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Denon AVR-391 Receiver Preview

Denon AVR-391 Receiver

Denon AVR-391 Receiver


  • Product Name: AVR-391
  • Manufacturer: Denon
  • Review Date: May 03, 2010 03:45
  • MSRP: $249
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!

5 by 75 watts per channel

HD Decoding (we think)

4 HDMI 1.4a inputs

Supports all mandated 3D formats

24-bit/192-kHz Analog Devices DACS

New remote

Available in July

With everyone and their dog releasing new receivers these days, we were starting to get worried about Denon. Denon Electronics has been fairly dominant in this area for the last few years so we knew they had something up their sleeves. We just didn't know what. Now we do. Sort of.

As a whole, Denon seems to be focusing on the same things they always do - features and performance. They like to have the best of everything. Sometimes you have to pay for these features, but if you want it, Denon usually has it. With their new line, you're going to see a lot of this. Since you can tell a lot about a company by how they treat their lowliest members, we're starting off our evaluation of the new line of Denon receivers with their entry level AVR-391.

The Denon AVR-391 comes in at a price point that we've never seen from the electronics giant - $249. You know at that price they had to cut corners. That's to be expected. The question is what corners and how deep are the cuts. First let's talk about the features of the new receiver.

Almost every new receiver on the market is boasting HDMI 1.4 functionality. This is the first HDMI spec that supports the new 3D spec. According to Denon, before hardware for HDMI 1.4 was even in stores, the HDMI Consortium had released HDMI 1.4a. The differences? According to Denon:


While we're guessing that Pioneer, Onkyo, Yamaha and others with 1.4 capable receivers and devices might contest some of those "maybes" in the v1.4 column, this is straight from Denon. The fact is that 1.4a will work for sure while we'd still put money on 1.4 working as well (even if it isn't official yet). That being said, consumer confidence is important and that one little letter at the end of the HDMI specification might make all the difference in buying decisions - especially at this price point.

What is important to remember is that the new AVR-391 sports four HDMI 1.4a inputs. That's a lot at this price point. What is really cool is that the AVR-391 will be able decode HD audio such as DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD natively. This is incredibly huge at this price point. For those that are in to the audio side of things, Denon hasn't left you hanging. The amps in the AVR-391 are fully discrete and sport 75 watts per channel. While this might seem to be much less than the competition, once we see how the others measure in a real world situation, you might find that you prefer the Denon amps. While we'd expect (and Denon delivers) a 5.1 receiver at this price point, Denon has included two addition preouts for Surround Back channels or for Dolby ProLogic IIz decoding. Dolby ProLogic IIz adds height channels for a larger front soundstage.

One thing that Denon has done with their new line of receivers is to reduce the number of analogue video and audio inputs. Basically you'll have one component video, three combo composite video/analogue audio, and one each coaxial/optical digital audio inputs. At this point, that's basically what we know about the AVR-391. We know that other models with have Networking capabilities, video upconversion, iPod connectivity, and a slew of other features. For $249, Denon seems to have done quite well with the AVR-391 so we're not complaining. 


You had us at discrete amplifiers and HD audio decoding. With a real focus on what people need and not what history has told us they need (like a bazillion composite/s-video inputs), Denon has pared the AVR-391 to it's bare essentials. Should you buy it? Probably. As it stands, this receiver is VERY competitive with the rest of the offerings on the market (and crushes a few of them). If this is what we can expect from this year's receiver lineup, we're in for a very good year indeed.

For more information, please visit www.usa.denon.com.

Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.

About the author:
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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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