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.

Showing 4 responses by choiceaudio

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.
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.

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


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.