What a fun morning it was to get a newsletter from D&M Holdings, the parent company for both Denon and Marantz, detailing Denon's new IN-Command Series of AV Receivers. We heard about these last April when they were first announced, but they are officially available now everywhere Denon products are sold.
So what' s this IN-Command Series all about?
"IN" stands for "Integrated Network." Meaning, all three models -- the AVR-2112CI, AVR-2312CI, and the AVR-3312CI -- feature built-in networking capabilities, which will allow connection to the Internet (via Pandora, Flickr, Rhapsody, Napster, etc) as well as Apple and Windows-based devices and media servers on your home network. Every IN-Command Series AVR featuresAirPlay connectivity for wireless streaming music from iOS devices like iPhones, iPods, and iPads, or any computer (MAC or PC) running iTunes. They are also DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) 1.5 / Windows 7 Certified. High resolution audio fans will be pleased to hear about FLAC decoding (and addition to MP3, AAC, and WMA files). Plus, the AVR can be controlled anywhere in the how via Denon's free App.
Is that all they do?
Of course not. The IN-Command Series are all feature-laden, 3D-ready AVRs . The $649.99 2112CI features six HDMI 1.4a inputs (and one out), and will putting out 90 watts per channel for over 7.1 channels. The $849.99 2313CI bumps you up to seven 1.4a HDMI inputs and 105 watts per channel via a 7.2 channel AVR. And the $1,099.99 3312CI adds a second 1.4a HDMI output (seven in; two out), and features 125 watts per channel over 7.2 channels. [The subwoofer channels are pre-outs; they are not powered.]
This sounds so freakin' sweet. Is there a catch?
A minor one, but possibly. Examining the press releases left me wondering how all the wonderful wireless network connectivity would be taking place because, as Josh Zyber and I learned last year at Blu-Con 2010, Denon isn't really a fan of WiFi integration into their equipment because it's not as reliable as a wired Ethernet connection (and because of potential firmware update disasters caused by said lack of reliability). So, I was confused about all this "AirPlay-enabled", "stream from anywhere in your house" talk on Denon's website. But digging in a little deeper, it's clear that the IN-Comand Series AVR require a hard-wired connection to your home network. Once connected, any wireless AirPlay or iOS device can access your AVR.
Is that a deal-breaker for you? Do you even care about streaming to your AVR? That's up to you. I know I personally went out earlier this year to purchase an Apple Airport Express to compliment my Aiport Extreme, so that I could use AirPlay on my Denon AVR-2308ci (and use On Demand on my DirecTV HD-DVR), and I've really enjoyed the ease of firing up iTunes on my Laptop, or Pandora on my wife's iPad from anywhere in our apartment.