Denon AVR-2309CI 7.1 A/V Receiver


Design, Setup and Calibration

Unpacking the receiver, I found it to be of solid build quality, as all Denons are; not too heavy nor too light, checking in at just over 27 pounds. I seated it in my rack, and connected everything up. The AVR-2309CI has 4 HDMI input ports, which allowed me to connect my satellite receiver, my PS3, my HD-DVD player (maybe I should start referring to it as my DVD player that happens to play HD-DVDs?), and my Xbox 360.

Unlike the AVR-689 I reviewed previously for this publication, this model does indeed accept audio via HDMI, so no further optical or coaxial digital cables were required. The speaker terminals run centered along the bottom of the back panel. Rounding out my connections were my Apple Airport Express, which plugged into my CD input, a Nintendo Wii, which plugged into one of the three component video inputs, and my newest addition, the SlingCatcher, which also used a set of component inputs.

Next, I powered on the receiver and began assigning and naming my source inputs. The AVR-2309CI employs an on-screen display, but unfortunately it is of the old Denon variety – no colors or fancy graphics here! For each source, I assigned the appropriate HDMI or component video input. I found that it was even possible to use both HDMI and component for a single source so that if you were to have more components than available source selections, you could “double-up” a given source. Here’s my real-world use for this capability.

The AVR-2309CI has 5 source selections that can be assigned video inputs: HDP, Video Aux, TV/Cable, VCR, and DVD. As I mentioned above, I have six total sources that play video. So what am I to do? Simply not use one of those sources? The AVR-2309CI, while limited in sources, can still allow me to utilize all six devices. For the HDP input, I assigned HDMI3, Coaxial 1 (digital audio), and component video input 2. Physically, I had my PS3 connected to HDMI3 and my SlingCatcher connected to component video 2 and coax audio 1. Using the HDP input I now had access to both devices, depending upon which one was powered on.

The HDMI input always takes precedence however, so if both source components are on at the same time, the PS3 would be the source I would see and hear. This turned out to be a surprisingly useful and appreciated feature. When coupled with the use of my Logitech Harmony 880 remote control, I could use either device very simply with the press of a button.

Next, I renamed all of my sources to more closely match what I actually had plugged into them. I have always liked the ability to custom label my inputs, however, I have never enjoyed the actual task of “typing” the labels in. As is the case in nearly every receiver I have tested, I had to patiently scroll through the alphanumeric characters (both upper and lower case) to spell out the label. The obvious benefit, however, is that after the tedium is done, you have a custom touch that really adds to the personalization of your system. It may not be much, but darn it, I like seeing Xbox 360 on the front panel instead of V. AUX!

With all inputs configured and verified to be working properly, I moved on to calibration using the Audyssey MultEQ setup wizard. I placed the calibration microphone in my three main listening positions and ran the test tones. Calibration proceeded very much as it did with the AVR-689. It got just about everything correct, save for the front channels (it picked large), and the crossover settings of the surrounds (it set them at 90Hz), and fronts (it set them at 60Hz).

The 2309CI can increment speaker distances down to the tenth of the foot, and except for the subwoofer distance, which I did have to adjust, the other speaker distances were quite accurate.

Once the auto-calibration has been completed, you have the option of using one of the MultEQ room equalization settings, which are bypass L/R, Audyssey, and flat. The bypass L/R (or what often is referred to as the front curve) optimizes the room correction for all speakers except the front left and right. The Audyssey selection uses the data from the auto-calibration to generate equalization to optimize the sound for the room itself. The flat setting tries to create a totally flat response based on the same data.

I tested several of my favorite movie passages, such as the lobby scene from The Matrix, the opera scene from The Fifth Element, and the first Reaver scene from Serenity, and as has been the case in the past, I preferred the Audyssey setting. My main listening room in my current home is not an ideal theater space, so this feature is highly useful.