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Denon AVR-5308CI(A) and AVP-A1HDCI Update Review

Denon AVR-5308CI(A) receiver and AVP-A1HDCI processor Update

Denon AVR-5308CI(A) receiver and AVP-A1HDCI processor Update


  • Product Name: AVR-5308CI(A) and AVP-A1HDCI Update
  • Manufacturer: Denon
  • Review Date: August 21, 2012 00:15
  • MSRP: $1000
  • First Impression: Pretty Cool
Includes Sound Enhancement
  • Audyssey MultEQ XT 32—32 times the resolution of MultEQ XT
  • Audyssey DSX—Availability of Height or Width effect speakers
  • New Audyssey Calibration Microphone
  • dts Neo:X—Availability of Height or Width effect speakers
  • Dolby PLIIz—Availablity of Height effect speakers
  • Subwoofer Level Matching—Allows for proper level matching of multiple subs before Audyssey calibration
HDMI 3D Pass through

Allows for 3D video pass through on the all HDMI inputs and output.

Denon Link 4th

For AVR5308/AVPA1HDCI that did not get previous firmware update.

A Full firmware update service is performed
This ensures the unit is completely up to date and running properly.

Would you pay $1000 to update a $5500 AV receiver to the latest firmware and features? Me neither. OK, to spend that kind of money - first of all you have to be the type of person who actually buys a $5500 AV receiver like Denon's AVR-5308CI. And believe me, there are a lot of you out there - maybe not YOU. But how about the guy who was installing them in the homes of his clients...? That's where this update starts to really make a lot of sense.

Let me back up just a bit. This review will address two things: First, what Denon is offering in this upgrade, and, second, who this upgrade is for and why we think you might be interested. To the first point, the update addresses a few shortcomings in the three year-old AVR-5308CI that have crept up as newer products seem to have leapt over this flagship AV receiver in recent years. And by leapt, we mean to imply that they have surpassed it in features - though not in raw power. No, the AVR-5308CI still holds the title of flagship AV receiver for Denon and, honestly, there doesn't seem to be anything else on the horizon for the immediate future.

So the update... updates the three year-old AVR-5308CI, or the newer AVP-A1HDCI pre-processor. It includes several feature enhancements that go well beyond a simple "firmware" update. The upgrades fall into two categories, really: audio enhancements and a 3D HDMI upgrade. The latter requires an entirely new firmware system and the former actually involves a DSP update to the Audyssey system.

upgrade CD

As for the audio enhancements, Denon bumps the 5308 to MultEQ XT32. XT32 has, quite literally, 32 times the filter resolution of the original MultEQ XT. Like MultEQ XT, and UNLIKE several other EQ systems on the market, the filters are applied to ALL channels including the subs. And really, in most systems, it's the subwoofer response calibration that benefits a room the most. With the included calibration mic - a new model that comes with the upgrade - you can take measurements from up to 8 different positions - 32 with a MultEQ Pro kit.

Audyssey mic

Feature Grid for MultEQ Modes

Features MultEQ XT32 MultEQ XT MultEQ 2EQ
Filter resolution (satellites) 512x 16x 2x x
Filter resolution (subwoofer) 512x 128x 128x
Measurement Positions 8* 8* 6 3
Adaptive Low Freq Correction Yes Yes Yes N/A
Xover, Polarity, Delays, Levels Yes Yes Yes Yes

*32 With the Pro Kit

The new Denon update also adds the new surround modes that incorporate Height and Width channels. The first, is Audyssey DSX which is designed to produce a bigger surround sound experience. On the Denon, Audyssey DSX can do 7.1 and 9.1 surround using a combination of Height and Width channels. DSX is also scalable, so you can build or expand your system over time. Along with Audyssey DSX, Denon added dts Neo:X, which can use both Height and Width channels and Dolby Pro Logic IIz which adds Height channels to 7.1 surround.

PL IIz front height channels

There is also Subwoofer Level Matching. This lets you set the correct volume levels in multiple-sub systems prior to Audyssey calibration. There's Denon Link 4th... but nobody cares about that since nobody we know actually has the patience to use Denon Blu-ray players anymore... awkward...

Moving right along... You can now use 3D - or at least pass it through the AVR-5308CI(A) thanks to the new firmware that gets installed with the update. There are a couple things to note about 3D and the overlay menu system. If you operate the receiver menu while playing back 3D video content, the menu screen covers the video - there's no more overlay. And if 2D video is converted to 3D video on the display, the menu screen and status display get all buggered up. To fix it you have to turn the 2D to 3D conversion off.

rear panel angled

So - that's the upgrade, now who's it for? Custom installers and die-hard enthusiasts. Look, if you installed this AV receiver back in '09 and your client calls you wondering why their new 3D Blu-ray player doesn't work, this is your solution. If you're a die-hard enthusiast and you don't want to give up your flagship receiver, but want to add the enhanced benefits of Audyssey MultEQ XT32 - now you can. This upgrade isn't going to be for everybody, but we do appreciate how Denon is extending the life of one of its most popular flagship products. This is made even more important by the fact that, honestly, flagship products like this are coming out less and less frequently... so getting more life out of what you have is a great option.

receiver table

So here's the big question of the week: Do you want companies like Denon to put out new flagship receivers more frequently, or continue to provide updates to keep existing products more current? Let us know by leaving a comment on our video. And if you liked this review, please subscribe to our channel so we can keep bringing you more great videos. Also, Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/audioholics. And feel free to follow us on Twitter @AudioholicsLive.

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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Andrew Gash was the online personality for Audioholics' video reviews back in 2010. He's an accomplished video editor and scriptwriter and enjoys masochistic events such as entering 48 hour film festivals each year, for which his last several attempts have placed in various nominations and awards.

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