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Denon Turns 100 - New Receivers, Blu-ray, Headphones

by April 27, 2010
Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you...

Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you...

What do you do when you turn 100? Well, I would probably start buying stock in prunes. But if you're Denon, you use it as a platform to announce your new 2010/2011 lineup of products. While we'll be doing first looks and reviews of many of these in the days to come, first we wanted to give you an overview of what to expect from the electronics giant. Since their press event was only yesterday (though their birthday isn't until October) this is very up-to-the-minute stuff.

Grow share in AVR category

Denon is looking to extend their lead in receiver sales. While they already have a large presence, they don't seem to want to be satisfied until every house has a Denon in it. First and foremost, they are looking to provide a fully featured entry level product. Known as the S-5BD, this all-in-one unit (read the first look here) epitomizes Denon's new line - simple and clean. With future Denon receivers you're going to see less analogue video connections (say good-bye to those rows of composite inputs) in lieu of more HDMI. You're going to see more network streaming including FLAC HD, Pandora, and Flickr support. Most importantly, you're going to see HDMI 1.4a inputs and outputs. While the competition is touting HDMI 1.4, only 1.4a (a spec that was released before the hardware for 1.4 had even hit the streets) is guaranteed to support Side by Side and Top and Bottom broadcast 3-D video. Both 1.4 and 1.4a will support Blu-ray and Game content for sure but it is unclear if 1.4 will support broadcast content (at least according to Denon - other manufacturers might disagree on this point). 

Like the S-5BD, future Denon AVRs will support iPhone and iPods via USB. While Denon is also one of those manufacturers that sells an optional dock, the USB connection will get you PCM digital audio playback, charge the battery, and will let you control the iPod/iPhone from your AVR remote. The dock will do all that plus add video and ASD-51:digital audio playback. Either way you'll still be able to answer calls on your iPhone. 

In addition, you're going to see more receivers with more amps, more zones, more HDMI outputs (well, more with two outputs), and more HD radio tuners. You're going to notice more receivers with HDMI inputs on the front. This is a great boon for those that have high definition devices like camcorders. For CI receivers you're going to find Control 4 certification and an additional year of warranty (bringing them to three years parts and labor).

Capture share in premium headphone category

Denon has already made inroads into the headphone community and they want to continue that trend. Their headphones have been very well received so far, so they are expanding their lineup by six. According to Denon, regardless of what reviewers thought of the sound quality of their headphones, they were always impressed with the fit and comfort. Denon wants to continue that tradition with their new line. To start off with, they will be offering noise-canceling (both in and over ear). These will range in price from $49 to $199. Four of these models will feature a three-button "on cable" remote control/microphone hybrid. This will work with your iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch 2G, the latest generation of Shuffle, and the iPad. This system is compatible with Apple Voice Control and will make controlling your music (or answering phone calls) much simpler. The Denon luxury-class offering in noise-canceling headphones will be the the AH-NC800. While the price is yet to be determined, Denon is bragging that they reduce ambient noise by 99%. To do this they employ an over the ear design and feed-back and feed-forward technology. In addition, they've included Denon's proprietary Compressed Audio Restorer (or you can use ours - storing everything in lossless codecs).

Drive step-up Blu-ray sales

We've got a word for you - one you've heard around here before - Universal. We often recommend universal players over standard players because, well, we have a lot of different types of discs. You might not. You might only have CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays. Denon, however, has committed to supporting as many formats as possible as all new Blu-ray players from this point forward from Denon will be universal. That means Blu-ray, DVDs, CDs, as well as DVD-A and SACD. You can also expect new Denon Universal Blu players (I'm still trying to get that one to catch on) to add streaming partners including YouTube and Netflix. For those that are big into their home networks, they'll be excited to learn that new Denon Universal Blu players will be DLNA 1.5 Certified as well. What does that mean? Well, all such devices on a network will recognize each other and are able to access content where applicable. That means your new Denon Universal Blu-ray player will be able to stream movies, music, and photos from your desktop.

Additional features of the new Denon players will be 1 GB of on-board memory plus USB ports to add more. This is a very cool feature that may be important in the future (1 GB is more than enough now, and pretty much required for new players). DivX HD+ playback will be supported which Denon claims the studios are in love with. They suggested that studios would start offering their content over this format. Loading times will be reduced with these new players (less than 20 seconds) and they will all be 3D ready. How much will all this cost you? Somewhere between $399 and $799.

Elevated support for authorized online dealers

While you might not think this will affect you that much, the fact of the matter is that competition breeds lower prices. While Denon suggested that they'd be screening their online dealers very carefully - which you can read as "they'll set the price we want" - it still means that there'll be more people out there selling Denon gear. That's a great thing as it equates to more access, more competition, and ultimately lower prices (even if it is only fractionally lower).


Are we excited about these new Denon products? Heck yeah! With Onkyo, Pioneer, and Yamaha already bragging about their new receiver offerings, we were starting to wonder what was going on over there at the Denon headquarters. One thing we've noticed about the other manufacturers is that the entry level receivers are really very competitive. We're talking features that you had to spend thousands to get only a year or two ago. We're going to be taking a very hard look at Denon's new receiver line as they've always been very competitive. Their commitment to Universal Blu players is also very laudable and we look forward to seeing how they stack up to the competition (particularly Oppo). With Netflix streaming, we're guessing we might see a shift in people's recommendations. Stay tuned for more.

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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