Receivers

Denon AVR-4308CI 7.1 Receiver

ARTICLE INDEX

Introduction

Over a year ago at the 2007 CES, I was quite excited to have a chance to visit Denon's suite in the hopes of seeing their new line of A/V receivers.  At the time, no company had yet released receivers that supported all the new HD audio codecs from Dolby and DTS, HDMI 1.3a, and other highly anticipated updates.  Unfortunately, Denon's display only showed prototypes, and not actually any production models.

The prototypes did pique my interest, however.  They did, in fact, include the aforementioned features.  As the year went on, and summer approached, Home Theater enthusiasts throughout the Internet were abuzz with speculation on release dates and final product specs.  Delays did push the release of many of these receivers back until late summer and early fall, but clearly, it was worth the wait.  Such is the case with Denon's excellent AVR-4308CI receiver.

The 4308CI is the second iteration of a new entry in the Denon AVR family.  The preceding 4306 was introduced a couple of years ago to fill the large gap between the 380x and 480x series.  This line  included many of the more advanced home theater and custom installation features found in the 480x series, but kept the price closer to the 380x series, necessarily filling that void.

So, it was with great enthusiasm on the day my review unit arrived that I unpacked the 42 pound receiver and put it in my rack.  Denon did a nice job with the product design this year.  They added some attractive curves to the front bezel, making it look more modern.  As with all of Denon's high end receivers, most of the controls found on the front of the unit are hidden behind a drop down door just under the display.  I connected all of my gear to the unit easily, as the back panel is well laid out.  I was happy to see the gold-plated A/V connections, and that there were not one, but two HDMI outputs.  As a unit designed for custom installers, the multi-zone capabilities of the 4308CI are quite appealing.  You have the ability to configure up to four separate zones, three of which can make use of the receiver's own amplifiers.  This is why I was excited to see a second HDMI output.  Having the ability to distribute two different sources via HDMI is a boon for this market.  Some other connectors of note are those for HD Radio, Ethernet, a WiFi antenna, Denon Link, RS232C, USB, iPod dock, and XM Radio, thus showing that the 4308CI is as feature rich as any receiver out there.

Specifications

  • Codecs: Everything, Including High Definition Movie Soundtrack Codecs
  • Amplifier: 140 Watts x 7 into 8 Ohms
  • HDMI Connections: Four 1.3 Inputs; Two Outputs (There Are Also Plenty of the Other Standard Inputs and Outputs)
  • DACs: Burr-Brown PCM-1791; 24/192
  • 1080p Upscaling
  • Wi-Fi and Ethernet Connectivity
  • Audyssey MultEq XT Room Eq with up to Eight Position Setup
  • Accepts 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, and 1080p60, 1080p24
  • Dimensions: 7.7" H x 17.1" W x 17.9" D
  • Weight: 42 Pounds
  • MSRP: $2,499 USA
  • Denon

The GUI

I fired the 4308 up and was greeted by the highly acclaimed new graphical user interface (GUI).  This is one area that Denon has made a revolutionary leap.  Gone are the days of the simple white text on black background that inhabited the Denon receivers of old, giving way to a stylish new GUI.  Upon hitting the menu button on the remote, you are greeted with a colorful, graphic filled display.  At the top of the screen lies the title bar, telling you the current location in the menu system.  To the left, there is a bar with icons signifying their menu function (for example, there are a set of tools for the setup menu).  The remainder of the screen is devoted to the selectable options or sub-menus that are associated with the current heading.  The menu system is hierarchical, so each time you select an option, the menu shifts to the right, making the sidebar then scroll through the sub-options of the previous selection.  It is a rather elegant menu tree, with nearly all the options categorized as you would expect.

Your main options are for manual and automatic setup, source select, surround parameters, information about the current receiver settings, and general adjustments for the audio and video outputs of the receiver.  I used the excellent Audyssey MultiEQ XT setup program to tune the speaker settings.  This tool, coupled with the Denon GUI is easy to use, yet powerful.  It will provide a visual representation of the speaker layout as you turn speakers on and off.  You can run the level calibration for up to eight different listening positions; and the more you do, the more accurate the outcome should be.  I have used this application on other receivers in the past, and have always been quite impressed with the results, including in this instance.  The only thing I needed to adjust was the speaker size, as it set my front speakers to “Large”, and the crossover settings (I wanted all of my speakers set to the 80 Hz standard crossover level)  Other than that, the distances and levels were spot on.