What features are you looking for in an AV receiver? Is it a list of the latest digital audio formats, is it a high level of connectivity, or is it just something that will integrate well with your iPhone?
Well, with the Denon AVR-3311 you get all of this. Not only does this receiver feature access to internet radio and DLNA streaming, but thanks to a recent update it also becomes one of the first home theatre components to support Apple's AirPlay.
The company's receivers are a little more curvaceous these days, but they are still recognisably Denon. While Denon's sister company Marantz is going for a minimalist fascia with receivers such as the Marantz SR7005, the Denons' are going for the more-is-more approach with one of the largest displays on the market. Buttons are still kept to a minimum, though, with just two knobs for input selection and volume on the front. Underneath these two are a small selection of switches for Zone source and Yamaha-like "scenes" which act as shortcuts for your three most-used inputs. Underneath the front flap hides the rest of the functionality, including a USB input (for iPod and other MP3 devices) and HDMI port, plus a menu button and D-pad for when the remote isn't at hand.
The receiver comes with two remotes, with the second being for a second zone, but the main remote perplexes us a little. It provides a full selection of buttons for each of the inputs, but also needlessly includes the three shortcuts. While it's not backlit, the remote does glow in the dark.
As the AVR-3311 costs almost twice that of the excellent-sounding AVR-1911 what are you actually paying for? The first thing you notice when you turn it on is that the 3311 offers a full-colour user interface (UI) where the 1911 is a simple white text on black background affair.
But that's not all, the Denon AVR-3311 is part of a new range that now supports 3D pass-through so you can watch 3D movies on your screen via the receiver, yet we'd argue that a recently added feature will actually prove more popular.
Tap the iPhone's AirPlay icon and the Denon appears as an option. (Credit: CBS Interactive)
Apple AirPlay is a service that was added to iOS devices (iPod Touch/iPhone/iPad) in November 2010 and enables streaming from the handheld to your sound system. The first compatible system to be announced was naturally the Apple TV, and now Denon's joined the fold with four devices: the AVR-A100, AVR-3311 and AVR-4311 receivers and the DN7 multimedia system. AirPlay lets you tap an icon on your playback screen and stream the playing audio content directly to your receiver.
Connectivity is the name of the game here, and in addition to the AirPlay feature the Denon's Ethernet port also enables access to internet radio, Flickr and streaming via AirPlay's competitor, DLNA. While the system gives you the option of accessing US-based services Rhapsody and Napster, these won't work. Even though Last.FM is ostensibly available in Australia this feature doesn't appear to work either.