Product Review

Denon AVR-5805 Sixteen Channel A/V Receiver

Part I

May, 2005

Piero Gabucci




● Codecs: Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX, Dolby
    Pro Logic IIx, Dolby Headphone, DTS, DTS-ES,
    DTS 96/24, DTS Neo:6, and HDCD

● 24/192 Differential DACs on Each Channel
● THX Ultra 2 Certified
● 4 Zone Capable

● Power: 16 Channels, 10 Power Amplifiers at 170
    WPC into 8 Ohms with 0.05% THD
● Auto Setup and Audyssey Multi EQ
● HDMI/DVI Inputs/Outputs

● Dimensions: 11 1/32” H x 17 3/32” W x 19
    7/8” D
● Weight 97 Pounds

● MSRP: $6,000 USA




Recall if you will, the scene in Meet the Parents where Ben Stiller playing Gaylord Focker is sitting in the bathroom chewing on nicotine gum, as he ponders wearing a bikini swimsuit given to him by the host, Owen Wilson’s character. He has a nervous blank stare, imagining the horror, the fear, and the humiliation once he puts on that suit.

Well maybe my situation isn’t quite the same, but after opening the shipping box, and placing the Denon AVR-5805 on the table before me, I glared at the unit, like a high-noon showdown. One of us may not make it out alive. Alright, I’m dramatizing, but this was not going to be an ordinary review, because the AVR-5805 is no ordinary receiver.

The AVR-5805 made its debut for me at the Pre-CEDIA Denon Press conference back in fall of 2004. At the time, Denon offered very little information other than to say, it’s a 90-pound behemoth, with 16 channels. Everyone oohed and ahhed, and giggled.

The second time I had the opportunity to actually listen and see the abilities of the 5805, I then witnessed the Audyssey’s MultEQ chip at work. I was startled at the sound, sitting in that hotel room in NYC.

Aside from CEDIA, CES 2005 was the 5805's coming out party, where hoards of people heard and watched this little horse perform.

Denon makes it clear this is not a replacement for the AVR-5803, so read on. If you purchase one of the first units available, do expect some significant upgrades later this year, probably June or July, 2005. One example of many upgrades planned is video scaling for Component to HDMI. Currently all scaling is 480i, so look for these changes by mid-summer. You’ll also be able to go on-line and download native resolutions for the specific monitor source you’re using.

Denon has its designers and engineers pushing the envelope with the AVR-5805. This receiver is really meant for the professional installer and/or the very serious home theater enthusiast. In fact, shortly after receiving the unit, I was informed of Denon’s mandatory certification requirement:

“Program guidelines mandate that all sales and installation staff must complete a comprehensive certification course by June 15, 2005 as a prerequisite to selling the AVR-5805.”

As curious as my nature is, I asked to be included in that certification the next time it was conducted in my area. This is not to say a 5805 purchaser needs such training, but I think Denon wants installers to be able to take full advantage of the 5805's potential.

Denon AVR-5805 Certification

Matt Good of Denon was kind enough to let me sit in on his one-day certification program designed for installers and retailers who anxiously want to work with the 5805. With a room full of installers, he began his presentation and handed out an agenda for the seminar. Fourth from the top of the list was - eek! - a quiz, of which Matt informed us that all must pass before he would let us out the room.

The day was informative and enlightening. I was fortunate to have had the unit about a month prior to the seminar, so I had an advantage of spending a lot of time with the 5805. Thankfully, then, I was ready for most everything thrown my way.

The Beast in the Cellar

Before I set up any receiver for review, I open and get familiar with it in my small office in the basement of our house. I won’t tell you what a struggle it was to get it down the stairs, but we both made it intact. Weighing just under 100 pounds, the underside actually has a fifth leg centered to carry its own weight. In fact the size and weight of the 5805 inspired me to build a rack to make sure for one thing, that it had suitable clearance for air, 6” in fact. The photo on the right shows the 5805 on the bottom with the DVD-3910 above. A DIY article for this nice maple wood rack is forthcoming. Most racks will simply not hold a receiver this tall.

The included 200-page (all English) manual is consistent with typical Denon instructions, but I will say it is more informative and explanatory, as this represents the first manual written by an American.

Internally, the 5805 has removable video and audio boards, opening the path to future improvements and upgrades, even those Denon hasn’t thought of yet. The chassis has six discrete power supplies and a thermostatically controlled cooling fan. Denon suggests connecting it to a dedicated 15 amp circuit.

The AVR-5805 has 16 channels (22 channels are possible with external amplification) of output and 10 fully discrete 170 WPC amplifiers that you can assign to any of the channels. With the potential for four independent volume controlled and source selection zones, the 5805 can be configured to give you, for example, one full 9.1-channel setup in the main room, (the unit defaults to give you a 9.1 setup) with a Zone 2 mono, or dual 5.1-channel setups in different rooms (capable of SACD and DVD-Audio playback in those zones), and 2.1-channels in another zone. Dual 7.1 setups are possible, but additional power amplifiers would be required.

With bi-amplification, two amplifiers can be used for each front, left/right, and center speakers. This is a snap compared to the bi-amping in previous receivers. The two final zones may also accommodate mono systems. You have the option to shut down any unused zones to conserve power.

Front Panel

The general appearance has Denon design written all over it. In fact it looks more like the 3805 stretched vertically. The large face plate features a smooth dropping front door flap hiding most input functions. The Red/green glow on/off indicates whether the unit is on, or in standby mode.

Two large silky knobs flank either side, one for source selection, while the second is the main volume control. The main display has a variety of information from input/output signal channel to RDS (Radio Data System) for those FM stations sending out additional information (e.g., the name of the album playing). The OSD, dimable to three settings, is large and readable yet restrained enough not to be considered gaudy.

Click on the photo above to see a larger version.

Directly below the main display panel, is the input source indicator. With 13 choices displayed, the selected one is illuminated in red, telling you where you are so you can spin right or left to get to that source quicker, small thing but very thoughtful. Keep in mind these indicators have fixed names, so if you decide to re-name the input functions (which I did), this display is only relative.

Also on the face are zone indicators, with up to four zones possible, the indicators light the ones active. Rounding out the last significant feature indicated on the front are three user mode displays. This function allows the user to store in memory three specific configurations for source, auto surround, and input mode, acting simply as a macro function.

Behind the panel door lies most of the processing selections (photo shown below), the system setup button, a Dolby headphone jack, and additional auxiliary inputs for video and audio, including Toslink optical. This is also where you plug in the set-up microphone.

Denon provides a small obscure removable plate for installers to place an RS-232C external controller for remote access. When an end user has a problem, or the unit needs software updating in can be done remotely from the installer’s office. Also, as each user is set up and upgraded, the user is given a profile and the installer can retrieve specific individual information. Amazing stuff really.

Click Here to Go to Part II

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