The World's First 7.1-Channel A/V Receiver Revisited

Denon AVR-5800 AV Receiver The AVR-5800 may be the most iconic Denon AV receiver of all time. It debuted in 2000 to commemorate Denon's 90th anniversary and was the world's first 7.1 channel receiver, the first with DTS-ES Discrete 6.1, DTS-ES Matrix 6.1, and THX Surround EX (the forerunner of Dolby Digital Surround EX). Before the AVR-5800 arrived AV receivers, including the biggest flagship models, were all strictly 5.1 channel affairs. DTS ES and THX EX were the first six-channel codecs, with a single rear channel, but that surround channel was split to provide two rears and thus the need for 7 channel receivers. The AVR-5800 was a 7 x 170 watt design, and featured an IR and RF touch screen LCD remote, so you didn't have to point the remote towards the receiver to use it!

It was also the first receiver to sport twin Analog Devices SHARC Dual 32-bit Floating Point DSPs, which the AVR-5800 needed for the new DTS and THX codecs number crunching. The older Motorola chips that were commonly used in receivers didn't cut it anymore.

Beyond the specs and numbers it was the AVR-5800's sound quality that elevated the receiver to iconic status. Denon's Chief Engineer Hirofumi Ichikawa postponed the launch of AVR-5800 to devote extra development time to make a substantially better sounding receiver than the AVR-5700. The AVR-5800 not only had a turntable input, it shut down the receiver's digital processors when phono was selected, and the receiver had separate analog bass management circuitry for the analog inputs!

The U.S. retail price was $3,800 ($1,000 more than the AVR-5700), so it was the most expensive receiver on the market, but dealers couldn't get them fast enough, and their original allotments sold out within a few weeks. The AVR-5800 was the best selling mega receiver in the company's long history, and it went on to spawn the AVR-5803 and 5805.

Thanks go out to David Birch Jones, Denon's Marketing Manager in 2000, for helping me prepare this report.

David Vaughn's picture
I remember wanting one of these back in the day, but I ended up settling on an Onkyo TX-DS989 since I was able to score one for $2200 versus over $3k for the Denon. It was my first foray into "flagship" country and I haven't looked back since! Great write up Steve.
Jarod's picture

Indeed excellent write-up! I just love this column. I remember when this AVR came out. My local AV store was always trying to get one in but never could at least that I know of.

johny123's picture

One of this device we used on opening last year of our company devis mutuelle it’s really awesome and it’s fantastic honestly our sister company mutuelle etudiante they aske from us where did we get this gadget.

blasterdaddy's picture

When this was released my wife and I were considering separate components for our Home Theater System.

It would primarily be used for audio/video control in our home theater, and audio zone control for the rest of the house. Our first thoughts were of the cost. Who in his right mind would buy an AV receiver for almost 4 grand (in 2000). But when we started adding up what it would take to perform the same functions with the highest audio/video specs possible, the price for separate components added up to well over the 10k mark.

This device has been a work horse in our home. It rarely gets powered down because it controls our entire Homes Audio system.

Due to the advancement of Video interfaces, the unit no longer performs video switching in our system, but it really does not care what its doing, its like a timex, takes a licking and keeps on ticking.

About the only thing I can say bad about it, is if it ever fails, I can't imagine 12 years later, how much it would cost to replace it with a like product.

This is the Best Home Entertainment product we have ever purchased.