Receiver manufacturers are always loading on more features, but we think that only a few of the latest doodads are truly indispensable. Adjustable lip-sync delay qualifies, and Denon's $899 AVR-2805 is the most affordable receiver we've ever tested that has that feature. It also provides scads of other extras, including an automatic setup routine, seven channels of amplification, and a forest of gold jacks on the back panel. Want more? OK, it sounds great and offers the look and feel of a high-end component. If you're searching for a receiver worthy of playing hub to all but the most tricked-out systems, the 2805 deserves a place on your short list.
Editors' note: Denon Electronics will not honor the warranty on Denon components that have been purchased from unauthorized dealers or have had the original factory serial number removed, defaced, or replaced. If in doubt about a particular online or brick-and-mortar retailer, call Denon at 973/396-0810. There's no denying that the Denon AVR-2805 is a full-size component. It measures 17.25 inches wide, 6.75 inches high, and 16.75 inches deep. The owner's manual claims that it weighs 29.75 pounds, but it felt heavier to us. We think Denon's refreshed cosmetics provide a more contemporary flair than last year's models did, and you can now get the 2805 in either black or silver. The remote is beautifully laid out, with a variety of differently colored and shaped buttons. We'd like it even more if it were backlit, but otherwise it's pretty good.
We're happy to see Denon offering Auto Setup on its midline and higher-end receivers. Denon includes the DM-S305 setup microphone, which is all the more surprising because Denon doesn't supply the mic with its $1,199 receiver. The 2805's Auto Setup routine fills three pages in the owner's manual, but they are mostly devoted to the numerous onscreen prompts. We do wish setup were a one- or two-button exercise, but it's certainly a lot easier than manually navigating through the standard setup. Auto Setup checks speaker phase on each channel, adjusts volume levels for the speakers and the subwoofer, and measures the distances from the speakers to the listener. Compared to no setup at all, it can make a dramatic improvement in your home-theater sound quality; most folks are so intimidated, they never make it to first base of the standard setup ordeal.
The 2805's automatic equalization is another cool feature, but in this case we can't guarantee that the results will always be an improvement. We tried Auto EQ with our NHT and Dynaudio Contour speakers, and it added treble detail and firmed up the speakers' bass. Try it; you may like it. As we noted in the introduction to this review, the Denon AVR-2805 offers an adjustable delay (up to 200ms) to establish lip sync between your speakers and video sources or displays that lag behind the audio signals. Some of today's digital TVs, DVD players, video processors, and even satellite or cable TV systems can introduce this kind of delay, which we can't stand; it's incredibly distracting to see actors' lips move before you hear them speak. You can assign separate delays for different sources, such as DVD players or satellite set-top boxes.
With 100 watts for each of its seven channels, the 2805 receiver has the guts to rock your world. (Denon quotes 135 watts per channel for 6-ohm speakers.) Digital processing gets the deluxe treatment, running through a high-end Analog Devices Hammerhead SHARC processor. The receiver's surround modes include Dolby Digital Surround EX, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, DTS ES Discrete 6.1, and DTS ES 96/24.
We can't imagine a home theater that would exceed the 2805's vast connectivity capabilities, unless you require DVI or HDMI switching, which is restricted to megabuck receivers at the moment. The 2805 can switch up to three component-video sources and also includes six A/V inputs and two outputs; an SACD/DVD-Audio input set; two stereo inputs, including one turntable in; and preamplifier outputs that you can use to hook up a separate multichannel power amplifier. The 2805 has extensive multiroom provisions: speaker A/B switching, Zone 2 and 3 stereo outputs, an RS-232C port, and two 12-volt trigger controls for use with AMX and Crestron home automation systems. The Sinatra at the Sands DVD-A worked its magic over the Denon AVR-2805. We were in the best seats in the legendary Las Vegas venue, the year was 1966, and Frank was grooving with the Count Basie Orchestra. The big band sound was so wonderfully vivid, we could hear the music's effect on the booze-soaked crowd. The DVD-A was like a virtual time machine.
Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road SACD sounded awesome in its own right. The drums on "Bennie and the Jets" were dynamically alive, though the artificiality of the canned audience cheers were that much more obvious over the 2805. In some cases, resolution has its downsides.
The Hellboy DVD was a lot of fun, thanks in part to the way the 2805 unleashed the disc's monstrous low-frequency effects. Come to think of it, all of our favorite DVDs sounded weightier, richer, and generally better than we're used to hearing.
Finishing up, we compared the 2805 to Denon's step-up . Although the two receivers sounded similar, the 3805 had more gravitas, and when we pushed the volume way up, the 3805's power advantages became apparent. That said, in everyday use, we were never less than thrilled by the 2805's capabilities.