Denon AVR 3803 vs. Rotel 1055


Looking for some opinions on the new Denon AVR-3803 vs. the new Rotel 1055. I have demoed the Rotel on my system and the new surround features are good. I have an older Denon which I really like, but I want to upgrade my home theater to the new formats as well as 7.1. Currently running B&W fronts and center and Polk surrounds. Any comments?
lyrad
Denon is OK. Rotel has much better amps, reliability, ease of use, warranty. And works extremely well with B&W's.
I would say that overall the Rotel is a better sounding (i.e more neutral, transparent) receiver but the Denon has more processing/HT features. The Rotel handles transients better (attack and decay of instruments, crispness of treble instruments i.e cymbals, bells, percussion, horns,.. has much better dymanics and is better at reproducing the little details, nuances and subtleties of sound that make a performance seem more real. I would also agree with MKfischers response that the Rotel has better amps. Don't let the Rotels 75 watt per channel rating vs. Denon's 105 watt per channel fool you into believing the Denon is more powerful. Those are just spec's. In real usage (at your home or direct demo comparison at the dealer) you will find that the Rotel has much more balls, headroom and will produce louder volumes with less effort than the Denon. Finally, the Rotel 5 year warranty smokes Denon's 1 year warranty.

Now, on to the positive attributes of Denon. The Denon has a very smooth and warm sound (i.e colored)but many people (incl. myself) like it. The sound is also even through all frequencies (bass, mid-bass, mid-range and highs) so it doesn't over-emphasize one particular frequency band. This attribute lends itself well to overly bright speakers by taming the brightness. It also creates a very smooth "wall of sound" for home theater and DVD use. It also has a better Re-EQ feature than the Rotel's (Rotel's is proprietary while Denon uses THX's version..please note, however that the 3803 is not THX certified..neither for that matter is the Rotel). The Video upconversion feature is also nice ( all inputs..i.e composite, S-vide0, etc can be set up to go out component video). The Denon has a very slight edge in DSP procesing and the latest movie formats.
Finally, the Denon has 7 channels of amps whereas the Rotel only has 5 (However, I don't view this as an advantage to Denon since the quality of Rotel's amps far exceeds Denon's and most people don't have rooms in their homes that allow for seven speakers. Additionally, the Rotel has pre-outs for additional channels should you wish to expand to seven).

One great feature both receivers share is an adjustable crossover (40,60,80,100,120) that allows for bass management flexibility should you decide to change your speakers or configuration at a later date. The Rotel also has a second sub-woofer pre-out should you decide to use two sub-woofers instead of one. That is the prevailing new trend in home theater. I forgot to mention that the Rotel has better bass (more slam, weight, tightness) than the Denon. However, Denon's bass response is no slouch..it sounds full and rich..just not as tight with less slam.

Bottom line is the Rotel sounds better, is more transparent and has more power. If music is more important to you (or 50/50 with HT) go with the Rotel. If connectivity, processing features and HT usage is more important go with the Dennon. The 3803 is definitely a good sounding receiver and you would probably be very pleased with it. However, if you are a budding audiophile and want the best of both music and HT go with Rotel. The Denon sounds good, the Rotel sounds better. Neither are great...for that you'd have to step up to separates like the Anthem or EAD Theater Master. But those are in the $3,000-$6,000 range so why bother?

Charles

P.S- The Rotel 1065 sounds significantly better than the 1055. Also, don't even consider Marantz as the Rotel completely blows it away! FYI...I own the Denon 3803 and the Rotel 1065 so I'm talking from experience.
Great response Tru!
Any idea how the Denon and the Rotel compare to the outlaw 1050 and the B&K 202?
MKfishcer,

Thanks for your support on the 3803 vs 1055 debate. Based on my review of your answers to prevous questions posted on this forum it sounds like you know what you're talking about.

Keep up the good work!

Tru
The Denon also has a phono stage where as the Rotel doesn't. You decide if this is important. I've heard the Denon and it wasn't bad at all.
Noble,

I don't have any experience with the B&K 202 so I can't really say how they compare to the Rotel 1065 (or 55) Denon 3803 or the Outlaw 1050. B&K has an excellent reputation in regards to sound quality (both music and HT) and I'm willing to bet its a pretty good unit. Their amps are also known to be quite good with high current capability. However, at $2800 retail it seems over-priced to me. Its feature set (7.1, all the latest DSP formats,power rating, etc) is no greater than various Denon, Marantz or Integra receivers that are priced well below it. Granted, it is upgradeable and probably sounds better...but does it sound $1,000 better than the other brands I named above? I doubt it!

Regarding the Outlaw, let me clear up a lot of the marketing hype regarding this unit right now. The reviews from every publication and consumer reviews I've seen have been outstanding. My own experience with the unit (30 day free demo and then I returned it to Outlaw) was also very positive. These type of things tend to snowball and jettsion a product to legendary status...even when that status is not warranted.

The 1050 is a great $499 receiver. That's the key to remember...$499. For the money, the features, build quality and sound it deleivers can not be beat. The sound is similar to Marantz (emphasis on the mid-range with rolled off highs and soft bass) but with better amps and current. But if you look at the reviews they will have you beleive it can compete with a Denon 3803 or Marantz 8200 or Rotel 1055 or other mid-fi players. It doesn't...it can't. First of all, the reciever hasn't been updated (its feature set) since it was first introduced in 1999. DAC's are 24/96, no component video inputs, no Dolby PLII (which I consider mandatory for improvement of two channel analog sources), limited digital inputs, etc. The 6.1 is only good for Dolby Digital...doesn't work for DTS-ES or THX-EX. If Home Theater is your main thing this is not the unit for you.

It sounds very good on music but has limited potential on multi-channel due to the DAC's not being compliant with the frequency range potential of SACD or DVD-Audio.

If I were on a budget and wanted to get the best sounding receiver possible (knowing connectivity and upgradeability is very limited)I would buy this receiver. Otherwise, if not the case I would look elsewhere to Denon, Rotel, Integra... even the latest JVC receivers that offer many more features for not that much additional money.

Tru
Tru,
Excellent reviews. Very helpful. Have you compared the new Sony 5000ES to the Rotel 1055 or 1065?
I am curious. Thank you.
Norbert
Tru, your response has convinced me to audition the Rotel before finalizing my HT receiver decision, but I am curious about your Marantz comment vs. Denon. You imply that the Denon compares more favorably to the Rotel than the Marantz,though everthing I've read says the Marantz is better than the Denon for music. Since music is important to me I was leaning towards the Marantz over the Denon. I plan on doing some listening today, but its difficult when you can't compare components in the same room, same speakers, etc.
Tru, your response has convinced me to audition the Rotel before finalizing my HT receiver decision, but I am curious about your Marantz comment vs. Denon. You imply that the Denon compares more favorably to the Rotel than the Marantz,though everthing I've read says the Marantz is better than the Denon for music. Since music is important to me I was leaning towards the Marantz over the Denon. I plan on doing some listening today, but its difficult when you can't compare components in the same room, same speakers, etc.