2113ci Review / Part 3 - iPhone app, streaming and web controlPart 1 - Unboxing and Hook-upPart 2 - Setup and Basic UsePart 4 - Audyssey calibration and Sound Quality
I'm going to mostly focus on the iPhone app and AirPlay, plus the app's ability to work with Internet Radio and Pandora. A few words initially about the web interface....
I've used the web interface before when setting up a 4311ci and it's essentially the same experience with the 2113ci. You can easily control basic function like volume, surround mode, input, etc. very easily but I think the smartphone app is much slicker for that kind of on-the-fly control.
The real use of the web interface IMO is to be able to quickly access essentially any area of the GUI setup menus directly, without the GUI appearing on screen and annoying other viewers. It's so much faster to work with a mouse/keyboard and a web page interface when doing things like reassigning multiple inputs, renaming inputs or zones, changing video processing or Audyssey settings, logging into your Pandora account (on-screen virtual keyboard = yuck!), and especially checking the Information menu for current input signal, surround mode, HDMI in/out signal status, etc. Plus of course the ability to SAVE/LOAD settings profiles, which honestly I haven't gotten around to doing yet (but have done before on other models). Those of you who haven't looked into this yet, check it out, the added functionality and ease of interface with the deeper functions of the receiver is a real boon.
So on to the other stuff.... as I mentioned before, I am fortunate to have a my router nearby so a simple hardwire ethernet connection was used and I have had zero network hiccups. DHCP works smoothly, I was up and running with internet radio stations within minutes of turning it on for the first time. Pandora also works perfectly. I do not have a SiriusXM account nor do I have any media server network content, so I cannot comment on those aspects.
What makes these features so neat again is the smartphone app control. I have heard others complain about the house Denon app -- and to be honest I have yet to experiment with 3rd party apps -- but I find the Denon app to run quickly and smoothly and allows all the functionality I've desired at this point. Now, I'm not using the iPhone app when watching a movie or something, in those video-viewing situations I'd be using my Harmony. But for sitting on my ass on the couch and quickly dialing up some music (whether Pandora, Internet Radio, or AirPlay), turning Main Zone or Zone 2 on/off and adjusting volume, and selecting sources or surround modes, it's fully functional and easy to use, and a more pleasurable experience than the clunky button interface of a wand-style traditional remote like my Harmony.
Some screencaps of the Denon app for your viewing pleasure:Boot-up screen...Here is the primary interface screen:
The main power button is upper right, and eight programmable "quick call" buttons are at the bottom as well as the volume control slider. In the main graphical area on the top, touching the source (e.g. Network) on the left will allow you to switch between inputs/sources, touching the "PLII Music" (in this screen cap) will bring up the surround mode options:
I love the logical grouping by type (the DSP Simu modes like MultiCH Stereo and sillier options like Jazz Hall and Virtual are down below), this is IMO just a much easier way to access surround modes than the ambiguously named Movie, Music, etc buttons.
Back to the eight buttons on the bottom.... by holding down any button for a few seconds, a menu of commands pops up, including surround mode buttons, input buttons, quick selects, favorite radio stations, and many more, any of which can be assigned to any of those eight spots. For example, this is what it looks like after I tweaked a bit:
I set it up so I have surround control buttons on the top row, and then direct access buttons for Internet Radio and Pandora on the button, as well as the "Restorer" toggle. Also note the "Cursor" button.... what's this? Well, tap it and now you can easily access the Denon GUI and control it from your smart phone!
Back to the main screen.... tapping the "Zones" button in the upper left brings you to this screen, which allows you to quickly turn either zone on/off and adjust volume levels. Note that the app picks up on the renamed Zone 2 as "Back Yard". Also note the bottom row of "all Zones" quick hit buttons for mute on/off and power on/off. This is great for when you are leaving the house and just want to shut it all down on your way out the door.
Touching the "Player View" button for either Zone will bring you to the interface which allows you to access and control content, this is Internet Radio:
And this is what Pandora looks like:
With options like this, I have no need for the anachronism that is AM/FM radio! It's so easy to whip out the smartphone and just start playing a radio station from Internet Radio or Pandora. And to reiterate, this is all accessible through the Denon app itself, no need as of yet to jump to any external apps.
The only semi-unfortunate aspect is that you cannot initiate an AirPlay stream through the Denon app itself. You must first leave the Denon app and fire up AirPlay externally, for example through the Music app on my iPhone:
That said, once the AirPlay stream has initiated you can, from that point forward, control AirPlay completely through the Denon app. That includes activating Zone 2 for AirPlay, and then subsequently being able to switch the Main Zone source to something else if you so desire.
But in terms of controlling the AirPlay content itself, once the stream is initiated going to the "Player View" screen brings up a very recognizable iTunes music interface with album art, shuffle/repeat buttons, a track time slider and volume slider:
Hitting the "Library" button in the upper right allows you to access your Playlists, Artists, Albums, etc. just like if you were using the Apple Remote app.iPhone App / AirPlay Conclusion:
All in all, it's a pretty slick system. This lazy man's dream of being able to grab my phone from my pocket and start music playing in my choice of the living room and/or backyard, without having to grab the Harmony remote, turn on the plasma screen, etc. has been fully realized. In a way, it's reinvigorated my system as a "music box" and not a video system because it's so easy to get the tunes going, and it really streamlines the zone delivery system.
Just to give an example -- let's say SWMBO sends me out back to sweep the patio, water the plants, etc. I get out there, start working, and then realize "this would be better with some tunes." Previously, I would have had to go back inside, grab the Harmony, press the appropriate Activity button, wait 10+ seconds for the receiver to turn on and boot up, the plasma to turn on and go to the right input, and then I would have to get the music going. If I went back outside and decided the volume was wrong, I would have to jump back inside and grab the remote, or at best use the Remote app to control iTunes volume. Not exactly back breaking labor, but just clunky enough to be annoying.
Now, with the 2113ci, I can just pull my phone from my pocket, turn the backyard speakers on, and start my choice of Internet Radio, Pandora, or Airplay and control volume without every having to break stride. In this sense it's a major evolutionary step forward from the 2310ci in the ease and efficiency of delivering music to multiple zones.
As anyone who's read my website or posts for any length of time is aware, I've often been critical of Denon's user interface design (whether GUI / OSD or remotes), but this system is a winner for me. At some point I'll get around to trying some 3rd party control apps as well, but the Denon house setup is plenty slick and useful in my early estimation.