a compatible device is plugged into a USB input. In the Internet Radio menu, I found a useful list of my local stations and several search options, including Search Podcast. I picked a buoyant Latin station, then looked in the Media Server menu, where the single listed item was my Lenovo ThinkCentre A61e Windows XP desktop PC. Options under the PC were Music, Pictures, and Playlists.

As the Internet station continued to play, I tried the Pictures function. Like other networked devices I’ve tried, this one didn’t detect my Pictures folder, but it found the PC’s official My Pictures folder. With an official limit of 3,000 by 2,000 pixels, the AVR handily loaded pictures shot with a 5-megapixel camera and left unedited. It took 10 seconds due to the file size; smaller files would likely have moved faster. Initially the 4:3 images were horizontally stretched to 16:9. I couldn’t adjust them from the TV, but a dive into the Aspect Ratio submenu fixed that.

As the last picture remained on the screen, I navigated to Media Server/Music, which readily found the music stored in the PC’s Music folder. This pleased me because I prefer that folder to the Windows-approved My Music folder. Through its front USB port, the AVR couldn’t recognize two well-stuffed external hard drives (formatted NTFS and FAT), although it could recognize a FAT-formatted thumb drive, which showed both an album folder and a few loose tracks outside the folder.

In general, it took me longer to master the AVR-4810CI than most AVRs I’ve used, and I needed some hand-holding during the process. This was partly a function of the ambitious feature roster—there is usually a trade-off between the number of features and ease of operation. It’s also partly because I am, like many consumers, sometimes a doofus.

Prelude to Disc Spinning
Associated gear for the disc-driven movie and music demos included five Paradigm Reference Studio 20 v4 speakers driven full range, four Paradigm Cinema 70 v3 speakers, Panasonic DMP-BD35 Blu-ray player, Integra DPS-10.5 universal player, Luxman PD-189 turntable, Shure V97xE cartridge, and Bellari VP530 tube phono preamp. I tried the phono input on the last Denon AVR I reviewed and found it a little crude, so I preferred the Bellari preamp.

Since Audyssey DSX won’t work with a manual setup, I ran the Audyssey MultEQ XT auto setup and room correction program. That didn’t bother me; MultEQ XT is one of the few auto setups I trust. It correctly identified the five larger speakers as full range and the four smaller ones as having limited bass response. It even pointed out that the right width speaker was operating out of phase. I corrected the problem.

This is the second time I’ve used Audyssey DSX. However, thanks to the AVR’s nine amp channels, this is the first time I’ve used width and height enhancement simultaneously. Having spent much of my career railing against back surrounds, I didn’t feel duty-bound to use that option.

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