One doesn't have to be a "purist" or "audiophile" to not like Denon equipment. Just an opinion.
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Nice review. I have always been a big fan of receivers and have two vintage Marantz receivers in use in my apartment; one serves as a bedroom receiver and the other is used as a tuner in my main system. I had owned an earlier incarnation of the DRA 295 for years and thought that it was just super. I had wondered how the Denon line fared when production moved from Japan to China (DRA's 295 & 395) and Korea (DRA 685) ... it seems to be OK. I also think that you did very well mating the Denon with Radio Shack mega-cable ... a great product that gets no respect ... just like their mega line of interconnects. Had you considered the Yamaha 396/496/596? They seem like quality receivers as well.
I didn't mean to suggest that purists would automatically reject Denon receivers specifically in some closed-minded way. I was referring to all receivers in general, not just Denon’s, and by extension I suppose, the more full-featured separates from companies like McIntosh. Tone controls, stereo/mono switches and the like just don’t mesh with some peoples’ philosophies on audio design, and that’s fine; their objections are well founded. There’s no absolute right or wrong approach, just whatever enhances your enjoyment of the music. When I said purists wouldn’t necessarily appreciate the Denon, I just wanted to warn anyone with certain sensibilities that they'll be sacrificing a certain amount of resolution and tautness in exchange for the Denon’s convenience and features.
As for the Yamaha receiver line, it was initially near the top of my shopping list. But unfortunately, I don't have a good Yamaha dealer nearby (except for the chain stores, which don't stock the Yamaha two-channel line, only their HT receivers). It should be noted that the Yamahas don’t include a phono stage – surprising, I think, since Kenwood, Harman Kardon, Sony ES and others include phono capability on many of their receivers. HK even touts it in their advertising. So I tend to support companies that remain committed to offering above-average phono capability for two reasons: (a) I still think LPs, in general, offer sound quality that’s equal to or better than CD, and (b) receivers are a good starting point for budding audiophiles, who might be persuaded to try a garage-sale turntable, but only if they don’t have to invest in a separate phono stage – an option they might not even be aware of. Call it a crusade, but I love that Denon still offers above-average turntables and great MC cartridges. Given that I’m also very fond of the Denon house sound, it’s a line I plan to stick with whenever I find myself in the position of needing reasonably priced, full-featured gear.
And a side note for those building their first system: I’ve listened to and purchased Denon gear from two terrific dealers: Sounds & Images in Linwood, NJ and Audio Classics in Vestal, NY. Instead of calling Crutchfield, I suggest that you’d be much better off (if you’re within driving distance) to give either of these guys a call. At both places, you’ll be able to compare Denon products with comparable products (like NAD or Rotel) and also much higher-priced lines to see if the difference in sound quality is worth the added investment. You may walk out the door with a $349 receiver and an ear-to-ear smile. Or, you might instead discover that spending $2,000 or more on separates is perfectly reasonable. I’ve bought at both ends of the spectrum and in my experience, both stores will happily accommodate you and steer you toward the stuff that’s right for you, not necessarily the stuff with the highest price tags.
There are two sets of speaker outputs and a single-channel subwoofer output. There are also two additional sets of stereo outputs strictly for multi-room applications. Because there is no stereo pre-out, this model may not work for you.
You may want to look at the DRA-295 instead, which is $100 cheaper, if you're going to be using it strictly as a preamp to feed a powered speaker system. It has no phono input and lower power output, but does provide a stereo pre-out. Good luck!
I am a music lover first. Here is very close to my bedroom system. It has me starting my usual midnight listening secessions. You know the ones were you start at midnight until dawn. Because you love the music. The grado headphones are purely musical and detailed without listener fatigue.
Last Call System:
I have a denon dcd 1560 & denon dra 35av & grado SR-80’s in my bedroom system
My 1st Martini System:
My main system is Thiel 2.3’s, pass labs x-350, x-2, sony scd-1, theta gen 5a, Harm Tech Pro Silway II, Pro-9
Recently a Denon DRA 395 came my way via the trade in route. Customer moving into separates.
All things considered this is one of the finest modern contemporary receivers on the market today. With that being said construction,build quality and overall sonics, the Denon DRA 395 falls far short of the receivers built from 1975 to 1985, during the so-called stereo wars of that era.
A few days later did a side by side evaluation with the Denon DRA 395 to one of audios great receivers the NAD 7080, and was later evaluated with a Rotel RX 803 receiver.
Although these vintage units are 28 to 24 years in service now. The differences were astounding. These vintage receivers are all descrete topolgy, no opamps or chips were used in the construction of the vintage units. Sonically that is where the vintage units have a clear edge over the DRA 395. The phono section of the DRA 395, was no match for the vintage units.
I totally agree with Ed on his initial observations on the Denon DRA 395 and this follow up is not to disparage his evaluation.
It is heartwarming to see a decent new 2 channel receiver, such as the Denon DRA 395 today. And at its price point is a serious contender in the 2 channel receiver category and should be on anyones short list,looking for a new receiver.It is hard to fault the Denon with its caveats taken into consideration.
Price wise may not have been a fair comparison as the NAD 7080 sold for $649.00 in 1978 and the Rotel RX 803 sold for $550.00 in 1982. So when adjusted for inflation the price differential is substantial over the DRA 395.
However after the shoot out here, the Denon DRA 395 cannot contend with the vintage units in overall sonic siganture,build,construction and parts used. For as far as we have come since the vintage units were new, it seems that current 2 channel receivers are not on par the golden oldies. Part of the reason is that the competition in the 2 channel category is not as intense today as it was during the stereo wars.
Several fellow audiophiles that came over during this evaluation all commented on the sonic excellence of the NAD 7080 and Rotel RX 803, plus the fit, finish, and construction. In all honesty was expecting a better performance from the DRA 395. As I am a fan of Denon products, in fact using their DMD 1300 Mini Disc Deck, now which I am more than impressed with.
No doubt the DRA 395 will more than fit the need of budding audiophiles or those looking for a cost efficient second system where space is of prime importance.
I agree with Ed on the DRA 395, however when compared to the vintage units in the market place, it does fall short of expectations.
I have to say the evaluation of the DRA-395 is spot on. This review brought back fond memories for me as my first foray into better sounding, audiophile oriented amplification was the 395's predecessor the DRA-375. Up until that time I had never had the money for a better system and had used mass market minisystems (yuck!).
I knew there was better equipment, but the prices I saw in the audio magazines kept me away from those fancy hi-fi salons. So, while checking out minisystems at a big box store, I came across a Denon minisystem that included Mission speakers -- the sound was soooo much better than anything else on display that it stuck with me.
Spurred on by the sound of the Denon/Mission minisystem, I was able to find the DRA-375 online at a really low price. I mated it with Mission 701 speakers and a Harman/Kardon CD player (also cheap online purchases). Pretty darn good sound for a very cheap - sub $400 - system (about half what the Denon minisystem would have cost me at the box store). Listening to HDCD's through that system is what really turned me into an audiophile - god help me!
I have had the DRA-375 in pretty much constant use since then (more than six years) in a variety of settings, and it has never disappointed me. Currently, it serves as the heart of my 2-channel "home theater" system which includes the Mission 701's, a Pioneer DVD/SACD player, and Sennheiser HD495 headphones (for late-night movie watching). I still greatly enjoy this system on a regular basis -- it stomps all the HTIB systems my non-audiophile friends are always so eager to show off just after purchase and then gradually stop listening to in six months (Gee, wonder why that is? Yeah man, that DSP mode really does make it sound like we're watching Harry Potter in a church! Yahoooo! ;).
If you're looking for a convenient, flexible, reliable stereo receiver that features good sound at a very fair price, you'd be hard-pressed to do better than a Denon.
I purchased this unit used so I assume it is thoroughly broken it.
I find the sound compressed, struggling to opening up, and lacking subtle detail that adds to a refined sound, but it is a dynamic and punchy amplifier. FM listening lacks the involvement compared to CD playback, probably because of the budget tuner pack that is installed in it. I assume this sound quality is what you can expect from a budget receiver. Its sound reminds me of the Pioneer Elite A35R integrated amp.
For its price it is a nice product for a budget TV, DVD, CD playback system, and I have it mated with the Denon DVD-1930ci which is quite good source for the money.
I'd like here others impressions of this product compared to NAD and Rotels comparable receiver.