Denon AVR-991

Denon is one of the pioneers in the AV receiver industry, and is a leading brand till today. This is evidenced by its release of the Denon AVR-991, a mid-range home theater receiver. Being 3D enabled, in addition to an arsenal of features, it is sure to delight 3D aficionados, audio enthusiasts and movie fanatics alike.

Denon AVR-991

Denon AVR-991

Design

The AVR-991 looks like any other ordinary AV receiver. Compared to others in its price range, this receiver is a tad smaller, lighter and more spartan in outlook. The layout is similar to other Denon receivers, so existing Denon users should not have a hard time finding their way around.

The layout allows for quick access to most of the receiver’s functions. There are three QUICK SELECT buttons, which lets you choose from three saved preset custom settings at a single push of the button. For easy navigation around the AV receiver’s menu, cursor dials are incorporated, with the MENU, ENTER and RETURN buttons close by.

The SOURCE SELECT and MASTER VOLUME control knobs are placed on the left and right respectively on the receiver. Two smaller buttons, ZONE2 and TUNING PRESET, can be easily found below the SOURCE SELECT knob.

Connectivity

The AVR-991 has connection ports on both the front and back panel. At the front, there is the headphones jack, the dedicated setup mic jack, V.AUX connectors for linking your camcorder, and a USB port.

Back Panel Connectivity Options

Back Panel Connectivity Options

On the back panel are the various options for you to set up your home theater system. This receiver has 6 HDMI inputs and 1 HMDI output. 9 analog audio inputs, 4 composite video in, 2 digital optical and 2 digital coaxial audio inputs are also provided.

Internet access through the receiver is also easily obtainable through the ETHERNET jack. As the receiver is a SIRIUS Satellite Radio Ready unit, the SIRIUS Satellite Radio can be received just by connecting to the SiriusConnect Home Tuner and subscribing to the SIRIUS service.

If you are an Apple product user, there is also the DOCK CONTROL jack, which connects your iPod or iPhone to the receiver through an optional Denon dock.

Key Features

The AVR-991 incorporates the latest HDMI 1.4a standard, which provides Full 3D Pass Through and supports Audio Return Channel too. Equipped with Denon’s high resolution video processor, this receiver can upconvert standard definition video sources to HDMI, allowing for a single HDMI cable run to the television.

Furthermore, with the RJ-45 Ethernet jack, the receiver is your gateway to the wide array of content choices online, including subscription music services Rhapsody and Napster, photo viewing via flickr, internet radio via Pandora, and access to media on your DLNA-compatible multimedia home computer.

The AV receiver also incorporates the AL24 Processing Plus, an analog waveform reproduction technology, to support the 192-kHz sampling frequency of DVD-Audio. It will thoroughly suppress quantization noise with digital-to-analog conversion of LPCM signals to recreate the low-level signals with optimum clarity that brings out all the delicate nuances of the music.

Audyssey technology is also capitalized upon with the assimilation of Dynamic Volume and MultEQ XT, which moderates the volume level and provides advanced room correction and calibration technology.

High resolution audio decoders are featured as well, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. What’s more, the AVR-991 is one of the first few to feature Audyssey’s new DSX surround processor, which derives front height and width channels for a dramatically expanded front soundstage. The Power Amp Assign function lets you specify the precise amplifier and speaker configuration that’s right for your setup too.

Last but not least, Denon uses the GLO-KEY technology in the manufacturing of the remote controls. Made of fluorescent material, the glow-in-the-dark keys of the remote allows you to hit the buttons accurately with ease.

Setup & Performance

Setting up the AVR-991 is effortless, with the detailed guide found in the user manual.

Calibrating the receiver is also a breeze with the Audyssey MultEQ XT, which automatically gets the job done once you plug in the supplied microphone and start the auto-calibration routine as prompted by the graphical user interface. With the MultEQ XT, you will find that the bass response has been much improved, as the bass extension is considerably deeper and cleaner, and blends in nicely with the mids and the highs. Nuances are also much clearer and precise, while the soundstage will seem a lot deeper and bigger.

To check out the sound quality, Anne-Sophie Mutter’s high-rez 88/24 FLAC of Sarasate’s Carmen-Fantasie from HDTracks.com (stored on our thumbdrive) was used. The audio experience can arguably be one of the best any receiver could create. Channel separation was good as you could sense that the orchestra and soloist were virtually right in front of you. The attack, decay, sustain and release of the bow on the solo violin’s strings were crisp, clear and natural. The Wiener Philharmoniker also sounded realistically and accurately positioned behind the soloist. Overall, there was a stunningly natural stage ambience and depth.

Next, Warner Home Video’s Blu-ray release of Sherlock Holmes was used to test out the visuals. The picture quality was breathtaking – the colors were rich, deep and detailed. In Chapter 4, Holmes’ fistfight with another prizefighter was played twice, once in slow-time and once in real-time. Though the real-time action occurred in only a blink of an eye, the picture was impressively clear and blur-free, even with the disc on pause.

The AVR-991’s excellent decoding of DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 was further impressed upon us in Chapter 13, where there are loud action sounds, explosive dynamics and amazing surround effects. You will find it hard to keep from flinching when the huge capstan comes dangerously close to crushing Holmes and Watson.

The rotation of test discs on the receiver uncovered no obvious image and noise artifacts as well as shortfalls in color and resolution. Its online media-streaming abilities also functioned smoothly without a hitch.

Bottom Line

The Denon AVR-991 AV receiver is certainly a good buy, considering that it offers so many features and functionalities at a competitive pricing. With superior technology such as Audyssey MultEQ XT, Dolby Pro Logic IIz and dts-ES Extended Surround, this unit is surely an excellent addition to your home cinema.

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