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Denon AVR-4311CI AirPlay Receiver Preview

Denon AVR-4311CI Airplay Receiver

Denon AVR-4311CI Airplay Receiver


  • Product Name: AVR-4311CI AirPlay Receiver
  • Manufacturer: Denon Electronics
  • Review Date: September 10, 2010 06:00
  • MSRP: $1999
  • First Impression: Gotta Have It!
  • 140 wpc x 9 (full bandwidth) discrete amplification
  • Apple iTunes AirPlay support (Coming Fall 2010)
  • Ethernet connectivity
  • PC streaming
  • Pandora/Flickr access
  • Dolby True HD, DTS-HD Master Audio 
  • 9.2 channels with independent subwoofer outputs and other assignable configurations
  • Audyssey MultiEQ room correction
  • Dolby Volume
  • HDMI 1.4a with full 3D support and Audio Return Channel
  • Blu-Ray compatibility
  • HD radio
  • Discrete power amplification system
  • 7 HDMI inputs
  • 2 parallel HDMI inputs
  • Anchor Bay Technologies VRS
  • HDMI clock control
  • Dimensions: 17-3/32” x 6-47/64” x 16-19/64”
  • Weight: 38.2lbs

So, what do you want in a receiver? What do you need? More importantly, what do you think you'll need a year from now? Two years? Three? Are you interested in the latest protocols, like Apple's new iTunes AirPlay? If you are only shucking out $200, $300, $500 for a receiver, you may well expect to upgrade every year or three. At that price point, for many, it is practically an impulse buy. But you know you're not getting the latest features, the best amps, or all the current technology and components that are available. But if price is all that matters and you'd rather take a $500 hit every couple of years rather than a $2000 one and hope that your receiver keep you happy long enough to justify the price, that's up to you.

Eventually, you'll be tempted. You'll see a new receiver come out and look at the feature set and think, "My God, it's full of stars," (or something to that effect). You'll take a look at the bank, remember you've got a bonus check on the way, and start value shopping for B-stock. But right as you are about to pull the trigger, you have a moment of panic. Should you do it? Should you spend all that money? Will you feel like a new man the next day or will you feel like sitting in the shower, fully clothed, crying?

And then, on top of that, Denon recently announced support for Apple AirPlay, the company's new wireless audio protocol that will support multiple products across the board. According to the Denon website:

Coming in the Fall of 2010 is a planned upgrade that provides Apple iTunes AirPlay compatibility that lets you stream your favorite music to the AVR-4311CI.

Denon AVR-4311CI Top ViewDenon knows who you are and is trying to push you over the edge. The new Apple iTunes AirPlay compatibility is just one function that shows the company is staying on top of technology and monitoring what's really hot in the industry. The update won't require any hardware adjustments, just a firmware update via the included Ethernet port. If you've got an Internet connection, you should be ready to go and streaming music to and from AirPlay compatible devices will be possible. Is this the next step in the solution of whole house audio? We're not sure, but it will be interesting to see what other manufacturers pick up the torch and carry it along.

We reviewed the AVR-4310CI a while back and were impressed with it's staying power. Denon has one-upped the 4310 with it's newly announced (shipping in September) AVR-4311CI. This receiver will have all the features of its predecessor and a few you've (and we've for that matter) never heard of. Let's start with what you know.  For starters, the new AVR-4311 is 10wpc more powerful than its predecessor (up from 130wpc to 140wpc) while Denon also packed in two more amplifiers so you can now run simultaneous front height and back channels to take advantage of PLIIz decoding.  Unlike many manufacturers these days packing in more features and amplifier channels, Denon obviously didn't compromise quality here as evident by the new AVR-4311CI weight increase of 4lbs to accommodate a bigger power supply.  Denon utilizes discrete amplification for all channels as you can see in the dual rows of heatsinks flanked by a large E-core transformer at the center.

The inclusion of two additional internal amplifier channels over the AVR-4311CI's predecessor makes this receiver a true 9.2 channel system.  This gives the user and the installer much more flexibility to use the additional height/width channels now available for in the advanced processing of the latest DSPs or just more flexibility when powering more zones of audio.  Denon also claims the AVR-4311CI is expandable to 11.2 channels to handle any future formats wanting to add speakers to the ceiling or the bathroom so you don't miss a beat while doing your business.

Of course the Denon AVR-4311CI will have all the latest audio processing for Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio, Dolby ProLogic IIz, and Audyssey DSX. Such processing is available at price points much below the the $2000 asking price of the AVR-4310CI. The receiver is networkable with access to Internet radio, Pandora, and Flickr as well as DLNA certification for streaming content from local computers. The AVR-4311CI features dual parallel HDMI outputs and a host of HDMI inputs (six on the back, one on the front) that have all been upgraded to the HDMI 1.4a spec. As you'd expect at this price point, there are a slew of inputs and outputs including three component video, a host of digital audio (both coaxial and optical), IR ins and outs, 12volt control, RS232, and support for up to three zones of audio.

Denon has again included top-of-the-line video upconversion ability via Anchor Bay Technologies VRS processing to HD quality (up to 1080p/24/60). They've also included a built-in HD Radio, DENON Link 4th (a single cable solution for those with other Denon components), featuring HDMI Clock Control – when using the HDMI interface for A/V output for Blu-ray playback in combination with Denon Link, Clock Jitter Control gives the Master Clock and Jitter reduction to be handled by the connected Denon A/V Receiver/Processor.


What's new? Well, there is a lot. First, Denon has made the AVR-4311CI as user and integration friendly as possible. For upgraded iPod/iPhone performance, the AVR-4311CI is ‘Works with iPhone’ certified which means it will access your content from your iPod/iPhone via a USB cable rather than a separate dock. For integrators, they can access the receiver's menu's over the Internet (reducing the number of costly home visits) and in a first-of-its-kind move for the company, Denon is now creating (and publishing on its dedicated CI Portal) its own complete Crestron remote control modules. In addition, the new AVR-4311CI has Control4 Certification for smooth integration with all Control4 IP-based home automation and etertainment systems. It is also officially "Compatible with Windows 7," ensuring full compatibility with the updated ‘Play To’ functionality of the new Microsoft operating system.

Two additional features have caught our attention. First, the Denon AVR-4311CI is the first receiver to include Audyssey's MultEQ XT 32 Room Correction, with 32 times the resolution quality of the current MultEQ XT system. With the addition of Audyssey’s new Sub EQ HT, the AVR-4311CI will provide users with the highest level of audio playback quality even in the most demanding of listening environments. This should greatly increase the receivers ability not only to provide a quality listening experience, but to integrate more seamlessly subwoofer(s) into the system.  The AVR-4311CI is the first Denon Audyssey enabled system that will provide the user the option to simultaneously calibrate all subs with a single correction curve to ensure the best integration possible.  This is what we recommend when calibrating multiple subs and we've asked Denon to implement this option for many years.  See Home Theater Multiple Subwoofer Set-Up Calibration Guide

Lastly, the AVR-4311CI has a feature that we've only seen on two other receivers before (Yamaha RX-Z7 and RX-Z11)  - Pre Amp Mode. For years we've been suggesting to our readers that they get a receiver with pre-outs so that, if they feel the need, they can add an amp later. Dedicated separates were (for a very long time) out of the reach of most consumers and were (until recently) usually lacking some of the most recent features. Opponents of using a receiver as a pre amp often sited multiple reasons (not all of which were valid ) for not using one. Denon has addressed all that with their new Pre Amp Mode. Now, the external amplifiers can be disconnected from the power supply section, thereby allowing all other operating components to receive the purest power and also eliminating any chance of “noise” from the amplifier section infiltrating and potentially degrading the audio/video paths.  In a brilliant move, Denon has allowed the  Pre Amp Mode optional setting in which selected amplifier channels may also be configured for multi-zone use, while the main zone amplifiers are shut down. This gives users a tremendous amount of flexibility in setting up their system in a variety of ways without compromising fidelity or features.


What do you want out of a receiver? Do you want power? Video upconversion? Networking and streaming? 9.2 decoding and amplification with the ability to expand to 11.2?  Do you want it all plus the ability to shutdown the internal amps to use your receiver as a dedicated Pre/Pro without risk of contamination of the signal by noise and heat? If we have one bad thing to say about Denon in general and the AVR-4311CI specifically it's that they keep exceeding our expectations. When we reviewed the AVR-4310CI we thought it had more than it's price point suggested. Now, the AVR-4311CI has addressed most of our minor gripes with it's predecessor, added features we didn't even know existed, and did it all without changing the retail price. If this isn't a home run of a product, we don't know what is.

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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