At January's Consumer Electronics Show, we picked the Denon AVR-2807 as the best home-audio product of the show. It wasn't the boldest choice, to be sure, but unlike many of the show's pie-in-the-sky products that are vaguely sexy or potentially cool, the AVR-2807 has arrived more or less on schedule, and it's delivered exactly what Denon promised. A bit more down-to-earth than its big brother, the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink AVR-4306, this receiver still delivers a winning combination of impressive features, including HDMI switching and 480p conversion of analog video, automatic speaker calibration, and built-in support for XM satellite radio and Denon's new iPod dock--it sounds great, too. We said in January that the AVR-2807 "looks well positioned to deliver the best bang for your home-theater buck in 2006." Available for a very reasonable $1,100, the Denon AVR-2807 has fulfilled that expectation to the letter.
Editors' note: Denon Electronics will not honor the warranty on Denon components purchased from unauthorized dealers or if the original factory serial number has been removed, defaced, or replaced. If in doubt about a particular online or brick-and-mortar retailer, call Denon at 973/396-0810. The Denon AVR-2807 shares the understated design of Denon's up-market brethren: it keeps most of the lesser-used controls tucked under a flip-down panel. The receiver is nearly 17 inches deep and weighs almost 31 pounds. It also puts out a lot of heat, so we'd advise against placing the receiver inside a cabinet unless it's well ventilated.
The AVR-2807's big remote has room enough to spread out lots of different sized and colored buttons. It's nicely organized and easy to use, and we actually preferred it over the touch-screen remotes found on some of the higher-end Denon receivers (such as the AVR-4306). The touch screens' disappearing menus and controls drove us nuts, but the AVR-2807's buttons were always exactly where they were supposed to be.
Denon's advanced Audyssey MultEQxt Room EQ autosetup system can enhance the sound for large groups of listeners. With the exception of determining the subwoofer's level and distance from the measuring microphone, the setup's accuracy was excellent. Either Denon's engineers have streamlined the autosetup or we're just getting used to it, but we had the whole thing done in 6 minutes vs. 20 for the last Denon autosetup we reviewed (the AVR-4306). Though we've had decent results with the Audyssey Room EQ (equalization) system in the past, for some reason, we couldn't achieve much of an improvement this time. If you take the time and run through the process a few times, you might get better results. Then again, if you like tinkering with audio components, you might enjoy the "manual" EQ program and diddle the nine-band graphic controls to your heart's content. We did and came up with a sound that suited our taste. The Denon AVR-2807 is a seven-times-110-watt receiver offering a full selection of Dolby, DTS, and proprietary surround modes. Connectivity options will fulfill the needs of even the most complex home-theater installations: You get a total of seven A/V inputs with S-Video. High-def sources are also well-served: three inputs can be toggled to accept component video, and two more can handle HDMI. Even better, any of the analog sources (composite-, component-, or S-Video) can be converted to component or HDMI output at 480i or 480p resolution. The 480p progressive-scan option is particularly important because it maximizes compatibility with HDTVs; many older models can't accept a 480i video signal via HDMI.
Digital audio connections are abundant: five optical (including one front-panel jack) and two coaxial inputs, as well as two optical outputs. Analog audio inputs include stereo phono and CD inputs as well as a set for 7.1-channel analog sources such as SACD, DVD-Audio, Blu-ray, or HD-DVD. The 7.1-channel preamplifier outputs can be hooked up to an external power amplifier if you outgrow the internal amps. Multizone provisions include video and stereo audio, 12-volt triggers, and infrared in and out. An RS-232 port rounds out the AVR-2807's back panel.
We were happy to see the AVR-2807 is XM Satellite Radio ready; all you need is an XM Passport or an XM Connect-and-Play Home Kit and a $12.95-per-month XM subscription. But XM's new HD Surround channels will be only in stereo. That's hardly a reason to skip the AVR-2807--as of April 2006, there are only two XM surround stations. But it's worth noting that the Pioneer VSX-816 and the Onkyo TX-SR504 sport XM HD Surround, and they're $299 A/V receivers.