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Denon AVR-3803 vs. AVR-3805 Features and Listening Room


For those of you familiar with the AVR-3803, here is a quick list of highlights you can expect to get with an AVR-3805 upgrade.

  • Dolby Pro Logic IIx

  • Additional 10 watts per channel (8 ohms, 20 Hz-20 kHz, < .05%THD)

  • Auto Setup & Parametric Room EQ

  • Extended Bass Management Crossover Points (150/200/250Hz)

  • DENON Link 3rd Edition (Super Audio CD & DVD-Audio) compatible digital input

  • True 3 Source, 3 Zone functionality with discrete power, Source Select and volume control for each zone

  • ALPHA 24 Processing Plus (AL24+) on all channels (not just the front speakers)

  • EL backlighting pre-programmed/learning remote

  • Two (2) assignable +12V triggers

Denon has kept busy and it shows. While the power ratings haven't changed much from the AVR-3803, the more significant improvements like DENON Link 3rd Edition (which supports SACD input in addition to the already-supported DVD-Audio), Auto Setup & Room EQ, and the new backlit electroluminescent (EL) touchscreen remote make this unit a class above its predecessor.

The Denon AVR-3805 didn't appear to break a sweat driving the 4-ohm impedance presented by the RBH Sound 1266-LSEs and 661-LSE speakers. In fact, the rated 120 watts per channel was sufficient enough to drive the Reference 3 System speakers to a steady 97dB SPL at the listening position without any audible distortion. For those of you who are wondering, this translates into approximately 105dB SPL (average continuous) from 1" from the front of the speakers. In the Reference room, the Denon receiver was parked at -10 on the digitally-controlled analogue volume to produce these levels.

It's always fun for us to participate in some of the discussions surrounding power output and ratings, whether it' s on our discussion forums or some other venue. The bottom line is that unless you are planning on putting your system outdoors, have very inefficient speakers ( < 88dB SPL @ 1 meter), or have ears like Beethoven (towards the latter stages of his life) most well designed 100 watt per channel amplifiers will supply sufficient volume for most home theater applications with integrated powered subwoofers. The question for you becomes: Does it have good linearity, efficiency and enough headroom to adequately articulate the program material without audible levels of distortion or noise for the loudspeaker system, listening environment, and listening preferences of the user?

The Listening Environment

The Reference System 3 listening room is characterized by a series of natural baffles and a good combination of neutral materials. It is often necessary to hang draperies and build or purchase fancy bass traps to eliminate problems in a room. When possible, I prefer to do it naturally; and as I built my home, I was able to construct a room where the furniture and natural materials could do most of the work for me. Bookshelves serve as diffusers, and 9' flat ceilings with berber carpet produce a room that is lively, but not highly-reflective.

The central listening position is on a sofa located in the center of the room, 11 feet from the front wall, and 8 feet from the rear wall. The RBH Sound 1266-LSEs are approximately 6.5' apart and the 61-LSE surrounds are 7' apart on the rear wall and faced directly forward to maximize their excellent imaging characteristics. An SVS PB2-ISD subwoofer was situated outside of the left 1266-LSE and was used for this review (along with both an RBH Sound 1212-SE and an Outlaw Audio LFM-1 - each of which was rotated in and out of the system throughout the testing period.)


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