The Denon AVR-1912 is the most complete midrange AV receiver we've seen in 2011 so far. It's one of the only two receivers in its class (the other being the Pioneer VSX-1021-K) with built-in support for Apple's AirPlay, a feature that lets you use any iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad as a wireless music source. While the Pioneer has a nicer interface, the Denon outdoes it with slightly better sound quality, a sixth HDMI input, a two-year warranty, and onboard support for Pandora, Rhapsody, and Napster. The Denon AVR-1912 is our go-to pick if someone asks, "Which AV receiver should I buy?" and that's why we've given it our Editors' Choice Award.
AV receivers are all pretty similar-looking, but if we had to pick a favorite on aesthetics alone, we'd go with the Denon AVR-1912. We prefer its soft, matte finish to the high gloss of the Pioneer VSX-1012-K, and its rounder edges are more appealing than the stark front of the Onkyo TX-NR609. It's a full-sized AV receiver, which means it takes up a lot of shelf space, coming in at 6.38 inches high, 17.13 inches wide, and 15.05 inches deep.
While the menus are mostly organized in a logical fashion, navigation is a little confusing because the left-hand menus get replaced when you delve further into the menu. You intuitively expect the cursor box to move to the right when you press to the right, so it can be a little disorienting when the cursor stays put and the menu changes underneath it.
Music played using the iPod app will have cover art and artist information displayed on the connected TV, plus you can adjust the volume of the receiver using your iOS device's built-in volume controls.
The standout feature is that you can access your iPhone's music library from inside the app, without needing to switch to the iTunes program. This allows you to turn on your AV receiver and listen to all your music from a single app instead of having to switch between two.
The highlight of the back panel is the AVR-1912's six HDMI inputs, one more than the Pioneer VSX-1021-K has. We'd have preferred it if one of those six HDMI inputs had been in the front panel for quick connections to a camera, camcorder, or laptop; the Onkyo TX-NR609 and Yamaha RX-V671 have front-panel HDMI ports.
The included remote is similar to the one that came with last year's Denon AVR-1911. Denon does a decent job of distinguishing the sections with different colors and button sizes, and the number pad is tucked out of the way at the very bottom. It's still difficult to use if you're not a home theater geek, but that's the way all AV receiver remotes are. Most buyers would be wise to invest in a quality universe remote to control all their home theater gadgets.
The Denon AVR-1912 has a solid selection of built-in streaming music services. While you can use all of these services via AirPlay, the fact that they are built in means you can use them even if you don't have an iOS device on hand.