Recently bought the 3805. Denon has come a long way in both the surround processing and amplification areas. I thought I'd never own another Denon, but this receiver changed my mind. It is musical and powerful. I recently watched the Eagles "Hell Freezes Over" DVD and was amazed at how well it handled it.
I listened to the 2803 last year and decided it wasn't worth the upgrade (from my HK 525). It just didn't handle music very well, but the surround processing was superior to the HK. The 3805 is another story. It does it all. I haven't heard the 2805, but would expect results similar to the 2803. Both Denons do video up-conversion, if that is a consideration.
Yamaha...Well, they seem to be going down a different road. Their emphasis is on places like Best Buy rather than higher end stores (no problem if that's what you're into. Best Buy is fine at their level). Besides that, Yamaha has always been too "punched up" for my taste - some would use the term bright, but it actually has a different meaning. That emphasis on highs is what others prefer for home theater. It isn't the best for music, as far as I'm concerned.
Ok I have had the following in my home in the last year: Outlaw 950, Yamaha HTR 5760, Denon 985s(same as 2805), Pioneer 811s - I owned, HK 230, Pioneer 54tx which I own now. Though I didn't have them all at the same time. I also did a instore comparison of the denon 985 and HK 430 and I preferred the Denon over the HK. Now back to the Denon vs yamaha...I would take the denon but that is my preference...though I would take my Pioneer over any of them as it is one hell of a machine. You can click on my WWW link and read my review on the Pioneer if you wish.
A bit opposite of Chad's preferences, I had a chance to A/B a Denon AVR-3805 and Yamaha RX-V650. I didn't have a chance to test the home theater aspects or sound, but did for 2-channel listening. With Polk speakers (RTi series) I thought the Yamaha had a very slight sound edge over the Denon. Both receivers were placed in straight/direct mode, so no coloration of the sound had been applied.
However, that is what my ears told me and how I interpreted it. Anyone in the market for any gear, owes themself the benefit of taking the time to thoroughly listen to the gear that they are trying to decide upon. Not doing this task only leaves the buyer cheated in the end.
With the sound being every so close in my testing scenario, I would have had to probably flip a coin to decide, or go through the features list to see what options appealed to me more.
Best thing to do is a side by side comparison. I did a blind comparison of the 2500 vs 3805 vs 54tx. A friend of mine switched the receivers back and forth without me knowing which was playing. We used some Def Tech towers and then some Klipsch towers.We tested for over an hour on music and movies.
When the test was over I had blindly picked the 2500 as the best sounding of the three.
By the way I have owned both Denon and Yamaha but currently own a Rotel 1056/1080 combo.
"I don't understand how you can make such a statement. Yamaha clearly has two lines of receivers with very close characteristics between them."
I read what was a press release from Yamaha. I can't site where or when, but within the last year. It indicated that they were headed that direction. Someone at Magnolia HiFi reported the same thing to me - without prompting. He said that, as a result, the high end line is suffering.
"Best thing to do is a side by side comparison...
"However, that is what my ears told me and how I interpreted it. Anyone in the market for any gear, owes themself the benefit of taking the time to thoroughly listen to the gear..."
Couldn't agree more. What my 53 year old ears tell me about what I listen to cannot possibly tell anyone else what their ears hear when they listen to their preferred material. As important is what you're listening through - i.e. the DVD/CD player,Turntable, and speakers. These all influence the sound to a great degree and other things (interconnects, speaker cable, etc.) to a lesser degree.
Things that should be less subjective, but only open the door to the most hard-fought opinion are things like power, reliability, and customer service.
What it really comes back to is, "Do I like how it sounds for what I listen to? Does it meet my needs and my budget?" The truth is, most of us are faced with trade-offs and need to find what's most important to us and fit our equipment to that. ...By the way; to some, the most important thing is desire - "I really want this and nothing else is important."