Denon has receivers positioned at almost every price point; the 1908 falls at the meat and potatoes end of the scale.

Yet it still packs in features and benefits from trickle-down technologies - like its entirely separate audio and video signal paths.

The 1908 can't decode Dolby True HD and DTS HD Master Audio - but these two formats can be enjoyed if your HD player can decode them into lossless PCM. The HDMI v1.3 inputs can pass 1080p signals and uncompressed audio like water.

Speedy setup

The 1908 looks refined, with its elegantly sculpted brushed aluminium facia, or 'wave' design as Denon refers to it. Massive source-select and volume knobs flank the huge display, although ironically given the size, it's actually hard to read the miniscule labels for each button.

Denon makes much of the Audyssey auto setup and it certainly makes calibrating your amp a much faster process. Just connect the mic and press 'start'. After a series of bizarre noises, you're all set.

The interface here is Denon's old block-type OSD and not the wonderful new GUI that controls the top-end models, so ease-of-use suffers as a result.

The remote control has been quite radically re-designed with grouped buttons and luminous plastic, but, for some reason, the over-simplified layout actually makes it quite complicated to master.

Blu-ray audio

There's more to like about the audio performance. On my Sigur Ross jazz CD, there's real depth and clarity to the mix.

You can get the best results by using both the A and B speaker outputs to bi-wire your front pair. The balance errs toward the bright side of neutral, though, so it can begin to sound harsh with clinical speakers.

Switching over to the Resident Evil: Extinction Dolby True HD track from the Blu-ray release is a good measure of the Denon's dynamics. My PS3 delivered the soundtrack
as PCM via HDMI. There was no shortage of bass or treble and plenty of volume too, albeit capped at around 76W all channels driven.

Big cinema sound

This Denon is an attractive option that combines many of the basic features you really need, plus a few luxuries like auto-setup, and delivers a big cinema sound.

This is a tough category, though, and sonically, it's not the most accomplished receiver we've seen.