Denon AVR-2312

Denon has traditionally been a bit on the expensive side, but this reasonably priced receiver is a bargain, with ridiculously strong performance for the dollars.


8.9
CNET Rating
6.5
User Rating


Summary

The Denon AVR-2312 is a receiver at a sweet price/performance point. It's not so much that it's some kind of raw powerhouse, but that it implements a host of functions in a way that shows how it ought to be done.

Connections

Denon has provided seven HDMI inputs, one of them on the front panel, but still retains a couple of S-Video inputs as well. This is necessary because Denon has an iPod dock that plugs into S-Video, so it needs some backwards compatibility. There are no S-Video outputs because it is all converted to HDMI (or to, say, component video if your TV's pretty old).

The HDMI supports 3D and the Audio Return Channel.

Also on the front panel are good old-fashioned A/V inputs (including composite video), and good new-fashioned USB ports. Ethernet is at the back. Denon provides seven sets of loudspeaker binding posts for this receiver. You need to decide which speakers you want wired up at the outset. Any changes will mean physically rewiring.

Set-up

It was clear that the menus and control systems for the Denon receiver were based on the same model as those for the Marantz, but Denon's were just a little prettier, with graphical enhancements and one more selection point in the Wizard that guides you through the set-up. So in addition to talking you through speaker connections and running the Audyssey MultEQ XT auto-speaker calibration and selecting inputs for your source device connections, this Wizard helps you set its universal remote control to operate your other devices. It offers an alphabet so you can find your device by brand name. But it didn't list Oppo, which is one of our Blu-ray players, although it did have Yamaha, which is another one. It provided a code to key into the Denon receiver's remote control, which mapped some of its keys to provide basic control over the player.

There's nothing special about this, really, except that the receiver actively talks you through the process rather than leaving it to you to look up the codes in the manual — and it works. I will confess that this was the first time I've set up a receiver remote to operate any of my gear for, probably, years.

Sound

Audyssey did its usual good thing with correctly calibrating the loudspeakers and equalising the output frequencies to adjust for loudspeaker and room issues. But at the end of the set-up it sounded poor, thanks to the automatic setting to "On" for a sound adjustment called "Dynamic EQ". This is designed to adjust to the sensitivity of the human ear for different frequency changes at different levels. Turn down the volume with this on and the higher and lower frequencies are boosted.

One day I'll mount the argument why this is not a good idea, but for now let me just say that it does not sound good, and should not be applied without specific permission. To switch it off, search through the amplifier's menus for "Audyssey Settings".

While there in the Audio Adjustment part of the settings, find "Restorer" and switch that off as well. This purports to somehow restore to lossless compressed music. It doesn't. It merely manipulates it to make it even less accurate.

All that done, this was a wonderful-sounding receiver. At 105 watts it was near the lowest powered, but really there were only a couple of decibels in it. Except for unusually difficult loudspeakers, this receiver had plenty of power both for stereo and surround sound. The receiver sensibly defaults to stereo sound for two channel sources.

Video

This unit pops up its various menus over the top of whatever underlying video you may have going. In the absence of any video source, it just outputs at 576p. This is a bit softer than the regular menus, but is still presented cleanly and without any jitter in the hard edges.

This overlay worked even on frame-packed 3D content. Using 3D glasses the receiver's menu was hovering in front of the picture.

It doesn't offer upscaling, but it does a very nice job of converting analog video into HDMI. Even interlaced 576 content received high-quality progressive scan conversion for output via HDMI at 576p.

Note: the distributor advises that this receiver does indeed offer upscaling of both analogue and HDMI video signals, using the Analog Devices ADV8002 processor. It's a shame this option is so difficult to locate through the user interface, though.

iDevices

The new media support was basically the same as that provided by the Marantz, minus the jittery menu displays. Indeed, this appeared to work at 1080i rather than 576p. The unit will display photos from USB and DLNA, but you won't want to look at them because the unit wrecks their aspect ratio, squashing them vertically and stretching them horizontally.

The music is a different matter. Nicely handled from USB or DLNA, FLAC is supported in addition to WAV, MP3 and WMA. You can get around long lists of songs, artists and albums by keying for initial letters. Likewise, you plug an iPod into the USB for similar treatment. But the most fun for iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch music is to use Apple Airplay, which is built in.

As with all the other receivers, vTuner is the portal provided for internet radio. You can personalise your selection via the web using an authorisation code provided by the receiver. Also notionally available is Last.fm (which doesn't work in Australia), Napster (to which you need to sign up) and Flickr (which works, but thanks to the receiver's graphics renderer it gives you distorted images).

The end

But who cares about pictures? Few offer this at all. Denon has traditionally been a bit on the expensive side, but it seems the local distributor has been making aggressive use of the present strong Australian dollar. So this reasonably priced receiver is a bargain, with ridiculously strong performance for the dollars.

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Cheebba
9
Rating
 

"Only bought the AVR 2312 for the Air Play facility, awesome! Itunes at full throttle! All the other features are technically above my interlectual patience, But what receiver out there isn't? Well priced"

Cheebba posted a review   
Australia

Only bought the AVR 2312 for the Air Play facility, awesome! Itunes at full throttle! All the other features are technically above my interlectual patience, But what receiver out there isn't?
Well priced

 

BKJPM posted a comment   
Australia

We do not have, or look like getting DAB, so need AM/FM for many years

supa_advisa
4
Rating
 

"dated and difficult to use"

supa_advisa posted a review   
Australia

The Good:seems a little better than the last model

The Bad:No DAB

I have an older Denon AVR and am looking to upgrade.

My next unit must have DAB , at present I access digital radio by connecting a $100 DAB clock radio - not very satisfactory.

There is no excuse for the present crop of receivers offering am/fm.

Technical specs are only part of the the appeal of this equipment. Useablilty is the key and here my older Denon fails miserably. Black on black controls, endless menus, menu abbreviations requiring constant reference to the manual to understand and a lack of intuitive process mean that my wife and kids will bypass the unit every time as the set up to watch a movie or listen to music is too cumbersome.

This new model does nothing to address the fundamental problems of the current batch of AV equipment.




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User Reviews / Comments  Denon AVR-2312

  • Cheebba

    Cheebba

    Rating9

    "Only bought the AVR 2312 for the Air Play facility, awesome! Itunes at full throttle! All the other features are technically above my interlectual patience, But what receiver out there isn't?
    ..."

  • BKJPM

    BKJPM

    "We do not have, or look like getting DAB, so need AM/FM for many years"

  • supa_advisa

    supa_advisa

    Rating4

    "I have an older Denon AVR and am looking to upgrade.

    My next unit must have DAB , at present I access digital radio by connecting a $100 DAB clock radio - not very satisfactory.

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