Most of the time, of course, you're going to be using the AVR-2307CI's remote control. It's identical to the metallic-gray unit that Denon packs with its home-theater-in-a-box systems, a two-sided control wand with most (but not all) everyday controls on the front and the generally lesser-used controls on the backside. The problem is that such an either/or control split doesn't work so well for an A/V receiver. For example, Phono, CD, and surround selectors reside on the bottom face, under a hinged door that we found downright inconvenient to pry open. We also had to study the user's manual to discover how to access the AVR-2307CI's multichannel input from the backside of remote. Ergonomically speaking, it's not our favorite Denon remote, but it's still better than the awful soft-touch membrane remotes of a few years ago.
Ah, but the manual speaker setup navigation is easy as pie, and the autosetup/calibration is even better. We especially like that it's less demanding than Denon's Audyssey MultEQxt Room EQ-based program that we've used on the higher-end models starting with the AVR-2807. That receiver requires the user to move the calibration mic to several different locations in the room. We had the AVR-2307CI's autocalibration squared away in just a few minutes. The manual -band EQ system is adjustable for individual groups of speakers: Front Left/Right, Center, and Surround. While the auto EQ'ed sound was fine, we preferred the results we obtained manually. The Denon AVR-2307CI is a seven-times-100-watt receiver offering a full selection of Dolby, DTS, and proprietary surround modes. Connectivity runs to five A/V inputs, including the front panel's set, all of which offer composite or S-Video connectors. In addition to the three component input sets, there are two HDMI inputs.
As far as HDMI niceties, the AVR-2307CI is a mixed bag. On the positive side, the HDMI 1.1 jacks have no problem passing 1080p video, so they'll work well with the latest HD-DVD and Blu-ray players, including the PlayStation 3. And because the HDMI connections can pass both HD video and multichannel audio, you need just a single cable running from a DVD, an HD-DVD, or a Blu-ray player. (The AVR-2307CI can pass the uncompressed linear PCM soundtracks on Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs, as well as decode Dolby Digital and DTS bitstreams.) The receiver also offers video conversion from all of its analog video inputs (composite, S-Video, component) to HDMI.
So far, so good--but the 2307CI is missing the other two parts of the equation, features that made the AVR-2807 so easy to use. It doesn't offer de-interlacing (480i to 480p conversion), so all of the analog video remains in its native resolution. (That differs from what Denon originally told us--and what we originally reported--when this model was first announced.) For component-video sources, that can include HD video, but for any composite or S-Video sources--including such common devices such as VCRs, camcorders, video iPods, and older game consoles--it's 480i. Furthermore, the AVR-2307CI's onscreen display shows only at 480i resolution over the HDMI connection as well. Both 480i limitations--the lack of de-interlacing and the dearth of onscreen display at HD resolutions over HDMI--mean the AVR-2307CI's HDMI compatibility is questionable with the many older and some current HDTVs that can't receive 480i video via their HDMI inputs. For instance, if you connect the AVR-2307CI to the Samsung HP-R4252, a 2005 plasma model, or the LG 42LB1DRA, a 2006 42-inch LCD flat-panel, via HDMI, you'll get a blank screen when you switch to a 480i video source or when you access the onscreen display, because neither model can accept a 480i video stream via HDMI. That means you'll need to run a second video output--composite, S-Video, or component--to the TV, just to see those non-HD video sources or to access the onscreen menu. That's a pain you wouldn't have if you were using lower-priced competitors, such as the JVC RX-D412B or the Onkyo TX-SR674, which offer the de-interlacing feature.
For non-HDMI sources, the standard digital audio connections are more than ample: you get six inputs (four optical, including a front-panel connector, and two coaxial) and one optical output. There are also three sets of analog stereo inputs: one is a dedicated phono hookup, and another includes a record-out loop. A set of 7.1-channel analog inputs for SACD/DVD-Audio or Blu-ray and HD-DVD players is provided as well. If you ever need more than the AVR-2307's 100 watts per channel, the 7.1-channel preamplifier outputs can be hooked up to a more powerful multichannel amplifier. And there's not only a set of B speaker outputs, you can also reassign the two Surround Back channels for use as Zone 2 speakers.
The CI in the AVR-2307CI name stands for Custom Integration, so Denon includes a wide range of multizone connectivity choices. They include Zone 2 stereo audio outputs for a stereo power amplifier, (but no video outs), two 12 volt triggers, and infrared in and out. The RS-232 port can be used with custom home automation systems.
The AVR-2307CI is XM Satellite Radio-ready--just hook up a Connect-and-Play XM antenna and subscribe. Unlike the AVR-2807, the 2307CI includes the latest Neural processing for decoding XM's "HD" surround channels. The receiver is also compatible with Denon's ASD-1R iPod dock and lets you access and control your music from the receiver's remote via the onscreen interface.