There are many more features on board, including Audyssey Dynamic EQ and Dynamic Volume – the former works in tandem with MultEQ to maintain consistent sound quality when you lower the volume, while the latter adjusts the sound to account for sudden changes in volume (such as TV adverts). You’ll also find Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS Neo:6 processing; support for DTS 96/24; a very useful 5-channel Stereo mode; Deep Colour and x.v.YCC support via HDMI; FM/AM radio tuners and a Restorer function designed to boost the quality of compressed audio playback.
The AVR-1509 backs up this generous feature list with sound quality that’s as good as anything you’re likely to hear at this price point. Right off the bat, the Denon delivers a precise and punchy soundstage that’s packed with detail, even with ‘SD’ audio sources like Dolby Digital and DTS. Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners on DVD is an absolute riot through this unit, making its DTS track sound electrifying – effects dart round the room like a swarm of possessed flies, dialogue is forthright and true to life while low-frequency effects are pumped out with verve and an impressive amount of control.
With 110W per channel, there’s a pretty formidable amount of grunt behind it too, making this a fine choice if you like it nice ‘n’ loud – particularly with the fine work carried out by Dynamic EQ, which keeps things nicely balanced at high volumes. Some might find that the Denon’s output is a little too polite, lacking the snap or aggression to mix it with the likes of Onkyo and Yamaha, but to these ears the Denon gets it just right.
The good work continues with music playback. DVD-Audio discs sound sharp and lively, while stereo CDs have enough directness and character to please even the fussiest listener. We let it rip with Coldplay’s Viva La Vida CD and the bouncy title track is a real treat, handling its driving kick drum and soaring strings with admirable agility.
Blu-ray owners can give it a miss, but anyone looking for an affordable AV receiver to pair with an upscaling DVD deck and modest speaker system would be well advised to give the AVR-1509 an audition. It boasts a generous selection of connections and features for the money, plus Audyssey MultEQ makes it a breeze to install, but the most compelling reason to check it out is the superb performance, which demonstrates why buying an entry-level product doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to compromise on sound quality.