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Denon AVR-1912 (photos)

The Denon AVR-1912 gets our Editors' Choice Award in the midrange AV receiver category, with built-in AirPlay, outstanding sound quality, and six HDMI inputs.

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Matthew_Moskovciak.jpg

Matthew Moskovciak

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1 of 15 Sarah Tew/CNET

Denon AVR-1912

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.
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Design

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.
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Front-panel connectivity

Behind a removable cover on the front panel, the Denon AVR-1912 has an iPod-compatible USB port and an AV input.
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User interface

The AVR-1912 features a basic onscreen display that's essentially one step up from the primitive white blocky text menus we saw last year.
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Confusing navigation

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.
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AirPlay

Using AirPlay is as simple as selecting the AVR-1912 on your iOS device.
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Use iTunes as the controller

You can also use a computer running iTunes as your AirPlay remote instead of an iOS device.
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Cover art on your TV

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.
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iOS Denon remote app

The AVR-1912 can also be controlled via Denon's iOS remote application, which provides basic functions like choosing inputs and adjusting the volume.
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Access music within the remote app

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.
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Back panel

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 AVR-1912 has only one component video input, while its competitors have two, but we don't consider that a major loss since analog video sources are becoming increasingly rare. One component video input is just enough to cover our Nintendo Wii.

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Remote

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.
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Auto setup mic

For best results Denon recommends placing the supplied microphone on a tripod while running the calibration; if you don't have one, put the mic on a chair without a back.
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Built-in streaming music services

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.
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Side view

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