offers a wide range of A/V receivers from their entry level AVR-590 to their flagship AVR-5308CI (reviewed late last year). We decided to cover Denon's affordable entry level model (AVR-590) that is designed to give users the best bang for their buck. The budget-minded AVR-590 is loaded with advanced features and includes the latest DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS-HD High Resolution, DTS ES 6.1 Discrete, DTS ES 6.1 Matrix, DTS Neo:6 decoding along with Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Digital Surround EX, and Dolby Pro Logic IIz decoding. Dolby’s new Pro Logic IIz decoding provides additional front height channels that dramatically increase the front soundstage and the AVR-590 includes this latest feature.
The AVR-590 features five discrete channels of amplification (75 watts RMS each) rated to drive speakers with an impedance of 6-16 ohms. Room calibration is made possible with the Audyssey MultEQ automatic room acoustic measuring and correction system along with the Audyssey Dynamic Volume and Audyssey Dynamic EQ. The receiver can handle the latest HDMI 1.3a compliant components (with 1080p 24Hz/60Hz HDMI pass-through) and converts all analog video sources to HDMI, allowing a single HDMI cable run to your HDTV. There is also iPod/iPhone compatibility via the optional Denon iPod/iPhone dock, which provides on-screen artist, album and song information. The AVR-590 comes with an IR remote, FM indoor antenna, AM loop antenna, and the setup microphone for the integrated Audyssey room calibration system.
The front of the AVR-590 gives users full access to the unit with several controls and an easy to read vacuum fluorescent display. The smaller Source Select knob is on the left of the unit and the larger Volume Control knob is on the right. Several buttons are located just below the display and include Video Select, Sleep, Input Mode, Restorer, Dynamic EQ, Dynamic Volume, MultiEQ, Dimmer, and Status. There is a main Power button that enables the On/Standby button, which displays red when in Standby and Green when On. A Source and Tuning Preset button are provided along with a stereo headphone jack. Surround Mode controls and a full set of navigation buttons are provided for the menu system. Denon has a set of three Quick Select buttons on the right side of the front panel that are used to store three sets of configurations for quick access. A set of A/V connections (L/R audio and composite video) and the calibration microphone input are hidden behind a removable panel on the unit.
The rear panel of the AVR-590
has a modest set of connections for simple home theater systems. There are
three HDMI 1.3a compatible inputs, one coaxial and two optical digital inputs, along with
an HDMI 1.3a output. There are three composite inputs and one s-video input (for iPod) along with two sets of component video inputs. Two composite video outputs are provided for recording and monitoring. Four sets of analog audio inputs and two sets of analog outputs are provided. The radio connections include an F-connector for the FM antenna and a pair of clips for the AM loop antenna. There is also a line level subwoofer output and a pair of line level surround back/front height outputs. The surround back/front height outputs can be configured in the menu settings. While this receiver has only five power amplifiers for the main five audio channels, it also supports a 7.1 configuration (with surround back or front height channels) if an external two-channel amplifier is connected to the receiver. The front height outputs works with Dolby® Pro Logic® IIz technology, where a pair of speakers are added in front above the screen for a more life-like soundstage. There are five speaker outputs, each with wide pitch, 5-way binding posts and not the cheap spring-loaded speaker connections. Denon didn't cut too many corners on this receiver and we liked being able to use standard banana plugs on the speaker connections. The main five channels do not have any pre-outs for use with an external power amplifier since they were targeting users on a budget.
has some impressive technology given the low price of this receiver. The AVR-590 features five equally powered amplifiers each with a pair of output transistors mounted to the large finned heatsink. The main power supply has a linear design with a set of bulk 68,000 uF, 63V capacitors for the amplifier's voltage rails on all five channels. Inside are several smaller linear power supplies for other electronics within the unit. These linear supplies are much quieter than the cheaper switching power supply designs and results in lower noise in the sensitive audio stages for maximum audio performance. The large main board contains the circuits for the power supply, amplifiers, and the speaker jacks with the associated output relays. The speaker connections are relay controlled to prevent speaker thump when powering the unit on or off. Several other boards occupy the chassis and plug into the main board for power.
The HDMI board with the attached HDMI connectors hold all the high performance chips used in the unit. The HDMI inputs along with the analog video inputs are sent to an Analog Devices ADV-7840 12-Bit, 170 MHz Video and Graphics Digitizer, complete with a 3D
Comb Filter Decoder and multi-port HDMI 1.3 Receiver. This video chip is responsible for converting all video sources (digital and analog) to a standard 4:4:4 pixel output interface. The HDMI output on the unit uses an Analog Devices ADV7510 HDMI transmitter, an alternative to the popular Silicon Image HDMI transmitter. Both chips support 36-bit (12-bits per color) Deep Color and xvYCC color space for today's high performance HDMI video.
The AVR-590 converts all video sources to HDMI, allowing the connected display to see lower forms of video from legacy components such as VCRs, laserdisc players, and older analog output DVD players. All 480i sources are converted to 480p with no further scaling or upconversion. The component video output only passes video from the component video inputs. The composite video output can select from either the s-video or composite video sources. All video outputs have the on-screen menus displayed for the user. None of the HDMI inputs get converted to any analog video outputs.
includes the state-of-the-art Analog Devices SHARC ADSP-21367 32-bit DSP processor capable of more than 2GFLOPS (Billion Floating Point Instructions per second) for amazing audio performance. This is the same SHARC processor used in Denon's $5500 flagship AVR-5308CI receiver. Even though the AVR-590 is Denon's lowest priced A/V unit, it comes fully equipped to decode the latest Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio formats along
with traditional Dolby and DTS formats. A whole host of audio parameters can be adjusted in the digital domain using this powerful processor, including channel level and delay, crossover frequencies, dynamic range control, equalization, and much more.
The AVR-590 has three digital audio interfaces (one coaxial and two toslink) and no digital audio outputs. The digital audio is handled by a single LC89051V chip. All of the analog audio inputs run through a multi-channel volume control (R2A15218FP) chip and several 4580 opamps for buffering. The AVR-590 uses an Analog Devices ADAU1328 that has eight multi-bit sigma-delta (Σ-Δ) DACs each running at 24-bit/192-kHz. This device also includes a two-channel (24-bit/96kHz) A/D converter for digitizing the analog inputs.
What was most impressive was Denon's ability to include hooks for room calibration in a receiver at this price point. The AVR-509 includes the Audyssey Dynamic Volume for real-time automatic volume adjustment, which is designed to minimize annoying volume jumps during commercial interruptions.. The Audyssey Dynamic EQ, automatically tunes the frequency response. The Audyssey MultEQ auto setup and Room EQ room acoustic correction system analyzes the speakers and the listening room at up to six measurement points and automatically corrects the response for the smoothest, most natural tonal balance. The calibration process is simple with the
user placing the included calibration microphone at the various seating positions. Once the calibration process is initiated, the unit sends out a series of sound bursts that are used to determine
the distance and level from each of the speakers. The receiver can then compensate
for these distances and adjust the delays and levels accordingly. In addition, room acoustics can also be compensated with active equalization.
microphone included with the receiver comes with a 20-foot cable giving the user
ample distance from the receiver. The microphone plugs into the front panel jack and the calibration process is initiated using the remote. Up to six listening positions can be calibrated for optimal audio performance. Once the data
has been collected, the system must process the data and save it to memory. This takes a
few minutes to complete and status is provided on the screen.
remote is fairly small measuring only 8.25" x 2" x 0.75", yet is easy to use and offers full functionality. The remote is designed to control several other components using the list of preset codes in the manual. There are hundreds of televisions from dozens of manufacturers supported in the list. The small 3-position slide switch on the side of the remote is used to select between the Tuner/Amp, Device (several listed), and Main/TV. The Device setting is used to operate Blu-ray players, DVD players, CD players, DVRs, VCRs, iPod, satellite receivers, or cable boxes.
Unfortunately, the remote has no backlighting, so using it in a dark environment may prove challenging. However, the button layout is logical, making it easy to use. The top of the remote has red-colored power buttons with Quick Select buttons for preset configuration. The yellow colored buttons are the input select buttons. The Dimmer button is used to dim the display to make it less objectionable in a dark setting. The display can be set to one of three brightness levels or off. When set to off, the display will momentarily display information when commanded before blanking out. The ergonomic feel allowed me to hold it with one hand and place my thumb over the tapered navigation keys with an obvious feel of the location. The larger volume buttons on the right middle are easy to identify by touch. Below these keys are standard controls for operating Blu-ray/DVD/CD disc players.
The Setup Menu on the AVR-590 is all text-based with no fancy graphics. The text is large and easy to read, even on smaller displays. There are five categories with the last three only needed for setup or configuration changes. Each of the five menus (Parameter, Information, Auto Setup, Manual Setup, and Input Setup) has
an extensive list of adjustable parameters.
The Parameter menu is used to adjust Surround Parameters, Audyssey Settings, Manual EQ, RESTORER, and Audio Delay. The Information menu provides the receiver status along with information about the audio and video signals. The Auto Setup menu is used to run the Audyssey calibration system and provide a Parameter Check. The Manual Setup menu defines the speaker configuration. The Input Setup menu is used to assign each input on the receiver along with the input mode. Each input can be named by the user for better definition of the source components. In addition, the level of each source can be set to match the output levels..
displays the incoming video signal using the Information Menu. In our case, the OPPO BDP-83 is set to output 1080p video in full 36-bit Deep Color with 12-bit per color. The AVR-590 displays this information as it passes it through to the HDMI 1.3a compatible display. We found this to be a great feature that confirms the video format.
Our main speaker system consisted of three M&K S-150THX front channels with a pair of M&K SS-250 surrounds. Each of these
speakers are rated with a 4-ohm nominal impedance, so we made sure not to drive the receiver too hard while in this configuration. These speakers require
a significant amount of power to play loudly due to their fairly low efficiency. The receiver handled the speakers well and never shutdown even at moderate volume levels.
We also connected Paradigm's CT110 5.1 speaker system and found it worked well with this receiver. The CT110 speakers are rated at 8 ohms and have good overall efficiency with a recommended amplifier rating of 15 - 100 watts, which is perfect for this receiver.
The AVR-590 support a single subwoofer and provides a line level output for the LFE or LFE+Main channels. The crossover frequency can be set to 80Hz, 90Hz, 100Hz, 110Hz, 120Hz, 150Hz, 200Hz, or 250Hz. We recommend using the 80Hz setting for the best performance as long as the satellite channels can reproduce sound down to this frequency. Keeping the crossover frequency low will eliminate the localization of the subwoofer in the listening environment.
The AVR-590 makes no fancy claims on video processing, yet fully supports HDMI 1.3a compliant components and transparently passes 1080p 24Hz/60Hz HDMI video to the HDMI output. We watched several of our favorite Blu-ray and DVD discs using our OPPO BDP-83 and they all performed flawlessly on this receiver. Video revealed rich, well saturated colors with no false contouring through changing gradations. Full 36-bit Deep Color along with xvYCC Color Space is supported on this receiver. The advantage of Blu-ray is the ability to stream both high resolution 1080p video along with the best uncompressed Dolby
TrueHD and dts-HD Master Audio multi-channel audio for the ultimate home cinema experience.
Scenes from Kung-Fu Panda revealed excellent picture quality on our 100-inch Stewart filmscreen using a Mitsubishi HC5500 1080p LCD projector. Our OPPO BDP-83 Blu-ray player provided a Dolby
TrueHD bitstream to the receiver using this test disc. The AVR-590 does a great job keeping up with the latest content while providing exceptional performance.
As mentioned, the AVR-590 does not alter the original high resolution content from 1080p sources such as our OPPO BDP-83 Blu-ray player. Instead, the unit works much like an integrated HDMI switcher with the ability to extract high rate audio streams. Video quality looked excellent with no degradation of the original content.
Multi-channel PCM data can be easily sent to the AVR-590 through the HDMI interface resulting in excellent fidelity. Unlike compressed Dolby Digital or DTS audio, which can also sound amazingly good, multi-channel PCM audio from high resolution sources such as DVD-Audio and SACD have the potential to offer the best fidelity. The OPPO BDP-83 Blu-ray player has the capability of sending multi-channel PCM audio to the receiver for the final D/A conversion. Unfortunately, the AVR-590 does not support direct SACD bitstream decoding like many of the higher-end models, but can still fully benefit from the audio quality offered with multi-channel PCM data. Sheila Nicholls' Wake album provided superb resolution and clarity in her song Faith. This DVD-Audio disc includes MLP lossless audio which is considered to be a favorite among audiophiles. We have also had great experience with a number of multi-channel SACD recordings including John Mayer's Heavier Things.
Having reviewed Denon's flagship AVR-5308CI receiver ($5500), my expectations of this budget AVR-590 receiver ($349) were not exactly high going into this product review. After all, how much could a company put into a receiver at this price point. Much to my surprise, Denon did an amazing job keeping all of the important features the vast majority of consumers would want, while leaving out some of the more powerful video features found only on the more expensive models.
The AVR-590 has all the makings of a well designed receiver with budget in mind and includes so many audio features thanks to the SHARC DSP engine
that runs most of the complex audio processing. Even as an entry-level A/V receiver, the AVR-590 offers performance found in units more than double the price. While some users may want more features in their A/V system, Denon has made the AVR-590 receiver available to those on a budget all while keeping the important capabilities needed for today's high performance home theater systems. Denon has really produced a great receiver for consumers on a budget.