The Good Outstanding sound quality; four HDMI inputs; analog video upconversion; audio return channel support; standby pass-through; 3D compatible; built-in HD Radio; greatly improved remote over previous models.
The Bad Competitors offer more HDMI inputs; fewer digital audio inputs and analog video connections, too; text-based user interface; no minijack input.
The Bottom Line The Denon AVR-1911 costs more than competitors and has fewer features, but its outstanding sound quality bests competing 7.1-channel AV receivers.
For some home theater enthusiasts, AV receivers have lost their way. What used to be a relatively simple device with a focus on sound quality is now the complicated hub of your home theater, handling audio, video, and sometimes even online streaming services. Among such multifaceted receivers, however, the Denon AVR-1911 is something of a throwback. Its connectivity is modern, but sparse, with four HDMI 1.4 inputs where others offer six. There's also only a single-component video input and two digital audio inputs. The Denon has an onscreen display, but it uses blocky, white text, compared with the more-graphical interfaces offered on the Sony STR-DN1010, Pioneer VSX-1020-K, and Yamaha RX-V667. If all we cared about were specs, we'd be ready to write off the AVR-1911, but it gets arguably the most important aspect right: outstanding sound quality. The Denon AVR-1911 is a full notch above other receivers we've tested this year, making it our go-to choice for audiophiles on a midrange budget. Yes, it costs more than competitors and it lacks tons of inputs and outputs, but the Denon AVR-1911 is the way to go if superior sonics are your priority.
The design on the AVR-1911 hasn't changed much from last year's Denon receivers. The front panel has a matte-black finish, which gives it a more refined look than the shiny gloss of Pioneers and Sonys. The main unique touch is the slight curve on the front panel, which tapers away toward the top. It's certainly a distinctive design, and one that not everybody will like, but we think it's a nice variation on the "big black box" design of many competitors. There are two large knobs on the right and left, for volume and source selection, both of which are displayed on an LCD readout at the center. Buttons on the front are mostly kept to a minimum and we appreciate the handy front-panel USB port.
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