Denon's DHT-1356XP package includes the AVR-1306 receiver and the SYS-56HT 5.1 speaker system, but no DVD player - so we've paired it with the DVD-1730. There are no wireless rears or SACD playback, but the DVD-1730 does come equipped with an HDMI output that spurts out video in 720p and 1080i flavours and plays DiVX video, MP3, WMA and JPEGs.
The AVR-1306 decodes Dolby Digital and DTS, plus it offers Pro Logic II and Neo:6 processing. There's an RDS FM/AM radio tuner on board and it's packed with more sound modes than you can shake a stick at. Amplification is rated at 75W per channel, while the powered sub pumps out 50W.
Setting up requires more knowledge than your average system as the speaker cables and plugs aren't colour coded (and connected by fiddly binding posts), and the cables needed to connect the DVD deck to the receiver need to be bought separately.
The setup procedure hasn't been dumbed down as per regular all-in one systems, so it could be a little mystifying to the uninitiated. The remote is also packed with switches and buttons, so it's best to keep the manual handy. That said, the same remote also controls the DVD-1730, which is extremely easy to use.
The DVD-1730 delivers amazing colours, lashings of detail and a vast contrast range that makes watching Serenity a hugely enjoyable experience. There's no difference between 1080i and 720p when viewed on a good hi-def TV, but pictures look fractionally cleaner than the Scart output. A top drawer picture performance.
Audio reproduction is also excellent. Dolby Digital soundtracks are delivered with supreme skill - the front channels are crisp and punchy, dialogue is strident and the rear speakers fire effects at you with real zing and precision. Nothing here is muffled or boxy, which makes the soundstage feel open and spacious.
The subwoofer is a star too - punchy, responsive and able to let rip with ferocious bass when needed. It never loses control at high volumes either, even during Serenity's numerous boisterous action scenes.
Musically the system also delivers the goods. CDs in stereo mode are rich and velvety; the gentle jazz stylings of Miles Davis' Blue In Green are spine tingling, but a rousing rendition of Coldplay's Square One proves it's not phased by livelier material.
Its sublime performance and awesome build quality are reason enough to brandish your wallet.