Denon's middle-weight AVR-1909 AV receiver comes carrying a little more round the midriff than others.

It's the big, heavy and expensive but, dammit, you sure know you have bought a serious bit of kit.

Equipped with Audyssey RoomEQ, video upscaling to 1080p and three-in/one-out v1.3a HDMIs, it gets a double thumbs up. And, compared to a couple of the boring black boxes assembled here, it's no moose to look at, either.

Frustrating setup

The Audyssey MultEQ setup isn't going to win any gold medals for its alacrity. The full multi-position setup is on par with, say, plate tectonics speed-wise, and the dull menus mean it's right up there with paint-drying for edge-of-the-seat entertainment.

And just when you are debating if there is more chance of the PS4 or even PS5 being available before the AVR-1909 gets its well-equipped backside in order, it declares fait-accompli and suggests you check the settings – don't do it! If you do, it promptly locks you into speaker-check menu pages with no viable means of escape from the remote short of powering off – which loses the settings. You have to start the whole epoch-length process again. Arrrgghh!

Booming comeback

Having only narrowly avoided a rock 'n' roll style exit from a first-floor window at this point, the Denon
comes back with a muscular sound and bass to wobble your gizzards.

The guttural growling of the monsters in PS3 game Viking: Battle for Asgard is crafted with real presence and power; the clattering metallic effects of sword and axe against armour have a fast, zingy edge and the dialogue is none too shoddy either.

The dubiously-accented Norse voice-over (with a hint of the Welsh valleys early on and more than a touch of Mumbai in places) projects well into the room, but the Denon is not kind to its edgy recording, highlighting the sibilance.

Huge soundstage

In fact, the Denon AVR-1909 is far more at home with a big movie, and the recent re-release of Fifth Element on Blu-ray finds it in its, er, element. The pace is fast and the sheer scale of the soundstage is huge, with the balance crisp at the top and weighty at the bottom in equal measure.

It's a bit lighter through the mid-range than ideal, but nothing engaging one of the Audyssey EQ settings doesn't cure. Korben Dallas can be proud that he was instrumental in not only saving the Earth, but saving the Denon from a long drop, too.