Denon AVR-3805 (black) review:

Denon AVR-3805 (black)

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4 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good A 7.1-channel receiver; high-end style and feel; graphic-display remote; all-digital hookup for compatible Denon SACD/DVD-A players; turntable input; versatile surround speaker switching.

The Bad The included superslick universal remote may be too advanced for its own good.

The Bottom Line Audiophiles craving the very best sound and cutting-edge features will find everything they need in Denon's AVR-3805.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

8.4 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Performance 8.0


Denon's AVR-3805 receiver is a knockout. Its sound quality almost compares with high-end separate preamp/processor and amplifier combinations, and its array of features and back-panel connections is enough to choke a horse. Priced at $1,199 list, it might stretch your savings account, but for serious audiophiles, the AVR-3805 represents an incredible value. More budget-conscious buyers who don't need some of the AVR-3805's obscure high-end features can opt for Denon's less dizzyingly equipped step-down model, the AVR-2805.

Editors' note: Denon Electronics will not honor the warranty on 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.

Denon has jazzed up its conservative style, and we must say, the AVR-3805 oozes class. It weighs a hefty 37.5 pounds and measures 17.1 inches wide, 6.5 inches tall, and 16.75 inches deep. The receiver is available in black or a lovely dark silver finish.

Denon's Auto Setup feature eases setup hassles by confirming speaker phase, assessing the sizes of all of your speakers, measuring speaker-to-listener distances, and balancing speaker levels. The catch: you need to buy Denon's optional mic (or use your own compatible mic--click here for PDF) to take advantage of the Auto Setup feature. The first time we ran Auto Setup, it wasn't as accurate as the automatic leveling found on Pioneer's much less expensive VSX-D914-K. We reran the test a few times before the AVR-3805 got it right. OK, it may not be perfect, but it's much better than not doing any setup at all.

The AVR-3805's large remote deserves special mention. Other than its four buttons and centrally located cursor controls, the touch-screen remote features two large blue membranes that light up whenever you pick up the remote. Press Amp, and the remote displays receiver-related controls; press DVD, and the remote displays a full set of DVD controls such as Play, Pause, Menu, and a complete numeric key set--everything you need to operate a DVD player. (The design is similar to the contextual soft keys found on One For All's line of Kameleon universal remotes.) The remote looks really cool, but we think some buyers, especially those who prefer to navigate by touch, might prefer a standard remote with buttons.

The Denon AVR-3805 offers seven 120-watt channels and a boatload of surround processing modes, including Dolby EX and Pro Logic IIx, DTS ES, and 96/24. It also includes HDCD processing that enhances the sound of special HDCD-encoded CDs.

Extensive equalization options can help ensure your speakers sound as good as they can in your room. We're skeptical about the real-world usefulness of auto EQ (equalization) systems because they so rarely improve sound quality, but the AVR-3805's EQ did just that. The equalized sound not only produced more detail and smoother bass response, the speakers' imaging focus was sharper with the EQ turned on.

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