CNET Editors' Rating: 3.5 / 5
The good: The Denon AVR-1913 has a good set of features, with six HDMI inputs, built-in AirPlay, an iOS/Android app, DLNA compatibility, and built-in streaming audio services like Pandora, Sirius, and Internet radio. The included remote is best-in-class and the user interface is easy to navigate. And like last year's model, the AVR-1913 has excellent sound quality.
The bad: The Denon AVR-1913 is relatively expensive, especially since it lacks a standout feature to distinguish itself from competitors. It doesn't have built-in Wi-Fi or an affordable Wi-Fi dongle. Denon's step-down AVR-1713 will be a better buy for most people, who don't need 7.1 channels or analog video upconversion.
The bottom line: The Denon AVR-1913 has a solid set of features and excellent sound quality, but competing AV receivers offer better value.
Design, Features & Performance (out of 10)
AV receivers are maddeningly difficult to compare, sometimes because they're so similar. Denon's AVR-1913 ($600 street) sits at the high end of the brand's mainstream line of AV receivers, and in terms of features, there isn't much that separates it from the competition. It has built-in AirPlay, six HDMI inputs, an iOS/Android remote app, and a smattering of streaming audio services, which makes it largely indistinguishable from the Yamaha RX-V673 ($600) and Pioneer VSX-1122-K ($600). The Denon has its good points (sound quality is excellent, as is the included remote), but they don't stand out enough to provide a significant edge over its challengers.
The Denon's real competition is Onkyo's TX-NR616, which is shockingly inexpensive at $430 street, and Sony's STR-DN1030 ($500 list, available in mid-July), which is the first receiver in this price range to include both built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. With the exception of AirPlay the Onkyo actually has more features than the Denon AVR-1913 (including eight HDMI inputs) -- and if you want AirPlay just add a $100 Apple TV, which gives you much more functionality for a total price that's still lower than the Denon. And while Sony's STR-DN1030 may only have five HDMI inputs, its built-in wireless connectivity at a lower price than the Denon is a killer combination.
Not to mention that the AVR-1913 is more AV receiver than most people need. If you're set on getting a Denon, check out the step-down AVR-1713 ($450), which is a better value if you don't need the AVR-1913's niche features, like analog video upconversion or 7.1 channels. The Denon AVR-1913 is an all-around solid AV receiver, but buyers should take a long look at other options to make sure they're getting the best receiver for their needs.
Denon's receivers tend to look a bit classier than others and the AVR-1913 is no different. It eschews the glossy finishes of Yamaha's and Pioneer's offerings, while avoiding the more utilitarian look of Onkyo's models. It's big and bulky, though, coming in at 6.4 inches tall, 17.1 inches wide, and 13 inches deep, so make sure you have plenty of space in your AV cabinet. It doesn't quite look as good as last year's subtly curved AVR-1912, and Marantz's slimline receivers are the most stylish receivers around, but the AVR-1913 is still above average in the looks department.
AV receiver remotes are generally terrible. Picture countless tiny buttons, all about the same size, with small lettering that's near impossible to read in dim home theater lighting.
That's what makes the AVR-1913's remote so refreshing. There are relatively few buttons, and they're big and bright -- a good formula for an easy-to-use remote. Denon has thankfully ditched the number pad and array of seldom-used buttons, instead relying on you to make those changes via the user interface. The only misstep (and it's a big one) is the glossy black finish around the buttons. Glossy finishes collect fingerprints very easily, especially with a device that's always in your hand. So the remote is laid out well and unusually easy to use, but it's going to get smudgy quickly.
In addition to the included remote, the AVR-1913 can be controlled via the Denon Remote App smartphone app. I used the iOS version on an iPhone 4 and it works pretty well. Obviously you can select inputs and adjust the volume, but it's even more useful for apps like Pandora -- or even accessing a media server on your network -- where it's a little easier to use the phone interface rather than an onscreen menu. The Remote App can even access the music stored on your phone, so there's no need to jump to a separate iPod app to play music via AirPlay.
The AVR-1913's graphical user interface may only be a short step up from the text-based interfaces of yore, but it's very easy to navigate. Menu choices are simple and there are even some basic graphics when it's helpful, like choosing your speaker configuration.
If you jump into the "network" section, you'll be able to browse the AVR-1913's limited streaming-audio options. Here the interface looks a little more archaic, especially compared with those of other home theater devices like the Apple TV or Xbox 360. The user interface looks similar if you're using AirPlay and thankfully cover art is now supported for third-party apps, so you'll see album art from, say, Rhapsody.
Six HDMI inputs: The AVR-1913 has six HDMI inputs, including one front-panel input, which should be enough to cover most home theaters. If you want the most HDMI connectivity for your buck, however, go with Onkyo: the TX-NR616 ($430) and TX-NR515 ($400) both offer eight HDMI inputs. The rest of the Denon's audiovisual connectivity is on the skimpy side, particularly with just two digital audio inputs, but I wouldn't worry about that too much since nearly all modern home theater components support HDMI. (Check out CNET's 2012 AV receiver spreadsheet for a more detailed comparison of AV receivers' connectivity.)
Built-in networking: The AVR-1913's Ethernet port allows for all kinds of networking functionality, including firmware updates, AirPlay, smartphone control, and media streaming via DLNA, Internet radio, Pandora, Sirius/XM, and Flickr. I still don't think networking is an absolutely essential AV receiver feature (largely because AV receivers shouldn't be media streamers), but it's a nice bonus. The AVR-1913's set of streaming-audio apps is somewhat limited compared to competitors', so if you won't be using a separate media streamer or iOS device (with AirPlay), you'll get more options, like Spotify, from Onkyo's network receivers.
Note that Denon does not offer a Wi-Fi dongle like Onkyo, Pioneer, and Yamaha do, although there are plenty of Wi-Fi alternatives to get the AVR-1913 on your home network if you don't have Ethernet in your living room.
Built-in AirPlay: If you own an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, the Denon AVR-1913's built-in AirPlay is a nice bonus, although it's not essential since you can always add AirPlay later with a $100 Apple TV. If you're not sure whether you should pick a receiver with built-in AirPlay, check out our rundown of the advantages and disadvantages of built-in AirPlay versus buying a separate Apple TV box.
Two-year warranty: Denon's two-year warranty is standard, although it's better than the one-year warranty offered on Pioneer's competing receivers. And if you're really looking for peace of mind, Marantz's NR1403 and NR1603 feature three-year warranties.
3D pass-through, audio return channel, standby pass-through: Denon supports all three of these HDMI features (each of which is explained in more detail here), but while they're all useful, you can largely ignore them when making a buying decision, since almost every newer receiver supports them.
iPhone/iPad-friendly USB port: The USB port on the front panel supports iPhones, iPods, and iPads, so you can connect those devices directly using a standard cable and navigate your music collection onscreen. We also had success using the USB port with a standard USB drive filled with music.
Powered second-zone audio: The Denon AVR-1913 has basic multiroom functionality, with the option to assign the surround back channels as a second zone. If you're really interested in multiroom functionality, Onkyo's TX-NR616 is the most featured in this price range, with powered second-zone audio, unpowered second-zone audio and unpowered third-zone audio.
Other features: The AVR-1913 can upconvert analog video signals to 1080p over its HDMI output, but that feature isn't nearly as important as it used to be, since analog video devices are pretty rare. There's also support for Dolby Pro Logic IIz processing, allowing for "height" channels, but we don't think the minimal sonic benefits are worth the extra effort. The AVR-1913 doesn't have any THX certification, but that's not worth factoring into a buying decision, since the Denon sounds great anyway.
Setup and calibration
The AVR-1913's owner's manual does a better-than-average job spelling out the details of using the Audyssey MultEQ auto setup system. For example, it reminds you to turn up the subwoofer control halfway (to the 12 o'clock position), bypass the sub's internal crossover or use its "direct" input, and turn off the sub's standby power control. For best results Denon recommends placing the supplied microphone on a camera tripod while running the calibration tones. If you don't have a tripod, you can rest the mic on the vertical backrest of your couch or any other location near the height of a seated listener's ears.
The Audyssey program sends a short series of tones through all the speakers one at a time and the subwoofer for about a minute. You can stop after the first series of tones, but the system works best when you repeat the routine six times, moving the calibration mic to six different locations in or near the main listening area. Doing so took around 12 minutes, and we verified the results were accurate. Automatic speaker calibration systems like Audyssey aren't an essential feature if you're comfortable performing a manual setup on your AV receiver, but they're well worth it for everyone else.
Sound quality evaluations for AV receivers (and other amplifiers) are controversial. Some say all AV receivers sound the same, others disagree, and we're not likely to settle that argument anytime soon. CNET's sound quality evaluations are strictly subjective, with resident golden-ear Steve Guttenberg comparing similarly priced models in an identical listening environment using the same speakers.
The AVR-1913 sounds great and very similar to the model it replaces in Denon's line from last year, the AVR-1912, which we had on hand for these evaluations. Both receivers sound clear and balanced, with powerful dynamics required for today's effects-heavy action films.
Steven Wilson's "Grace For Drowning" music-only Blu-ray sounded amazing. Wilson is a master of high-resolution music surround mixing, and the AVR-1913 effortlessly produced a seamless, wraparound sonic experience. On "Raider Prelude," the choir's voices seemed to reach up and come from above us. The percussion and bells on "No Part of Me" had a purity of sound you never hear from CDs. The AVR-1913's deep bass had tremendous impact and definition.
To test the AVR-1913's power reserves we fired up the "Quantum of Solace" Blu-ray, and the sound of the car chase, with James Bond (Daniel Craig) thrashing the hell out of his Aston Martin sports car, was thrilling. The metal-against-metal crashes and heavy gunfire exchanges were played in all their glory, even when we turned the volume higher than usual. Jack White's "Another Way to Die" Bond theme song did nothing to change our opinion of the AVR-1913's capabilities. A quick switchover to the Pioneer's VSX-1022-K was a letdown, because the sound was a pale imitation of what we heard over the AVR-1913. The VSX-1022-K sounded slightly dull, with flabbier bass and restricted dynamic punch.
With the volume turned down to a more sedate late-night level, we listened with the Audyssey Volume and Dynamic EQ processors turned on. Yes, they maintained a more consistent volume level, so the soundtrack's loud parts were automatically compressed, but we felt the processors muddied the sound somewhat. For late-night sessions we prefer the sound with the Audyssey Volume and Dynamic EQ processors turned off.
CDs played in stereo were so sharply focused we more than once checked to see if we had accidentally switched over to 5.1 surround, because it sounded like Bob Dylan's vocals were coming from the center speaker. No, it really was just stereo, but the image focus was so good we were fooled.
What about Denon's other AV receivers?
The AVR-1913 is at the top of Denon's "main" line of AV receivers and is definitely pricey at $580. We broke down the main differences between each Denon model when they were initially announced, and the AVR-1713 will likely be the best value in Denon's line for most. The step-up features of the AVR-1913 (7.1 channels, analog video upconversion, powered second-zone audio, Pro Logic IIz processing) aren't worth it for the vast majority of buyers, especially with the $130 price premium. The AVR-1613 is also attractive, but it's just $50 to get an extra HDMI input on the AVR-1713, which is worth it.
The Denon AVR-1913 is a great-sounding AV receiver with a good feature set, but it doesn't do much to distinguish itself at this price point. Value-based buyers can likely do better with the Onkyo TX-NR616, Sony STR-DN1030, or Denon's less expensive (although less feature-packed) AVR-1713.
Average User Rating: 3.5 / 5
User Rating Breakdown
5 Star: 3
4 Star: 0
3 Star: 0
2 Star: 0
1 Star: 2
Not perfect, but nearly
Rating: 5 / 5
on March 12, 2013
3 out of 3 users found this review helpful
Pros: + Sound quality is very good
+ There are 5 HDMI inputs
+ Audessey setup was great
+ Manual is very detailed and comprehensive
+ Plays FLAC files for stunning, high resolution music
Cons: - No SACD support
- NO pre-amp outputs
Summary: Sound quality is very good. Even air play songs from my iPhone sound very good. Compared to my last Denon AVR-635, my speakers had a more open sound and better sound stage or presence. FWIW, I'm running 12 year old Paradigm Titan bookshelf speakers along with the Paradigm's center channel from that era which I believe is CC-170. The surrounds are Paradigm ADP-170's and finally the sub is a 12" Polk PSW-505.
Hooking up the HDMI and speaker wires is pretty easy and standard. I did have a little trouble feeding 12 ga speaker wire onto the posts and behind the nut. Is if you're running 12 ga wire you'd be we'll advised to some banana plugs. Smaller ga wire was no trouble. I used the Audessy set up with the microphone and I wasn't thrilled. Make sure you go back and change your front speaker size to small or you'll be wondering why your sub won't fire in anything but 5.1 feeds.
Nice thing is that I was able to change the subwoofer level for each sound setting and device I use. So I have a little more sub with stereo or matrix setting but a little less when watching movies. Anyway, after a bit of a learning curve and adjusting the sound settings, I find the sound for all devices to be very good. I'm a guy who cares more about music reproduction than home theater sound, but it does that very well too.
In order to get the most out of this unit, you really need to have it on your home network. Otherwise, you'll have no Air play ability or Internet radio. Streaming pandora from my iPhone as I write this...it's nice. Very nice to be able to Turin the receiver from any room in my home and play whatever I want. Even pulls up lots of local, national, global radio stations that stream over the Internet. The receiver has no wifi so you have to use cat5 cable to hook up to your network. I solved this using a netgear power line adapter (model XAVB1004). Super easy! I recommend checking it out if you need a wired network connection.
It's nice to be able to hook up your iPhone to the front USB port to play music. You can even use the Denon remote to browse your music from the sofa but the interface leaves a lot to be desired. Much better if you're networked. That way you feed your wifi and the router feeds the receiver. Just use your phone like you normally would.
Wanted to make sure I mentioned that the on screen display (on the tv) does make it pretty easy to navigate through the various receiver settings. Now that I'm more familiar with the unit, I can quickly jump into the settings menu and make a quick change if I feel it's necessary. Much better than squinting at the AVR display.
Would have given it 5 stars if I didn't have to go back and adjust all my settings after using the Audessy setup. Otherwise, I'm very happy and would recommend. Kinda afraid to update my firmware though since its working so nicely right now.
Note: I suggest you have to check for low price of this receiver at: www.avreceiverreviewsbuy.com/buy-denon-avr-1913
I hope this review is helpful.
Good Quality, Poor Product
Rating: 1 / 5
on May 14, 2013
0 out of 0 users found this review helpful
Pros: The sound is great and the feature list/flexibility (I have mine set to bi-amp) is fantastic.
Cons: "Mode Not Supported" error
Static and flashing image
Summary: All the time I get a "Mode Not Supported" error from my Samsung TV, never was a problem before the Denon. It also has trouble with many of my HDMI devices. I can't pinpoint a source (sometimes switching from an analog input to HDMI, other times from cold power up) but it will behave as if it is re-initiating an HDMI hand shake over and over. It will show no picture for several seconds, flash static, show the picture, then repeat.
LOVE this receiver! Great sound and a very easy set-up.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
on March 31, 2013
0 out of 0 users found this review helpful
Pros: It sounds AWESOME!
Easy on-screen set-up
Easy auto-sound calibration system that sounds unbelievable
Lots of inputs
A very nice and easy to use remote.
Love the air play for my Itunes
The Denon remote app is a nice feature, too.
Can be set up for 5.1
Cons: It is not Wi Fi and it only has one sub input.. Both did not affect me.
Summary: I had a Denon AVR-87 for 12 years before my purchase. It was a great receiver, so I decided to stick with Denon. After a lot of research, I decided to go with the AVR-1913. I have not been disapointed. Now being on the market for over a year and being discounted in most stores, you get a lot of bang for your bucks. I loved how easy it was to set-up(on the TV screen) and I have enjoyed the perfectly balanced surround sound with crisp highs and deep clear lows. This was made possible by the sound auto-calibration feature. Also, I don't have the speakers to set up for 7.1 at this time. It was very easy for me to set this receiver up for 5.1. I have also taken notice of the video up-conversion. It looks amazing. If you need WiFi, then that would be an issue with this receiver and it only has one subwoofer input. Other than those 2 things, don't worry about this receiver. Go out and buy it... You won't regret it!! Did I mention that it sounds AMAZING?
Updated on Mar 31, 2013
This is the worst component that I have ever had!
Rating: 0.5 / 5
on December 24, 2012
0 out of 0 users found this review helpful
Pros: Nice unit, I just wish it worked!
Cons: The sound quality & volume vary. When you fast forward the volume can change without any input. When music comes on the volume goes down & sounds muffled. I've called Denon many time & no help. I think it's a conflict with Directv.
Summary: I really wish Denon Tech Support but after six calls they could not help fix this but they are absolutely no help. My retailer said it sounded like a compression problem. I even swapped out the unit. Yesterday they exchanged it for a Yamaha which works Great!
Updated on Dec 24, 2012
Sound that will make you the envy of your friends
Rating: 4.5 / 5
on December 18, 2012
0 out of 0 users found this review helpful
Pros: Unparalleled sound quality
Easy to use and effective Audyssey speaker configuration
Highly customizable audio options - right down to individual speaker crossover frequencies
Great looking GUI
Simple and effective remote control
Cons: No built in Wi-fi or Blutooth, but assuming you don't need to use your smartphone to operate the receiver all the time, not a big deal.
Summary: Initially I bought the Sony STR-DN1030 on CNET's suggestion, but was left a little underwhelmed with the sound. Not that it was BAD, but it didn't really beat my old Denon 5.1 system, and I realized that after messing around with blutooth and wifi for a bit, 99 percent of the time I'd NEVER use them. So I went with my gut and exchanged it for the Denon 1913. What a difference, again the Sony didn't have BAD sound, it's just that the 1913 sounds SO GOOD it blows everything else away. My living room has NEVER sounded so good, with rich lows and crisp high's for movies, games, and music ( By the way, the networking is superb for the Denon, and the GUI feels current and easy to use ) -
If you need the extra Gizmo's fine, go with the Sony or the Onkyo with a cheep dongle, but if what you really want is performance for your media - BUY THIS RECEIVER!