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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Future Proof Denon Flagship Receiver
I am a Home Theater enthusiast and have owned this wonderful receiver from Denon for almost three years now. It is feature packed and is the centerpiece of our stunning home theater. You can view an online video on Youtube, entitled The Silver Screen. You may be asking why I am writing a review for a receiver that has been on the market for over three years. Well, In my...
Published on March 5, 2011 by John J. Barlow

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4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Future Proof Denon Flagship Receiver - DON'T COUNT ON IT!!!
Denon makes quality products, no problems there. BUT....

I have a Denon AVR5308 receiver I bought about 9 years ago. At the time it too was the Denon 'Flagship' model. It retailed at $4300. The main reason I ponied up the money for the unit was Denon's promise to keep up with ALL changes in audio and video formats - thus 'Future-proofing' my investment. Prior...
Published on December 31, 2011 by Blue Chimera


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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Future Proof Denon Flagship Receiver, March 5, 2011
This review is from: Denon AVR5308CI Home Theater Receiver NEWEST VERSION (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I am a Home Theater enthusiast and have owned this wonderful receiver from Denon for almost three years now. It is feature packed and is the centerpiece of our stunning home theater. You can view an online video on Youtube, entitled The Silver Screen. You may be asking why I am writing a review for a receiver that has been on the market for over three years. Well, In my title of this review i stated that this receiver is future proof, it truly is. Denon will be offering an update/upgrade for this receiver in October 2011. The upgrade will include a combination firmware and hardware upgrade that will be performed at authorized Denon service centers. The upgrade will include a hardware upgrade to the unit and will enable 3D capability. They are also upgrading the Audyssey Multi XT to Audyssey Multi XT32 including Audyssey Pro, which is the latest and greatest room correction software from Audyssey Laboratories. Also included in this upgrade will be Dolby PLZll and Audyssey DSX. So, with the forthcoming upgrade/update in October, the Denon AVR 5308CIA Receiver will be state of the art once again. Denon is supporting customers that purchased their flagship receiver and Pre/Pro by providing this upgrade. That to me, is future proof. You can read about the upcoming upgrade on Denon's website.

I have owned a slew of AV receivers over the last two and a half decades and didn't really get enthused until the newest generation of high definition receivers hit the market. By newest, I mean 1080P video and Lossless audio tracks encoded on Blu Ray Disc. A virtual quantum leap in cinema home entertainment that I had been waiting for for about 25 years. Home theater has always been fun. It started for us in 1985 when we bought our first high end television and hifi VCR. The TV was a Sony 25 inch XBR. This was the Holy Grail of televisions and we picked up a Hifi Stereo VCR from JVC. The first feature we watched on that set up was Pink Floyd's amazing feature film, The Wall. What a feast for the eyes and ears. I wish they would hurry up and release it on Blu Ray already. Around 1989 the first generation of surround sound receivers hit the market and I had to have one. Early surround sound was not that great. I mean there was no center channel and you only got two discreet surround channels but, it was progress. A couple of years later Dolby introduced Pro Logic surround with a dedicated voice center channel. Laserdisc was introduced by Pioneer. These rather large 12 inch silver discs never quite caught on.

It started getting expensive to keep up with the pace of advancements in Home Theater technology. Mid nineties, Dolby Surround and DTS surround along with the introduction of DVD, put home theater on the map for mainstream American consumers. The biggest advancement here was full frequency surround channels. DVD meant no more rewinding tapes and the picture was digital and much smoother. At this time period circa 1997, I didn't have a home theater set up and had become a high end addict. Two channels, separate pre amp and amp, tubes and a snobby vinyl enthusiast was I. Decided to delve into home theater again and placed a call to my dealer and ordered separates from Parasound, Marantz and Snell. Had fun with this for a few months and then lost interest again. It wasn't until flat screen displays and Blu Ray Disc hit the market in 2007 that I got the home theater itch again.

My 5308 arrived from Fedex in April of 2008 and Wow! What a beautiful looking receiver and built like a tank. I really appreciated the way they laid out the speaker lugs on either side in a vertical arrangement. No struggle at all to hook up 7 channels of speaker wire. These are very high quality lugs as well. Denon really had a thoughtful and well designed piece of solid audio gear here and I am not easily impressed. 6 HDMI inputs and 2 outputs. Ehernet hook up for firmware upgrade and networking features. You can connect to your home network and listen to saved music stored in your network, view videos and even listen to internet radio. There are two USB inputs for flash drives. A slew of legacy inputs that could probably accommodate every ancillary AV component I have ever owned. The remote was another story, kind of hard to setup with the GUI but, eventually after a few months navigating the remote and GUI it has become an effortless task and I can operate the remote with my eyes closed. A lot of owners really hate this remote and Denon could have done better. Many owners have opted for Universal remotes, the most popular being from Logitechs amazing line of programmable remotes.

Much has been written about the wonderful HQV Realta video processor built into the 5308. Denon has a stand alone version of this processor that the sells for 2k. The Realta will scale all video sources to 1080P. It's a wonderful processor that has received raves in the AV press. Another thoughtful inclusion is a great sounding MM phono stage for vinyl junkies and I happen to be one. Add to that, HD radio, Sirius/XM input, Ipod input, and on and on and on. Honestly, the 5308 has more features packed into it than any other receiver currently on the market.

My original set up with the 5308 consisted of Gallo Nucleus Reference Front, Left and Center speakers. The surrounds were a pair of dipole surrounds from our friends up in Canada, Totem Lynks. Totem is a high end speaker company with a line of very highly regarded speakers. For LFE I added a Sunfire True Signature sub woofer with a whopping 2700 watt built in amplifier. The Sunfire literally shook the foundation of our house. Cabling is a combination of HDMI and speaker cable from Monoprice. Monoprice offers a slew of AV wire and devices and really nifty networking components and rock bottom prices. The best value and selection of HDMI cable and as far as I'm concerned they have the competition beat. My sub woofer cable is from another specialty cable maker called Blue Jeans cable. The best sounding sub woofer cable I have heard and is value priced. Blu Ray playback is from the Denon DVD2500 BTCI Blu Ray Transport. They don't make this player any more but, you can find them slightly used and at a great discount from Audiogon and a few other online sellers. I've seen this piece as low as $250 on Audiogon. I paid a whopping $1000. for mine. It had just been released and was very hard to find one. I bought one from a local retailer at full price. No regrets and I still use it today. The 2500 is a disc transport only and the video and audio processing the raw bitstream signal is sent to the receiver and all processing tasks are performed by the 5308. I've got a Directv HR21 DVR and a Roku internet streaming box for streaming Netflix videos and a few other internet providers such as Vimeo and Amazon to name just a couple. There are many different streaming devices available in the market place. The Roku is very popular and their flagship HD XR can be had for $100, which is a great value. My Turntable is a Linn Basik with a Linn Akito tonearm and a pretty nice sounding Linn MM cartridge and stylus. Display is a Sony KDL52XBR4 52 inch flat panel 1080P.

After connecting the speaker system I peformed the Audessey Multi XT automated room correction with the supplied microphone. I suggest using a camera tripod for this operation. You can get an inexpensive one at camera retailers or a big box store like Best Buy. The Audessey Multi XT Allows for calibration of up to 8 seating positions, you must do a minimum of 3. I recommend doing all 8 as you will have a better sounding result. The room must be silent for this set up or the calibration will fail to have an optimum result. Make sure that there is nothing blocking the path from your speakers to the microphone as this will skew the result. Make sure the microphone as at the exact height to where the seated persons ear would be. Once you complete the calibration you can store and save the information.

Finally on to the review. Turn everything on and lets check out the video. Directv HR21 TBS broadcast of Law and Order. Scaling a 1080i signal and converting it to 1080P, In a word, WOW!. The XBR4 is an amazing display on it's own. With the Realta processor set to full function and this displays already amazing picture quality is even more refined, with deeper blacks and a much smoother picture with an incredible amount of depth. It was as if the performers on the set were in the room with me. Motion is smooth but, not artificial looking, the picture had a stunning film like quality. Blu Ray disc playback is where the 5308 really shines. Picture quality is absolutely beautiful. Lossless audio tracks from Dolby True Hd and DTS HD Master Audio are breathtaking. Twenty five years and finally digital audio is on a par with the finest of analog sound that in my opinion has never before been attainable. I could finally listen to digital playback and get the naturalness that until now, I could only attain from vinyl playback through very expensive tube audio gear. The sound was enveloping, transparent and open. Orchestral music soundtracks were full bodied with front to back depth. I could pick out instruments that had their own space within the sound scape. Events occurring on the screen correlated perfectly and the speakers worked magically in a coherent manner creating an auditory illusion that events on the screen were actually occurring within the boundaries of the theater. My favorite film to perform demos is Master And Commander Far Side of the World. Those cannon shots literally knock people of my couch, they sound so darn real. The result of this is that you the viewer feel as though you are right there and the events that are occurring are really happening in the theater. Finally, I can enjoy at home, what until now, was only possible at the best movie houses.

I have about 15 or so music concerts and music videos on Blu Ray and they are absolutely outstanding. Some of the live concert Blu Rays I have are just amazing to listen to. One such example is a Blu Ray concert performance from the British Progressive rock group Porcupine Tree. It was recorded at a live venue in Europe while the video was great, the audio was astonishingly good. I've seen this group live three times and honest to God the Blu Ray experience is so close to real it's scary. Gavin Harrisons drum kit in particular, the kick drum that you can feel pounding in your chest. The thwack from the snare drum. Dynamics are outstanding, probably the best concert video I have ever seen and heard.

On to the audio side, CD playback from the 2500 streamed to the 5308 is terrific with the 5308 performing the heavy lifting because the 2500 merely transport the raw signal to the 5308 where it is processed and sent to listener via the speakers. I listen to my rather large (4000) vinyl record collection and spin the records on my Linn turntable. The 5308 has a Direct 2 channel option that bypasses the digital processor of the 5308 so you are just listening to the pure audio signature of the component you have chosen.

I'm going to conclude for now and will probably edit and ad some more info on this wonderful receiver very soon. I highly recommend this receiver that sits atop Denon's wonderful line of AV receivers. With the upcoming upgrade which will be available this fall, the 5308 will be state of the art for years to come. I have been using this receiver for close to three years now and am still totally stoked by it. I has enhanced our cinematic experience in our household dramatically.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am not dissapointed!, October 26, 2009
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This review is from: Denon AVR5308CI Home Theater Receiver NEWEST VERSION (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I have a Denon 4306 that sounds good to me. In my opinion the 5308CI is in another league. The sound is cleaner at both higher and lower volumes. It has all the connectivity that I need. 6 Hdmi's in and 2 out. Has the legacy connections too. It produces a great picture via the onboard video processor. The GUI was a step forward compared to the 4306. I don't think I will need a receiver for quite some time. This is a receiver I'm glad I got a chance to experience. I love Amazon and (Prime).Denon AVR5308CI Home Theater Receiver NEWEST VERSION
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12 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Denon AVR-5308CI, January 9, 2010
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This review is from: Denon AVR5308CI Home Theater Receiver NEWEST VERSION (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
The Denon receiver was delivered as advertised except the dealer delayed shipment for 5 days. The product was in perfect condition and has performed excellently. Denon's documentation, as with most technically complex products, is difficult to use if you are not "on the same page" with the industry vocabulary. Identifying what is possible with the main remote, then learning how to program the remote, and finally, learning to use it optimally are a real challenge that Denon apparently is not concerned about.
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11 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Receiver Money Can Buy, June 8, 2009
This review is from: Denon AVR5308CI Home Theater Receiver NEWEST VERSION (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
This receiver has it all - features and performance of the highest level.

I've used all types of setup - pre-pros + amps, integrated amps (3 for 5.1) , stereo preamps (3 for 5.1) + amps, and receivers.

How do they all compare?

Acurus 200x3 amps, Acurus RL11 preamp, Emotiva MPS2 amp, Outlaw Pre-pro, Pioneer Pre-pro, Denon Pre-pro, Denon PMA2000IVR integrate amps Vs. Denon AVR-5308CI:

When you bypass the DSPs and Tones and EQs, all amps, preamps, pre-pros, receivers ALL SOUND THE SAME as long as you have enough power (no clipping, distortion > 1%, etc.). It's been proven via double-blinded studies.

The only negative thing I can say about this receiver is the WiFi, which sucks for me. I have to use the ethernet cable because for some reasons, I could not get the WiFi on this receiver to connect.

Other than that, it's a great receiver, and it will sound just as great as any separates from Denon, Anthem, Lexicon, Krell, Mark Levinson, etc.
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4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Future Proof Denon Flagship Receiver - DON'T COUNT ON IT!!!, December 31, 2011
By 
Blue Chimera (Daly City, CA, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Denon AVR5308CI Home Theater Receiver NEWEST VERSION (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
Denon makes quality products, no problems there. BUT....

I have a Denon AVR5308 receiver I bought about 9 years ago. At the time it too was the Denon 'Flagship' model. It retailed at $4300. The main reason I ponied up the money for the unit was Denon's promise to keep up with ALL changes in audio and video formats - thus 'Future-proofing' my investment. Prior to buying the Denon I had a Sony 5.1 Receiver. 3 months after I bought it ($1300) they came out with 7.1 surround.

This is the bane of the audiophile, and if your willing to put up the money for the Denon AVR5308CI you almost certainly are one. You KNOW that better formats - both audio and video - are going to come out sooner or later. And you REALLY don't want to put out another $5000 to get those new formats.

I figured with the Denon, I wouldn't have that problem. I was SO WRONG. Denon NEVER came out with any upgrades for this model (except for a upgrade to Dolby IIx, which was already in the unit I bought), despite their "Future Proof" written ad assuring the customer that they would.

Moving from 1.3a HDMI to 1.4a HDMI is probably a simple firmware upgrade. Probably the same with the audio module, or a simple swap of chips.

Wait till they have to restructure the back plane of the unit for the next latest, greatest format. Then see if they come out with an upgrade. If they do great; if they don't you'll probably feel as mad and betrayed as I do.

---------------UPDATE 1-24-12-----------------

A couple of people sent me messages that the update for my system is now available. I want to thank JwG and Evelyn Haddad for their time and effort.

However, the available update is for the AVR5803CI System Not the AVR5803 system. Still, and almost certainly, because Denon considers this a "legacy" product, no upgrades available.
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13 of 39 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars poor quality control, February 6, 2010
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This review is from: Denon AVR5308CI Home Theater Receiver NEWEST VERSION (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
this denon avr was on my wishlist for quite some time before getting up enough money thru working overtime, finally able to afford to purchase it. connections from my other components into this were simple because my equipment is all hdmi at this point. going thru the set-up even after having read the book was not easy- had to keep going back to the manual to configure a subwoofer and how/where to bi-wire my front speakers and so on. truth is im usually comfortable computers and electronics in general, but expect to spend some time getting this up and running. The worst part of the day was when things were finnally comming together and i was ready to enjoy........the center channel just makes a soft crackling NOISE. switched the speaker out for another....same NOISE. tried swapping out the speaker wire same NOISE! (using 12g monster cable) i purchased this avr5308ci from DIGITAL PLAZA thru amazon $4,600+++from the other end of the country. last purchase from denon, and last purchase for any expensive from amazon. GO local!
bob a. from massachusetts
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