January 14, 2010
It’s sometimes hard to convince someone the importance of receiver. When we say the receiver is the heart of your system, it really is an understatement. It doesn’t just pump the blood of your home theater experience - the video and audio - but now can do much of the processing, routing, and control that you needed other devices for in the past. The receiver has become not only the heart but also the brain of you system.
Skimping on your receiver will inevitably lead to greater expenditures of time, money, and frustration down the road. The Denon AVR-4310CI is just a few models down from the top-of-the-line offerings from the electronics giant. Let’s not mince words - it’s pricey. At $2k, you’re looking at a serious outlay of money. But the question you should be asking yourself is, do I need all these features now or in the future?
The Denon AVR-4310CI is pretty typical for a receiver these days in that it is a large black box. The front is fairly subdued with a few buttons and a pair of large knobs at either side. If you look closely you’ll see a fair number of logos along the bottom of vanity plate. Underneath a retractable cover, you’ll find enough buttons to fully control the receiver in the case of a lost remote. Once you open that faceplate you’ll know you spent a good amount on your receiver - the “HDMI-6” label should clue you in. There is also a USB port, optical digital and stereo analogue audio, and a composite video input. You might be wondering why composite video is included instead of component but with the HDMI front port, there really isn’t that much to complain about.
The back of the AVR-4310CI is chock full of inputs and outputs. There are five available HDMI inputs and two outputs, three component video inputs and one output, three coaxial digital audio inputs, and two optical digital audio inputs with an optical output. This is a great feature if you are using an external DAC or recorder or perhaps to a second receiver/processor in a multizone application. Surely not something that everyone will appreciate but it is a feature that we’d expect at this price point. The number of composite/s-video/analogue RCA audio inputs is far above what you’d ever need with two sets of outputs (labeled DVR and VCR - like you’d use both) and one each for zones 2 and 3. Nine pairs of speaker outputs are available for use with the seven internal amps.
Just about every input on a Denon receiver is assignable. You don’t need to locate the DVR input if you don’t want to. It will make things easier down the road as the DVR button on the remote will actually switch to the DVR rather than you having to remember that HDP=DVR and DVR=DVD and DVD=… well you get the picture. Regardless, the labels that you will see displayed on the front panel of the receiver and the onscreen display can be changed so that even if the button doesn’t match the function, the onscreen label will let you know what it does control.
You’ll want to connect all your speakers and sources as well as the antennas for your satellite, terrestrial, and HD radios. Also, don’t forget to connect an Ethernet run to your router for this networking receiver.
The Denon AVR-4310CI has a full compliment of auto setup and calibration options as well as a number of user-configurable features that need to be addressed. Audyssey and Denon have had a long history together and the AVR-4310CI is no different. Audyssey’s MultEQ XT is the top of the line from the company which strives to make every seat the “best seat” for playback.
The AVR-4310CI has the much lauded Anchor Bay VRS video processing. This is an upconversion technology that essentially makes all of your video sources look as good as possible. While you won’t need it for 1080p native sources like Blu-ray, DVDs, cable TV and more will all benefit. What you want to find out is the native resolution for your display. From there, you want the AVR-4310CI to convert all video signals (sans Blu-ray) to that resolution.
Network streaming with the AVR-4310CI is a good deal easier than I would have thought. I used the AVR-4310CI with both Windows XP and 7 and had similar experiences. Since the connection is hardwired to your router, you won’t have to worry much about security or even a connection. I completely forgot about this feature until the receiver was turned on by the family while I was working in my office and an icon popped up letting me know. I was able to double click on the icon and after a few seconds of drivers installing I had complete access to the receiver. This was kind of fun since I could change inputs from the office and make my family think it was possessed and therefore I should be the only one to use the remote. Everyone won as far as I was concerned.
The network ability of the AVR-4310CI is twofold - you can stream to the receiver or control the receiver from a networked computer. When controlling the receiver you have access to all the menus you would from the GUI.
Listening and Viewing
The Denon AVR-4310CI never lacked for power to push most of the speakers I mated it with. Audio was clear and uncluttered with no evidence of strain. Audyssey worked well with it but as we’ve reported before, it does tend to suck some of the volume off the top end. With Audyssey engaged, I found that my general listening volume went up from 5 to 10dB.
The upconversion capability of the Denon AVR4310CI is rock solid. With a decent display (or even a mediocre one) you’ll end up with a great picture. One testing projector failed a number of HQV tests on its own but once the Denon AVR-4310CI was introduced, provided a stunning, artifact-free picture, even with standard DVDs and the notoriously bad Comcast signal.
Click here to read the full review from Audioholics with expanded information on each section.