The Denon AVR-2312 is a receiver at a sweet price/performance point. It's not so much that it's some kind of raw powerhouse, but that it implements a host of functions in a way that shows how it ought to be done.
Denon has provided seven HDMI inputs, one of them on the front panel, but still retains a couple of S-Video inputs as well. This is necessary because Denon has an iPod dock that plugs into S-Video, so it needs some backwards compatibility. There are no S-Video outputs because it is all converted to HDMI (or to, say, component video if your TV's pretty old).
The HDMI supports 3D and the Audio Return Channel.
Also on the front panel are good old-fashioned A/V inputs (including composite video), and good new-fashioned USB ports. Ethernet is at the back. Denon provides seven sets of loudspeaker binding posts for this receiver. You need to decide which speakers you want wired up at the outset. Any changes will mean physically rewiring.
It was clear that the menus and control systems for the Denon receiver were based on the same model as those for the Marantz, but Denon's were just a little prettier, with graphical enhancements and one more selection point in the Wizard that guides you through the set-up. So in addition to talking you through speaker connections and running the Audyssey MultEQ XT auto-speaker calibration and selecting inputs for your source device connections, this Wizard helps you set its universal remote control to operate your other devices. It offers an alphabet so you can find your device by brand name. But it didn't list Oppo, which is one of our Blu-ray players, although it did have Yamaha, which is another one. It provided a code to key into the Denon receiver's remote control, which mapped some of its keys to provide basic control over the player.
There's nothing special about this, really, except that the receiver actively talks you through the process rather than leaving it to you to look up the codes in the manual — and it works. I will confess that this was the first time I've set up a receiver remote to operate any of my gear for, probably, years.
Audyssey did its usual good thing with correctly calibrating the loudspeakers and equalising the output frequencies to adjust for loudspeaker and room issues. But at the end of the set-up it sounded poor, thanks to the automatic setting to "On" for a sound adjustment called "Dynamic EQ". This is designed to adjust to the sensitivity of the human ear for different frequency changes at different levels. Turn down the volume with this on and the higher and lower frequencies are boosted.
One day I'll mount the argument why this is not a good idea, but for now let me just say that it does not sound good, and should not be applied without specific permission. To switch it off, search through the amplifier's menus for "Audyssey Settings".
While there in the Audio Adjustment part of the settings, find "Restorer" and switch that off as well. This purports to somehow restore to lossless compressed music. It doesn't. It merely manipulates it to make it even less accurate.