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Denon AVR-1912 review
As music and movie lovers demand more power and features, the number of brands entering the market through dealers also increases. Denon is one of the brands whose presence is well known in India. The new AVR-1912 is a receiver designed for enthusiasts who would spend a good bit on a surround speaker set. The receiver is a 7.1 surround one and has a bunch of features for media playback across a variety of other sources.
The Denon AVR-1912 is filled to the brim with features. There are 6 HDMI inputs at the rear and a single HDMI out, to connect all the devices to a high-definition projector or TV. In terms of output, there are seven output channels for seven speakers. The receiver can pump out 90W of power per channel, something that's more than enough for a decent speaker set such as Wharfedale's Obsidian 600. There are pre-amplifier outputs for the subwoofer. All of the popular digital audio standards are supported. It can channel 3D via HDMI 1.4a so you have no compatibility issues either.
Like on other high-end receivers and speakers, a microphone that helps in calibrating the receiver and output levels is bundled. With the speakers and microphone setup in place, a simple wizard guides you through measuring the volume levels from each of the satellites, thus calibrating the speakers. This is ideal for homes without great acoustics, which is required for such audio equipment.
iPod connectivity at the front of the receiver
One of the unique features of modern day receiver-amplifiers are its features. The AVR-1912 for one, comes with support for internet media streaming. There’s even Napster and Last.fm support. Support of these features may not be present in India though. Streaming of music through Apple devices is also available.
The receiver can be used even without the television or display turned on. Most of the settings and parameters are clearly visible on the display on the receiver itself. However, to be able to calibrate, tweak and make use of all of its features, one needs to view the user interface that in itself is very simple. A lot of emphasis is given to the speaker setup where a lot of fine tuning can be done. While the bundled calibrator does most of the job, you can fine tweak it to your liking using the distance setting, the crossover frequency tool and also by specifying the distance between speakers.
The user interface allows you to customize the AVR-1912 to a good extent. For example, you can disable the menus for sources that aren’t being used. The remote can also be used as a universal remote control for some of the others. Some of the devices supported are Blu-ray players, DVD players and cable TV boxes. The quick select buttons can be renamed to mention sources. A simple looking but effective, on-screen keyboard appears when you wish to do so.
Design and Build Quality
The receiver has a pretty sleak design and look to it. Like all high-end audio equipment, this too is painted black. The front of the receiver has a large display that shows a bunch of information about the settings and inputs. The quality of the dials is alright although we would’ve preferred solid metal dials. Besides the fine finish of the amplifier, there is the power button that glows green when the amplifier is powered on. The buttons at the bottom are of high quality and let you switch between key input sources quickly. These buttons are machined and have a good tactile feel to them.
6 HDMI inputs along with a whole bunch of connectivity options
Some audio connectivity options are also present on the front of the receiver. Like any good receiver, there are a whole bunch of connectors at the rear. The connectors are of good quality and the setting up of the receiver is reasonably simple. Setting up all of the connections takes no more than 10 minutes.
The remote control is somewhat thick and has the input source buttons on top followed by the quick presets. The volume and channel controls follow.
We tested the Denon AVR-1912 with Wharfedale’s Obsidian 600, a very good 5.0 channel speaker setup along with the Wharfedale Diamond SW150 subwoofer. The woofer was powered separately with an unamped connection sent to the woofer. The Obsidian 600 speakers were powered by the amplifier.
There’s no denying that the AVR1912 is a very capable amplifier. The Obsidian 600 plays along well. Details are all intact and there’s a decent punch from the woofer built into the speakers on the Wharfedale Obsidian 600.
Standard Denon remote design and layout
Audio quality was tested using a bunch of tracks in the lossless format using digital inputs. Genres varied from vocalists, symphony to metal. Crank up the volume a good bit and there are no signs of the amplifier giving up. Detail is maintained right up to 80 per cent of the volume or so, after which the volume becomes too high to listen in an average designed 20 x 15 ft room.
Tracks from groups such as The Cinematic Orchestra are beautifully rendered by the speakers, powered by the amplifier. There’s no muffling of instruments and identifying each one of them is easy. It’s especially the case with bands such as Animals as Leaders, BTBAM and Born of Osiris. Each fast-paced note played on the guitar is distinguishable by the synthesizer and the bass guitar. Vocalists such as Regina Spektor and Beth Gibbons sound natural and there’s no drastic change in tone or colouration noticed.
Our complaint is that at times, there’s a buzz that can be heard if you’re within 2 feet of the receiver. It also does get a little hot after some heavy usage.
The Denon AVR-1912's price in India is Rs. 45,900, so it doesn’t really end up being the cheapest receiver around. As far as its connectivity options go, it’s very good and it’s a solid solution for a good speaker set.
The AVR-1912 with its sleak front panel
When it comes to the Internet streaming features, we feel that a low-power HTPC with the correct software is the way to go. If you’re looking for something simpler, the AVR-1912 should be your choice. If you’re looking for a sound solution in the one lakh rupee range, then this receiver should be part of the setup.