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Onkyo or Denon - Now I'm struggling!

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
I was all set for months to get the Denon 3808 amp, which I think is coming out in the next couple of weeks, but I have been noticing loads of talk about the New Onkyos.

So I am just after peoples thoughts and comments on which I should get.

Onkyo 875 or Onkyo 905 or Denon 3808.

The 3808 seems to be £1100, the 875 £1000 and the 905 £1400

Due to a nice work bonus and the place I will most likely purchase it from doing 10 months interest free credit, I can probably stretch to the £1400 if it was really necessary. But then I suppose I could stretch a bit further to the Denon 4808 at £1800. Oh dear, now thats really got me puzzled. But if the 905/4808 don't really offer anything significant over the 875/3808 then there is no point spending that extra money.

Any thoughts welcome.


Georgie Burgess

Standard Member
I too am interested in this topic. They are very evenly matched although I think the HQV is better in the Onkyo. I really, really like the fact that the Denon 4308 has WiFi. From what I have read, you can't get a USB WiFi stick to work on the Onkyo. Also, the Onkyo 905 is THX Ultra2 certified while the Denon isn't. If the Denon was THX Ultra2 certified, my mind would be made up. I think I'll have to toss a coin to decide :D


Active Member
Exactly the same boat as me.

I currently have a Deno 3802 which is working great and I love, however it does no video upscaling and I would really like the opportunity to found out what these new surround formts sound like from my PS3.

The ability to upscale and/or upconvert would really enable me to simplify my existing system.

I am looking for a place in Surrey to demo both amps side by side, as I really like the sound my Denon produces and I have not heard an Onkyo before.



Active Member
Here is a post from a user over at the American AVSforum, who has tested an Onkyo 905 and a Denon 4308 side by side:

Ok so here are my first impressions/comparisons. It may ramble a bit but you get used to it...

1. Ease of aquisition - Denon by far. Onkyo has limited distribution and obviously did not get enough boxes out. Luckily my local Fry's got a 905 in. Paying MSRP was not a concern in my book and I far prefer brick and mortar for home audio purchases. Support local and they support you.

2. Sound Quality - Still not 100% but I actually think I like the Onkyo better so far. I have had Denon for a couple of years now and before that HK. The sound from the Onkyo is definately a bit brighter but not obnoxiously so. I think the new rev of the Burr-Browns is a good choice Voices seem to be more pronounced making dialogue easier to follow. Both receivers fail the REALLY LOUD playing of the first scene of Gladiator. In either case the arrow whistling makes my ears want to shrivel up and die right after they bleed out.

3. Back breaking pain - Definate win to the Onkyo. OI! I thought the 4308 was heavy till I had to pick this bad boy up. As usual weight is not even remotely evenly distributed.

4. Video quality - Oh my lord this goes so far in the Onkyo's favor Denon should be embarrased. Even SD cable looks remotely better and the HD channels are gloriously back to how they looked when I ran them direct to the TV. The Denon had serious issues with making all signals very soft and artifacty. Also I noticed on the Denon even if you disabled video conversion on an input it still looked soft and fuzzy. I question their pass through bandwidth. My DVD player, 360, and PS3 are all outputting 1080P so they are left alone and look incredible. Again they were fuzzy on the Denon. The Wii is the only non HDMI input I have for video and it looks as Wii'ish as ever. One note on the Denon. If you disable video processing for a non HDMI input rather than passing it HDMI at the native resolution of the signal it instead doesnt pass it HDMI at all. This was very annoying. Both devices required 1-5 seconds when switching HDMI sources or resulutions.

5. Set up - Here they both had good and bad point. The Denon had more assignable options and looked cleaner. The Onkyo has some serious manual to implementation issues. As others have mentioned there are only 6 assignable video inputs. The manual however clearly states all 9 are assignable. Bad bad bad bug. As I am only hooking up 5 devices this is not such a big deal but its still bad QA. Also I failed to see a way to assign analog audio to specific inputs. On the Denon I was able to pick an arbitrary input for the Wii. I then assigned a component and an analog input. On the Onkyo I had to use a free analog port (VCR) and assign the component to that. Not a deal breaker but more is better when it comes to assignability. The Denon does have a web interface for setup as well but its pretty lame. Hoever its less lame than the Onkyo not having anything other than Net radio setup.

6. Looks - I have to go Denon here but that may be because I have a Silver loaner 905 until my black one gets in today or tomorrow. The yellow text is driving me absolutely nuts. Once you remove stickers though I think the Onkyo silk screened advertisement images are less apparent than on the 4308.

7. XM - Here I think the Onkyo has it. They dont have a pretty OSD like the Denon but I find their menu system very fast and effective.

8. Media Player audio - Onkyo again. The Denon seemed to lag a LOT when changing menus and browsing. Where the Denon does have an advantage is it allows browsing while listening. The Onkyo stops the current song should you return to the menu system.

9. Not crashing my home network - onkyo has a huge advantage here. The Denon crashes my router when I have uPnP enabled. As I have a couple of game systems that need uPnP to properly access the internet this is a huge with for said Onkyo.

Forum specific notes.

1. Popping - Yes there seems to be a little. But its sometimes hard to tell if its the roof heating up in the sun or a speaker. I had some bad popping in a couple of MP3's but that was probably the MP3's issue not the receiver.

2. HDMI synch - I had no issues at all with HDMI from any source. I am using cables from Microsoft, Acoustic Research, and Nexxtech. I refuse to buy "expensive" HDMI cables but at the same time I refuse to buy $10 cables and hope for no issues.

3. Bi-Amp - I thought I saw one post where someone said the 905 did not support Bi-Amping. It absolutely supports it. Just say goodbye to your 6/7 speaker. Not an issue in my case as my room wont support them (Something about them being 15 feet behind the listener). The Onkyo bi-amp seems to drive my Klipsch's better than the Denon.

End result. The Denon is going back today.

My setup
Onkyo 905
Klipsch RF-7 Fronts
Klipsch RC-10 Center
Athena Sides
Samsung HLT-6189S (LED DLP oh soooo deep blacks)
Comcast HDMI HD Cable/DVR
XBOX 360 Elite (Then they had to go release the 1.3a non elite ones... Bugger)
Toshiba HD-XA2 (Prolly going back to wait for the HD-A35)
Wii (Scary addictive little bugger)

the thing wnn

Well-known Member
well that worries me! I have a 3808 on order and one of the mian reasons for my purchase was for its video switching!
If it adds noise or softness/fuzz when just passing through a 1080p signal, thats a major worry! Surely this sort of thing would be tested before releasing this?

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
Well that is very interesting. Great post Martin.

So looks like we can scratch the 4308 off the list. Now all I have to decide is Onkyo 875, 905 or Denon 3808. But things seem to be leaning towards the Onkyo.

Although my main issue is just how ugly the Onkyo looks and that cheap looking text display. Anyone who already has one of these, does it look that bad close up?


Active Member
interesting commentary there, definately seems to prefer the onkyo. I've been considering an amp upgrade myself for a number of reasons

a) to get access to the uncompressed audio stuff from BD discs
b) to allow me to bring in all my audio and video inputs into one placeand process and switch the centrally
c) to get good upscaling from my dvdp and tivo to my HD screen
d) because my tosh LCD tv has no discrete inputs, my harmony has to cycle through all the inputs to get to HDMI and it frequently "loses" one and ends up on the wrong input. I was thinking I might get a cheap freeview box, leave the tosh on a single hdmi input and use it as a monitor, thereby making the harmony's job easier

as a current onkyo owner, I'm happy with the brand and have been very happy with the amp I have now, and it seems that the current top-of-the-range onkyo is very keenly priced for specification. I was seriously considering the denon 4308 too, but apparently denon no-longer offer the upgrades to my DVD-A11 to get it to denon link 3, so that bit of synergy won't be dragging me into the denon camp. oh well, I guess I'll be reading the in depth reviews when they come out :)

or alternatively, I might just save my money and put up with it for a while longer :) not sure yet.

the thing wnn

Well-known Member
Just been over to the AVS forums and someone else has picked up on that passthrough issue who owns a 4808:

The Onkyo definitely has an edge over the Denon in the VP section. If I wasn't going to get an external VP this would be a much bigger concern for me. The Onkyo also scored better on the HQV test pretty much passing everything. SD on the Denon although not as good as the Onkyo was pretty darn good. Deinterlacing a 1080i signal is where the Onkyo does have a larger advantage.

However, I think you might have a bad Denon unit. I also have a PS3 and Xbox Elite set to pass through and it is not fuzzy at all. I see zero difference going through the Denon on pass-through compared to going directly to my Sony SXRD. Were you using the same exact cables? Something is definitely not right there.

The delay when changing channels was a lot longer on the Onkyo but, we have different STBs so that might be the cause. With my Tivo S3 the delay is 1-2 seconds, his Onkyo is around 4 seconds

So hopefully that is not a real problem, but either a cabling problem or a bad unit (a second person also replies they have no problem with their Denon)
That was starting to get me worried! :)


Active Member
Well don't thank me, thank the person who posted the original post over at AVSforum. :)

Anyway, what it really comes down to for me is that Onkyo is cheaper than Denon and still manages to offer more useful features.

You might go into a debate of whether Denon looks better, but this is a non-issue for me, as both of them looks very respectable to my eyes.

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
I've had a look on Onkyo's website at a huge picture of the 905 and it looks fine. Just one thing which hopefully someone can confirm or deny. The silver one which would be my choice has awful looking yellow text, whereas the black one has a much more pleasing green text. Is it just poor picture taking or do they have different colour texts?

Also, I have always liked Denons due to the superb remotes that they come with. Such as the one on the 3808, it looks like a superb touchscreen learning remote that would operate all my items, whereas the Onkyo looks just like some cheap basic remote.


Active Member
Reading all the reviews and post the Onkyo 875/905 sound like the winners. My only concern is the size (I think its 450mm deep and 440mm wide) and the heat output. Looking at the 875 owners thread the recommended space is 20cm and 10 at the side and back with a rear vent of some sort (fan/heat sink at the back right if I remember the posts correctly). So this amp does take up a lot of space and needs it from what I can gather. I'm having to give some serious thought to the layout of my AV cabinet (having more problems finding a good cabinet that fits my requirements than the kit itself!!!) with the amp having almost 600mm in required width.

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
Yeah, the Onkyo 905 is pulling me towards it away from the Denon!

Both my new speakers and this amp will in no way fit with my current cabinet layout, so thats not too much of a problem as I know I will have to do some shifting about anyway.

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
Difference between Denon and Onkyo.

1. Phone up Denon, speak to a 'Customer Service' guy who had no idea when the new Denons were being released, said to speak to dealers (who also have no idea)

2. Phone up Onkyo, first person that answers the phone immediately able to confirm that the 905 will be definitely released next week to dealers.

A little lesson there to Denon I think.


Distinguished Member
Greg, I know it doesn't help with your struggle but have you thought about separates?

I can't help think that when spending that sort of money (£1800), that you just may be better off waiting a little longer for a fully equipped HDMI processor and pick up a 5 channel power amp second hand.

I suppose that's what I'd do but since I don't know exactly what it is that's of important to you e.g. upscaling, hd decoding etc, please do feel free to disregard.

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
Thanks Mission, but I have decided to go for the Onyko 905. Couldn't go to £1800 for the Denon 4808 as it is too much for me, but can stretch to the Onkyo which seems to have everything the Denon has and more, except for no wifi which doesn't bother me.

Going for the black one as the green text looks a lot better on it than the awful yellow text on the silver Onkyo. Just got to wait for it to come out now!


Active Member
Thanks Mission, but I have decided to go for the Onyko 905. Couldn't go to £1800 for the Denon 4808 as it is too much for me, but can stretch to the Onkyo which seems to have everything the Denon has and more, except for no wifi which doesn't bother me.

Going for the black one as the green text looks a lot better on it than the awful yellow text on the silver Onkyo. Just got to wait for it to come out now!
Great choice Greg. I'm sure you'll be more than satisfied with your decision. :)

Now the waiting... It sucks! :devil:

Greg Hook

Moderator & Reviewer
Yeah, the wait does suck, but I am waiting for my new credit card with the 12 months interest free on purchases offer to come, so until that does I can't get it anyway.

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