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My impressions of the 3808CI... (1 Viewer)

Rob Grim

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Aug 5, 2003
Messages
88
Introduction
Well, I recently let go of my Outlaw 990 and moved to a Denon 3808 (purchased black Friday). My choices came down to the 94 Elite or the 3808 Denon and as you can tell, went with the 3808. I've been in search of a new pre/pro for quite some time to just be able to cut back on having such a rats nest behind all my gear in my a/v cabinet. Well, when I finally realized my humming/buzzing problem had something to do with a bad channel on my Outlaw 7700 amplifier which apparently has been there from day one but I guess the balanced connections I was using helped hide it, what a better time to purchase especially when I have to ship the amp back to Outlaw and without an amp, no way to power the speakers. After reading many reviews of the 94 and the 3808, just the ease of firmware updates via the web, OSD overlay over any signal type and Denons build quality helped me decide.

First Impressions
When I first pulled the 3808 out of the box the first thing I noticed was the sheer weight of the 3808, built like a tank. I know it doesn't way much more than the 94 Elite but the 3808 just seems to have better build quality. After removing the 990 and replacing it with the 3808, now it was time to wire it up. I removed 18 analog cables, 3 fiber optic cables and 1 set of component video cable from the rear of my a/v cabinet. Right now I have 1 cable going to the 3808 from each peice of gear (sat, Blu-Ray, HD-DVD) which is an HDMI cable of course and 1 set of component cables from the Xbox 360. From the 3808 to the projector, a single HDMI cable is all thats hooked up.

Setup
Now that everything is hooked up, time to fire up the gear, keep in mind I have to use the internal amps of the 3808 due to having to send my 7700 back to Outlaw for repair. First I wanted to make sure I had no handshake issues now that all I'm using is HDMI connections, everything works flawlessly. It's just a matter of a second or two before making the HDMI connection, some units have a very slow connection time but not the Denon. Now it was time to go into the menu to assign inputs, speaker sizes, etc. Well one thing I can say for sure is the 3808 has a hell of alot of settings to contend with as well as menus and sub menus. Don't bother to pick up the owners manual cause there is alot to be desired about that which I'll cover later in the review. Well, using Denons remote was a pain in the ass until I figured out how it worked, anyone thats ever used one of Denons touch screen remotes (if thats what it's called) will understand. I think the thing that helped me most was owning a 3805 which has a remote pretty similiar to the 3808.

Assigning inputs and such was pretty self explanatory, knowing all I'd be using was HDMI connections it was just a matter of verifying I had the correct inputs and going with it. I went threw and adjusted all my speaker sizes to small, set all x-over's to 80hz., set all my distances to the sweet spot in the room then adjusted all levels using an analog Radio Shack SPL meter. Once that was done I briefly watched a little of the openinf of Casino Royale to make sure things seemed pretty well balanced and they were. Well after watching the first chapter of the movie, things just didn't sound like they did when I was using the 990/7700 combo but I was pretty sure it had something to do with not having the power going to the speakers that I usually have so I figured I'd give the Audyssey Auto Setup a try.

Audyssey MultEQ
Once the mic was hooked up the OSD shows exactly what the unit is doing as far as setup. The first thing you are told to do is the place the mic in the "MAIN" listening position. This is the centralized position on how the unit calculates your distances and checks speaker polarity. Once this is done you are asked to place the mic in the 2nd position, 3rd position, etc. all the way up to 8 different positions in the listening area. The whole process takes about 1/2 hour as long as there is nothing to disturb the test. Took me 4 times to go threw the whole setup, the first time I quit the setup due to it saying my polarity on my speakers was incorrect which there were correct, the second time the HVAC unit kicked on which threw things off and the third time, beleive it or not, my clock which is hanging on the wall was ticking and it picked up on it. After completely removing all things from the room that made noice, I finally got through the setup.

Once it's done you can check all the settings that the unit calculated. Here is where I got confused, it set my front speakers to large with a x-over of 40hz. and set my distance at 0.8', which when done manually, I have them set at 11.5'. set all my rear speakers to small with a x-over at 80hz and those distances were crazy too. So, instead of trying the setup all over again I figured I'd just save the settings and see how things turned out and I could always go back into the manual menu and make the adjustments manually. To my surprise, this system sounded Amazing other than the subs seemed a tad soft for my taste which I could just bump up with my SMS-1. The front seemed to blend across the room like I've never heard before, it was like everything was right in your face, amazing.

Audyssey Update (12-13-07)
Well, in the past week I've been speaking with Chris from Audyssey to try and figure out exactly why I was getting incorrect readings using the Audyssey MultEQ XT auto setup. Well, I'm happy to say we finally got it figured out and the after effects are absolutely amazing. Apparently, the setup mic on the Audyssey is way more sensitive than I had thought. My first three calculated points in my H/T room were directly under my projector for the most part, apparently the cooling fan within the projector was causing a low hum on the auto setup which totally wacked out my readings. Granted, my fan runs at a low 20db when in echo mode but I had no idea that could throw my readings way off. Yesterday I re-ran the Audyssey using only the front display on the 3808 while the projector was in the off position and everything came back dead on within a inch or two. It still set all speakers to large, full range but I guess thats pretty much a given do to the size of the speakers, I quick change within the manual setup and now I good to go. So, for any of you guys out there having trouble getting the Audyssey to work correctly, keep in mind, your listening enviroment has to be dead "SILENT". All I have to do now is keep my fingers crossed that Outlaw can get my amp back to me within the next week or so that way I can give a review of how the 3808 serves as a pre/amp while I'm on vacation the week after Christmas.

Amp Section
So far I've been pretty pleased with the power the 3808 puts out, it's not my 7700 power plant but the 3808 does quit well. The 3808 gets warm but not near as warm as say the Onkyo's, after watching POC3, which was close to 3 hours long I was able to place my hand on top of the unit and keep it there with no problems. I imagine the heat will be less once I get my 7700 back from repair.

Upscaling
The one thing I don't much care for is the upscaling ability of the 3808. A 1080p signal is passed threw untouched as it should. My HD satellite box going threw the 3808 just seems better if I go directly to the projector. I have all the i/p scalers turned to "OFF" but from what many are saying over at the AVS forum, many think that even if the scaler is in the "OFF" position and the upscaling is set to the "OFF" position, many think the 3808 is still doing some sort of processing. It's not enough of a difference to make me second guess my purchase due to me not watching alot of satellite programming downstairs but I do notice a difference. According to many, now that Denon has been getting many complaints, Denon is looking into the situation that hopefully will be something that can be corrected with a firmware update.

Manual/Remote
The one thing I've come to realize with Denon, they can build one hell of a peice of equipment but the manuals and remotes leave alot to be desired. For a beginner just getting into the H/T, I can see why many newcomers have so many questions and problems gettings things setup. The manual leaves alot out as far as explanations go, like on the i/p scaler, you can set it to "OFF", "A to H", (Analog to HDMI) or "A to H and H to H" (Analog to HDMI and HDMI to HDMI), Denon forgot to explain in the manual what this meant and to be honest with you, took me a few minutes to figure it out. The remote, well I just hate it, after trying to work with it I finally downloaded the file into my URC remote and haven't touched the Denon remote since. What ever happened to just putting a hard buttoned remote in the box, which Denon did for the second room. By far one of the best manuals I've ever had to deal with is Outlaws, everything in the manual is very clear and straight to the point.

Conclusion
Well, so far I'm really enjoying this receiver. I'm really looking forward to getting my 7700 back from Outlaw to see how the 3808 serves as a pre/amp but I'm sure it will still be a couple of weeks before that happens. As for now, I can highly recommend this receiver for anyone looking to move to a new receiver with all the updated features of the 3808. If you looking to upscale alot of sources from 480i, 480p, etc., hopefully Denon will get on a ball and get a firmware update posted for download that will correct this problem. As far as flexability for a receiver, the 3808 I think is where it is at. The new OSD being able to overlay 1080p signals which shows volume control and anything to do with the menus was a big plus for me, being able to rename inputs, assigning different settings to different sources, just about eveything on this receiver was a strong selling point for me. Highly recommended.
 

Patrick Sun

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jun 30, 1999
Messages
39,471
Thanks for the review, and the comments on the upscaling. Since I still have some "analog" sources, I'd probably still have some wire clutter if/when I upgrade from my old Outlaw 950, but it's good to know there's a light at the end of the wire-mess tunnel.
 

Parker Clack

Schizophrenic Man
Moderator
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Joined
Jun 30, 1997
Messages
12,228
Location
Kansas City, MO
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Rob:

Thanks for the review. I know at least 10 people that have picked one of these up. Hopefully one of these days I will have one of my own.

Parker
 

Echo42987

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Nov 7, 2007
Messages
78
Real Name
Nick
What exactly was the resolution to the Mic problem? I have a customer who just purchased a 3808 and is having trouble with the subwoofer getting an error code everytime he runs it.

I was just curious to your fix?

-Nick-
 

Rob Grim

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Aug 5, 2003
Messages
88
If you read under the review "Audyssey Update (12-13-07)", I covered there what the problem was. Once I ran the Audyssey with the projector shut off, everything came back fine as far as results go.
 

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