Denon's AV receivers usually have a lengthy features list, and its latest, the AVR-1507, is no exception. Impressive as the feature count is, one thing stands out above all others - the affordable price tag.

For a modest £250 you get a 7.1 channel receiver rated at a respectable 75W per channel. An even higher figure is also quoted, but based on a rather slack way of specifying power.

An automatic setup routine is also included, along with the ability to use the Denon branded ASD-1R iPOD dock. Inside the AVR-1507 there is a 32-bit DSP for Dolby and DTS decoding. The user interface has some minor but useful refinements that take some of the headache out of the day to day operation.

Burning spear

But, the burning question is whether performance suffers given the low price and long feature list. There has to be some trade-off for an AV receiver this inexpensive, doesn't there?

There are some points that work in the AVR-1507's favour. Firstly, it is made in China, which generally helps the bottom line.

Secondly, Denon has a huge market share, and certainly benefits from the economies of scale, allowing it to use, for example, relatively higher spec D/A converters, digital processors and other key components and subassembles than would normally be justified at the price.

Turning to performance (using our test DVD of The Incredibles), power is a little down on bigger models, audibly as well as on paper, but there is enough to power most systems in a small-sized room.

Dynamically the Denon AVR-1507 seems a little bit soft too - it just doesn't swing very high sound pressure levels. Instead it just seems to hold back a little when it hits a crescendo or recorded explosion when otherwise cruising along as a moderate level. It also clearly lacks detail, for example taking the edge off CDs that have proved their mettle with other more ambitious amplifiers.

Reality bites

The reality of the Denon AVR-1507 is that there are tradeoffs here, but nothing that will spoil the party for the majority of users with reasonable expectations. It is perfectly enjoyable to listen to, especially in multichannel mode with movie soundtracks.

The limitations are that it doesn't have HDMI, but then it is hardly the kind of engine you would use for an HD system. Still, if you have a collection of CDs that you want to enjoy in the same system, then you certainly should be tempted to spend some extra pennies.