The Denon AVR-1705 is almost certainly the best-equipped surround sound amplifier available in the UK for the money. But is this enough to make it a must-buy? It's all about performance. But let's see just what the Denon offers...

The brand's surround sound amplifiers have undergone a bit of a face-lift recently, and the AVR-1705 is one of the more sophisticated-looking models here. The front panel has a neat layout of controls, and there's a useful set of connections for occasional hook-up to a games console or camcorder. The AVR-1705 is equipped with a high-quality power supply and transformer, as well as a large heat-sink - something you'd expect on more high-end models, but that is absent from most other budget receivers (like those in this test).

Features frenzy

Behind this solid fascia lurks a plethora of features. The Denon provides 6.1-channel surround sound and can deliver a very respectable 75W power to each of these channels. Dolby Digital EX, DTS ES and DTS ES Discrete soundtracks are included, as well as regular 5.1 soundtracks via Dolby Digital and DTS decoders. In addition, both Dolby Pro-Logic IIx and enhanced DTS Neo:6 are included, so that stereo sources can be converted into an even more realistic surround sound experience.

The AVR-1705 is as well connected as it is featured. Nine analogue audio inputs make it one of the best-equipped models for coping with all your home entertainment sources, and there's a 5.1 external input for connection to a multi-channel music DVD-Audio or Super Audio CD player.

Video sources can also be routed through the amplifier. Signals are up-converted from basic-quality composite to S-video, and show barely any visible picture degradation. Component video signals can be routed through the amplifier, but there's no up-conversion from S-video to component. As ever, we recommend by-passing the amp and connecting directly from DVD to TV.

All wrapped up

When it comes to that all-important performance, the Denon delivers a clean and neutral sound that's very easy on the ear. It stuffs the room full of sound, and envelopes the listener like a warm blanket in superb surround sound.

Our Collateral test DVD fizzled with ambient surround effects, and sounded as good as it looked during our demo sessions. The scene where Tom Cruise's assassin takes out the target (plus his bodyguards!) in the nightclub is awesome, with power and precision driving sound across all of the surround sound channels. Just close your eyes, and you could almost be in your local multiplex!

Basically, the Denon sounds like it should cost several hundred pounds more than it does, which is a great achievement that should be applauded.

The AVR-1705 is no less impressive when it comes to music, and Denon is clearly still keen on maintaining its reputation as a brand that can produce products that are great for all your audio needs. Doves' latest album, Some Cities, was treated with TLC, and managed to convince us that two-channel sound can still cut it.

Overall, the Denon AVR-1705 is a hugely impressive performer, both for home cinema and music , and sounds just as good as an amplifier costing twice as much would have done a couple of years ago! Goodness only knows how Denon manage to make any money. Perhaps they expect to sell a lot of the AVR-1705; they certainly deserve to...