2010 is truly a big year for 3D technologies as several new movies are being presented in 3D in theaters. This technology escalated when top TV manufacturers introduced 3DTVs so that consumers can finally enjoy a 3D cinema experience in their homes. Special 3D blu-ray content and 3D blu-ray players followed and it looks like the video gaming industry is considering the move to 3D as well. Now the top companies that produce A/V receivers like Denon are getting into the 3D game by taking their entry-level and bigger models that are meant for any kinds of home theater systems equipped with 3DTVs. One of these models is the Denon AVR-3311CI which rests on the near high-end category.
Latest Update: The Denon AVR-3311CI is now shipping and on sale at Amazon.com
Design & Connectivity
Denon continues their quality craftsmanship by using the same black brushed aluminum materials for a durable and sleek look that should match the other home theater components nicely. In fact, those upgrading from the older AVR-3310CI will notice that newer model looks very similar in a lot of aspects save for additional Audyssey DSX logo on the bottom panel which denotes Denon’s ability to dramatically expand your home cinema soundstage..
The AVR-3311CI is big and packed with functions and ports with two large knobs on each side where the right knob controls the master volume and the left knob handles the source select. Below the Master Volume are three quick select buttons. Below the Source Select knob are the tuning preset, zone select, source and iPod play buttons. Below these is the power button that changes color depending on the receiver’s state.
The large screen display looks similar to the older models but the both the Audyssey and 3D logos stand out as the two features that make the AVR-3311CI and other Denon 2010 models stand out.
It comes with an impressive range of connectivity options, most notably 6 HDMI inputs and 2 HDMI outputs. Also included are built-in Sirius and Ethernet LAN ports for internet radio streaming and networking capabilities.
The Denon AVR-3311CI features 6 HDMI inputs with one of the inputs conveniently found on the front panel. All of these HDMI inputs has the latest 1.4a standard. HDMI 1.4a was released early 2010 and is responsible for 3D formats for broadcasting live 3D content as well as 3D pass-through for broadcasting movie and game content. This new standard also features the Audio Return Channel which eliminates the need for a separate S/PDIF audio connection as it sends audio data directly to the AVR-3311CI. There are also 2 HDMI outputs so both a television display and a home theater projector may be used simultaneously.
Denon has always pride itself for producing equipment that sound good. It uses the latest technologies available in the industry. Several of the audio technologies are powered by Audyssey which adds great depth to the listening experience. One of the technologies exclusive to the new 2010 models including the AVR-3311CI is the Audyssey DSX. The approach is different than the competing A/V receivers that purely rely on bit rate. To vastly improve the sound experience, DSX makes better use of the 7.2 configuration by adding width and height channels for better coverage. An ideal setup is to have these channels come from different directions and distances to simulate a 3D sound environment. This effect is similar to the new Dolby Pro Logic IIz codec which the AVR-3311CI also supports for decoding. However, unlike its more expensive siblings, it does not support Denon Link 4 jitter reduction.
Setting up the room is simple thanks to the Audyssey MultEQ XT room acoustic correction system. It works like the standard audio calibration systems where an included microphone is placed on the ideal listening spot so the A/V receiver can fine-tune the settings for all the speakers. The Audyssey technology does a good job in making sure the surround sound experience is solid and takes advantage of DSX. The Power Amp Assign function further optimizes the speaker configuration by letting the user choose the right amplifier for the entire setup.
Like the older models, Dynamic Volume support these technologies nicely by adjusting the volume automatically when it detects a sudden rise in volume such as a commercial break. It works with the Dynamic EQ to keep the tones balanced regardless of the volume level. Other sound decoders that the AVR-3311CI supports include the standard Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.
The new entry-level Denon 2010 devices have several of these features mentioned above as well but the AVR-3311CI is network ready capable of handling a wired LAN connection that puts it on the home network map. This allows the device to connect to music services including Napster, Rhapsody, and Pandora with internet radio support. It can also access Flickr for viewing photos and other DLNA-compatible systems within the network. HD Radio is supported as well which is basically radio that has the sound quality of a CD.
It also supports high resolution FLAC files. If you have music stored as FLAC files on your PC, you can now stream them to the AVR-3311CI for playback through the home theater system.
“I’ve had this amp about a month now. Setup was very easy. I had it playing Blue-rays and doing everything else before I opened the manual. Having one wire from each component and only one wire to the TV is fantastic. The sound is great. This replaced an older Harman Kardon with digital inputs but no HDMI. I’m not an audiophile but I enjoy good sound. This amp is perfect for me. The list of good things can go on for a while, in the end, it’s an amp, it has a good price point, it does what it does, it does it very well and it’s easy to use.” – Andrew G. (NJ,USA)
Anchor Bay made some improvements with the ABT-2015 video processor which now provides Precision De-interlacing to eliminate artifacts along with the ability to upconvert any sources connected via HDMI to 1080p 24fps/60fps.
To put the video and audio quality to the test, it is a best to try out a new 3D Blu-ray movie like Monster House 3D. This movie strives for quality as it uses the 2.40:1 widescreen aspect ratio and AVC MPEG-4 codec. Although there are some points of inconsistency, the 3D effects are presented very well and even the 2D version of the movie performs well when used with the Denon AVR-3311CI.
The audio track does not make full use of the speaker configuration, but it does use the DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 codec for a quality audio experience where the Audyssey technologies still kick in. The sound design is very lively and the bass is much deeper when played with the AVR-3311CI. It is expected for future titles to impress as they get more creative with the audio design and 3D features.
The Denon AVR-3311CI is a solidly built machine with improved features and performance and is considerably cheaper than the outgoing model when it was first released. It is also future-proofed should you decide to switch to full 3D playback in your home theater.
More user reviews:
• “I’m an audio video integrator, and recently installed my first 3311. Fantastic product, does everything you would want at this price point. On-screen display, complete video upconversion to HDMI, HDMI 1.4, lossless codec decoding, Audyssey MultEQ XT, Dolby Pro Logic IIz (height channels) – very solid.” – R.T.Jones (CA,USA)
• “It’s been a great unit so far. Sounds great and video quality running through the unit is looks perfect. The only negative is that the user interface for the network features is pretty amateur, but functional nonetheless. Overall, I’m quite happy with it.” – C.Wadle (USA)
• “Performance-wise, I have no issues with this unit. The video and audio performance look and sound good to me and my family. I’d buy one again and recommend it. It wasn’t cheap, but the extra features it brings are worth the extra expense to me. I do use and value them. Everything works, but it’s very complicated and takes a long time to fully figure out.” – J.Moomaw (OR,USA)
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