We never have to steer far from the Denon family when amplifiers and AV receivers are concerned. Though we have tried hard to prove their tagline, ‘The Denon Difference’ wrong, more often than not, we’ve failed. There definitely is a difference when you’re listening to a Denon amplifier and when you’re listening to others. Let’s hope their recently delivered AVR-2312 can keep the tradition in check.

Out of the Box

We’ve seen several AV receivers boast of two knobs for input selection and volume, on either side of their front panel. Denon does it by giving these knobs a size difference based on importance, so the input selector is smaller and the volume is bigger. Even the buttons below the broad and wide LED spanned across the front panel have been sized differently based on importance. This makes the entire understanding process a lot easier for the average user. The couple of ports this receiver flaunts on its front panel have been given their little carved out home at the bottom right, primarily so you don’t damage the ports. The rest of this black, blazing receiver has been kept conventional, including the big knobbed red and black plastic speaker terminals on the back panel.

Quite traditional or conventional rather, in form

Quite traditional or conventional rather, in form

Technology

The AVR-2312 is a 7.2 channel receiver, with the ‘.1’ being replaced by ‘.2’, primarily because of the two subwoofer pre-outs being offered on the back panel. This, along with the 105W per channel it offers in seven channel modes, means that this receiver is built to handle mid-sized to large living rooms and home theatres. At the same time it offers a multi-zone/multi-source playback function, which means that you can use this beast to play one source in one room and another source in the other room. To add to it, Denon comes with RemoteApp, which is an application that can be installed on your iPad, iPhone or Pod touch to control the receiver from anywhere, wirelessly.

Has a larger volume knob for easy use

Has a larger volume knob for easy use

Speaking of Apple, this receiver also offers AirPlay to allow you to stream music wirelessly from your Apple products. You can even choose to connect these media players to your receiver directly via the USB port. But what’s very fascinating is that this receiver comes with a FLAC HD decoder. This means, all you audiophiles out there can now play your uncompressed FLAC recordings from your pen-drive or directly. At the same time, the AVR-2312 also supports MP3, WMA and AAC audio formats.

In his day and age, you can’t have a receiver that wants to be successful without equipping it with 3D functionality. This receiver comes with 3D pass-through that allows your 3D Blu-ray player to recognise your 3D flat panel even when the receiver is in the middle. If it wasn’t for this capability, you couldn’t watch 3D Blu-rays via the receiver, which would mean you would have to settle for audio from your flat panel. The AVR-2312’s GUI overlay offers you the best way to tweak the receiver. You can even use the Audyssey MultEQ XT auto setup feature to set it up initially, although you’ll probably want to do a bunch of tweaking yourself. The front panel offers four assignable buttons that you can assign to your most commonly used sources if the remote is too far and the input selector knob takes too long.

Remote Control

Although the remote is laid out fairly well, it has a knack for hanging. There were several occasions when I had to continuously press a button until I got a response. So there is a significant delay in this remote’s response and if you do have any of those aforementioned Apple products, you should try the RemoteApp application.

All the options you'd need at your fingertips

All the options you'd need at your fingertips

Performance

Thanks to the banana connectors, we were up and ready to go in a matter of minutes with the wires firmly in their ports at the back of the AVR-2312. No doubt, since this receiver looked like a black demon in the darkness, we had to give it something that could justify its 105W of power. Behold, the  Blu-ray of ‘Transformers: Dark Of The Moon’. No explanation is needed for why we selected this particular film first up for the audition process  and the receiver gave us no time to get in our seats before sending us into a revolving sphere of metallic sounds as the Paramount stars line up in the opening. Following that, the entire surround setup went into a beautiful and very articulate frenzy as the back story of the planet Cybertron and its destruction is shown. There was a definite sense of both sonic and visual transportation into this electric world that’s bursting with violence in the form of lasers, robots and lots of explosions. We had the receiver at its half point on the volume dial and we could hear some real earthshattering frequencies.

Plenty of room for all your media peripherials

Plenty of room for all your media peripherials

We continued this action testing but with a little more attention to dialogue with ‘Star Trek’ (Blu-ray). There is a tremendously subtle sequence in this film when Kirk (played by Chris Pine) and Sulu (John Cho) jump into the atmosphere of the planet Vulcan. Now, sound does not travel through the vacuum of space, so when you hear them jump, the thrusting engines of the aircraft that dropped them fades out and we’re surrounded by nothing but a low hum, which is probably the resonating frequency of space. Then, as they break more and more into the atmosphere, first their clothes flutter with sound, then their bodies and finally the enormous pop of their parachutes along with the music. Each and every one of the six channels of our 5.1 setup had a chance to play with this silence, and they all performed flawlessly. This receiver knows how to handle its power.

We moved onto a DVD of ‘Sherlock Holmes’. The fronts really came in first with their grinding cellos in the opening credit sequence from Hans Zimmer. I could hear the reverberation of the recording room in the surrounds while also getting the sound of the horse cart’s wooden wheels rolling over the granite road. Throughout this film, the centre channel gets a lot of work, thanks to Sherlock’s (played by Robert Downey Jr.) constant blabbering. The AVR-2312makes sure it pierces through the action as there’s plenty of dialogues by Sherlock about what he’s going to do with the goon in front of him.

The Denon AVR-2312

The Denon AVR-2312

Verdict and Price in India

Denon’s AVR-2312 is a receiver that knows what it’s doing, and it knows this to a phenomenal extent. It has been priced to cater to the mid-level market and for the price tag, it’s a steal. There’s authority under that black hood that takes charge of its 105W of sheer power, and plenty of features that can make your entertainment experience all the more enriching. The only real fault with the AVR- 2312 was the remote control but even that can be covered by the fantastic RemoteApp application that can make your Apple product into the Denon's remote. It’s all just so fascinating when Denon demonstrates to even us experienced AV reviewers what they can do with machinery.

The current price of the Denon AVR-2312 is Rs. 69,900.

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