Denon's receiver range grows more comprehensive each year and the current line up features no less than seven, from the entry-level AVR-1507 to the uber-specified AVR-4306. The range advancement is logical, adding features and performance for a handful of dimes with each step.
You can almost hear the salesman's patter: 'Well for just £50 extra, sir could also have....' and before you know it Barclaycard owns your soul.
So picking the middle, middle model from a stack of Denon boxes filling my dining room, the AVR-2307 comes to the table for £600. Although launched last year, it packs plenty of cutting-edge features including video conversion to HDMI and like-for-like format processing that will turn 1080i component video into a 1080i HDMI signal.
Denon's affair with Audyssey continues but in this model the room equalisation is done by a standard 8-band parametric EQ system that you can then apply Audyssey curves to. Which I found odd.
Two-in one-out HDMI switching to 1080p is handy for your Blu-ray or HD DVD player, and these connections feature active repeaters. This is more unusual at the price and means you can run cables up to 15m into the AVR-2307 (30m from source to display) without losing the signal. Full auto setup with microphone supplied and two-zone multiroom audio is par for the £600 receiver course.
Under the hood is the usual solid Denon engineering with 100W for seven channels and the option to use channels 6 and 7 for rear-back speakers, active zone 2 or bi-amping the main left and right speakers. Connectivity is good enough. You get a port for an iPod dock, lip sync to 200ms and three individual user preference modes.
On the downside, the onscreen display takes us back to 1995 with block text and Denon's pointy-hand cursor, and there is no USB port or networking ability. Instead you get a phono turntable input, which would be seriously retro if owning a turntable wasn't so damn cool lately.
You also get a new and rather stylish remote control if you can live with having buttons on the front and the back (under a flap) and no backlight (just glo-keys).
I like my home cinema with drama and the AVR-2307 scared the willies out of me... during setup. The white-noise pulses are loud and abrupt, resulting in category 5 tea spillage and dog bolting. It's not the swiftest to get going and seems to use metric metres shorter than the norm, but the relative distances and channel balance are both good.
As default the system measures the room for the parametric EQ filtering during set up and gives you the option of applying the result to the front speakers only, all speakers, or off. You can view the frequency, Q and gain for all eight filters on each channel.
In the AVR-2307's case, and it's by no means alone in this, I ran the auto-set up five times and got five widely differing filtering results. Hey-ho.
With the EQ switched off, the receiver gets straight back to business with a robust and full blooded sound, rich with detail and low frequency effects to joggle your spleen.
Denon receivers warm to action and adventure and the AVR-2307 does not disappoint when wheels are squealing and guns blazing. Percussive shots and big explosions have plenty of edgy attack and the gung-ho automatic sub level makes for an adrenaline-charged evening. Stick on a disc like Miami Vice, pull up a beer and simply enjoy.
It's not as comfortable with moody dramas and genteel orchestral scores. It doesn't quite reach the depth and 3D soundstaging of the more subtle amps at the price and dialogue sounds stuck inside the centre speaker.
Giving the volume a crank pushes up the sheer scale and projection for a truly immersive experience but nudge the volume towards 0dB and it gets a little harsh and glaring. Despite its feast of filtering, engaging the EQ system in my room neatly brought the dialogue to the fore at normal listening levels and smoothed the bass output from gratuitous to plain excessive.
Either way, you can't help feeling that the AVR-2307 is all about crafting a larger than life sound rather than one focusing on accuracy, detail and subtlety.
The same is true of its two-channel sound with music, this Denon certainly favouring the rock/pop genre over string quartets. There simply isn't the separation and fidelity for stunning hi-fi performance, but for a bit of high volume Snow Patrol this model is ideal.
The AVR-2307 is a well-specified, well-built, and well-featured receiver with a penchant for bass, beat music and action movies. That's no bad thing, of course; the Denon just has a distinct focus. If you like your music and movies fast and furious, then this receiver could be just the octane boost your system needs.