Receivers

Denon AVR-3310CI 7.1 A/V Receiver

ARTICLE INDEX

The Design

The front panel of the AVR-3310 looks like most receivers, with the Power On/Off, Standby, Source Select and a few other buttons along with the volume control on the right.

Behind the fold down panel are the controls for accessing the menu structure, which includes running the automatic setup of the Audyssey Room Correction embedded software. If you are upgrading from a receiver that does not have auto room correction, you are in for a nice surprise. It really works! You simply plug the included microphone into the receiver, press the Menu button and go to the Auto Setup. It will step you through the procedure, and will ask you to place the microphone in several different locations, each time gathering sound data, before it concludes. At that point, Audyssey will be highlighted on the display panel, but you can turn it on or off by use of one of the panel buttons. You should do this just so you can hear the difference that it makes, which is quite noticeable, and for the better.

The front panel also has a USB port so you can play music stored on a thumb drive, and there is another set of S-Video/Composite Video inputs with an associated pair of analog audio jacks.

The power amplifier section is rated at 120 watts RMS x 7 into 8 ohms, and 160 watts RMS into 6 ohms. This means it is not rated into 4 ohms, and you will see in the Bench Test section why this is so.

The 3310 has a video processing section for scaling to whatever output resolution you prefer, including 480p, 576p, 1080i, 720p, 1080p, and 1080p24. You can select the aspect ratio as well (16:6 or 4:3). I left the video processor in the Off position, as I select the output mode I want in the DVD player.

Two remote controls come with the 3310. All of the features are accessible from the large one, and the feature you are most likely to use are on the smaller one. I especially like the way the volume control is set up as it is very easy to change the volume on individual channels. With many receivers, volume control for individual channels is several layers deep into the menu structure. Neither remote control is backlit. The larger remote has another set of buttons on the back, so you can pretty much do everything you want with it.

The rear panel is one solid wall of connections. At the top are the HDMI inputs (5) and HDMI output (1). An Ethernet port is just to the right of the HDMI jacks. This is used to connect to your network for updating the firmware. Underneath the HDMI jacks are the composite video sets and component video sets. The composite video sets include stereo pair of analog audio inputs which can be used by themselves for analog stereo (you just don't use the composite video jack associated with that audio pair).

There are nine pairs of speaker binding posts. Seven of them are for the front left, right, center, surround left, right, and rear left, right. The two additional pairs are for speaker set B, so you could connect those to a pair of speakers in another room and listen to stereo music, or Zones 2 or 3, or split mono between the two zones. Additional Zones 2 and 3 are stereo analog out, with Zone 2 having a composite video jack associated with it. I am waiting for the day when the manufacturers say, "Adios" to composite video connections. Maybe S-Video as well. All the new DVD players have HDMI outputs, all the new receivers have HDMI inputs, and HDMI carries not only Blu-ray video, SD video, but audio from CD, SACD, and DVD-A (up to the full 24/192 sampling). Losing those outdated inputs will give consumers more wiggle room for the other jacks, as well as eliminate that nightmare of a dozen or more cables behind the receiver.

One item they should not make disappear is the Phono input, and there is one present on the 3310 (MM - Moving Magnet). Turntables and vinyl are making an explosive return in the consumer arena.

The receiver has connections for satellite radio, which requires a paid subscription, but you can also listen to free Internet Radio stations via the Ethernet connection to your router. Going into the menu will allow you to see a list of stations, of which there are thousands. There is also a Denon Link, which connects to the Denon Link output on some Denon DVD players. This lets you send the digital bitstream from the player to your receiver for decoding. It was invented by Denon back when Hollywood was still procrastinating about letting consumers have access to the digital bitstream from DVD-A and SACD. However, that has been solved with HDMI, and you can get the bitstream via that connection now.

Lastly, there is a port for the ubiquitous iPod, but the dock that goes with the Denon is an optional purchase. You can operate the iPod from the receiver's remote control using this dock.

At the far right are two AC sockets for accessories. They are both switched, which means turning on the receiver activates those sockets. I have this same feature in one of my reference SSPs, the Denon AVP-A1HDCI, and I use one of the sockets to turn on a small fan and the other to turn on a 25 watt lamp that is sitting behind the flatscreen HDTV. The light serves as a bias, which makes the blacks appear blacker.

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