has always provided its customers with state-of-the-art electronics featuring
the latest cutting-edge technology. The company has recently released
their flagship AVR-5308CI
A/V receiver that includes the highly sought after Dolby TrueHD and dts-HD
Master Audio decoding. This receiver is fully THX-Ultra2 certified and
features seven powerful 150-watt high current amplifiers. The AVR-5308CI
is a reference standard for both audio and video quality and features
Denons legendary D.D.S.C.-HD (Dynamic Discrete Surround Circuit)
surround sound decoding powered by a trio of SHARC 32-bit floating point
digital signal processors (DSPs) along with high performance Burr-Brown
DACs operating in differential mode on all twelve output channels. This
receiver is capable of decoding the latest high definition audio formats
through the latest HDMI connectors that meet the v1.3a specification.
Video sources from a variety of resolutions or formats are upconverted
to high definition (up to 1080p) thanks to the Silicon Optics Realta HQV
video processor. This unit features the latest digital media connectivity
and includes network audio and photo streaming, via Ethernet and built-in
Wi-Fi, along with Internet radio stations, built-in HD radio, and XM satellite-ready
Few controls occupy the front of the AVR-5308CI.
However, behind the lower flip-down panel sit many buttons that control
the unit along with several interfaces for analog A/V connections, headphones,
digital audio, and the calibration microphone. The left buttons are mainly
used to control the input and surround modes while the center buttons
control the menu and navigation features. The right side buttons select
the zones (there are 4), calibration controls, and provides quick access
A/V connections for devices such as gaming consoles.
The rear panel of the AVR-5308CI
is to die for with more interfaces than most will ever need. The back
is so loaded that is looks more like a connector company displaying a
product line. There are eleven speaker outputs with several of them used
for supporting multiple zones. Each speaker output features gold-plated,
wide pitch, high-grade 5-way binding posts. While the need for analog
(composite, s-video, and component) video sources has diminished over
the years, Denon has provided the ability to use these legacy sources
for many of the customers that still have them. Eight composite, eight
s-video, and six component video inputs are available. There are also
six HDMI inputs, five optical and four coaxial digital inputs, along with
two HDMI monitor outputs for support of two displays.
(wired and Wi-Fi) is built into the AVR-5308CI
and supports streaming audio from more than 7,000 Internet radio stations.
In addition, the unit can decode AAC, WMA, MP3, FLAC, and WAV files. JPEG
photos can also be decoded and displayed for convenience. An HD radio
tuner is included with support for XM radio. The +12v trigger outputs
are completely assignable and have the ability to drive up to 250mA of
The build quality of the AVR-5308CI
can only be appreciated when the cover is removed from the unit. The inside
of the receiver is very impressive and fitted with a variety of sophisticated
electronics for audio and video processing. The audio design includes
one Analog Devices ADSP-21366 and two Analog Devices ADSP-21367 32-bit
Floating-Point SHARC Processors. These highly regarded audio processing
chips handle the new Dolby TrueHD and dts-HD Master Audio codecs along
with THX home cinema processing (Re-EQ, Timbre Matching, and
Adaptive Decorrelation). In addition, all the standard dts (Neo:6
Surround, 96/24, ES Matrix, and EX Discrete) and Dolby Digital formats
are supported. The unit can also decode DSD (SACD) streams and HDCD®
(High Definition Compatible Digital®) discs. A small internal fan
helps to keep some of the electronics cool. Once powered on, the unit
runs very warm so adequate ventilation is recommended for reliable long-term
operation. Most of the heat is radiated from the large heatsinks used
by the seven high-current linear power amplifiers that run along both
sides of the unit.
the core of the AVR-5308CI
receiver is seven high-current linear power amplifiers that meet the strict
requirements set forth by the folks at THX. More than half of the volume
is taken up by the power supplies, which includes the transformers, rectifiers,
and filter capacitors. Separate power forms are provided for audio, video
and the power amplifier stages for maximize performance while minimizing
any noise that might bleed onto other circuits. The THX Ultra2 badging
requires a robust amplifier design and accounts for a large portion of
the weight (63 pounds) found in this unit. The AVR-5308CI
has a huge toroidal power transformer along with a pair of 33,000 µF
(71-volt) filter capacitors that occupy a large volume of the real estate.
These power rails provide the high voltage and current needed for the
discrete power amplifiers. Even though the AVR-5308CI
is rated to drive a minimum of 6 ohm speakers, it can easily handle lower
impedances such as our M&K S-150THX and SS-250 surrounds. We confirmed
this with the engineers at Denon before we ran our suite of low-impedance
M&K speakers. The THX Ultra2 specification requires that the
amplifier be able to drive all channels with speaker impedances as low
as 3.2 ohms continuously. Many less capable receivers have design limitations
that cannot handle the high current needed by some speakers due to cost
and size constraints. This is certainly not the case with the AVR-5308CI,
where the robust power supply feeds the hefty power amplifiers with large
heatsinks mounted on both sides of the receiver. The left side of the
has three amplifiers on one large heatsink while the right side has four
amplifiers mounted on another large heatsink.
lower voltage linear power supplies are also located nearby where large
capacitors (47,000 µF, 16V) are used for filtering other circuits
in the unit. The layout of the boards separates the functions to minimized
interference from one another and the use of linear power supplies greatly
reduces EMI noise in the chassis.
includes the highly acclaimed Silicon Optix Realta
sxT2 HQV video processor designed for multi-cadence detection with
accurate I/P conversion. The unit handles both analog video and HDMI scaling
for all inputs up to 1080p. The unit will pass-thru 1080p/24fps content
to preserve the original film frame rate, eliminating judder caused by
2:3 conversion. Deep Color (36-bits) and xvYCC color space is supported
for the ultimate picture quality. The AVR-5308CI
uses a high speed (216MHz) 12-bit video encoder and decoder with NSV.
For audio purists, Denon also provides a switch to disable the video circuits
to minimize the noise floor when listening to music only.
processor is what set the AVR-5308CI
apart from other A/V receivers simply because it is capable of outstanding
performance. Denon was wise to include a total of six HDMI inputs with
dual monitor outputs. This alone raises the value of this unit where similar
standalone video processors cost thousands of dollars and do no audio
decoding. While the cost of the AVR-5308CI
is significantly high, the features and capabilities contained in this
unit are extraordinary. It should be noted that all video inputs get converted
to the HDMI output, but not necessarily the other direction. That is,
don't expect the HDMI video source to show up on the composite video or
comes with a Main Remote and a Sub Remote. If anything about
this receiver bothered me it was the remotes. It became clear to me that
Denon assumed that the users would be using a high-end remote to control
this unit. With the exception of the illuminated touchscreen on the Main
Remote, no key backlighting is provided, but rather a glow-in-the-dark
feature that only worked if bright light was exposed to the keys just
before going into the dark. As a result, this made the remote somewhat
difficult to use in a dark environment. The touchscreen has an adjustable
brightness (5 levels) and adjustable duration (5 to 25 seconds) setting.
The touchscreen was akward to use in the begining, but in time became
somewhat easier to operate. Regardless, no time spent with either of these
remotes would make me happy and we quickly integrated much of the functionality
into our favorite RTI T3-V controller. This gave us the flexibility we
needed to implement a variety of macros and other common commands used
to control the receiver.
Remote has the ability to control many other components with a large
database included in the manual. In addition, this remote can also learn
IR commands from other remotes using the built-in IR receiver, should
the database not contain the remote codes needed. The Sub Remote
offers more of the basic features found on the Main Remote and
is actually easier to use. However, no backlighting or glow-in-the-dark
keys are available on this model.
has the ability to update the firmware over the Internet. Our latest update
was released on October 3, 2008 and took 129 minutes to download and install
even with a fast broadband connection. The update adds Audyssey Dynamic
Volume and Sirius Radio Ready capabilities along with other
improvements including updated iPod compatibility, 1080p/24f scaling and
more. There are several components within the AVR-5308CI
that need firmware updates including the FPGA and DSPs. The upgrade experience
was easy using the GUI and it was as simple as having the unit check the
server for a new version.
Our main speaker system consists of three M&K S-150THX speakers across
all front channels with a pair of M&K SS-250 surrounds. Each of these
speakers are rated with a 4 ohms nominal impedance. They also require
a significant amount of power due to their fairly low efficiency. Our
bass was handled by a pair of M&K MX-350THX subwoofers. Thankfully,
the AVR-5308CI supports up to three subwoofers in various configurations
and allows the LFE channel to be mixed with the bass from the main channels.
This gives the user a lot of flexibility in their setup especially when
dealing with more than a single subwoofer.
digital video sources came from a Sony PLAYSTATION 3, Toshiba HD-A1, OPPO
DV981HD, and a Dish Network ViP722 DVR. We also connected analog component
video from our outdated, but fully functional Kenwood Entre media server
that allows us to select from any one of 800 standard DVDs in two 400-disc
changers at a press of a button. Finally, video from the AVR-5308CI
was sent over a 25-meter Accell UltraRun 1.3 HDMI cable to our Mitsubishi
There has been a recent trend with many of the newer receivers to use
a built-in audio calibration technology to adjust the delay and level
in each of the channels. The AVR-5308CI uses the Audyssey MultEQ
XT and Audyssey Dynamic EQ system that worked very well even with
multiple seating positions. The calibration process is simple with the
user placing the microphone at the ear position where the listeners are
seated. The unit sends out a series of pulses that are used to determine
the distance and level from each speaker. The receiver can then compensate
for distances and adjust the delays and levels accordingly.
microphone included with the receiver has a 24-foot cable giving the user
ample distance from the receiver. The unit automatically recognizes when
the microphone is plugged into the front panel jack. The menu appears
on the screen and the user starts the calibration process. Once the data
has been collected, the system must process and save it. This takes a
few minutes to complete and status is provided on the screen.
Both audio and video performance on the AVR-5308CI is excellent
and will likely satisfy the critical home theater enthusiast. We are hard
pressed to part with our separate processor and multi-channel amplifier,
but after spending a couple of months with the AVR-5308CI we are
ready to ditch the older system. We say this primarily because this receiver
does everything well and completely integrates powerful features into
a single unit. Normally this would not be a big deal, but when the video
and audio are carried on a single HDMI cable it becomes very convenient
to have the video switching, I/P conversion, scaling, audio decoding,
and amplification all in a single package. If using the internal power
amplifiers causes grief for the purest, an external power amplifier can
be connected to the line level pre-outputs. However, we found no advantage
in doing this with the robust power amplifier design in the AVR-5308CI.
Audiophiles and videophiles both had their say with the latest Blu-ray
disc format and the superior quality is demonstrated when combined with
the proper hardware. Both Dolby
TrueHD and dts-HD Master Audio
are part of this new format and the Denon AVR-5308CI delivers this
with the authority one would expect from a high-end receiver. The Blu-ray
material we watched on our system was simply spectacular with all the
content (audio and video) carried on a single HDMI cable. Audio bandwidth
alone exceeds the average bandwidth that standard DVD uses for both audio
and video content. We watched scenes from Kingdom of Heaven presented
in a 2.35:1 format on a BD-50 dual-layer disc. This disc included DTS
HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1 Surround,
so naturally we took advantage of this during the course of the review.
The AVR-5308CI reproduced the finest details during quiet scenes with
plenty of well controlled power while driving our M&K speakers. We
did not expect this level of performance from a receiver, especially with
the heavy loads our M&K speakers place on amplifiers. We never thought
a receiver could handle these speakers, yet the AVR-5308CI did
so without any issues.
heavier loads placed on the AVR-5308CI generated more heat, so
it was important to make sure proper ventilation is provided around the
unit. In cases where this is not possible, the user may consider installing
a fan-based cooling system from Active Thermal
Management which has proved to be an effective way of keeping components
from overheating. We placed the Cool-it
II on top of our receiver and it was very effective in preventing
heat buildup inside of the unit.
Music did equally well with this receiver even though many audiophiles
may consider the M&K S-150THX speakers not optimal for music. We feel
they do quite well in this area especially with more contemporary music.
Taking advantage of SACD playback we put on one of our favorites SACDs
The Raven (SACD205) from Rebecca Pigeon. Although this recording
is limited to two channels, it is still one of the better recordings we
have heard with this format. Another wonderful recording that sounded
great on this system is another SACD from Sara K. entitled tell me
i'm not dreamin' (Catalog No. JD133).
are several dts encoded CDs that have very impressive 5.1 audio for testing
out the audio capabilities of your system. We started with Steely Dan
- Gaucho, playing the first two tracks (Babylon Sisters
and Hey Nineteen) with outstanding dynamics and a wide soundstage.
Even at high volume levels the AVR-5308CI held its own and reproduced
these high quality recordings with full authority. Another favorite of
ours is Boyz II Men - II, track 13 (Yesterday) where the
band sings acapella style with each vocalist singing from each of the
channels. This is really impressive and demonstrates the fidelity achieved
with high quality multi-channel recordings played back through high-end
many receivers now offer both audio and video processing for home theater
systems, few do it as well as AVR-5308CI. This receiver has exceptional
performance in all areas with little compromise. The
is by far the most advanced A/V receiver we have seen to date. The performance
and build quality make this unit a natural choice for the discerning audiophile
and videophile. Separate components are available for those with unlimited
funds, but the vast majority of critical users will be quite pleased with
the performance built into the AVR-5308CI.
Specifically, the 6 HDMI inputs and dual HDMI outputs give the user a
lot of flexibility. In addition, independent control of each input on
the HQV Realta video processing is a bonus. The THX-Ultra2 certification
provides superb sound.
As a reviewer,
it is always important to spend a lot of time with a product that has
this level of complexity. There are so many different features and modes
offered on the AVR-5308CI
that it takes a substantial amount of time not only to understand how
to use the unit, but to also get to a point that the GUI becomes more
intuitive. That is certainly the case with this A/V receiver and once
we mastered the user interface, the AVR-5308CI
became a very powerful component in many regards. While the cost of this
unit is substantial, the features are well above mainstream A/V components
on the market and certainly justify the price. For us, we use most of
them on a daily basis making it difficult to go back to anything less.
are now looking at replacing our existing A/V controller and power amplifier
with this unit.
Recent Press release
DENON® ANNOUNCES MAJOR HARDWARE AND FIRMWARE UPGRADE
FOR AVR-5308CI RECEIVER AND AVP-A1HDCI PREAMPLIFIER
-- Upgrade Will Add Leading-Edge Feature Capabilities, Including 3D Pass-Through, Audyssey MultEQ XT32, Audyssey DSX and Dolby PLIIz --
Mahwah, NJ, February 18, 2011 — Denon Electronics, a premier manufacturer of high-quality home entertainment components celebrating 100 years of innovation and technology leadership, will offer owners of its flagship AVR-5308CI A/V Receiver and AVP-A1HDCI A/V Home Theater/MultiMedia Preamplifier the opportunity to receive a major hardware and firmware upgrade that will provide full 3D pass-through capability, as well as Audyssey MultEQ XT32, Audyssey DSX and Dolby PLIIz. This is the 4th significant upgrade that Denon has offered to owners of its high-end products, underscoring the company’s commitment to provide its customers with the very latest, most up-to-date features and capabilities. The upgrade is scheduled for October; for more details on the upgrade, Denon owners may visit the company’s website (usa.denon.com/upgrades) and sign up to receive informational email updates.
“We are very excited to bring these leading-edge features to owners of our flagship AVR-5308CI A/V receiver and AVP-A1HDCI Preamplifier,” noted Jeff Talmadge, Director, Product Development & Systems Integration, Denon Electronics. “Early adopters who purchased these components nearly 4 years ago bought them with the confidence that they would experience the very best home entertainment for years to come. This upgrade opportunity is yet another example of how Denon is committed to ensuring that our customers are ‘future ready’ and remain at the leading edge of all the latest performance-enhancing technologies.”
What the Firmware Upgrade Provides:
In addition to full 3D pass-through capability, which will allow AVR-5308CI A/V and AVP-A1HDCI owners to enjoy the growing roster of 3D movies now becoming available, the firmware upgrade includes Dolby Pro Logic IIz decoding for enhanced audio experience of front height channels. For an even more dramatic surround sound experience, Denon owners will be able to take advantage of Audyssey DSX with left and right height and width channels – a new set of algorithms that pushes the envelope in audio performance by synthesizing audio signals for new surround channels based on human perception and acoustical research. The result is a much more realistic and “present” soundscape, with more audio “depth,” ideal for both movies and music, with height and width channels that are integral to maximum performance of next-generation high-definition surround-sound systems.
The firmware upgrade also features Audyssey’s advanced MultEQ XT32 room acoustic correction system features a microphone (included) to automatically measure the speaker configuration and provide acoustic tailoring for the best surround sound experience, and provides quick and easy setup. MultEQ XT32 is 32 times more accurate than the base MultEQ XT system it replaces with this upgrade.