Denon 3803 + vs Rotel or B&K receivers

I am close to purchasing a new 3803 Receiver to control my home theater and replace my Adcom 545 based Stereo system.
I'm estimating usage at 40:60 (stereo:theatre) & room large 25x22x18.
Speakers are all Mirage, M-7si mains, OM-C2 center and OM-R2 surrounds.
Sources are Nakamichi MusicBank CD, Phillips Q-50 DVD (both with coax digital outputs).
Video is Satellite (& Cable) on the Sony XBR 40" HDTV.

I am considering getting the Denon now and possibly adding a multichannel amp later if needed. I also very much like the sound of the Rotel 1065 and B&K 307 receivers as well but they do not compare with the Denon for features, flexibility or processing power. Also, I have not heard any of these receivers with my speakers since they have been discontinued.
So I guess the questions are:
1) how does the new Denon 3803 with it's SuperSharks & BurrBrowns stack up with the other receivers on sound and
2) can the Denon as a preamp with a decent (~$800?) outboard amp best the B&K or Rotel and
3) do my speakers dictate one receiver over another.
Any experiences would be greatly appreciated.
I have pretty much the same question, are there better options (for home theater with a big emphasis on 2 channel stereo) than the Denon 3083 with a solid outboard 2 channel amp? I have B&W 802 series 80 for the front and speakers not worth mentioning for the rest.

I currently have a Nakamichi AVS-1 with no pre-outs to drive the B&Ws separately and looking to upgrade the stereo, the home theatre is fine.

Thanks for any comments.

AEG 1, I am in the same situation that you are in. In fact, my current system is based on the Adcom 545 and two 535s. I use paradigm speakers all the way around. With a 100" Stewart screen the emphasis in my home theatre is on video. I have a separate room for my audio.

I am considering the following receivers as a replacement/upgrade of my theater:

Outlaw Audio
Rotel 1065
Denon AVR-3803
Denon AVR-4803 (not available yet)

I agree with you that the Denon offers significantly more flexibility and the fact that it can convert video signals to component (with switching) is particularly attractive. I have owned several Denon components in the past and can vouch for their reliabilty and quality.

The Rotel has high current amplifiers and can be used with my Adcom 545 for 7.1. I have heard goood things about the audio quality and the 5 year warranty.

Outlaw has also been rated highly and offer (i believe) a thirty day money back guarantee but I am not too impressed with the looks or the build quality.

Right now, I am waiting for the Denon AVR-4803 to become available. If the 4803 is built to the same standards as their previous products and continues to offer video conversion and HDTV switching, then I will not hesitate to buy it.

My suggestion is wait and see.
Tonally, if you're looking for a sonic match for your Mirage 7Si's speakers, and are mostly into movies, for the price range the Denon is going to make a fine match overall. HOWEVER, speaking as someone who'e sold Denon and Mirage both since '95, and has extensive experience with both brands, I strongly recommend you run your speakers as "small" on your receiver for sure! I think the 3803 is going to match the slightly veiled and rolled off sound of the 7si's. The 3803 is crisp and clear, and soundstages very well for a receiver, has good processing, and is clean. INfact, better than most any other receiver in the price range. BUT, like most any receiver, they're CURRENT LIMITED compared to even modest separates power amps!
You won't lose on the sonics of the B&K either, as it's sonically excellent for a receiver as well.
Still, I once did a comparison with the old Denon AVR5600(when it was king of receivers) running some Mirage M7's and M5's playing full range for both music and HT, back when DVD was just coming out. I compared the amp section in this big receiver(and the Yamaha DSPA3090) to the modest Denon POA8300 3 ch power amp to driver the same speakers(Mirage). The receivers could not properly drive the speakers!!! Using the receivers "pre-out's" feeding the Denon 125 w/ch power amp WAS FAR MORE POWERFULL, DYNAMIC, and CONVINCING! At the very least, the separates power amp seemed to have 3x's the power on tap to control the speakers over what the receivers internal amps possesed!..this has largely been my experience with receivers in general on most speakers systems of modest sensitivity.
Anyway, My suggestion would be to possibly consider finding a deal on the receiver if you can used, or even going down to the AVR2803! Then you can add a better amp for the mains at least! hope this helps. Good luck
You can't beat the Denon 3803 with all its bells and whistles. I am currently using the Denon 3803 in conjunction with a Harman Kardon Signature 2.1 Amp. I have my Paradigms biamped to the Signatures. I think my Paradigm's needed more power than the Denon could provide. Having been a previous owner of various receivers and amps (B&K 202, Marantz SR18EX,19EX, 7200, MA500, Yamaha 2095) I have been really impressed with new Denon's features. As a pre-amp it has been wonderful for both movies and 2 channel listening. For 2 channel listening, the pure direct mode is the the best.

I own the Denon 3803 and the Rotel 1065. The 3803 is an excellent processor/HT unit. Has all of the current bells and whistles. However,the pre-amp section is average and as such I would not recommend it as a pre-amp for a separate high quality amp. Please note the role of the pre-amp is greatly underestimated by many people. In fact, the pre-amp is more important than the amps. The amp can only work with the signal its given. If the pre-amp signal suffers from noise, low gain, restricted frequncy range, etc the map will only "amplify" those same qualities. A great amp will not hide the flaws or inadequacies of a poor pre amp signal. The typical reciever has so many things that are drawing on the same power source (tuner, video components, speakers, even flourescent displays that are part of the receiver, etc) that it can't possibly do all of that and provide a great pre-amp signal to boot. I've also noticed that you have to really turn up the knob on the 3803 very far to get a very loud sound. In my mind that indicates weaker amps. Ask yourself this question...anytime you start adding 2-3 more amps for 7.1 capability and the weight of the receiver is not appreciably greater than say the denon 3300 (which by the way was a great receiver with great amps)what is suffering? The quality of the amps. But again, its a good HT reciever and the 2 channel audio sound in pure direct mode is the best you can get from a reciever in this price range.

Now...the Rotel 1065. Plenty of power and in 2 channel stereo the best receiver I have heard..even better than the 5803 or 49TX. Additionally, the amp's are incredible. Rotel's 100 watts per channel are equal to other mfg's 130-140. Although it doesn't have the amount opf processing that the 3803 has...the processing it does have is equal to if not better than the denon. Actually, I would say better since when I listen to DD and DTS movies the separation and processing of the sound is clear, convincing and authoritative. The DSP chips are very good.

Finally, don't forget the 1065 is upgradeable (port on the back of the unit) whereas the Denon is not. You already know that Denon has a new receiver on the drwaing board that's going to make the 3803 obsolete within 6 mos.

Hope this helps!

Wow, what a lot of great inputs. I think it is fantastic that you all took the time to contribute to this discussion. From reading the responses there is clearly a range of opinions. To recap, it appears all agree that the 3803 is clear choice for performance and features at the 1000 mark. When in comes to the Pre/Pro section (or at least the preamp section) of the Denon, views appear to diverge.

Foreverhifi, you make a very good case with the speakers being a good match for the Denon. Since I have been annoyed by out-of-sync audio on some progressive DVDs, the audio delay feature on the 3803 is a big plus over the 2803. As for your recommendations to run the M7s on "small" and add a quality amp later, what sub and amp (5-7ch) would you recommend for my application – priced about $1k each?

JCL likes the 3803 Pre/Pro section as well. Even compared to Flagship Marantz or the B&K (although slightly older model). Also gives good results with an outboard mid-fi amp.

Truaudiophile takes things up a notch. I would have to agree that the power amp section of the Rotel 1065 is superior (the aesthetics are attractive as well). Just a few comments/questions: 1) Volume control issue: It has been discussed in a number of threads that this “variable gain” was done purposely to give higher resolution increments of adjustment -- half a dB -- since you normally do not use half the range of the vol knob anyway, on most receivers, 2) Firmware: have there actually been any useful downloadable updates to the Rotel 1065 since its introduction; for comparison I noticed that Sunfire -- notably a more expensive receiver -- appears to be actively addressing customer issues with their firmware updates as well as making them easily available, 3) Since you have both units and the Denon pre/pro looks better on paper, could you elaborate on your Denon pre/pro conclusion, with any direct comparisons you may have performed on the Denon pre/pro section compared directly to the Rotel pre/pro with perhaps the same amp? Lastly, 4) Do you have any speaker considerations you could comment on with matching Rotel & Mirage.

I am amazed at all of the great feed back you have gotten.
I am a begginer and not real familiar with the audiophile jargon, so please bear with me.

I wanted to add in my experience with B&K and Denon.

My Current system
Use: 60%2ch/40%HT
Room size (W 12ft, L 22ft, H 8ft)
B&K AVR 307 receiver
Jeff Rowland Model 5
Essence Supper Gem Speakers (fronts) 4ohm
Monitor Audio Studio for Center
Monitor Audio 2.5 for Rears
XLO Pro Speaker Cable and interconnects
Glass Toslink (from Ebay seller $30)
HSU VTF-3 Powered Subwoofer
Hosa Subwoofer interconnect (cheap)
Sony 229ES CD player
Sony NS700P DVD Player

I was able to audition a Denon 3802, B&K AVR 507 and a B&K AVR 307 at the same time with the above equipment in my home.

I used the Sony ES CD player as a tranport and ran digital toslink and digital RCA into all three players. All three receivers blew away my old cd player when using their on board DACs. I really couldn't tell much difference using the toslink or RCA digital connects. So I ended up using the glass toslink more often because it saved time.

The head to head comparison below was a 2 Channel compairson only. I used my Super Gems and the preouts with the Rowland Model 5. Unfortunately I did not test them using 5 channel or movies. My assumption (maybe incorrect) was that if I could here a difference in 2 channel listening, which was most important to me, the difference would carry over to 5 channel listening.

When it came to sound quality, listening to Lyle Lovett, Josua jugdes Ruth and Eric Clapton unplugged. I heard a lot more detail from the B&Ks compared to the Denon. It was almost like the Denon sounded dirty, thus hiding a lot of the detail in the music. MY POINT is that it was a very noticeable difference. I heard it immediately and it was reproducible. I'm guessing this difference has a lot to do with the preamp section, not so much the proccessors.
Between the 307 and the 507, the 507 sounded ever so slightly better, but not enough to warrant the difference in cost. If I had my choice though, I would choose the 507 because it has a much better remote and is more user friendly than the 307. Sound wise they were very close.

The 507 was the easiest to use, then the 307, then the 3802. The plug-n- play feature was the biggest advantage that B&K had over the Denon. I beleive both the 507 and 307 have component switching.

I wish I could comment on the 3803, but I have not heard it yet. I'm guessing that even though it has better chips, it probably still has a dirty preamp because of all the protection circuits that denon builds in. (a dealer told me this?) Maybe it would do better on movies though?

One more comment on the addition of amps.

I tried driving my power hungry speakers with all three recievers by themselves (again in 2 ch. only) and it was not very pleasing to the ears. I was used to hearing them driven with the Rowland. The B&Ks did a little better job than the Denon, but the speakers did not sing until I used the pre out with the Model 5 amp. Reserve current is good!

Now I am sitting here wishing I had a mono amp to boost the control of my center channel.

After 4 months of playing around with all this stuff, I think when the funds open up again I am going to go with separates and get away from the receiver.
But for now, I am happy with the sound of my system. The 307 drives the Monitor Audios just fine and the DTS/DD concerts and Movies really do sound very nice. Diana Krall in Paris sounds like her piano is in my living room.

One note of Caution. Before I got my subwoofer I did not set my front speakers to small and I damaged one of my woofers watching The Lord of the Rings DVD. Too much bass to my front speakers, I didn't know DVDs come loaded with bass. (rookie mistake)

You mentioned Subs too. I bought the VTF-3 for $300 on Ebay; factory refurbished. I nevered audiotioned any subs I just wanted one quick and HSU had decent reviews. After listening to it for 2 months, I can't say that it has the tightest bass. I'm wondering if a cable upgrade would help tighten things up a bit?, but my first impression of HSU is "just ok". But it works for now and maybe in that price range It's a good sub.

Hope this helps,


PS I hope I don't sound to negative on Denon. They do make nice stuff. From everything I read, Denon was the one to buy. It was a last second thing that I tried B&K. I had never heard of them until this X-mas.
Wow is right!
The Denon 3803 in my opinion is a better unit than the Denon 3802. The pure direct mode on the 3803 is just awesome. Also, the new dac on the 3803 made movies sound just a tad bit nicer. Of all the different amps, receivers, I would love to have tried out a Rotel. Anyhow, I have been really satisfied with my Denon 3803 as a pre-amp. Perhaps down the road I would like to try out a dedicated pre-amp(B&K).

I wish I could have tried the same comparison only with the 3803 instead of the 3802.


Does the VTF-3 comes with a detachable power chord? You may
want to try a premium power chord. I've owned a B&K AVR 202 in the past. The B&K sounded awesome for musical pieces (piano) but sounded a tad bright for vocals coming out of the center channel (Paradigm CC). The B&K also needed lots of ventilation space. My Denon 3803 and HK Signature 2.1 stays cool no matter how hard I drive it. Hopefully one day I could afford to try all B&K separates. (Reference 50 and 7270)
I made a typo-error. I have a VTF-2, It does have a detachable power cord. Any suggestions on brands, also any suggestions on interconnects for subs.

I would like to try separates as well. Either B&K or Classe for pre/pro. It will be awhile. I going to slowly aquire amps for the center, rears and Zone 2. Once I get those I'll sell the 307 and look for a nice pre/pro.

The Virtual Dynamics Power 3 chords seems to have lots of good reviews. I am waiting for my VD 3 to arrive any day now. I will let you know if it adds any improvement to my NHT subone.
Ah! the quest for better sound. I think today's receivers do sound just as good as some separates. When I had my Marantz SR-18EX, my friend and I did a comparison to his Stratos and it was really a close call. I guess the upgrade bug in each of us makes this such an expensive yet fun hobby.
I am about to make the same decision. Audiophile music is important to me and I find it dificult to believe that the 3803 with its power split 7 ways can really drive top end speakers in just two channels. Can the powere channels be bridged?

I might wait for the 4803 but as I have a great stereo amp now (NAD7600) I am hesitant to chuck it for multichannel. AND what aboutt the Denon's Neo6? Does it take a 2 channel audio CD and make a souround-sound experience from it? If so this seems a big plus.

How's the cable working? I have not been on audiogon in a while and saw your post. I still have not upgraded sub cables yet.

mhbs, I would keep your NAD. You can always run your fronts with it, no matter which receiver you buy. Dedicated amps seem to make a difference everytime I have done comparisons.
Has anyone tried the Rotel and B&W combination. I am thinking of buying B&W 600 S3 speakers and Rotel RSX 972 or 1055 receiver. Would love to hear from anyone who any thoghts on this.

If you go to rotel's website and look at their catalog. You'll see on the picture that they use b&K speakers and they co-wrote the guide for HT set up on their website.So I think these two companies work together in some ways.
Aeg 1:

I just had the opportunity last week to compare the 3803 to the B&K 507. Denon 5803 & Elite 49i.

I am completing a dedicated home theater and currently own a 3802. I was planning on leaving that unit in the family room and upgrading to a 5803 or B&K 507.

I went to a HT store and asked to audition the various units side by side compared with what I currently have. They used the 3803 since they no longer sell the 3802.

I was amazed at how well the 3803 stood up to the other units (3x)+ their price. The B&K offered the greatest sound quality increase, but we had to toggle back and forth several times for me to catch it. Without a reference, you would never know that the B&K sounded better. They both sound awesome & the price difference makes the 3803 a no brainer. Instead of spending money on a more expensive unit, I'm hanging on to my cash for some other HT toys.
Sounds impressive, what DVD material did you use for autidion and did you happen to compare the Denon 3803 to the B&K receiver using only 2 channel stereo music?