The Denon DHT-1311XP home theater package offers good bang for the buck. The SYS-391HT 5.1 channel speaker package offers absolutely heavenly sound, and the clarity and punch on offer makes you feel that the speakers are more expensive than they actually are. Even if you have another receiver, we would suggest pairing these speakers with it. The AVR-1311 is a very competent receiver, in terms of performance. However, despite being a step up from the basic AV receivers, it does have some specification limitations- not enough optical audio inputs if you have more than one device waiting to be connected, and no video upscale as well. However, if you have a 3D TV with a 3D Blu-ray player, this receiver will pass through 3D content easily.
Home theater (HT) setups from professional audio equipment manufacturers are becoming more and more popular. Partly because the price of these packages is coming down, and also because the consumers are becoming very picky about the products they buy. Sound has become one such topic. However, everything said and done, the home theater, as an entity, has indeed been made popular by the humble DVD-home theater setups. Most retailers have been bundling those with HD televisions, and the consumer has moved beyond the audio output offered by the TV’s built-in speakers.
Now, that requirement is going to the next level, and users want more than what their current HT setup offers. This is where the consumer electronics brands like Samsung, Philips and Sony have faltered, because they haven’t been able to offer the next level of performance. Neither with the higher-end (and a lot more expensive Blu-ray home theaters) nor with the Soundbar wireless subwoofer packages.
While these brands were faltering, the professional audio brands were making a beeline for your home. Shedding their ‘expensive” tag by reducing prices of the offerings, they ensured that the higher end versions of the DVD/Blu-ray home theaters from the consumer electronics giants suffered.
Look and feel: Black is back…
Traditionally, a home theater setup resembles an assembled PC. An AV receiver from one brand and speakers from another, sold separately, but married together, later, as one. Maybe, the complications that came with the research involved before buying such a package had kept consumers away. Denon has a solution for this problem, with the DHT-1311XP offering. Denon is well known for its AV receivers and to a certain extent for its home theater speakers. And usually, both things are sold separately. However, this is the “home theater out of the box” package, which includes an AVR-1311 receiver and the SYS-391HT 5.1 channel speaker system.
The single box home theater package consists of an AV receiver and a 5.1 channel home theater speaker system. The AVR-1311 has a completely black coloured finish. There is a retro styled dial for the volume control, and the green LED ringed power/stand-by/power off button. The front panel also has a display, buttons for the three Quick Select modes, buttons for individual input selections, Surround sound mode controls, headphone out jack, auxiliary audio input port (3.5mm) and an aux-video source input. The rear panel has 4 HDMI inputs, 3 component and 2 composite input sources. There is one HDMI out, which will be connected to your television. There is one each of coaxial and optical audio inputs.
[RELATED_ARTICLE]The SYS-391HT speaker system is a 5.1 channel configuration. The five speakers are all housed in wooden cabinets. Placed vertically, the front left and front right speakers are larger than the rear left and rear right speakers. The front speakers have dual 8cm drivers, while the rear ones have single 8cm driver each. The rear ones are essentially surround sound speakers, and contrary to general opinion, do not need to be as big as the floor standing ones supplied by certain manufacturers. The center channel speaker also is the 8cm dual driver type, and is optimized for movie dialogue delivery. All speakers are dressed in black colour as well, including the woofer. The speakers come with keyhole hooks for wall mounting, if needed.
While Denon claim that the woofer is in a compact cabinet, I respectfully disagree. It is quite big, and with good reason, since it packs quite a punch. We have had photo frames falling down regularly, and even some bit of whitewash from one part of the ceiling!
The remote is possibly one of the most congested ones out there, in terms of the sheer number of buttons. Take a couple of minutes to understand the button placement, and it grows on you. Well, when was the last time you saw a remote with a separate “power on” button and a separate “power off” button? Well, the AVR remote has that retro feel to it!
Read on to know more about the Denon DHT-1311XP's features, performance and price...
Features: Most of this, not enough of that
The AVR does come with a lot of features packed in. the HDMI inputs (and output) are 1.4a version spec, which makes this receiver 3D capable. Connect a 3D Blu-ray player to this, and it will pass though 3D visuals to a capable television. However, what this AVR doesn’t do is upscale video content, to any HD resolution. The original video resolution passes through as it is.
The 4 HDMI inputs are labeled “Game, Sat/CBL, BD and DVD), which really doesn’t make sense. There is no ability to manually rename a source, which doesn’t make sense since you may have a different gadget genre connected to an HDMI port that is named something else. For example- What if you have a PS3 and an Xbox? There is only one “Game” input! The trick here seems to be set on remembering which gadget is connected to which source. The remote is labeled pretty similarly, which is spread even to the Quick Source settings. Denon could have left these three sources alone at least, for manual labeling.
The fact that this is not a high end AV receiver shows. The lack of any automatic sound adjustment (ex- Audyssey EQ) means any and all sound adjustments need to be done manually. The lack of a graphic equalizer is something that won’t impress some people. However, audio buffs won’t mind, since they prefer ‘pure’ sound.
The SYS-391HT speaker system is the 5.1 channel type- 5 speakers and 1 subwoofer. The speakers include the centre channel, front right and left, and the surround left and right- also known as rear speakers in the 5.1 channel setup. The subwoofer is the passive type, which requires its own dedicated connection to a power source. Wood encasing for all components in this package ensures solidity for every component individually. Adds a bit of weight to each of them, which shows that it is well put together.
Performance: Good package within the configuration boundaries
Admittedly, the DHT-1311XP package does have some features missing, but does manage well within the limitations. The price is essentially the single biggest factor that seems to be guiding hardware specs.
Once the setup is done, it will take about 15-20 minutes to scroll through all the menus and tweak the settings. Primarily, it is crucial to set the tone levels for individual speakers, and the sub. What helps with this setting (calculated in dB) is the tone which each speaker churns out, when selected. For best results, set the center and front speakers to 1dB and the rear speakers to 2dB, since the rear ones are just for the momentary effect, at certain points during the movie. While the settings go up to 8dB, it is not good practice to set this too high, since the speaker draws more power, but the performance doesn’t increase beyond the max capabilities of the speaker. You will realize that even at these settings, the Denon SYS-391HT is an extremely powerful package. If you like a lot of bass, set the subwoofer to 2dB, and there is enough punch to throw things off shelves. Any more, and the bass will just feel uncomfortable to the ear. The subwoofer has a bass adjustment dial on itself as well, and this was set at about 70%. The clarity on offer with these speakers is absolutely delightful, and if the speakers are placed correctly, each one stands out with their surround sound effects. The center channel speaker, which is essentially for dialogue delivery, does its job extremely well, both in terms of clarity and audibility.
[RELATED_ARTICLE]Back to the receiver, and the settings. There are multiple surround sound settings, some of which are only available for certain content. For standard definition content like TataSky, the DTS Neo:6 is the best sounding mode. However, for content that does have high definition audio, modes like the DTS PLX do get activated and are available for selection. The best part is that the AVR has the remember settings feature which remembers the sound volume and surround setting for each input source, set the last time you had used that mode.
However, if you want to connect multiple devices via optical audio, then you have a problem. The receiver has only one optical audio input, and it has to be configured with a certain input. This cannot be done with multiple inputs, which makes even optical audio splitters (3 inputs into the splitter, which then connects to the receiver with one cable) useless, unless you want to manually change the settings each time the source is changed. A similar problem exists for the coaxial audio port, which is also just one.
If you want to connect the iPod to the receiver, you can. There are two ways of doing it- either via the standard AV cable (with 3.5mm on one side) or the Denon iPod Dock. The dock is an optional accessory, and costs about Rs 7k. With the dock, the iPod gets charged while in use, and the on-screen menu gets activated.
Read on to know what is our take on the Denon DHT-1311XP, the price and the specifications...
Our Take: Basic setup packs quite a punch
While the DHT-1311XP is a dedicated home theater setup, it remains a “one level above the basic” one. While the SYS-391HT speakers are powerful enough for a high-end setup as well, the AVR-1311 is an entry-level receiver- no HDMI video upscale, no on-screen menu and limited audio inputs. This is a slight contrast within the package. Performance wise, the DHT-1311XP package will be an absolute delight. The speakers pack in quite a punch (and the woofer quite a thump!), and the receiver, despite its specification limitations, does a good job. If you are in the market for a home theater system from a professional brand (the likes of Denon, Yamaha, Jamo, Onkyo etc.), this may be the one to buy.
The AVR-1311 receiver is available for about Rs 24k, while the SYS-391 speakers, if sold separately, retail for about Rs 20k. The combined cost of the two, as a ‘home theater out of the box’ package is Rs 42k. Onkyo offers a similar option with their HT-S5205 package (TX-SR307 receiver and HTP-528 5.1-channel speakers). The TX-SR307 receiver isn’t 3D capable, but does have the Audyssey EQ feature built-in, to help adjusting the sound according to the room. And it also has 2 optical audio inputs.
Alternatively, if you want to buy the receiver and the speakers separately (and/or from separate brands as well), we would strongly suggest grabbing these Denon SYS-391 speakers- thanks to the delightful performance. The simple matter of selecting a receiver needs your attention now!
If you are on a strict budget, the Onkyo TX-SR308 is available for about Rs 18k. What you get here is only 3 HDMI inputs, instead of the 4 that Denon offers. Also, while the Denon AVR-1311 can handle 3D content, this one cannot. In the same price budget is the Yamaha RX-V465. No 3D here, but 4 HDMI inputs nevertheless. Where it has the advantage over the Denon AVR-1311 is the availability of 2 optical and 2 coaxial audio inputs each.
If you are willing to spend as much as the Denon AVR-1311, i.e. Rs 24k, then also you have a couple of alternatives. The Onkyo TX-SR309 has relatively similar specs to the Denon receiver, but with 2 optical audio inputs.
Price: Rs 42,000 (MRP)
Denon AVR-1311 receiver
4 HDMI 1.4a inputs
1 HDMI out
3D pass-through capable
Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, and Dolby Digital Surround EX
1 optical and 1 coaxial audio input
3 composite in- 1 composite out
iPod dock port
Individual input audio settings remember feature
Denon SYS-391HT speakers
5.1 channel speaker system
Front speakers (L/R): Dual 8cm bass-mid drivers; 2.5cm dome tweeter; wooden cabinet
Centre speaker: Dual 8cm bass-mid drivers; 2.5cm dome tweeter; wooden cabinet
Surround speaker: 8cm full range driver
Subwoofer: 100 watts output; powered type
Contact: ProFX India