im looking for suggestions and advice. i have limited budget.
Im planning to get a simple 2.1 setup for my dad. he wants a simple receiver with decent sound quality.
I was going to buy him a sound bar but change my mind when I remembered, had I an extra pair of unused polk tsi100s. . ill worry about the subwoofer later.
so here are my choices:
pioneer 522 or 521
yamaha 373 or the 371
denon 1312 or 1311
onkyo 309 or 313
any of those would work for a simple 2.1 setup. The only drawback of the two Denon's your listed is that they don't have any room calibration at all. The other 3 brands do. If you want to get a Denon, don't go lower than the 591 or 1612.
The Denon AVR 2808 will be better than any of the entry level models you were looking at. More powerful too. it was originally a $799 receiver. And it has Audyssey MutlEQ XT which is even better than the version on the 1612.
As long as 2 HDMI inputs is enough for your needs I'd snag that receiver. It also has a phono input in case your dad plans to connect his old turntable.
Although the 2808CI is the predecessor to last year's 3312CI and current 3313CI and as afrogt notes uses the higher version of MultEQ XT for better sound quality, it does not feature the Audyssey Dyn EQ/Vol capability nor does it use the nicer GUI the 1612 uses both of which your Dad would better appreciate considering his simple setup. Also you're likely better served going with a new (w/2 year warranty) 1612 for easier setup and use as opposed to an "unknown" condition used unit.