Denon AVR-5308C1 7.1 A/V Receiver



Denon has made vast changes in their setup GUI over the last couple of models. Although it was always simple it wasn’t always intuitive. With the complexity and possibilities of the AVR-5308CI, this is a welcomed improvement.

There are essentially six parts to the setup including source, surround modes, auto and manual setups, a Parameter and Information menu, all to be explained shortly.

As I mentioned the 5308 is a multi zone receiver and there are 7 channels and multiple configurations; 7.1 of course, 5.1 with 2 channels for zone 2 or bi-amp the mains, 9.1 too if you use the left and right surrounds wired in parallel – you get the picture.

Although still impressive, the auto setup is now pretty standard on receivers of this caliber. Included for the 5308 is the Audyssey MultEQ® XT which optimizes the listening room by correcting for poor acoustics. What’s most important for anyone reading what this system does for the first time is it takes measurements at multiple listening positions in the room and creates a base curve.

Before you begin the process you have the option of saving some time and inputting the speaker configuration used, otherwise let Audyssey do it for you. It will calculate the size, channel level, distance to listening positions, creates bass management crossover frequency and how each speaker works with the subwoofer.

It will detect errors such as phase polarity, or if it can’t find a speaker you previously dialed in. Also it cannot take proper readings because of too much ambient noise present.

It does recommend you to take at least 6 readings from different locations however it always refers the main listening position as most critical because it measures all others against it. Manual EQ allows you to borrow the Audyssey curve and adjust to the levels of your liking and for each speaker!

Manual setup is just that, do it all yourself - speaker configuration, distance, channel levels and crossovers completed in the auto setup. The manual setup also includes amplification assignment and THX audio setup.

Distance is set in both feet and meters at 0.1ft and 0.01m increments and ranges up to 60 ft.  Channel levels have a variable from -12dB to +12dB or can be turned off all together. Crossover if not “Fixed” at THX rated 80 Hz, can be set as low as 40 Hz to as high as 250 Hz. An advanced menu will allow each individual speaker to have its own crossover setting. Crossover can be set from 40Hz to 250Hz.

THX audio setup includes requirements for an Ultra2 subwoofer(s) if used. A boundary gain filter can be activated if bass is too strong below 55 Hz. Required for THX are rear or back speakers and the setup asks for the distance between them. THX encourages placing them as close as possible by the way.

The Audio Setup includes selection of surround modes and stereo modes including down mix options. An auto surround mode can remember and store configurations for each input for both analog and digital from stereo to multi-channel signals.

Audyssey Dynamic Volume is basically a loudness control. Integral to Audyssey Dynamic EQ, Dynamic Volume controls those jumps in volume where dialogue is set at intelligible levels and sudden changes would be under control without losing dynamic range.

The Ethernet port or wireless antenna on the rear provides Network compatibility. In my case I was easily able to wirelessly connect to my household Verizon FIOS network. You do need some computer savvy if you choose to manually setup the connection but then if you have a computer or two connected, you’re already ahead of the game.

Rhapsody, HD Radio, Internet Radio and iPod

The AVR-5308CI streams the pay service Rhapsody music library and allows storing of favorite channels and playlists.

HD radio is somewhat slow in taking hold yet manages to grow as I was surprised to see how many stations in my area now transmit in HD. On the 5308, HD radio is a nice integration of with the FM broadcast as the receiver will essentially give whatever the best signal is whether standard FM or HD.

Internet radio through the 5308 includes 56 preset stations and can be accessed by genre and region.

If you’ve setup a media server in your home, the network connection will playback using the Windows Media Player or Windows Media DRM10 complete all complete with album art. Play a slide show if your server includes photos.

Have music on a USB device? No problem, the 5308 will locate and play it.  If you connect the Denon Control Dock (not included with the 5308), play your iPod easily.

Audio Setup

Audio Setup allows all inputs to be assigned their individual set of variations. For example you can rename any input, assign the digital or analog input, set the resolution from auto to 1080p, or adjust the level in both digital and analog from -12dB to +12dB.

DSP can playback up to 9 settings, from 7-channel stereo to mono, and many in between,
Including the surround mode for THX Home Cinema.

Direct Mode as you may know, will bypass tone controls whereas Pure Direct Mode, will turn off unnecessary video as well, both to improve audio playback.

A downmix option sets the dynamic range for Dolby sources and down-mixes to the fronts left and right if no center channel or surround speakers are used.

Speaker configuration on the OSD will give you a visual of your room, and add or subtract speakers including size. The subwoofer menu will also add and subtract up to three subwoofers and which mode you prefer including LFE+Main, or LFE-THX. You can also decide if you want the third subwoofer to only handle the LFE or Mix it across the board.

Denon AVR 5308C1 Receiver

The Surround Parameter in the Audio setup menu is really quite advanced. It can be both activated and changed in the setup menu but can also be conveniently called up from an independent button on the remote. In it are settings for room size and balance settings for front channels, “width” effects settings and time delay.

Individual tone controls for all inputs and for each speaker location, front, center, etc.

Likewise room EQ can be turned off, set to manual, or either Audyssey, or Audyssey Flat which applies the adjustment to all speakers. You may also apply the Audyssey to all the speakers except the fronts.

Night mode allows adjustment for dynamics during the evening hours - three settings in addition to off from low, middle and high.

Finally Audio Delay can be set for up to 200ms.

Video Setup

As I mentioned there are two outputs for independent monitors each with their own setup like resolution. HDMI allows you to choose: Color space in either YCbCr or RGB, an auto lip-sync. The setup can shut off HDMI control for any input not requiring such a connection. HDMI settings include video outputs

The video processor can automatically detect and convert the native signal to match the monitor’s format. Or you can choose to turn this conversion off as THX recommends for optimum pass through playback. The exception here is the 5308 is a remarkable video processor and likely better than most source inputs.
Picture adjustments when the signal is not sent at 1080p can be made for contrast, brightness, chroma level and Hue. Further, the 5308 has adjustments for DNR or noise reduction from off to high, a picture Enhancer up to +12, and a Sharpness setting from -6 to +6.

Network Setup

The Network setup took a bit of learning but relatively easy if you have some computer knowledge. It can actually search for your network on its own and found mine easily. It can go into a power save mode if not connected to a network. Of course this can all be entered manually

Denon AVR 5308C1 Receiver

This is also where a Rhapsody account can be established.

Other options include volume control such as power on level, or volume limit. A terrific little feature is Mute level which can also be selected from full to -40dB or -60dB. If you don’t have all the source inputs used, you may delete them so they don’t show up on the screen menu. Even the GUI has options for screensaver, wallpaper, format, text, etc. The four trigger outs can be set for different zones or source inputs. Lastly, a maintenance mode, Firmware update and new features can be added from this menu.

And with all the time you take setting up, you can lock it all from the curious.