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Going from my 2011 Denon AVR-2312ci (equivalent to a 7.1 version of a AVR-X3800h) to a new cheaper receiver (1 Viewer)

Mike Up

Supporting Actor
Joined
Dec 16, 2002
Messages
657
Before I had the Denon AVR-2312ci, I had the popular Denon AVR-3803 that was a beast and the receiver to have back in 2003. The AVR-2312ci was a downgrade in audio but I honestly never heard the difference. The AVR-2312ci is a great receiver, it's just not 4K or Dolby Atmos/DTS-X compatible. My main reason to get another receiver was so that the receiver could do the switching, instead of my TV. It makes it easier when using the receiver's settings. The Denon AVR-2312ci was positioned in the newest AVR-X3800h spot. However while it had the amp section, it didn't have the pre-amp section features of the X3800h.

Trying to stay close to the amp section power output, I went to an Onkyo TX-NR6050. This was a Costco Exclusive receiver that was pretty much a TX-NR6100 minus the THX/Relative Volume level display. The power output should had been 100 watts/ch if it followed the TX-NR6100 but it stated it was 90 watts/channel. Still close enough to the Denon AVR-2312ci 105 watts/ch. that I was trying to stay close to. My older Denon AVR-3803 has 110 watts/ch.

While the receiver sounded good with music, it had issues. Mainly with the subwoofer output. I reset the receiver several times. I thought I had finally fixed the low output level of subwoofer. The test signal and level meter stated the output level of the sub was correct but actual music output sounded weak next to my other '2' Denon receivers. I finally just jacked the sub output to a level I thought it should be at even if it didn't agree with the sound level measurements. It sounded better.

Then when I was using it for home theater, I found something that "I" found unacceptable, when in either Direct mode or Dolby Digital/Dolby Digital plus 5.1(and maybe other Dolby formats) that the side channel output was forced to the surround back channel speakers, leaving the side channel speakers off. This was by design and finally mentioned in a newly corrected Onkyo manual. While this may be Ok for some system, it wasn't for mine. What was even worse is that for music 5.1 DVDs, the sound was not meant to come out of the surround back channels and sounded poor. There were several other weird things about this receiver such as only the 3 8K HDMI ports were compatible with HDR10+, the other 3 HDMI port were not compatible with HDR10+. Also, there were weird sound mode names that didn't line up as Dolby Surround 7.1 or Atmos 7.1 (if you had a 7.1 speaker setup) if you used the speaker virtualizer for phantom Atmos speakers. With the Virtualizer turned off, then 7.1 from the name was dropped. Also when using the info display while using DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 signal, the display said 7.1B with no explanation what B was for. A member of another forum stated it meant back surround channel, but isn't that a given.

I ended up returning the Onkyo, it was just to 'weird' for me as it didn't seem to follow standards and the manual was very poorly documented. This was besides it didn't sound very good with it's subwoofer output weakness. I feel that the dynamics were actually affected on the subwoofer output which would explain the sound level measurement anomaly.

I then went to the Denon AVR-S960H. This is actually what I was looking for! The sound was really good, sounding as good as my AVR-2312ci! It had loud, dynamic bass which made music sound really good. The bass output level measurements were several decibels lower than the Onkyo TX-NR6050 sub output measurements but still sounded stronger with much more punch! Definitely had to be a dynamics issue with the Onkyo's subwoofer output where it was compressed, maybe by processing?

The Denon AVR-S960h processing for home theater was excellent as well with surround channel information staying in the surround speakers even in straight or direct 5.1 modes in my 7.1 setup! Things made sense also, no weird sound mode names that changed with having the virtualizer on or off.

Never had to do a reset either. This Denon AVR-S960h is what I was expecting a replacement receiver for the AVR-2312ci to be. Exceed or equal the sound performance and have more compatibility with today's surround sound formats and HDMI formats. The Denon AVR-S960H was definitely worth the extra $200 over the TX-NR6050 for me. The Onkyo TX-NR6050 was $400 from Costco and the Denon AVR-S960H was $600 from Amazon.

If memory is correct, I believe I bought my Denon AVR-2312ci for $650 back in 2012 when it's MSRP was $850. Technically I only saved $50 from the AVR-S960h "TRUE" MSRP of $650. It's artificial MSRP of $850 was jacked up even when the pandemic supply issues were nearly over. I wouldn't pay that $850 when it was a $200 price gouge used on the excuse of the pandemic. Fortunately Costco prices for receivers and speakers hadn't changed from the original MSRP even if those audio companies wanted to jack up prices unfairly using excuses. Costco prices remained the same and I have to give it to Costco for not taking advantage of their customers!

I'm very happy with the Denon AVR-S960H and have no regrets. If you look at the guts of the Denon AVR-S960H and the AVR-X2700h, they are the same except for the detachable power cable on the X2700h. The X2700h did add a RS232 port and some custom integration and remote zone inputs/outputs but that's about the difference. The X2700h also added audyssey XT over straight audyssey on the S960h. Since I'm not a fan of audyssey (thought XT sounded terrible on my AVR-2312ci), and didn't need the custom integration or zone features, I skipped the X2700h and went to S960H. I have a 7.1 speaker setup so I wasn't interested in paying for X3700h/X3800h with features I didn't want or need.

So far I'm impressed with the S960h.

Denon did this globally to all of the receivers, where you can change the speaker levels independently for each input plus have 2 presets for speaker setups. However I really liked the AVR-2312ci's better way of doing this. On the AVR-2312ci, you can independently change speaker levels for each "SOUND MODE" but not each input! This was a far better way of doing it and more functional IMO. For instance, I like multi channel stereo to have the subwoofer stronger to offset the additional speaker loudness. I can't do that now without affecting all sound modes on that input. Plus it doesn't follow over to other inputs, so I have to make changes now on each input and remember to put it back when I'm done listening. Just a gripe where change doesn't mean it's better.
 
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Mike Up

Supporting Actor
Joined
Dec 16, 2002
Messages
657
I just wanted to add some. The Denon AVR-S960H has been a very good receiver. The sound quality in stereo is top notch and I honestly can't find any negatives compared to my Denon AVR-2312ci that's in my other HT System now. The home theater sound quality is really nice. While I don't have Atmos speakers (Height, reflecting or ceiling), the Atmos soundtracks sound excellent through the side and back surround speakers, along with the front speakers. Atmos soundtracks on this receiver sound more pinpoint accurate for surround effects compared to normal 5.1 upmixed to 7.1. One of the great benefits of Atmos is that it's always a 7.1 soundtrack opposed to the normal 5.1 soundtracks with a rare DD+ 7.1 sound track. Most of my 4K movies are streamed so they use DD+.

I really can't think of anything I don't like about this receiver other than many of the settings can't be seen through the front display of the receiver unlike the AVR-2312ci. The Denon AVR-3803 didn't display it's settings on it's front display either, needing the on-screen menu on a TV.

HDMI communications work well with no HDCP issues. With my Polk TSI100 bookshelf speakers, the receiver powers them as good as the AVR-2312ci. They are relatively easy to drive with an 8 Ohm impedance and a high SPL plus my powered subwoofer takes away the need to power bass frequencies. Maybe a full range tower speaker with a 4 ohm impedance and an 85 db SPL would put the receiver to work, but I honestly don't think it would power a pair of speakers like that any worse than my AVR-2312ci.

I'm just very impressed with this receiver right now. I just don't find anything not to like. Just thought I throw this thread out there as the forum seems a bit slow going lately. Usually people only post about things they don't like or need help fixing issues. Thought I post about something I like.
 

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