- Written by Piero Gabucci
- Published on 02 March 2009
The AVR-5308CI (CI=Custom Integration) is the top of the line or flagship â€œreceiverâ€ offered by Denon. And although it was designed for the integrator to install, Denon has made some significant improvements with regards to usability and setup for the non-professional, especially in the new â€œGUI â€œ(Graphical User Interface) which is much more intuitive and logical. And the graphics sure are a lot prettier than before.
Secondly, included are a calibration microphone (a microphone stand would be nice too) and Audysseyâ€™s advanced and sophisticated auto setup, (currently found in many mid-priced receivers as well).
The AVR-5308CI is a THX Ultra 2 certified receiver with 150W at 8 ohms through 7 channels of assignable amplification. It supports multi zones in both analog and digital and also has an OSD for a second zone, hence a second remote. More and more later, stay with me.
Denon has refined the styling of their receivers over the last few years to give the â€œboxâ€ something other than a utility look. The edges are rounder; the buttons hardly used are well hidden behind a panel and a Denon provides a large screen for easy legibility. And seriously, doesnâ€™t everyone hate all those silk screened logos glaring at you that Denon (and ultimately you) pay for? Denon stylishly made them tone on tone instead of glow in the dark white. So thumbs up on the refinements.
All those logos however do tell you this unit is stacked and complete with all the latest from Dolby, dts, Audyssey, THX, Rhapsody, XM, HD Radio, HDMI (of course), and even Windowâ€™s Vista. There are a lot more including a few Iâ€™ve never heard of which Iâ€™ll discuss, but you get the idea.
Although there are is the gamut of connections on the rear, behind the smooth operating front panel flap door are a few more inputs â€“ HDMI, S-video, optical and a USB port. The flap door also hides many of the commands including setup.
An immediate scan of the rear shows the plethora of connections weâ€™ve become accustomed to for high end receivers. I liked the first time I saw the speaker posts (22 total in this case) stacked on either side splitting left and right channels, freeing up the middle for all other connections. Speaker binding posts are solid and can receive banana plugs and are slotted for bare wires. Conspicuous is a swiveling wifi antenna.
Six HDMI inputs (which seem hardly like a lot anymore) and two monitor HDMI outputs are stacked neatly above four digital inputs of coaxial and optical with four optical outputs as well. Denonâ€™s proprietary digital Denon LINK, 3rd generation (SACD ready) and BNC inputs also included.
Like me, some still use component (I havenâ€™t upgraded to a 1080p display yet) and the 5308 has five inputs and one output. Analog inputs in S-video, composite and audio left and rights still fill the back with seven inputs, and a few outputs for zones 2 and 3 including a component output for zone 2.
External inputs for all channels and pre-outputs for all channels including surrounds for other zones and adding a second zone and third zone for stereo.
Rounding out the inputs include an XM antenna, a wifi coaxial, FM/AM tuner with coaxial, a USB port and an Ethernet connection. A dock control for iPod, an HD radio antenna, phono inputs for a MM cartridge, several DC triggers, and 2 RS-232 connections along with 3 AC outlets and a detachable power cord location.
Internally Denon has arranged the circuit boards to shorten both audio and video signal paths to improve performance. Audio and video power amplifiers have been separated along with a large Toroidal power supply driving discrete mono block amplifiers for each channel.
Denon includes 3 32-bit floating point DSPs (digital signal processor), and all output channels boast two X 12 Burr-Brown DACs. And of course Denon includes their proprietary Advanced AL24 processing for analog signals.
Along with THX Surround EX decoding, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital + and dts-HD Master Audio decoding, the 5308 will decode MP3 and WMA files and something called Neural Surround Mode XMHD for surround modes from say XM radio.
Over the last couple of years video processing has become more important in receivers, typically in the past it was â€œpass-thruâ€ or lately up-scaling. The AVR-5308CI uses the best from Silicon Optix in the 10-bit Realta HQV processor. Along with HD de-interlacing and scaling to 1080p, the Realta processor also includes for Denon, Noise Reduction.