When it comes to home cinema sound Denon is one of the best in the business, having built its reputation on a string of revered reference receivers. But despite its enviable high-end status, the company has never neglected the bottom end of the market, complementing its high-end gear with entry-level models that usually go down a storm with buyers on more modest budgets.
Denon’s latest entry-level receiver is the AVR-1509 (reviewed here exclusively), which forms part of a four-strong range with the more expensive AVR-2809, AVR-2309 and AVR-1909. These three other models all feature decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio, but the affordably-priced AVR-1509 only decodes Dolby Digital and DTS, making it better suited to systems based on a DVD player rather than a Blu-ray deck.
On the design front, Denon certainly hasn’t cut any corners to reach a tempting price point. It’s a big, monster of a machine, available in black or Premium Silver, and our silver sample looks very classy. No less than three knobs adorn the front (source select, volume and a menu control dial, and they’re accompanied by all the buttons you need to control your system up-close. A decent-sized display dominates the fascia, with large illuminated digits that show the audio format being received, input source and the volume.
The AVR-1509’s entry-level price doesn’t mean that it skimps on connections, but you are more limited in what you can do with them. The inclusion of two HDMI v1.3 inputs on the rear is an obvious highlight, allowing you to switch between two HD video sources, which is a godsend if your TV only sports one HDMI input. However, the unit only passes the video signal and sound through to your TV and won’t decode Dolby Digital or DTS bitstreams carried over an HDMI connection. It also doesn’t feature 1080p upscaling of SD video sources, so if you need either of these features then you’ll need to step-up to the AVR-1909, 2309 or 2809.