Receivers

Denon AVR-1909 7.1 A/V Receiver

ARTICLE INDEX

In Use

As shown in the photo, for evaluating the performance of the Denon I used the following configuration:

Denon AVR-1909 7.1 A/V Receiver
  • Main Speakers: Infinity Beta 50 Towers
  • Center Speaker: Infinity Beta C360
  • Surround Speaker: Infinity Beta ES250 (Bi-pole mode)
  • Subwoofer: Custom Build Isobaric Pyramid
  • Subwoofer Amplifier: Sonance Sonamp Cinema 2120 - THX Ultra rated
  • Display: Samsung LN55A950
  • Blu-Ray Player: Panasonic DMP-BD35

Theater

To best evaluate the sonic performance of the Denon AVR-1909 I limited my critical evaluation to some of the latest Blu-Ray disks and the High Definition Audio they offered. The two I chose were the Academy Award winning “Master and Commander, The Far Side of the World” in DTS-HD Master Audio and “Transformers” in Dolby TrueHD.

Denon AVR-1909 7.1 A/V ReceiverThe video of both films played flawlessly through the Denon. The video sent via HDMI at 1080p and 24 fps from the Blu-Ray player was passed correctly through to my Samsung display without issue.

The sound from both films was outstanding. The surround effects were enveloping. The creaks, groans and roar of the sea heard on the British sailing ship Surprise in Master and Commander really sucked me into the movie and was deserving of the accolades soundtrack received. While the dynamic impact I felt was great in the naval battles delivered by the Infinity Betas and Denon, the more subtle violin and cello performances of Captain Jack and the Ships doctor were still delicate and sweet.

Far from delicate and sweet were the battles in Transformers. For these we wereback to maximum impact. The opening sequence of the Decepticon attack on the army base literally shook the room.

A nice feature offered on the Denon, also courtesy of the folks at Audyssey, is Dynamic EQ and Dynamic Volume. These two features work in concert to improve sound reproduction quality at low volume levels and to attenuate large volume variations that can be present in normal programming. The typical example is the volume spike present between a television program and a commercial. I found the Dynamic EQ to be a worthwhile feature. On early morning TV watching with the volume down low, the dialog was definitely more intelligible with the feature turned on. Also, while I appreciate the volume leveling offered by the Dynamic Volume feature to keep from being blown out of my chair when Crazy Charlie hocks his latest great deal, the big swings in volume are what make watching a movie exciting…..you want that big shock when a bomb goes off!

I noted one oddity regarding the HDMI control signals (a feature on HDMI to help automate your system operation). In my system, when a disk was played through the Panasonic player, the Samsung TV was automatically powered on and set to the correct input. The Denon on the other hand, was not powered up by the very same control signal sent by the Panasonic. However, if powered on, the correct input was selected automatically on the Denon when movie playback began. This is not a huge deal of course; it is just odd since the Denon is configurable for HDMI control. The manual notes that the reciever is not controllable by HDMI but there are, apparently, exceptions.

Music

The Denon, while still quite good, was not as proficient as a two channel stereo as it was in home theater centerpiece. With only two stereo channels playing I was better able to focus on individual sound characteristics. The main musical characteristic I noticed was leanness in bass reproduction. Bass notes weren’t as powerful or as clearly defined as I had noticed previously with the Beta 50’s. I suspect this is because I am accustomed to a dedicated high power Adcom amplifier driving these particular speakers. Don’t get me wrong, the Denon still sounds fine but it doesn’t have the absolute control of the speaker that the Adcom did. This isn’t a truly fair comparison though; the Adcom Amp alone is 2-3 timesthe Denon receiver cost.

This leads me to a disappointment I had in the Denon. I always hope to find pre-amp outputs to ease the path to upgrade my amplification (or use extra stuff I have laying around). The processing power and feature list of the Denon is quite good. With what I hope to be an inexpensive addition, by offering pre-amp outputs, the Denon 1909 would be closer to an ideal receiver. The folks at Denon do offer the ability to bi-amp the front main speakers to appease my concern a bit. You can dedicate two channels of amplification to the main speaker, zone 2 amplification, or 7 channel surround.