Review Price £399.99
Denon AVR-1713 - Features and Operation
Denon AVR-1713 Features
The Denon AVR-1713’s network functionality (AirPlay, internet radio, DLNA streaming) is one of the things that sets it apart from the cheaper Denon AVR-1513. The appearance of AirPlay on the spec sheet is a real boon. The ability to stream songs from the likes of the iPhone 5, iPad 3 or iTunes on a PC or Mac is hugely convenient and like most things Apple invents it’s very easy to use.
We tried it out and it works a treat – when you start playing a song it switches to AirPlay automatically and displays the name of the song on the front panel. Volume can be controlled from the device or the slider on the iTunes interface, as well as track skipping and other key commands.
The network connection also puts thousands of internet radio stations at your disposal through the vTuner portal, and thanks to its DLNA certification allows you to stream music from servers on your home network, with support for FLAC HD, MP3, WMA, AAC and WAV files. And with a firmware update, it’ll also stream Apple Lossless (ALAC) via DLNA and AirPlay, as well as supporting Gapless Playback, which is great when listening to live albums. You can also stream photos in JPEG format and create a slideshow with music in the background.
Additionally the Denon AVR-1713 provides access to Last.fm and Flickr, and with the Denon Remote App installed on your Apple or Android device such as the Samsung Galaxy S3 you can control every aspect of the Denon AVR-1713’s operating system, from basics like volume, input and surround mode to more complex stuff like web radio browsing and network streaming. It’s far more comprehensive than last year’s equivalent app.
The front USB makes a handy alternative to the network connection. You can plug in storage devices or USB hard-disks and play the same file types as above, or hook up your iPod/iPhone and play music directly using an onscreen GUI or the front panel. It’ll even charge your iPad, even though it’s not ‘Made for iPad’, plus it can now be used to upload firmware updates – useful for when you’re not hooked up to the network.
But let’s not forget that the Denon AVR-1713 is designed for home cinema first and foremost, and on that score the spec looks good. Denon’s quoted power output is 120W per channel (into 6ohms) with decoding for all the audio formats that matter (primarily Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio).
You also get a wide range of Denon’s DSP modes, Cinema Equalizer (which optimises high frequencies for home cinema) and Virtual Surround. The Compressed Audio Restorer feature aims to enhance the quality of digital music formats. There’s no on board video processing though, which rules out upscaling and conversion of analogue signals for the HDMI output.
Denon AVR-1713 Operation
It’s clear that Denon has made a concerted effort to make its 2012 receivers as easy to use as possible. Firstly there’s an onscreen Setup Assistant that kicks in when you first fire it up, which sets the language and helps configure the speakers, set up inputs and connect to the network.
Along the way it also launches the Audyssey MultEQ XT auto calibration system, which uses the supplied microphone and test tones to set the size and number of speakers, the crossovers, distances, levels and polarities. Then it carries out room correction to avoid any acoustical problems, which it performs in up to eight listening positions so that the sound is optimised no matter where you sit. It takes a long time to complete though, so set aside lots of time to complete it.
Then there’s the onscreen menus, which are incredibly basic in a ZX Spectrum sort of way, but that’s possibly by design. The simple white text and blocky graphics on a black background make everything clear and easy to find, though it does feels a touch anachronistic in 2012.
Still, there’s a vast amount to play with. The main menu is broken down into Audio, Video, Inputs, Speakers, Network and General. The Speakers menu is where you can set the distances, levels and crossovers manually if you don’t trust the auto calibration system, while Audio contains the surround parameters, audio delay, volume and Audyssey settings. Despite the beginner-friendly approach, more experienced users will be more than happy with the level of control afforded by this setup menu.
The Network screen is a little more sophisticated, using colour icons against a black background, including Favourites, Internet Radio, Media Server, Last.fm and Flickr. The internet radio and Media Server menus use straightforward lists that leave little room for confusion, although it’s quite a hassle looking for specific tracks if you have a large library.
Denon has simplified the remote too, stripping back the button count from previous remotes. The direction pad and volume keys are placed centrally under the thumb for intuitive navigation, with banks of input selection buttons at the top. Having tested plenty of receivers remotes with more buttons than Cadbury’s, this is a refreshing change – it’s the sort of remote that beginners can use without getting all confused.
But if you prefer a more modern way of controlling the Denon AVR-1713, then Denon has also created a terrific app for Apple iOS and Android devices. It’s a vast improvement on last year’s version, offering several new features, such as fast scrolling of internet radio stations and DLNA servers with album art, Blu-ray player control (when hooked up via HDMI), a multi-zone control interface and a customisable home screen.