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Denon 3312 vs Onkyo 809 with apex 5.1

virgilns

Standard Member
Went to demo the Denon 3312 and Onkyo 809 to go with MA Apex 5.1 satellite system recently as these seem to be the most popular choices at this range, so thought I'd post my thoughts. I'm coming from a 10 yr old Yamaha RX-V520 and a set of Sony 5.1 satellites (£200 max 10 yrs ago), so hopefully a nice step up!

Please excuse the laymans terms here as I'm not a regular reveiwer or really a 'proper Hi-Fi nut'...

Now, I've got to say that the chaps I demoed with were very accomodating, but I was surprised to hear the amps were straight out of the box with no set up for the speakers or the room (so I was told) so, like for like but not as they'd really be used...

First played the bluRay, Heat, and the sound was fantastic. Very clear, very detailed, could hear breaths from the actors and was very impressive. Weirdly the Denon seemed to have to be cranked up very high to get any, and I mean any volume form it. The volume scale seemed to be exponential...nothing, nothing, nothing, just audible, very quiet, ok, loud, very loud, shaking the room etc...higher volumes really did kick out, so nothing wrong, but just seemed strange to see almost all the OSD volume bar for a 'normal' listening volume...

Watching the film I thought there was probably very little point trying to do a back to back test on a Blu Ray (for me anyway) so thought i'd chuck some music on.

Well, I can only say I've not heard anything like it since going to the Bristol hi-fi show with my BIL. The detail in the music was imense. The sound was 'warm', but still detailed and so clear, and I could 'place' the instruments in the room in front of me. The maracas in one peice could be heard to move a couple of feet from the left speaker toward the centre and back again. The double bass was mellow but detailed...everything kind of sounded 'right'. Really quite amazing.

So then for the Onkyo. Straight away the volume level was more linear (am I being a bit weird even mentioning what must just be volume algorythms?) but instantly the same peice of music sounded 'less warm', less 'full'. Still crystal clear and as detailed as the denon and had to be turned up less for the same volume, but it had to be cranked up audibly much higher to get anywhere near the same 'punch' out of the music. Maybe this can be adjusted with the sub gain controls, but it didn't sound like a lack of base, just a lack of 'body' in the sound. The same placement of instruments was there too.

I put the Denon back on, again with the same peice of music and it just seemed to sound more 'right' than the Onkyo.

Functionality wise they seem to have photocopied each other's spec sheets so not a lot in it there...though I ws disapointed to hear they can't play stremed music to zone 2 at the same time at digital source in zone one (one DAC?) which I was hoping to dp with networked music to the kitchen and film/tv in lounge...but not the end of the world I guess...

Aesthetics? The Denon (personal choice) is a prettier amp...neither stunning, but the Onkyo a bit squarer and a bit of a lump...actually the Onkyo is HUGE...must be half the size of my lounge so making it much less wife friendly...in fact I'd have to replace my tv stand to get the Onkyo in.

So rightly or wrongly from a less than ideal demo and with limited space and a warmer sound for Stereo at least, that was me sold on the Denon.

Now consider that I 'might' just be able to get a considerable discount on the Onkyo :) I'd still chose the Denon...just waiting for my Monitor Apexes to turn up and I'll be carrying a Denon home on the train soon!....:cool:
 

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