Denon AVR-2309CI 7.1 A/V Receiver



Audio Performance

Denon has brought quite a bit to the table in terms of audio with this receiver. Rated at 100 watts per channel, the 2309CI had plenty of power at reference level during my testing (although I would not normally keep it that loud!). The noise floor was considerably lower than it had been with the AVR-689, which brought out more detail in all of the classical music I threw at it. The richness of the DTS surround track found on the Fellowship of the Ring was handled perfectly by the 2309CI. While in the Midgewater Marshes, the insects buzzing behind my ears sounded very real. Any scene which featured the eerie voices in Frodo’s head was a treat for the ears.

I also did quite a bit of listening to the excellent Pandora streaming service, using a great application called Airfoil to capture the audio on my computer and send it to the Airport Express. I realize that this is not necessarily the highest fidelity source to test with, but the challenge of making digital music sound good is one which any receiver worthy of consideration ought to succeed at. The 2309CI definitely did. The receiver additionally has a “restorer” function which is supposed to increase the quality of lossy digital music, such as MP3s. Personally I did not find much difference when engaging these modes, although I have to admit I encode my digital music at no less than 192KHz with the highest quality settings when I do so. The bottom line here is that the AVR-2309CI performed spectacularly when it came to audio of any kind.

Two new features of the Audyssey MultEQ system are Dynamic EQ and Dynamic Volume. The former is intended to prevent the “deterioration” of sound as the volume gets lower. Typically, a lot of detail can be lost when playing music or movies at low levels. The Dynamic EQ feature is supposed to work with the Audyssey EQ settings to maintain this detail and quality of sound even at low levels. The Dynamic Volume feature builds on this by addressing the issue of large variations in volume, such as between different passages of a movie, or between a TV show and a commercial. The idea is very similar to a traditional “nighttime” listening mode that compresses the dynamic range. For those of you who read my AVR-689 review, you will remember that I was somewhat unimpressed with these features. I can say that after using them on this receiver, I have been sold!

In preparation for my trip to the theater to see Quantum of Solace, I pulled up Casino Royale on my HD-DVR one evening. I have two young children in my house, and not a lot of space separates my viewing area from their bedrooms, so I don’t get to watch movies at the levels I prefer very often. Hoping to have a better experience with the Audyssey features this time around, I engaged both and the result was amazing! Unlike my previous experience with Dynamic Volume, the sound was lively and rich. I did not feel like the bass was too loud, nor did I feel that everything sounded dull (as I alluded to in the previous review). I was able to watch the film with all of its wonderful action sequences at a low volume level but with all of the intricate detail and enough bass to make me forget I was using a “night time” mode. That, I suppose, is the real key…that these features are working best when you don’t even realize they are working.