In the past 3D motion pictures can only be experienced in the cinemas. Now virtually every major television manufacturer is bringing these technologies to the home and they are taking the glasses with them. In fact, some of the manufacturers are even trying to replicate these 3D effects without the glasses. The progress is really showing that 3D is having a pretty good future especially since the Blu-ray players are moving on to the 3D realm as well as the home theater receivers. Denon is considering the leap by releasing several models in the high-end, mid-range, and budget lineups. What makes these new models even more tempting is that they bring other features to the table as well so 3D should not be the basis. The Denon AVR-1911 AV receiver is one nice example of a well-improved mid-range A/V home receiver.
Design & Connectivity
One of the nicest aspects of the AVR-1911 AV receiver is that it maintains the sleek black brushed aluminum chassis which gives it a refined look. The layout remains familiar so existing Denon users should be able to jump right in the layout of the buttons and the ports.
The “Source Select” and “Master Volume” knobs balance the receiver being placed on the left and right respectively. Two smaller buttons which are the “Zone2″ and “Tuning” preset can be found below the “Source Select”. The power button and phones jack is present further down. The opposite end shows the input jacks and dedicated jack for the setup mic. A USB port is present as well to allow music streaming.
The “Quick Select” buttons that are found near the bottom middle are a bit larger making it easier to choose up to three saved presets of custom settings. The smaller and common “Menu”, “Return”, and “Surround Mode” buttons are found in that area too. Finally on the bottom center lies the “Enter” button surrounded by four directional buttons for navigation purposes. There’s a composite video input for connecting your camcorder for quick playback as well as an USB input that is iPod/iPhone compatible.
The back panel is a simple affair. You get 4 HDMI inputs and one output. For other video inputs there is one component video in and 2 composite video inputs. Digital audio outs are available through one coaxial and one optical output. Analog audio outputs are only in stereo with one output for subwoofer.
The Denon AVR-1911 comes with the HDMI version 1.4a which supports 3D video playback and ARC (Audio Return Channel). This reduces the number of cables even further as the TV only requires a single HDMI cable to output sound to the receiver. The other 4 inputs are nicely labeled making it ideal for a home theater configuration to include a Blu-ray player, DVD player, gaming devices, and SAT/CBL unit. This HDMI specification also carries x.v. Color and Deep Color support to allow both 2D and 3D visuals to appear more vibrant.
The 3D capabilities are just about as emphasized as the higher-end players with support for 3D Blu-ray pass-through. This means that any broadcasts or the latest 3D Blu-ray titles and games can be played back. Even viewers of non-3D content can benefit from the upscaling feature which can turn any standard-definition inputs to 1080p including signals coming from old VCRs and DVD players.
Like most Denon receivers, a number of audio technologies power the device to add significant value. It opens up strongly with full compatibility with the major HD audio formats including DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD to make the audio quality of Blu-ray titles as realistic as possible with good fidelity. The Dolby Pro Logic IIz takes the quality even further by taking the channels to new heights by adding a vertical plane to the soundstage making the experience more immersive. On the hardware end, the Denon AVR-1911every one of the seven 90-watt channels make use of its own discrete circuit for better sound reproduction than the integrated circuits.
The Audyssey technologies are reserved for the higher-end Denon receivers but the Audyssey MultEQ support still makes an appearance to make it much easier to set up the home receiver and adapt it to the current speaker configuration. It requires the included calibration microphone to be connected to the unit so the sound levels of each speaker are adjusted properly during the calibration phase. It offers full support for 7.1-channel configurations and setup remains easy thanks to this Audyssey technology.
While the networking features are completely absent, the USB port provides quality iPod support. The programmable remote also makes it easier to control multiple devices and the HD Radio support is a nice addition for improving the quality of both FM and AM radio.
Here’s a short video by CNET on the AVR-1911’s features:
Video processing is very powerful because the upconverting is powered by the Anchor Bay chipset which is a bit more powerful than the Faroudja DCDi chipset found in competing devices like the Onkyo models. The sound quality of the iPod is also noticeable as it makes use of a digital connection via USB rather than an analog one. Not only does it provide 1080p upconversion support but it comes complete with 24Hz/60Hz pass-through as well.
Monsters vs. Aliens was used for testing the performance of the Denon AVR-1911 because it is first Blu-ray 3D title that features full 1080p support. Once equipped with the glasses, the 3D effects live up to the hype. While there are some noticeable bleeding of the colors compared to the 2D version, the textures are transitioned very well making some scenes like the one that involves Insectosaurus render much better. It also does a great job bringing emphasis to the hair strands encouraging viewers to reach out and touch them. It is one of the few titles where the 3D version performs better than the 2D version without leaving anything behind. Monsters vs. Aliens did not make the most out of the Denon’s sound capabilities but that is understandable considering the fact that the 3D effects took up most of the 50 GB Blu-ray space.
The Denon AVR-1991 costs around $600 which is around half the price of the Denon AVR-3311CI. This is a good choice for people that do not need Internet features or for those that already own a TV or Blu-ray player that can connect to the Internet. It is not by any means exclusive for 3D users since the Audyssey technologies allow the Denon player to be setup much quicker and the HDMI 1.4a specs provide some nice enhancements too.
More user reviews:
• “This receiver is EXACTLY like the 791 except the 1911 adds HD radio and pre-outs for Zone-2. Everything else is the same. This receiver is an upgrade from a Sony HTIB system. In all regards it is better. Setup and all the configuration can be tougher than HTIBs. I use this with a Panasonic Blu-Ray, Sony CD and my iPod classic (5th gen). All work great. There was very little setup other than the initial speaker auto calibration needed. The only setup I did besides the auto calibration (Audyssey setup) was to delete unused inputs and change the Dynamic EQ offset on some music inputs. The speaker calibration (Audyssey) and Dynamic EQ make my somewhat mediocre older speakers sound wonderful. This is a huge selling point to me, compared to older receivers and HTIB setups. The USB port is great. It works perfect with my iPod. It is not sluggish when searching through artists. It plays music off USB flash drives too. I can quickly copy a few mp3 from my laptop to a spare USB drive and pop it in the Denon for music.” – E.J.Hayes (Oregon,USA)
• “For 20 years, I have always purchased what I considered to be the best of the mid-range names in receivers (JVC, SONY, etc). Stepping into the HDMI world, I decided to explore higher quality names such as Denon. By comparison, the sound that the AVR 1911 produces is shocking. I mean jaw-dropping. The music sounds so crisp and alive. It’s like fresh organic produce vs canned vegetables. The HDMI 1.4a support will allow me to upgrade to 3D devices with no problem. Denon could have improved the on-screen display — it’s very bland and could be more user friendly, but at the end of the day it’s the sound that proves its worth. I also tested the price equivalent Yamaha and Onkyo models. Both very good models, but with regards to sound, Denon wins.” – Carbonadam (USA)
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