Bounding Unicorns

Denon AVR-2803 Receiver


  • 7.1 channels
  • 90 W/ch @ 0.05% THD into 8 ohms
  • Power consumption: 660 W (rear label)
  • B speaker output but no ability to turn front speakers off
  • MSRP: $900 in 2004
  • 24/96 Analog Devices DAC


AVR-2803 does have support for B speaker output but it doesn't have a way to turn off all front speakers (both A and B). As it says in the manual, the speaker selector cycles between A, B and A+B.

This is an issue because I listen to multiple sets of speakers and having front speakers off allows me to independently control 3 pairs of speakers. If front speakers are always playing, the receiver can only control two pairs of speakers independently.

However, speaker selection is possible via both front panel and remote which is nice.

AVR-2803 does not have per-channel equalizer.

The remote uses 3x AA batteries which makes it more bulky than receivers of other remotes that take two batteries, especially 2x AAA.

AVR-2803 requires the remote for configuration.

Annoyingly, AVR-2803 does not show the configuration settings on the front panel - they are only output to the attached TV. This makes the receiver not configurable without a TV attached. This is particularly problematic because AVR-2803 does not have HDMI output, and thus cannot be hooked up to a computer monitor which doesn't have component video input (which is probably most monitors made in the last several years).

The on-screen menu does have "pretty" (ugh) pictures illustrating speaker sizes, but it's stupid to have a $900 receiver not be configurable in a music environment, don't you think?

Another truly aggravating feature of this receiver is the non-linear volume control via the remote. After going up or down about 4 steps in 0.5 dB increments, the receiver then jumps 10 dB up or down in one step. It also goes up to ~10 dB steps if you press the volume up/down buttons manually in rapid succession. Meaning, to actually adjust volume to the desired level, one has to press the volume button individually and not very quickly.

According to this review, AVR-2803 has the 24/96 Analog Devices DAC while the AVR-3803 (next model up) includes the better 96/192 Burr-Brown DAC.

A truly baffling aspect of the AVR-2803 is that it has electrical hum similar to that produced by Yamaha RX-V365 and Sony STR-DH710. AVR-2803 is quieter than RX-V365 in this regard and I would say is about the same as STR-DH710 (I haven't had both receivers at the same time to directly compare). This hum is shocking in a $900 receiver.

Listening Impressions

I compared AVR-2803 to Marantz SR8000 which I bought at the same time. The speakers used were Polk Monitor 11T.

AVR-2803 produced less distortion than SR8000, and subjectvely was OK to listen to. Additionally, AVR-2803 produced very good stereo separation and spaciousness in the sound. The 11T don't have much low end at lower listening volumes which meant further evaluation was necessary using other speakers.