From the Manufacturer Denon has long been one of the elite names in home theater receivers, offering a combination of advanced technologies and user-friendly features that transform even the most mundane listening rooms into rich, powerful audio environments. Now Denon sets the reference standard for sound and video quality with the AVR-5308CI A/V receiver, which is packed with all the latest technologies to produce the ultimate home theater experience. In addition to the many standard features people have come to expect from Denon receivers, the company adds such forward-looking details as THX Ultra2 certification; Denon's legendary DDSC-HD surround sound decoding with no less than three high-speed DSP processors; HDMI v1.3a digital video inputs that bring with them the latest high-definition audio formats, including Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby True HD, and DTS-HD Master Audio; and video upconversion all the way up to 1080p via the top-performing Realta HQV video processor. And that's just the tip of the iceberg, as the AVR-5308CI also offers versatile multizone functionality, including independent high-definition and standard-definition outputs, and network connectivity through your Ethernet or Wi-Fi network.
Under the Hood: Component Technology
With a power output of 150 watts per channel, the AVR-5308CI multizone 7.1 receiver can handle most audio applications.
The AVR-5308CI offers a power output of 150 watts per channel, but adds a number of engineering advancements to get the most out of the technology. One of the most significant--7-Channel Equal Power--lets you connect seven speakers independently without connecting individual power amps via pre-outs. That's because the AVR-5308CI comes with a built-in internal amplifier for each speaker in your collection, along with five individual transformers that supply power to each discrete circuit. The all-new circuit layouts, meanwhile, shorten the audio and video signal paths to produce the best possible picture and sound. Finally, the receiver's Dynamic Discrete Surround Circuit (DDSC) optimizes all the elements of the three 32-bit floating-point digital sound processors through the use of discrete high-performance components, including separate Burr-Brown audio digital-to-analog converters on all output channels.
The receiver also offers a series of escalating AL24 Processing enhancements. Denon's original AL24 Processing technology was designed to faithfully duplicate some of the delicate nuances of analog music in digital form, a technology that's particularly effective among next-generation media with ultra-high bit and sampling rates. The results sound particularly good when music quietly fades away or starts again following silence, helping the listener detect some of the low-level details. AL24 Processing Plus upped the ante by supporting the 192 kHz sampling frequency of DVD-Audio. Denon followed with Advanced AL24 DSP and AL24 Multi Processing, which further increased the dynamic range and spatial information among high-resolution stereo PCM and multichannel sources.
The receiver also includes High-Definition-Compatible Digital (HDCD), an encoding/decoding technology that encodes with 20 bits of real musical information--as compared with 16 bits for all other CDs--thereby greatly reducing distortion. This creates a better dynamic range, a more-focused three-dimensional soundstage, and extremely natural vocal and musical timbres. And from a video perspective, the AVR-5308CI offers several valuable essentials: progressive scan technology, which processes approximately twice as much video data to produce a sharper, noise-free image with finer details; DCDi video processing, which employs advanced algorithms to remove the jagged edges that appear when standard interlaced video is viewed on progressive scan displays; and 10-bit Realta HQV video processing, which accurately upconverts video signals up to 1080p resolution while also offering Deep Color support and multi-cadence detection.
Diverse Sound Modes
As with the best surround receivers, the AVR-5308CI is capable of reproducing a host of 5.1-, 6.1-, and 7.1-channel audio formats, with several processing technologies layered over the top. In addition to providing standard Dolby Digital, DTS, and Pro Logic II formats, the receiver also supports Pro Logic IIx, which allows 5.1-channel sources to be played in up to 7.1 channels; the expanded multichannel capabilities of DTS 96/24, Neo:6 Surround, and DTS-ES Extended Surround, all of which improve the digital surround impression for 5.1 or 6.1 channels; and dts-HD and Dolby True HD, which boost the maximum sampling frequency (up to 96 kHz) and faithfully reproduce the sound of the studio master on up to 7.1 channels.
To assist with film soundtracks, the receiver offers a Cinema Equalizer that corrects for the placement of your speakers vs. the way they're placed in the movie theater. Theaters that locate their front speakers behind the movie screen tend to emphasize the high frequencies, which can sound too strong in a home with a conventional surround setup. Denon amplifiers adjust the high-frequency range so that the sound is cleaner and easier to listen to than uncorrected audio. Listeners can also improve the image detail of their audio sources using Neural Surround technology. This audio breakthrough--which is 100-percent compatible with stereo--offers superior spectral resolution and channel separation, thereby drawing the brain's attention to the sonic details in musical instruments, vocals, and ambience that are typically masked by other playback systems. This allows the listener to fully experience the richness and subtleties in recorded performance as never before. Neural Surround is the chosen format for XM satellite radio's XM HD surround programming.
Perhaps the most significant audio enhancement, however, is the receiver's THX Ultra2 certification. The THX Ultra2 Cinema mode produces the appropriate sound field effects when 5.1-channel movie sources are played in a 7.1 system, helping accurately re-create a theater-type sound in a conventional home listening environment. The AVR-5308CI works by widening the rear soundstage, which effectively makes the side speakers play ambient sounds and the surround back speakers play directional sounds. There's no better way to immerse your ears in a rich, powerful, nuanced surround sound environment. Likewise, the THX Ultra2 Music mode produces appropriate sound field effects for Dolby Digital, DTS, and other 5.1-channel music sources when played in a 7.1-channel system.
The AVR-5308CI offers 6 HDMI inputs, 2 HDMI outputs, and a host of other connectivity options.
Modern A/V receivers are increasingly designed for multi-room listening, and the AVR-5308CI is no exception. The four-zone, multisource system--which supports three analog and one digital source--lets you select different audio sources for listening in different locations, letting you simultaneously listen to the DVD player in the main room, the iPod in the bedroom, and XM radio in the kitchen, for example. The receiver also supports such multizone extras as a Zone 2 onscreen display, which lets you view the playback details of a second audio source through your TV; dual HDMI outputs for connecting to multiple TVs; an independent Zone 2 component output; and both digital-to-analog and analog-to-digital conversion for multizone output.
The AVR-5308CI is also capable of connecting to your PC's wired or wireless network via its built-in Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity. This lets you play back the MP3, WMA, AAC, FLAC, or WAV files stored on your computer's hard drive, access Internet radio stations, or play back JPEG photo slideshows. To make iPod playback easier, you can connect the receiver to Denon's separately sold ASD-1R iPod docking station, which charges and controls your iPod through the receiver's display.
Other user-friendly features include an EL touchpanel remote control, which offers an electroluminescent display similar to the technology employed by LCD backlights; built-in HD Radio; XM satellite radio compatibility (requires a subscription and an optional plug-and-play XM antenna); two-way remote capability; an attractive GUI with an onscreen display; and a night mode for neighbor-friendly listening.
Connectivity and Setup
The AVR-5308CI offers a host of inputs and outputs for connecting to diverse audio and video sources. The most significant is HDMI v1.3a, the digital interface standard for next-generation TV. With the receiver's six HDMI inputs and two HDMI monitor outputs, you can easily connect to such devices as HDTVs, DVD players, video game consoles, and cable and satellite boxes, each through a single cable that handles both high-definition video and multichannel audio signals. HDMI is also compatible with High-bandwidth Digital Contents Protection (HDCP), a technology for protecting copyrights that encrypts digital video signals. If your components don't offer HDMI outputs, you still have plenty of options, however, as the receiver also offers six component inputs, eight S-video and eight composite inputs, 11 total digital audio inputs (five optical, four coaxial, and two coaxial BNC), an Ethernet port, and two USB ports, among many others.
Audiophiles will dig the Denon Link jack, which is far less susceptible to radiated noise than coaxial or unbalanced cables. The Denon Link interface can transfer high-grade LPCM 24-bit, 192 kHz two-channel and 96 kHz, 24-bit multichannel digital output. The receiver also lets you input multichannel audio signals, whether in high-definition MUSE 3-1, SACD, or DVD-Audio formats, via the eight-channel input. Made using eight standard RCA cables--one each for front left, front right, center, surround left, surround right, surround back left, surround back right, and subwoofer--the eight-channel input receives discrete analog audio signals via a digital source such as a DVD player, creating an immersive multichannel audio performance.
Setting up the AVR-5308CI is easier than ever thanks to Denon's Audyssey technologies. Audyssey Equalized was the first technology to properly measure sound information throughout a listening area, and then combine the information to accurately represent the acoustic problems in the room. Based on these measurements, Audyssey calculates an equalization solution that corrects for both time and frequency response problems. Denon also employs Audyssey MultEQ XT technology, which automatically determines how many loudspeakers are connected, whether they are connected in phase, and whether they are satellites or subwoofers. After processing, it then analyzes all the physical details--speaker level, size, and distance--and determines the correct frequency response for up to eight listener positions simultaneously. It's a must for people who want to get the most out of their surround systems.
The AVR-5308CI is compatible with the following Denon accessories.
- The Denon ASD-3N iPod/network connectivity dock
- The Denon ASD-3W iPod/network connectivity dock with WiFi
- The Denon AK-HM100 HDMI cable
- The Denon RC-7000CI two-way remote control