The AVR-1611 boasts an alluring feature list. It decodes both Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio signals, as well as handling multichannel PCM over HDMI. Additionally the unit comes equipped with Dolby Pro Logic IIz, hence the inclusion of pre-outs for front height channels. The processing sends non-directional sounds to these channels to create the illusion of height, potentially enhancing your enjoyment of movies and video games. But if you’ve no need for that, Dolby Pro Logic IIx or the vanilla Dolby Pro Logic II are on hand to expand stereo sources to 5.1 in their own inimitable ways. The full suite of DTS formats are also supported, including DTS-ES Discrete/Matrix, DTS Neo:6 and DTS 96/24.
As per usual you get a wide range of DSP modes (seven in total). Rock Arena and Jazz Club are perhaps the least effective, but Multichannel Stereo is great for filling the room with music without the often detrimental effects Dolby Pro Logic II and DTS Neo:6 can have on the quality. These are joined by Matrix (which adds a spacious feel to stereo effects), Virtual (lends a pseudo surround effect when using only the fronts or headphones), Video Game and Mono Movie. None of them can be applied to HD audio formats, and they can all be bypassed by selecting the Direct mode.
Joining these DSP modes are Restorer, which boosts the quality of compressed audio formats, and a range of Audyssey processing modes. Like most of the latest AV receivers, there’s a built-in auto calibration mode – in this case Audyssey Auto Setup, which uses a supplied microphone and test tones to measure the acoustic properties of your room and set the parameters accordingly. It’s quick to complete and mercifully the test tones won’t smash your ear drums to pieces. Once complete, Audyssey’s MultEQ, Dynamic EQ and Dynamic Volume kick in, continually monitoring the audio content and maintaining the optimum settings. It’s great for beginners, but any older hands who want more control over the sound will also find a detailed range of manual settings on board.
These are accessed from an onscreen setup menu, called up at the touch of a button. While we applaud Denon for this, they could have made a little more effort with the design. There’s a dour grey background with sub-VCR fonts and a clunky structure. Functional yes, but hardly befitting of a product with such cutting-edge credentials elsewhere. It covers everything from speaker setup to input assignment, plus the Information menu provides a handy precis of the current settings.
The remote doesn’t pose any serious problems, as the controls you’ll use most often are intuitively arranged. The menu buttons and volume keys, for instance, are clustered together in the centre, while the input selection buttons are arranged logically along the top. The glow-in-the-dark buttons are a helpful touch, but Denon has packed in too many keys at the bottom, and as a result it takes a little while to work out how to access certain sound modes.