|Denon AVR-4806 7.1-Channel Receiver|
|Home Theater AV Receivers AV Receivers|
|Written by Andrew Robinson|
|Thursday, 01 December 2005|
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There is a short list of manufacturers that come to mind when you’re considering building a high-end home theater on a budget, and Denon has to be close to the top of the list. With product offerings in just about every price range, the one word that has never been equated with Denon is “average.” While some high-end purists may balk at the idea of a receiver, Denon’s line-up has always performed above and beyond the masses and has done so in a very matter-of-fact sort of way, making many people ponder the need for separate components.
The AVR-4806 7.1 THX Ultra2 Certified receiver is the latest offering from Denon to challenge the idea that a receiver-based home theater can’t be state of the art. Retailing for $3,500, the AVR-4806 isn’t Denon’s flagship receiver. That title falls to the massive AVR-5805. However, I’ve seen many “flagship” receivers from other manufacturers that don’t begin to touch the AVR-4806’s lists of features and performance. Out of the box, the AVR-4806 is quite large at a little over 17 inches wide by seven inches tall and almost 20 inches deep. Be sure to brace yourself, because the AVR-4806 tips the scales at a whopping 52 pounds. Clearly, catchphrases like “lifestyle” or “mini” do not apply here. The AVR-4806 sports an attractive semi-gloss black finish (also available in silver) from stem to stern and the faceplate is fairly barren in terms of controls. In fact, minus the two large dials that control function and volume, the AVR-4806 has only nine small buttons visible on its face. If you’re searching for manual controls, you’ll find them neatly hidden behind the large aluminum faceplate just below the AVR-4806’s FLD (Fluorescent) display. Along with the on-dash controls, there is also a set of composite audio and video inputs, as well as an optical input for digital audio signals and lastly a headphone jack if you don’t feel like pissing off the neighbors. This would be a good place to point out the auto set-up microphone input that is used in conjunction with the supplied microphone and Audyssey MultEQ for room EQ software. The AVR-4806 isn’t the first receiver of its kind to feature an auto set-up program. However, it is probably the most complete incarnation of it that I’ve seen yet. Turning my attention to the display, the AVR-4806 has one that is rather large but not too imposing visually. It provides adequate space to display all of the AVR--4806’s numerous functions and when you’re satisfied with your settings, it can also be turned off or defeated so it does not impose on your movie-watching experience.
You might want to take a deep breath before moving on to the rear of the AVR-4806, because it’s quite an eyeful and can easily become a bit overwhelming. Thumbs up to Denon for making the best of what could be a very messy situation. First off, and most notably, are the binding posts, all 10 of them. They’re of the five-way variety and in theory can accept anything from bare wire to spades. However, they do have a little plastic “box” around the base which does make it tricky if not impossible to use your spade-terminated cables. Also, the binding posts flank either side of the AVR-4806’s rear, which is very common in receivers in this price class. They can also help in reducing cable clutter. Focusing on the center of the AVR-4806, you first come across its DVI and HDMI inputs. For starters, it has three assignable HDMI inputs, as well as one DVI input, but the digital monitor out falls to single HDMI output, which means those of us with DVI needs will be forced to invest in an adapter. Residing directly below the digital video inputs are the standard component video inputs and outputs. Again, all are assignable by the user, who will have three inputs to choose from, as well as two monitor outs. I’ve yet to come across another receiver with two component monitor outs. I found the second monitor out to be a nice feature, as I often use a smaller LCD screen to help with set-up menus. Rounding out the remaining video input/outputs, the AVR-4806 has a total of 13, comprised of both composite and S-video options. It’s important to point out that not only will the AVR-4806 do full video switching, it will also convert your composite signal to either component or HDMI, depending on how you choose to set it up.
Switching over to the audio side of things, the AVR-4806 has a total of 12 standard RCA inputs, as well as a built-in phono stage, bringing the total to 14. I especially liked the addition of a phono stage, since I rarely get the opportunity to connect and listen to my turntable during my receiver reviews. The AVR-4806 can also be used as a pre-amp/processor to an outboard amplifier via its 7.1 pre-amp outputs. As for its multi-channel capabilities, the AVR-4806 can accommodate everything from analog SACD signals via its 5.1 channel inputs to digital multi-channel inputs via its seven optical and three coaxial inputs. The AVR-4806 also boasts a Denon Link input that simplifies things considerably if you’re using a Denon DVD player for your digital audio needs. However, if you’re not going to be pairing the AVR-4806 with another Denon product, but your current player features an IEEE 1394, output then you’re in luck, because the AVR-4806 has two IEEE 1394 inputs. There are also several options for various radio antennas, as well as an input for an XM satellite radio antenna. Regarding the AVR-4806’s XM capabilities, you’ll have to purchase a separate third party antenna ($49.99), which can be found at most major electronics stores, and then subscribe to XM’s monthly service ($12.95 per month) before being able to take advantage of this tasty little feature. If you’re at all into sports radio or just music in general, then I consider XM to be less of a feature and more of a necessity.
The AVR-4806 also has 3 source/3 Zone capability and can play networked audio via an Ethernet port from a PC with Windows Media Player 10 or from devices that support DLNA such as the Escient FireBall, Roku or Sonos. An RS-232 connection allows for interaction with 3rd party controllers.
Lastly, the AVR-4806 has a detachable power cord, as well as three AC outlets and an Ethernet connection to facilitate future upgrades.
Under the hood, the AVR-4806 has 7.1 channels of raw horsepower at its disposal, with a rated output of 140 watts into eight ohms across the board. As for processing, the AVR-4806 supports THX, THX Ultra Surround EX, THX Ultra2, Dolby Digital EX, Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic IIx, DTS, DTS ES, DTS NEO 6, Dolby headphone and HDCD.
Which brings me to the remote. I’m very critical of remotes, because most of them suck. The AVR-4806 remote, I’m happy to say, is an exception to the rule. Primarily a touch-screen remote, it features two large, easy to navigate panels that become completely backlit when, get this, you pick it up. When the remote is jostled, even a little, it springs to action with controls easy enough to see in any light and laid out in such a way you can forget about needing a manual to understand them. Based on initial impressions, the remote may already be worth half the AVR-4806’s asking price in the eyes of this reviewer. Hey, when I find a remote that feels like someone who actually had to use it has designed it, I pay attention.