Denon’s wide range of AV receivers has something for everyone, from hardcore home cinema buffs down to budget-conscious beginners. The AVR-1611 is aimed more at the latter, sitting one step down the range ladder from the AVR-1911 but one above the entry-level AVR-1311. The main difference between this and the AVR-1911 is that the 1611 is a five-channel amplifier whereas the 1911 is seven channels and it’s slightly less powerful, offering 110W per channel compared with the 1911’s 125W. But inevitable cutbacks aside, the AVR-1611 looks like a great way of getting the surround sound basics without making too large a dent in your bank balance.
Externally, the AVR-1611 uses the same attractive design as the AVR-1911, with a subtly curved black fascia and chunky volume/input selection dials either side of a large LED display panel. This display dominates the front panel, and its size means you’re presented with lots of information about the incoming signal and the unit’s settings. Elsewhere the fascia is peppered with buttons, controlling the various surround modes and menus, but because they’re hidden amid the darkness of the unit’s black finish it doesn’t look cluttered. The AVR-1611 also has composite video and analogue stereo inputs on the front panel, as well as an input for the setup mic and a headphone jack.
Sadly, something else that doesn’t feel over-cluttered is the rear panel, which sports a fairly simple socket layout – a far cry from the busy back panels of Denon’s high-end receivers. But given its positioning that’s only to be expected, and there should be enough connections here to satisfy the needs of simple systems. Naturally our attention is immediately drawn to the HDMI inputs of which there are four, and thankfully all of them are v1.4. That means the AVR-1611 is ready to pass 3D signals from a Blu-ray player to a 3D-capable TV. They also support the Audio Return Channel feature, which means you can play back TV sound on the Denon using a single HDMI cable.
Making up the rest of the AV connections are three sets of analogue stereo inputs, optical and coaxial digital audio inputs, component, composite (x 2) and S-video inputs plus a composite video monitor output. You also get pre-outs for a subwoofer and powered surround back/front height channels, plus you can also connect an optional Denon iPod dock to the S-video, analogue stereo and dock control ports. All of the speaker terminals are binding posts, bucking the recent budget trend of using springclips for the centre and surrounds.
Step up to the AVR-1911 and you get two additional analogue stereo inputs and a USB port for playing back WMA, MP3 and AAC files from storage devices, or for direct connection of an iPod.