Seems no one has posted a review of this particular model in nearly a decade, so I'll provide anyone considering one of these impressive Denon receivers with some fresh and current perspective. I ended up purchasing the slightly newer, updated AVR-4802R model which includes THX Ultra-2 certification along with a bit of other gingerbread features you may or may not care about. My 5-star value rating is based on current pre-owned pricing (it's unlikely at this point to find one still sealed in the box), not original cost when new. If I'd bought it new the value proposition would be about 3 stars. I purchased this unit pre-owned at a large auction based website. Yes, you know the one, but I'm not giving them any free advertising. They're already basically a monopoly! Now, on to the Denon...
Due to the never ending march of technology, these 50-pound monsters trade hands nowadays for a mere fraction of what they once did. How does 90% off original retail sound? Sounded great to me, as long as you don't mind sacrificing HDMI inputs and switching or the ability to decode the absolute latest surround codecs such as DTS-MA. Yes, you can hear a difference in todays latest lossless audio formats, but it's only worthwhile if the rest of your gear is up to the task. Most people would never notice, and I feel confident in saying that. Speaking for 95% of the populace, you'll be just fine with traditional DTS-ES, or DD. Pro-Logic II even does an admirable job on older program material. It's a massive step up from the Pro-Logic of yester-year you might've experienced in the late 1980's and into the 90's. THX certification is nice because it indicates a component has been exposed to, and passed, some very rigorous standards for both audio, as well as visual performance. I personally don't use their built-in decoding algorithms, but that's personal preference.
Don't worry about obsolescence, the manufacturers will have a brand new format they'll beg you to buy at top dollar a year from now. The upcoming 4K video resolution due out in the fall of 2013 will be supported by the Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox 720, as well as upcoming standalone A/V components. This massive change in hardware requirement will unquestionably demand a full revamp of the current HDMI 1.4a specs. You can bet your first born it will include new audio technologies to go along with it. Out with the old, in with the new. It's how companies stay in business. If there weren't those of us out there who suffered from the incurable disease 'upgradeitis', none of this cool stuff would even exist without people standing there with wallets open, ready to buy it. Creating a new format from scratch costs a fortune, even for massive multi-national corporations like Sony. These big boys bet huge when they lay down their chips. These costs must be amortized over time with profits. Remember Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD? It was only a few short years ago. Toshiba, the primary backer of the HD-DVD format reported the demise cost them BILLIONS. 15 years earlier it was Beta vs. VHS. Sony lost that round big time. If they weren't so large, that might've been the final nail in their coffin. Failure in the marketplace can easily drive a smaller company into bankruptcy. And now back to our regularly scheduled programming... or in this case, the Denon AVR-4802R.
Another reviewer summed it up quite well. If you buy an upper-end home theater receiver like this you should expect it to excel at what it was designed for. That would be primarily movies, and for that purpose Denon builds an excellent product and always has. This is my third Denon receiver. All have performed well, with each successive generation packing more and more machinery into roughly the same sized chassis. You can thank ever-shrinking integrated circuit technology for that neat trick. Fortunately they haven't abandoned their discrete-transistor amplifier technology. It's one of the key factors behind the excellent sound quality.
If you are not a truly critical 2-channel listener, or do not have top-notch support components (speakers, interconnects, power conditioning, etc.), one could be very, very happy with something like the AVR-4802R for many years. It serves as an outstanding entertainment hub for all of your associated components. From a sonic perspective, it wasn't designed to rival separates, other than the most basic entry level. It was built to a specific price point to include as many features as possible while maintaining an overall high level of sound quality that will please the average consumer, and all but the most ardent audiophile. But with that said, be realistic with your expectations. It will not crush a dedicated pre-amp/amp/processor/tuner combo for SACD playback in a dedicated listening environment. Mark Levinson is not hiding under his couch, scared at what Denon hath wrought. What it can surely do is envelop your theater in clean surround sound of multiple formats, at higher than average sound pressure levels, and do it hour after hour, day after day, reliably. That huge toroidal transformer smack in the middle of the chassis, along with the giant power supply filter capacitors can really deliver, particularly if you don't have the most efficient speakers. As receivers go, for pure power reserves it doesn't get a whole lot better than Denon.
The remote that came with this unit is better than average. Great range, 'learning' capability, and a small built-in LCD display at the top showing the selected component. The AKTIS remote came only with the preceding model to the 4802R. A sacrifice was made with the cost of the remote in order to revamp the receiver with some newer technology. Blame the bean counters.
To wrap it all up, I've so far been very pleased with Denon. They're an outstanding Japanese brand with a long, storied history of building quality, musical components at fair prices. Second-hand values are quite low for anything other than the 'latest-and-greatest', so for the bargain shoppers out there (and in this economy, that's more an more of us), I believe the Denon AVR-4802R qualifies as a 'best-bang-for-the-buck', hands down.
This is my second review of this product, price stated above is in CAD.
With time passing, I found that, generally there are two kinds of people who post reviews. First, there are those who have just upgraded to a better piece of audio equipment, get home, listen to it for a while and then post a review like "WOW ... awesome sounding ... blowns away this/that ... must hear to believe ... soundstage is amazing ... increased clarity and tonal balance, etc". I must say that I too fell in this category when I first purchased this Denon receiver. Then, there are those who have some inherent problem with setting up the unit and so they bash the ratings to a 3 or below due to "can't run DTS through unit, tried everything & still doesn't work (try changing the PCM compresion setting in your DVD player to DTS out through digital path, it's in the DVD player's manual)... setup took me 2 days for this unit (try reading the unit's manual first)... I get a lot of noise in my speakers (replace them, stop running other appliances on the same circuit while listening to movies, get a good power conditioner or a voltage stabilizer), etc". These are people who bash a unit mostly due to their own shortcomings, few have valid claims.
Accurate reviews are very hard to find here on audioreview, and they generally come from people with extensive experience in the industry, good ears and who can afford to try a variety of components before they can pick what they like. Let's face it: How many of us have loads of money to try lots of different equipment before we settle for what we like best. Comparing 10 year old stuff to today's equipment REALLY is NO COMPARISON, the Burr Brown DAC's in this Denon surpass anything in Dolby Pro Login decoding that's 10 years old anyway.
So how good is this Denon?
In my opinion, this Denon is made for movies, NOT for MUSIC.
That said, it EXCELLS in DTS formats and is stable at pretty loud volumes. Dolby Digital has to be cranked up higher, but even then the dynamic range isn't there due to the inherent format (Dolby Labs, sorry but it true). I see some people have problems with the centre channel volume during quiet passages. I've experienced this too with the Denon and I find that I have to increase the centre channel setting to about 1.5 to 2 levels higher than the fronts after full all-around equalization of the system. Then the image in the front is both coherent and loud enough during quiet times to hear what people say.
For music, well, I hate to say it but this Denon is not that musical and it has rather sloppy bass handling via its preamp. It is rather bright, which becomes more and more apparent at high volumes to the point where I have to switch to my 2 channel music system to listen to a particular piece. But the Denon has excellent resolution (all detail is retained), soundstage is wide but lacks depth (I used to think more of it until a 50 wpc intergrated amp just simply thrashed it, for those interested it was an Audio Refinement Complete integre at 800 USD brand new). Imaging is most definitely off, especially in terms of height placement, although vocalists are imaged in the middle as they should be. So if you like to "pound the music" out of your speakers with artists like Britney Spears, Busta Rhymes, Radiohead go ahead, this Denon will deliver ear damage within 10 years, and you won't need to upgrade to anything later because you won't be able to tell the difference by then anyway. From that perspective, it's a keeper.
I bought it so as to listen to 5.1 SACD playback in addition to movies and so far, it's fallen short big time in this area. My cd sound better than their 2 channel SACD equivalents playing via a Marantz DV-8300 Sacd player coupled straight to the analog EXT IN of the Denon 4802r (connected with Audioquest King cobra interconnects). So even though I bypass all video and soundprocessing circuitry in the Denon, going straight to preamp and amp, I'm still not getting better sound out of an SACD than from a CD. But if I connect the Marantz to my 2 channel system then it becomes worth it.
Here are some upgrades that definitely made a difference. Change the Power cord, I use an NRG-5 by Audioquest (the 1m NRG-2 works very well too and is more affordable) for better tonal accuracy. And plug the cord straight into the wall. I found that my Monster HT-1000 MKII degarded both video and sound quality. Unless you have a storm outside your house use the wall plugs. I'm waiting on a Monster HTS-5100 to arrive to see if that will make a difference and the best coax cable from Audioquest (VDM-5) to see if this Denon can be pushed up a level for movies, because so far, for music it's come up short.
And it's only a matter of time before I go to separates, needles to say, I'll be lucky if I can get half of the money paid for it even with a six year transferable warranty. That's the downside of digital receivers.
This review is for the 4802r model, price is in CAD. I want to thank Neil at Trutone for his assistance and unlimited patience, one of the most knowledgeable and modest salesmen I know in the world of hi-fi audio, and also the most honest of all.
Sonically, this receiver is amazing. And it gives up to 7 channels. It could perhaps be a little more powerful, but the sound it puts out is very clean. Noise floor is relatively small and to reduce it further one would look at separates. Pure direct mode is AWESOME, has to be heard to be believed. Use good equipment and you will believe it yourself, this receiver gives you awesome sound at 125 watts/channel. No match for separates of course, but it costs less than half of the price of separates, needless to say that it uses up less current also. It also has a nice little 7.1/5.1 stereo sound field that will cringe any stereophiles out there but I find that it works great for certain musical pieces and even better for old movies recorded in digital stereo mode, it creates an enveloping atmosphere. Every day I listen to this system, I can't believe music sounds sooo nice.
For video, there is a downfall for those looking for video upconversion. In my case, it's not an issue, I use component videocables all the way and am VERY happy with the image quality.
I am learning new things about this unit every day, it's constantly evolving, and it just sounds great to start with ... so listen to one yourself when you find one ... in Pure Mode/DTS/Dolby Digital and decide for yourself, because I already have.
This is my 2nd review of this reciever, I bought it about a year and a half ago,I have the old version just 4802 not the 4802r .The differences are thx ultra 2 and A/V sych the ultra 2 would have been nice for dvds only encoded in 5 chanel but I cant complain,well I have put alot of miles on this thing and have had no problems whatsoever so I give it my full endorsment
The reciever which this review addresses is the Denon 4802R, a revised version of the origianl 4802, which basically added THX Ultra certification along with a few other goodies
I was familiar with the Denon line, having owned a Denon 3000 integrated amplifier and seperate Denon tuner for the past 10+ years. Conseqently, when deciding to upgrade my system, my search began with, and ultimately ended with another Denon product (which I suppose says something about the overall satisfaction of at least one customer over an extended amount of time, having never had ANY problems over that time). In an attempt to do a diligent search, I did explore other brands including Onyko, HK, Yamaha, B & K, Pioneer, and others. I also gave consideration to purchasing another McIntosh (seperates) however was not willing to part with that amount of money, while at the same time knowing that very little could compare with the sonic beauty of a "MAC".
I made my final choice based on prior experience, knowing the quality of workmanship and subsequent sound was among the best for a product of this kind (meaning housing a tuner, pre-amp and amp all in one casing). I must admit that I did this blind, as even though residing within a large metropolitan area, there were no "authorized dealers" within 75 miles (this is a major downfall of Denon since my last purchase). I can honestly say that I was NOT disappointed.
My new Denon was delivered within 3 days from the date of purchase. The installation took me about 6-8 hours, having to make some modifications to my cabinet. I also upgraded my speakers about 3 months ago to Klipsch RF5 front, Klipsch RC35 center, RS35 surrounds, and a JBL S120PII subwoofer, so I was familiar with the sound they produced with the "retired" electronics.
The final result was something I expected, while something more. I anticipated the increase of power from 80 watts/front 35 watts/center/surround would handle such high efficiency speakers as the Klipsch series with ease. I expected, however that the combination might be as it was before...a little bright, almost harsh at times. In fact, the combination was astonishing! Not nearly as bright as before, with the total package appearing to smoothly cover the entire frequency range. I viewed a few THX movies including Nemo, MIB< Matrix. "Can you hear me now" has taken on a new meaning. I moved on to some music (mostly rock and some blues)in the Pure Direct mode and was very pleased with the sound that my body was vibrating to.
In the end, there is probably little difference electronically these days between one brand and another. Perhaps a function here, a gadget there. Unless you are going to seperates, however, I believe that you would be hard pressed to do any better than the Denon 4802R, but if your budget can handle it, I would guess that the Denon 5803 would be a real treat! The build quality is excellent, the tech support has been satisfactory to good (via their web site), the reliability is excellent (based on prior experience), the flexability good, and the performance is nothing short of excellent.
This unit, however, will not upconvert video signals, so you must be consistent with your inputs. The unit is also slightly less than straight forward with its operation (although this was also the case with my older Denon, so this was expected). The remote control is good, however the font size is small, so should you wear glasses such as I, then either squint or memorize.
Upon closing on my system upgrade, it now looks like this:
Denon 4802R AV Reciever
Denon 1200 DVD Player
Toshiba 3750 DVD Player
Denon 380 CD Player
Denon 680 Cassette Recorder
Toshiba 808 VCR
JVC S5902 VCR
Thorens TD 115 Turntable
Audio Control 101 Equalizer
Speakers noted above
Denon CDR 1500 Recordable CD Player