In case you didn't see it, there is a thread with a list of the one/few box devices that might lead you to a few others to consider. There are lots of them. Depending on the application, I'd look at the Yamaha and the KEF as other contenders, albiet with slightly higher MSRP's (though street prices may vary).
I'd love the Kef - but the fact my TV and speakers will be in a corner with the sofa at the same end of the room, might not be so great for a system such as this that relies upon "bouncing" sound off equi-distantly located side walls, perhaps?
I have a corner set up with the Binaura. I looked hard at the Yamaha - they recomend the 3 beam configuration for corner set ups. Thus some of the benefits of the tech is muted.
In that set-up the Denon may be the best of the lot, as a pure 2.1 system (and virtual dolby that can be turned on). This is mostly based on reputation and specs, as I haven't seen much in the way of reviews yet.
I could've sworn I saw a Denon 7.1 HTIB at BB last weekend for $1599. Not set up, but in the box. I was in a rush and didn't have time to check it out. Is there such a beast? Mebbe it said 2.1. Regardless, might be something my bro-in-law would be interested in.
I'm not sure what we will end up doing, but what is interesting about the Denon S-301 is the Faroudja chip in the DVD player and the iPod interface. You could rip your music (lots of it) down to an iPod and use the Denon remote to control it. Plus, if the downmix to 2.1 works well you could have a decnt system for music, TV and movies in a small space at a reasonable price.
About what you saw at Best Buys, I'll check that out. The $1599 should be the S-301 system. I believe the S-101 is $1099 or $999.
My concern is the limited number of inputs (two I think). It has a DVD player, but it you wanted to interface SAT TV , VHS and say an old Laser it appears you can only input two devices.
Plus the inputs appear to be limited to composite and S-Video.
In my case we could run the component out (if we do HDTV) for the video directly to the display and use the Denon for the audio signal (digital input) and switch an input on the display at the same time as the Denon.
I went by BB yesterday and they did have the S-301 set up and I was ale to demo it.
Interestly I also went to some AV stores and looked at alternatives in terms of price and function.
It initially looks like Denon may have a winner with this product. While more costly than offerings from Yamaha and Sony it sports better components and potentially better performance than offerinsg from those other two.
We listened to some music and movie sound tracks and it sounded pretty good. Keep in mind this is not a high end systsem, ut for the money it performend well. The sub was a bit muddy on some music we heard by on the movies was tight.
It has a HDMI out port, a couple of digital in ports and two sets of analog in ports.
Our issue will be how to get D* to be controlled by the unit. The new MPEG4 unit D* is coming out with will be something we will consider.
Worst case I will have to run a seperate cable directly to the TV for the D* and then run one for the Denon, if we do this.
The unit upconverts video and has component out. Although the manager I spoke with (who said he was trained on this unit) said the HDMI port put out 1080i and upconverted all video inputs to that res.
I was confused about this since he said the HDMI port contained both audio and video signals.
There is a DB25 cable that connects from the S-301 to the back of the sub. The two speakers are then connected from the sub via what looks like a USB cable interface. To use your own wire you would remove the zip cord from this interface and insert your own wire.
If the speakers are driven from the sub cabling then the HDMI cable comment does not make sense. What I hope, is that I heard him wrong and that the HDMI is video only. That way I could take the component out of a D* HD receiver and run it separately to the monitor and take audio out into the S-301.
Lastly the unit sports a Faroudja DCDI chip for video and a iPOD interface on the front.
We also listened to the tuner and it was acceptable.
I've just unpacked the S-301, run it through a handful of tests, and made a few observations that I hope people will find helpful.
- The DVD picture quality is flat-out fantastic, and the high point of the system. My wife and I were shocked at the difference in appearance between this system and our previous DVD player. While I can't speak to the quality of the S-101, I've got to believe that the S-301's Faroudja processing is a difference-maker. It handled the frenetic speed of the massive and complicated combat scenes in Return of the King without any hint of artifacting. The lush colors of Amelie were recreated in glorious detail. I can't speak highly enough of the transfer quality.
- Each speaker consists of two mid-ranges and one tweeter. Be aware that the speakers stand a whopping 16 high, which some will find counter-intuitive since many pains were taken to make the main unit compact, like the Bose 3-2-1. My wife would have preferred the smaller Bose-style speakers. The sound is bright and clear. Those that want to hear grungy rock (ala Klipsch) may be disappointed. But, since many listeners will be spending a majority of their time hearing spoken voice from TV and DVD, it's a worthwhile tradeoff.
- When I unpacked the subwoofer, I was pleasantly surprised with its heft. The subwoofer is surprisingly meaty, easily powering through LOTR battle scenes and Beck's new album with solid earthy tones.
- The 2.1 system is designed to simulate surround sound, including DTS. Two front speakers will never equal five speakers, but the system does an adequate job of creating a center-speaker sound field. Rear sounds is fairly non-existent.
- There are three digital audio inputs, two coaxial and one optical. Denon made a major blunder here, because the one optical input cannot be mapped to a video input. In my experience, many more consumer electronics have digital optical outs than coax. This was nearly a deal-breaker to me. Is there such a thing as an optical-to-coaxial cable?
- Also disappointing is the lack of hi-def inputs. Would it have killed Denon to allow video pass through of a component signal?
It's been a few months since anyone posted on this thread so I'm curious what others think of the S101 system now that it's been out a while. I'm thinking about picking this up.
One quick and easy question (maybe dumb). Can the speakers be turned on it's side to lay flat or do they need to stand up for proper sound? I have limited space in a bookshelf and there is not enough room between shelves to accommodate 16" speakers.
I bought the 301 last month. It is used as a bedroom surround sound system so there hasn't been the hardcore tweaking and critiquing as I normally would do. As far as sound goes, I thought the yamaha ysp-1 was better at the "creation" of surround sound and overall sounded better. But I wanted a dvd player integrated system with upconversion and the denon looked and sounded better than the sony.
I had the same question about lying the speakers on their side in another thread and didn't get much of a response. I didn't know if that would screw up the "physics" of dolby virtual speaker and make a big difference. Well, it didn't make a huge audible difference. Visually, you can tell since the speakers are like 16 inches tall and they are sitting on top of a 6 ft armoire, that leaves them close to 7 1/2 ft. off the ground which you can hear on the soundstage. Best set up is to mount them to the wall at eye/ear level I think but then you have to figure out what to do with the speaker wires if you don't want to cut holes. That's a project for me for after the holidays.
I know this is an old thread, but I would like to bump it, especially since some more Denon users will probably be out there as a result of today's sale at an unnamed one-day sales site.
Anyway, I just got my in a nice deal at BB for an open-box unit. The NIB units are already $200 off (at least in the DC/Balto. area), but with a further 15% off for open-box, I bit. I'd like to know about any other Denon setup experiences (especially the S-301).
I'm using a 32-inch Panasonic tube, but really got the Denon to connect to my new Panasonic HDTV 600 model (whenever they decide to start selling them!) with the HDMI.
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