Denon Pre-CEDIA Preview

Last week, Denon invited their dealers and members of the press to the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Laguna Nigel, California, for a sneak peek at the new products they will be launching at next month's CEDIA Expo. On hand were new AV receivers, DVD players, and two all-in-one systems designed to complement flat-panel displays.

There are a total of eight new AV receivers in the line; focusing on the higher-end models, we have the AVR-4806 ($3500, 140Wpc into 8Ω:, shipping now), AVR-4306 ($1999, 130Wpc, October), and AVR-3806 ($1299, 120Wpc, September). All offer seven discrete amp channels, automatic or manual room equalization with Audyssey MultEQ and an included microphone, DenonLink 3 digital inputs for DVD-Audio and SACD from certain Denon players, video upconversion (including conversion from analog to HDMI), and XM satellite radio capabilities. The 4806 and 4306 also provide an Ethernet port, which now allows firmware upgrades as well as access to PC-based content and Internet radio. It also lets you connect an Escient Fireball media server and control it from the receiver. Finally, the 4306 sports a dedicated iPod connector as well as a USB port for other MP3 players.

New for 2005 are seven DVD players, ranging in price from $149 to $3500. Four of these provide HDMI outputs with Faroudja DCDi processing, including the DVD-1920 universal player ($349, shipping now). The 1920, along with the DVD-2910 ($699, now) and DVD-3910 ($1499, now), also offers bass management for multichannel DVD-Audio signals carried by HDMI (SACD is not sent via HDMI), and all three upconvert DVDs to 480p, 720p, or 1080i from the HDMI output. The 3910 also features DenonLink 3, which can carry DVD-A and SACD digital signals.

The Denon reps were perhaps most proud of two new S-Series home entertainment systems, which are stylishly designed to complement a flat-panel display in a small room. The S-301 ($1599, 70Wpc, 140W sub, August) and S-101 ($999, 50Wpc, 100W sub, available now) both combine an AV receiver, DVD player, and a 2.1 speaker system with mounting hardware and Dolby Virtual Speaker to simulate 5.1 surround sound. The watchword for these systems is simplicity, with color-coded cables and polarized connectors, a quick setup sheet that starts by telling you how to unfold it, 1-key operation, and a simple user interface with a help menu.

The S-301 is quite impressive, with the guts of a DVD-2910 universal player inside. Also featured is Faroudja DCDi processing and an HDMI output with scaling to 480p, 720p, or 1080i. In a nod to the ubiquity of MP3 players, the S-301 provides a USB port as well as a proprietary iPod connector complete with a cable that carries control and audio signals, which means you can control the iPod from the S-301 remote; in fact, the iPod interface is replicated on the video screen. The cable also allows the S-301 to charge the iPod's battery. In addition to playing music, you can view JPEGs from an iPod Photo on the video display.