Denon 2310ci vs. ?? and why I just ordered the 2310
I have been researching receivers for a short while and I thought it might help someone else who is doing the same to know why I chose the 2310. First some background:
This receiver will be used in our living room. I do not have a high end set up. It only consists of: 46” Samsung DLP, PS3, Verizon FIOS Motorola HD DVR, Panasonic combo VCR / DVD player, Paradigm Monitor 3 speakers for Front Left and Right, CC-350 Center, and PS-1000 sub, generic Sony bookshelf speakers for Rear Left and Right surrounds, all of these speakers are 8 Ohm.
I also have a family room that will be converted to a higher end home theater at some point down the road.
I looked at numerous receivers including:
Denon: 2310, 3310, 4310, 3808, 4306, 4308, 2809
Onkyo: HT-RC180, 707, 807, 876, 906, 1007
Pioneer: 1019, 9040, 9140, 21thx, 23thx
Yamaha: 2065, and briefly at 665 and others
I also considered (though not very seriously) separates of various brands and other higher end brand receivers such as Rotel, and NAD.
After doing the research I decided that I don’t have the time to go listen to all of these in person. Many of them are not easy to find. Additionally, the variations in speakers, set-up, room configuration, and settings on the devices would make A vs. B comparisons very difficult. Therefore I proceeded based on numerous internet reviews, specs, forum discussions, and manufacturer reputations. In general, it appears that given my current room configuration and components, nearly any one of the receivers listed above would likely sound good. No doubt some will sound better than others, and likely in ascending price order. However since this is being used in the living room and will be used for 99% TV and movies 1% music, I don’t think that I will be able to get my money’s worth buying a $1,500 unit over the $500 unit.
That single decision alone effectively eliminated everything that I could not find on the net (new or refurbished) for $800 or less.
Taking as a given that they all have good to excellent sound quality, next I decided based on features. Some of the key differentiating features for me are: dynamic volume / dynamic EQ, high quality video scaler, on-screen volume display through HDMI, 5.1(or more) analog input for HTPC or other, ease of use (for my spouse especially), HDMI inputs and at least one output. All of the Denon XX10 models have all of these features. The older Denons were eliminated based on price, video chip, and lack of on screen volume display through HDMI.
My general thoughts on the models (based only on searched information):
RC180 eliminated due to lack of 6ch (multichannel) external analog input, reported runs hot, Faroujda DCDi video vs. ABT
707, 807 eliminated due to reported high temps, no multichannel inputs, and Faroujda chips
876, 906 eliminated due to price and long switching times when channel surfing between channels broadcast at various definitions. The Reon chips, strong amp sections, and Audyssey features really made me seriously consider these. Reviews raved about the sound quality as well. However, I just couldn’t justify to myself, based on my current use and system set-up spending the additional money on these. Combine that with the reported long (5 seconds or more) switching times when channel surfing was enough to rule them out.
All eliminated due to lack of dynamic volume control. I know this probably seems like a poor reason to eliminate these to many, however when you have others in the house that you need to consider, it can make the difference between using the system and not using the system. Pioneer has Auto Level Control that is supposed to do basically the same thing, however I didn’t see very many positive reviews on that feature. I did see numerous positive reviews on the Audyssey dynamic volume control / dynamic EQ combination. Most of the 2009 and 2010 Denon’s and Onkyo’s have these. Additionally, the Pioneer does not have an on-screen volume display over HDMI. This was a tough decision as the Pioneer’s seem to get great reviews for the sound quality and the 9040 and up all use the ABT chips for video.
Yamaha – all eliminated for similar reasons as the Pioneer line, though they seem to not get as strong of reviews in the lower end models as the others for sound too.
I was very tempted to spend more and upgrade to get even more features such as: high powered amp section, pre-outs for all channels, THX certification, USB (I Pod capable), Ethernet or Wi-Fi connectivity, more Audyssey features, etc. However, I don’t NEED any of those things. The higher powered amp and pre-outs were really high on the list and almost caused me to spend the extra $300 or so to get the 3310. Realistically I have neither the speakers nor room that demands it nor will I frequently listen to it loud enough to notice. I will save the several hundred dollars or more that all of those features would have cost me (to get all of those plus the features already listed above as more important to me) in one receiver. When I get serious about a high end set-up down the road, more of those things will be important to me, especially a higher powered amp section and / or the pre-outs. However, that is going to be a long while and by that time technology will have moved on and yet other features will be important. At that time, I will be shopping for something more along the lines of an updated version of the Denon 5308. In any case the receiver I buy today I don’t plan on using in that set-up.
I hope this helps someone out. When the 2310 arrives, I will post again to say if I am satisfied with my choice or not.