"Wow -- features and performance galore!"4.5 starson by pbhenry
Pros: Just about everything
Cons: Clunky web interface and it all comes at a cost
Summary: Over the years I've had a number of excellent hi-fi units and, more recently several AV receivers. The problem with the latter was their good AV sound performance, but relatively poor stereo music performance.
That all changed when, based on reviews and demos, I bought my first Denon a couple of years back -- the AVR 2805. The AV sound performance was outstanding, even without a subwoofer, and the stereo music performance was also excellent. For the first time I had it all in one box.
Unhappy circumstances left me with none of my old kit, so I started shopping for a replacement and settled on the AVR-4308ci.
Honestly, I've only begun to scratch the surface of its extensive capability. However, the most important things to me -- it's audio performance for both home theater and for stereo hi-fi remain outstanding.
The 4308ci adds a third independent zone and also extensive video switching and upscaling capabilities in just about every format and resolution you can think of. Again, with so many features and so much capability, I haven't explored everything.
One main lure was the addition of networking capability -- both wired and 802.11b/g wireless. I have an extensive home LAN with locked-down WPA-2 security and, once configured with the hidden SSID and WPA keys, the Denon connected immediately. More interestingly, my Windows Media Center on my Vista Ultimate PC announced that it had found a network media player and did I want to give permission for it to access the WMP files -- which I did.
Using either one of the two included remote controls, or the Denon's web interface, I was able to stream audio from MP3 and WMA files stored on my PC. I was also able to play Internet-based radio directly through the Denon (without the PC). I still haven't explored how the Denon gets its list of Internet streams but it may have something to do with the Denon 'vTuner' Internet site which I haven't had time to investigate yet.
My biggest complaint so far is the clunky, awkward and somewhat buggy web interface. Although the various displays and page layouts are pretty intuitive, the navigation is not -- pages lack a 'home' or return link for example forcing you to use the back key on the browser. Also, when you select the 'net audio' link from one of the zone control pages, it launches in another tab and the interaction between the pages is awkward -- almost like they're fighting with each other for control of the receiver. I've also had problems trying to stop a stream in progress -- this seems inconsistent.
No doubt the issues will be fixed in fireware released to come, but still they detract from an otherwise great product.
Having said that, I'm very pleased overall and look forward to exploring the AVR-4308ci features in depth and enjoying my sound and video library output in high quality.