Review of the Denon AVR 2809 as a processor

 Review of the Denon 2809 as a processor:

I have just bought this, and I am using it as a processor for my HT.

I had sold off my Yamaha 663 as I did not like the BTB/ WTW limitations, the lack of processing for lossless bitstream signals and that mine was a 110v USA model.

I then bought a 2309 which I sold in a week as the remote was truly aweful, so here I am with the 2809!

Initial impressions:
Great remote, lots of codes.
30 000 mFarads of capacitance instead of 24 000 on the 2309.
The flap is actually a hindrance and the buttons on the front are less friendly than the 2309.
The Quick Select buttons are great.
Setting up is highly dependant on the position of the mike, and you must turn down the subwoofer levels, less than 12 o'clock
Use as many positions as possible - see the Auddysey or the AVS 2809 forum for more info.

Had a chance to try some old familar hits with the 2809 last night.

IMO Audyssey is a real boon, and will help, with the caveats that you still need good speaker placement and room treatment. A DVD version of Band Of Brothers came alive and there was so much detail coming from all the channels. Placement of effects was stable and there was a good imagery created which was convincing and places you in the action.

Dynamic EQ works well esp since I really wish to keep all my hearing intact. The subwoofers still get a good workout, and yet dialogue is not overwhelmed.

Putting Indy 4 into my PS 3 was a totally higher level of HT enjoyment. First the THX trailer was awesome, with both subs firing, the room was physically elevated off the floor and yet the subtle bits of sound effects were still distinct and even in a busy action scene, the effects were still clear, clean and easy to follow.

Of course, having good speakers and a powerful power amp helps. (I am not using the internal amps and I am using this as a HT processor). Adding DPL IIx adds space and more dimension to the soundscape, but do not overpower the front channels with too much SPLs from the rear channels.

All in all, a worthy upgrade to the Yam 663.

The CPU of the 2809 seems faster too and setup time was less. Trying out my new Indy 4 BR disc and effects transit well, dialogue locks onto the screen well and effects are quite distinct. Of course this is also a well recorded disc.

More testing:

The remote is worth the upgrade alone!
It recognises my HD DVD player, my Pioneer, my Panny DVR and my Marantz CD player!
This remote ranks highly amongst the supplied remotes. It is important to have hard buttons for commonly used functions, and they are differentiated by size and shape. I once wrote a letter in Hi Fi Choice blasting the remotes from Linn, Audiolab and the old NAD ones because of this, glad NAD has changed theirs.
The winning feature of the Denon series is the HDMI power on control, where now I can switch off my amp and still get HDMI pass through to the TV so with the last set input, you can go direct to the TV, which works well for days when you do not want to switch on the amp or just keep it simple for elder folks.

In HT, there is a perceptible difference with the 2309 and there is a better implementation of the Auddyssey, and the difference in the enveloping experience is obvious. It is also much better than the Yam 663 in this respect, in generating the ambience required. The transition from the front to back speakers and back is done seamlessly and all this while dialogue is well defined. All this of course is still dependant on a good speaker setup and placement.

The other nice thing is individual channel crossover frequency adjustments. There is plenty of control of the various parameters to get a good fit to your speakers and room.

Dynamic EQ works well, and allows you to play movies at a lower volume without losing the bass effects. But it is more integrated and effective than a simple loudness button.
I have not tried the video processing as I can switch it off and allow pass through of the signals from the PS 3 and XE1 which IMO do a better job. I have also not used this amp in stereo.

This amp is a worthy addition to the mid-budget level amps and for those looking to get a simple yet sophisticated proccesor for their HT setup and are upgrading from older non-HDMI amps, this amp deserves a look.

Denon AVR 2809 Home theatre processor review

Watching Band of Brothers

Equipment list:

Essentially I am using my Denon AVR 2809 as a processor partnered with my Marantz SR 12 used as a power amp (110w per channel X 7 THX Ultra II reference series amp), and two subwoofers used together with my Monitor Audio GS series speakers. The speakers and subwoofers have been mentioned in other threads. I used the PS 3 and the Toshiba XE 1 as Hi Def players for this review.

Using a latest generation AV Amp with the latest and fastest twin 32 bit DSP and all the processing power with a better amp make sense for me. The ‘brain’ can process all the HT information, spread it into 7.1 channels and blend it into a symphony of cinema excellence without being hampered by a weaker power section, leaving this to another amp with 3 times the power (real world), capacitance and current drive.

I have seen BOB on VCD, DVD and now I am the proud owner of the Blu Ray edition and this is a good opportunity to use it as a Reference demonstration material for this review. BOB has been acknowledged widely as a superb piece of cinematic production, not only in its story, the sound construction and the whole HT experience.

Most of the review uses scenes from the 2nd episode, which ranks as the best for me of the whole series. I have fired everything from M16s to mortars to 108 recoilless rifles, thrown grenades and leapt from choppers, so I know what the real McCoy sounds and feels like.


We are about to assault the guns at Brecourt Manor.

Imagine you closed your eyes and listened, can you pin point the position of the rifles firing, outside the confines of the horizontal plane where the speakers are aligned and at a definite point in space which is somewhere between the centre and the right / left speakers but higher up corresponding to where the actual shot should be fired from. Then trace the flight of the bullets from the front surround field right through the rear surrounds and back without any gaps.

Then heard and felt the impact of the 108mm German guns as they constantly fired in the background. A distinct percussion, yet with the reverberations going round the surrounds, and yet you are able to keep up with the dialogue, and the small sounds of empty cartridges falling about.

Then imagine you are Troy as twice he gets blown up by grenades. The sound of dirt falling around you mixed with the splinters of wood. Then the fine buzz of flies in the June air around the corpse of Hall lying on the trench floor after he was blown up, with the sound of the canons still firing around you as you pretend to be Lt. Winters brushing away the dirt from his young dead face.

BOB offers so much more detail from the BR version, it is well worth the upgrade from the DVD. Its not about being louder, it’s the detail and surround field generated. If you have a good HT system, there will definitely be a noticeable difference. A good processor is required to crunch all the digital data and digest that and come up with that magical surround ambience. All the channels are kept busy and yet the individual detail from all the speakers can be followed with little difficulty.

Do try these scenes yourselves and see if you can get the same detail retrieval, but more importantly does the surround experience pull you into the movie or does it feel like several distinct bits, like you know there is a subwoofer in your HT room, a voice emanating from a central voice box, and some ambient noises coming from behind you.

Now I have tried this with lesser setups, and you know you are not in the battlefield. Surround effects are easily isolated and seem to emerge from boxes which do not sound natural. Bass is muffled and slow, or the centre speaker is not natural and produces a boxy or feeble voice which makes Winters’ manly voice sound like a child.

The Brains behind the power:

As I mentioned the 2809 employs the same chipset as the higher end 4308 and 3808, and Denon pretty much endows their amp with the best HT DSPs around. Add some more Burr Brown magic and experience at making HT amps from a long line of AV equipment. Perhaps the icing or the pinnacle of perfection comes from the new Audyssey XT which gives the balance of dynamics at lower volumes and room correction technology which goes a long way to making up for shortfalls in the home theatre environment.

Some of us have the luxury of a dedicated HT room. Of this few try and make it less echoic. Very few people have a really well treated room and most make do with a corner of the living room or a small study. There is I stress, no substitute for a well designed HT room which has been properly treated, SPL meter measured and calibrated. But this remains rocket science for most, and the new auto-eq and setup functions available is a real boon. I have tried at least 10 AV amps, and not all are improvements on the top models I had. But I will stand on record as saying, that this Denon 2809 has the best surround field and HT experience I have had so far. And I happily relish each moment I spend in my HT room.

Now I owned the 2309 for a week and there is a difference in the two. The HT processor is less capable in the 2309, apart from the awful remote control. But you pay more for the 2809. and I do not need the power from the 3808 nor the extra features.

Denon user interfaces are not great, their manuals are awful but once you have sat down to a well tweaked setup, it is HT heaven.

BOB is one of the finest HT productions so far, and IMO every HT fan should have a copy, and try it out to test their HT system. The sound engineers did a fine job, and you will enjoy it even more if you use a good quality HT system.

I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

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