Pros Sound quality/clarity in both Stereo and Surround, features galore, gui was nice/easy to navigate, sleek look, solid build quality, internet radio streaming via ethernet, sound restorer option
Cons Took some time to set up, was not ready right out of the box in my opinion, corny/odd remote , optional software for itunes streaming, no ipod dock included
Summary Overall this is a great receiver that looks very sleek and the build quality is awesome. I have had it up and running in my system now for several days and have played with most of the features. I did also have an Onkyo 805 here at the house so I will be comparing that to the 3808 several times throughout the review.
I will go over the positive experiences first. The first thing I noticed when opening the box was that it was packed perfectly. Then seeing the build quality out of the box, I was amazed, as I was with the Onkyo 805. I have had Pioneer Elite's in the past... and both Denon and Onkyo appeared to be built better and both were pretty heavy.
Once I hooked this receiver up, and went through the setup... I noticed how GREAT this system sounded. The clarity was amazing, I mean I was listening to Joe Satriani (self titled album) and I could hear him striking the strings on the guitar and in surround I watched Twister and every channel was very consistent, clear, and felt the entire movie around me. As opposed to the Onkyo 805 I believe the Denon was more clear but did have to be listened too at a higher Db than the Onkyo 805. The Onkyo was very good performer in surround as well as it seemed to push the center channel much more than the 3808, which some people like, the 3808 seemed much more consistent with all speakers not pushing one over another. The Onkyo 805 was louder and could be listened to at lower Db's but the Denon was much more clear on all channel. Onkyo 805 did not measure up to 3808 on stereo sound. The soundstage that the 3808 produces was terrific and the 805 appeared flat and not as clear.
The features of the 3808 were great with 4 hdmi inputs, ethernet input, mp3, wma, and radio sound restorer that will produce near cd quality sound from your compressed music. I put in a cd (dvp-ns9100es sony dvd/cd/sacd player) and listened to my streamed itunes of the same song same band, (Five For Fighting: 100 years), and it was pretty close, the cd player pushed the bass a little more and the soundstage was more center, but without switching between the two would have not noticed that much of a difference, and when the restorer is off you notice the difference as well. The ethernet connection is GREAT, you hook up the ethernet and the internet radio is right there at setup, couple of pushes of the button and you are listening to internet radio, amazing.
The Graphical User Interface (Gui) is a nice feature as well. It is very user friendly, colorful, and just a nice touch. It did take me some time to learn all the options, there are many, but once I read the book and used the gui it was easy.
Now for the minor complaints if you can call them that. I do not feel that the 3808 was ready right out of the box. I thought the sound without any adjustments seemed blah... dull.. flat. As opposed to the Onkyo 805 they was ready right out of the box... I like the sound settings out of the box better on the 805 than when I ran the Audessy mic set up on the 805. That was completely different on the 3808, you have to run the Audessy set up b4 getting that amazing Denon sound. The set up took some time as well.. I think I timed it at 17 minutes total, which is more of an annoyance than anything.. but 17 minutes for a lifetime of great sound... good trade off to me. It took me some time to know all the options in the gui and I am still learning all the options this machine has even today.
The remote is corny and to me not user friendly, you have to push dvd twice to control a seperate cd player/changer. It took me literally 10-12 minutes to find that in the manual as that was deep in the set up pages. I liked the old remotes on the 3805 better, big and bulky I know... but self explanatory.
For the price I believe the system should have an Ipod dock included, like the Pioneer Elite's. Also they could include the software to stream your itunes library through the ethernet, unless there are licensing issues. I would have been happy with either or from the above, but with all the other options... I just needed something to complain about because this system to me is plain AWESOME!
I would not trade this for any other receiver in its price range. I even feel the extra $500 over the Onkyo 805 was worth it to me. Both systems were worth the money I believe but I watch movies about 40% of the time, listen to cd's/SACD's about 40% of the time, internet radio/itunes 10%, and games about 10% so I was looking for a more versatile unit with the streaming, hdmi inputs, and the consistent sound between surround and stereo.
I highly recommend this unit to anyone looking in this price range. Excellent system overall in my opinion.
Pros Very, very good sounding amplifiers with loads of power to spare, I (at least) like the remote, Dolby TrueHD, Audyssey Pro setup, extensive connectivity
Cons HDMI switching is finicky, so beware you might end up with a $1,500 mid-range 7.1 channel audio only device.
Summary I purchased my AVR-3808ci from a local authorized dealer about 5 weeks ago basically by default. I really wanted to go with the Onkyo 805 for about $500 less, but nobody in my area had one in stock, nor would they for over a month. So after getting the price of the Denon reduced to $1,299, I went with it.
First impressions - I upgraded from a Yamaha RX-V2500 which I considered a very capable receiver with better than average sound quality. The Denon straight blew it out of the water. Never have I heard such an A/B difference between two similarly priced amp/pre-amps. The soundstage was immediately wider and more well defined, and I especially noticed a difference in the surround channels.
After running the somewhat arduous Audyssey setup, imaging and phasing were improved again dramatically, and I noticed that the Audyssey setup did not roll my subwoofer off to near inaudible levels unlike the Yamaha was prone to doing. The setup did falsely detect backward wiring in a few speakers, which I assume is due to positioning, etc. I was able to get all tests to pass after fiddling for a while though.
The receiver also has a remarkable bevy of inputs and decoding formats, including "Doubly" TrueHD 7.1 which you can make use of if you have a device capable of outputting it and an HDMI 1.3a connection (or 5.1 via the analog ins).
But here's where it gets interesting. The Denon would not display HDCP protected or analog upscaled content via my HDCP compliant DVI-D display device. All I got was colored snow. This is uh, "kinda" a big deal obviously.
Denon has been contacted about the issue and promises to address it, however it has now been over 3 weeks and I have no response despite a few follow-ups. At this point I have circumvented the problem by using a different display, but obviously that is NOT an ideal solution.
Another downside to the lack of display is that you don't get to use the massive amount of on-screen display capabilities that the Denon has to offer.
So anyways, in the interest of space, that's it. This would easily be a 9 or 10 if it weren't for the HDMI problems, and once corrected, should be bumped up accordingly.
Pros great sound, lots of options and GUI is a big plus
Cons Not as intuative but through not hard to figure out
Summary I consider myself a middle of the road techy person -- not clueless but not a bits and bite man either. I understand most of the jargon that is thrown around so my opinion of the 3808 is probably close to the above-average consumer.
I bought this receiver with the sony kd60a3000 and B&W 683 series sound system (fronts and all). The audio with my rotel amp hooked up sounds incredible. I can hear the acoustical nuances that I've never heard before and he bass on a timbaland track is clean. I also hooked up my Western digital HD with all my music via usb and it works great. I've found that the secondary controller works better for streaming audio as it gives you teh stop, back and play functions like a CD player. The search function can only be performed from the second controller too so that's another reason to use it. The ethernet hook up is cool for radio and downloading their firmware instantly...very handy for the latest firmware I recently downloaded to fix the GUI issue. Also, you can access music of your PC only if Win media player is on. I use my server for this because I hate having to turn on my pc all the time just to listen to music.
The HDMI switching has a 3 second delay before switching but that does not bother me. If nothing else, it let's me know I've 'switched' sources. I have att uverse and I've notice some lip sync issues that made me turn the auto lip sync off. That seems to help but the video seems to be barely off still...I only notice because I'm trying to catch it. I read there is a manual audio delay that can adjust to fix this but I haven't messed with it yet. Also, the receiver does not run hot like the onkyo 875, 805...etc. Even after 4 1/2 hours of constant use, it's just 'warm'.
Anyway, this receiver is awesome and I would recommend it to anyone who is/will invest in a componetized home theater system greater and want a somewhat 'future proof' receiver that delivers fantastic audio and great video capabilities. Even as the video technology progresses, I plan on keeping this receiver for 10-15 yrs if it will last that long if nothing else, for it's audio.
Pros great sound! lots of inputs; easy setup
Cons the video "upconversion" could be a bit better
Summary I LOVE this receiver! I was using a Sony STR-DE 695 for several years. I thought I was watching movies in surround sound - wrong! This receiver is sending so many detailed sounds to my speakers that I find myself watching DVDs I haven't watched in years just because it's fun again! I'm never going to the movies again.
Pros Sounds great, solid unit, more than most would need.
Cons GUI is cumbersome and HDMI switching isn't the same video quality as going directly to the TV. Pictures seem softer.
Summary I replaced my Denon A/V 2106 with this one so I could have 1080p HDMI switching and more power. It definitely has more power with lots of inputs. More than anyone would need. The Auto setup for the speakers takes a long time to do. (close to 1/2 hour for eight seating positions) The GUI setup is a little confusing at first, so read the manual closely. The HDMI switching doesn't seem as clear as going straight to the TV. I have a BluRay player and DVR and going straight to the TV is sharper. It made standard definition TV look better, but not the 1080p signals. I'm currently waiting on DENON for a response to this issue. All in all a great unit.