Denon manuals are terrible. Thankfully, batpig is here!

Setting up your Denon AVR

Before you Begin
I. Speaker Setup
(Auto Setup)
(Manual Setup)
II. Option Setup
(HDMI Setup Options)
(Video Processing Options)
(Audio Setup Options)
(Zone 2 Setup Options)
(Amp Assign Options)
(Other Options)
III. Input Setup

Denon manuals are hard. Plus, the menus are filled with cryptic terms with nary an explanation to be found. Thus, I present you with an easy, step-by-step guide to hooking up and setting up your shiny new Denon receiver. Enjoy, and I hope this helps you get up and running with minimal pain!

If you have general questions about the use or operation of your Denon AVR, check out my FADQ (Frequently Asked Denon Questions).

If you want some general background on modern AVR's, including explanations of new technologies like HDMI and upscaling, the first step should be to go and read MichaelJHuman's outstanding AVR FAQ at

Please note that this website deals primarily with installation, setup and use of "consumer level" Denon models. Some more advanced models may have additional features, such as networking, which I will not cover here. For an explanation of the different model levels, head over to the Denon Model Numbers section of this website. Note, however, that in terms of basic setup these higher end units are essentially identical and 95% of the information I provide here will still be relevant! Just be aware that there may be certain features available to you which aren't discussed on these pages.

Before you Begin

The first thing to understand about the modern AV receiver (AVR) is that it isn't like the good old days where you just plugged the red/white audio cables from the TV into the plug called "TV" and called it a day. There are lots of different connection formats for both audio and video.

But with modern AVR's, all of these fancy new input connection types are completely user ASSIGNABLE. There is nothing special about any of the inputs, and they can be reassigned by you to be associated with any of the "names" available. This means that it doesn't matter if you plug your cable box into the "DVD" input, and that you aren't SOL when you need to use an optical audio cable from your CD player but the optical input is labeled "DVR". If something isn't labeled the way you want to use it, you can just assign it to a different name, as discussed in Part III. Input Setup below.

For easiest "plug and play" you can use the inputs labeled on back of your AVR, but you should also pay attention to the number (e.g. HDMI-1 versus HDMI-2) in case you need to reassign something. So, when you hook everything up, just WRITE DOWN exactly what you plugged in where, because you may need to assign inputs later to coordinate the numbers with the names. For example, just make a list like this:

  • I plugged my PS3 into "HDMI-1" for audio and video;
  • I plugged my DirecTV box into "HDMI-2" for audio and video;
  • I plugged my Xbox 360 into "Component-1" for video and "Optical-1" for audio;

... and so forth.

Later on, when you get to Input Setup, you will coordinate these input numbers with whatever input name you want. You can even rename all the inputs, so you can make it say "PS3", "DIRECTV", etc. when you are done.

If you have a simple setup with only a few components, you can generally stick to the "named" defaults, for example plugging your cable box into the HDMI input labeled "SAT/CBL" just means one less step later on. But it's important to grasp the concept that the names Denon chose to put on the back are simply the arbitrary DEFAULT options and carry no special meaning, you can re-map everything to customize for your particular setup.

Please note that the "old school" connections -- composite (the red/white/yellow analog RCA connections) and S-video -- are NOT assignable. So, if you use these, you DO need to pay attention to which "name" is associated with the input. However, all of the digital audio inputs (optical and coaxial), component video inputs (the red/blue/green analog video connectors), and HDMI inputs are user assignable.

Once you have everything plugged in and you are ready to go, think of it as a three step process:

  • STEP 1. Set up all of your fundamental speaker parameters (number of speakers, size, distance, level, etc) -- you can let the receiver do it automatically using Auto Setup, or do basic speaker setup yourself using Manual Setup.

  • STEP 2. Set up any other options.

  • STEP 3. Assign and rename your inputs. This is accomplished in the Input Setup menu.

The other two main menu areas, AUDIO/VIDEO ADJUST (called PARAMETERS in some older models) and INFORMATION, are not used when setting up the receiver.

The AUDIO/VIDEO ADJUST (or PARAMETER) menu is for adjusting specific sound parameters WHILE YOU ARE USING THE RECEIVER, not during setup. Note that not all parameters will be available all the time, this menu changes depending on what surround mode you are currently in (e.g. "Dolby Digital" vs. "Stereo" vs. "MultiCh In" etc). There is a table in your manual which details exactly which parameters are available with which surround mode.

The INFORMATION menu is, you guessed it, just to get information about various things going on in your receiver. Again, this is not used in setup, and you can't actually change anything here; it's only to get info while actually using the receiver.

NOTE #1 - Most of this information applies to more recent model Denon AVRs, and older models may have a slightly different menu structure. However, almost all of this information should still be relevant to older receivers, as Denon does not really change their terminology or setup logic over time. Many of the settings will still function the exact same way as described here, they just may be located in a different place in the menu.

NOTE #2 - Not all Denon AVR's have identical functionality, so some of the items discussed below may not be present on your specific receiver. For example, Denon AVR's which do not convert analog video to HDMI will not have any of the settings related to HDMI output resolution, older Denon AVR's without Audyssey will obviously not have any Audyssey options, etc.

NOTE #3 - I DO NOT COVER NETWORKING!!! Networking is now becoming commonplace among newer receivers of all brands, but I am NOT a network guru! I honestly do not have much to offer beyond what you can find in the manual. So if your receiver won't connect to the network, or your Airplay stream is skipping, or your receiver can't find your music library on the household NAS server, I am not the guy to ask! Sorry!!


STEP 1 - Set up your Speaker Parameters

One way or another, your AVR needs to know how many speakers you have connected, and how to properly balance them so that the sound mix in your room is heard as intended. Since around 2005, modern Denon AVR's have had some type of AUTO SETUP routine. In current models, the auto setup is done by a 3rd-party calibration system known as Audyssey MultEQ (read more at

HELPFUL HINT: While it is possible to set up your Denon using only the display on the receiver, it is much, much easier to do it using the On Screen Display (OSD) on your TV screen. Make sure you have a video connection from one of the "Monitor Out" video plugs to your display, and switch your display to the correct input to view the OSD. Note that some older models will not display the OSD over the HDMI connection.... while some newer models will ONLY display the OSD over the HDMI connection! So if you aren't sure, check your manual or ask at AVSforum in the appropriate owner's thread.


To let Audyssey MultEQ set up your system for you, open up the OSD/GUI menu, and then select the AUTO SETUP (or SETUP WIZARD on some newer models) section of the menu. Or just plug the Audyssey microphone into the little "Setup Mic" jack on the front of the unit, and the AUTO SETUP menu will appear automatically.

On the "Start" screen for Audyssey setup, you can pre-configure a couple of settings so that the AVR knows which speakers you have connected. The first allows you to assign your surround back amplifiers, so the receiver knows if you are running any extra speakers beyond the typical 5.1 setup. If you are running a 7.1 setup, make sure to change the Amp Assign setting to the "Normal" or "7.1" setting (depending on which model you have). If you will be running a standard 5.1 setup, just leave the Amp Assign set to "Zone2", which is the default.

The second option menu allows you to designate which speakers to measure. This is especially relevant if you are using both A and B front speakers, or if you have a model equipped with Audyssey DSX, because you can tell it whether you are running "height" or "wide" speakers. Again, you can just leave this at the default setting with a standard setup.

Once that is done, you are ready to start. Note that Audyssey MultEQ ignores all settings in the receiver so there is no need to worry about the volume or anything, just start it up!

Once Audyssey has begun, follow the instructions on the screen and make sure to follow the highly technical Audyssey Step-by-Step Guide (created by users at AVSforum) or the much simpler MultEQ How To Guide (provided by Audyssey). Remember to USE A TRIPOD, as the microphone needs to be stable for accurate results, and definitely do all 6 or 8 measurement positions for best results. For more info, please click here to go to the Audyssey section.

HELPFUL HINT: Do not "STORE" your Audyssey setting until you are all done! Many people mistakenly hit "store" after the first measurement point. You only "store" the results at the very end, when you are done running all the positions! You can stop at any time, but it is recommended that you do all 6 or 8 positions if possible. If you are pressed for time, at the MINIMUM do 3 positions for decent results.

Once you have completed Audyssey setup, you can review your results in the "Parameter Check" menu. Note that this menu is just a "report card" of what Audyssey measured! You cannot make any actual changes in this menu! If you want to make any manual changes after AUTO SETUP is complete, just proceed to MANUAL SETUP and do your tweaking there. Anything you change in MANUAL SETUP, such as speaker volumes or crossover frequencies, will automatically take effect and override the setting determined by AUTO SETUP. Making these manual changes will not screw up Audyssey, you can still use Audyssey's MultEQ filters and Dynamic EQ and Volume.


To skip Audyssey for now and just set up your receiver manually, open up the OSD/GUI and go to the SYSTEM SETUP menu (also called MANUAL SETUP in older models), and then select the SPEAKER SETUP sub-menu. You can also use the SPEAKER SETUP menu to tweak settings after running Audyssey. Remember, as noted above, anything you change here manually, such as speaker volumes or crossover frequencies, will automatically take effect and override the setting determined by AUTO SETUP. If you want to erase your manual changes and start over from the default Audyssey settings, go to AUTO SETUP, then PARAMETER CHECK, and then choose "RESTORE". This will tell the receiver will reload the most recent Audyssey results.

PLEASE NOTE that as of the "xx10/xx0" models (ending in "0" such as 1910 or 890) the AMP ASSIGN setting has now been relocated to the SPEAKER SETUP menu. Please scroll down or click here to go straight to the description of the AMP ASSIGN settings, as you will want to have this properly configured if you are running anything other than a 5.1 setup.

The first step is to tell the AVR what speakers you have, and whether you want the AVR to perform "bass management" on them. Select SPEAKER CONFIGURATION, turn any speakers you have connected to "Large" or "Small", and any speakers you don't have connected to "None".

HELPFUL HINT: The "Large" vs. "Small" designation has NOTHING to do with the physical size of your speakers! In AVR terms, Large vs. Small is only about bass management, i.e. telling the receiver whether or not you want to cut off bass frequencies below a specific point, and then "cross over" or "hand off" the low frequencies to your subwoofer. As a general rule, if you have a subwoofer, SET EVERYTHING TO "SMALL"! Even if you have big, floorstanding front speakers, you subwoofer will do a better job reproducing the lowest frequencies.

If you don't have a subwoofer, your front speakers MUST remain as "Large" because there is no subwoofer to cross over to. Any speakers set as small will now hand off the bass frequencies to your fronts.

Next, if you have a subwoofer, enter the BASS SETTING menu (which in older models is called SUBWOOFER SETUP). The LFE vs. LFE+MAIN setting is only relevant if you have set any speakers to "large". If all of your speakers are set to "small", this setting doesn't do anything. For speakers set to "large", think of this as the "double bass" setting. For more info on the LFE vs LFE+MAIN setting, click here to read a good explanation.

In newer models you will also find an "LPF for LFE" setting here. This setting only determines the upper limit (low pass filter) for the LFE channel in multichannel content with a "point 1" track (e.g. 5.1 or 7.1) . It is not a crossover and it does not affect any of your speakers' bass management. It also is NOT a general "subwoofer setting". It ONLY affects the LFE track, period. Set it to 120Hz (this is the actual specified upper limit for LFE material) and forget about it. If the distinction between crossovers, subwoofers, and LFE is confusing, you may want to read this great article on the misunderstood LFE channel.

Next, set your speaker distances using the DISTANCE menu. Whip out the tape measure, pick a central primary listening spot, and measure the distance to all of your speakers. This is an important step, and is less about physical distance than it is about time alignment, i.e. making sure all the sound gets to your listening spot at the correct time.

Next, you must balance your speaker output using the CHANNEL LEVEL menu. Select your preference for the test tones, "Auto" (the speaker test tone will cycle continuously through all of your speakers) or "Manual" (you control which speaker is outputting the test tone). Then, scroll down to "Start" and hit the LEFT arrow to begin.

If you have selected "Manual", you can cycle the tones among the speakers by pressing UP or DOWN on the directional pad. To adjust the volume of a particular speaker, press LEFT or RIGHT.

HELPFUL HINT: While you can get decent results "by ear", it is much more accurate to do this using a Sound Pressure Level (SPL) meter, which you can buy at Radio Shack. It is very important for the surround mix that your speaker levels be balanced correctly!

Next, you need to specify the cut-off frequency for bass management by entering the CROSSOVER FREQUENCY menu. Scroll to the left or right to cycle through the various options. This is the frequency at which the receiver will start cutting off the bass from your speakers, and instead send it to the dedicated subwoofer (or fronts if you have no subwoofer).

To set independent crossover frequencies for each speaker, keep scrolling left/right until it says "Advanced", and then new options will appear for each individual speaker type (front, center, surround, surr.back).

HELPFUL HINT #1: You will often read that you should set your crossover frequency to 80Hz all around. However, if you have tiny satellite speakers, you may need to set it higher. Check the specifications for your speaker and choose a crossover point above the "minus 3 dB point" quoted in the specs. A good rule of thumb is to set towers to 60 or 80Hz, medium or large bookshelves to 80Hz, small bookshelves to 100Hz, and tiny satellites to 120Hz or 150Hz. However, you may have to experiment as everyone's setup is different. The best idea, however, is to let Audyssey figure it out for you.

HELPFUL HINT #2: If you own a model from past years (e.g. ending in "8" or "9") and you set your Crossover to "Advanced", you will see an option for "LFE" at the bottom of the list. This is somewhat confusing, as it is NOT part of the bass management of your receiver. Rather, this is a "cap" or "Low Pass Filter" (LPF) for the dedicated LFE channel discussed a few paragraphs up. There is very little dedicated low frequency content above 80Hz, so as long as this is above 80Hz it will be fine. Audyssey recommends just setting this to 120Hz, the specified ceiling for any LFE content in movies.

Newer models have one extra sub-menu in SPEAKER SETUP, called FRONT SPEAKER SETUP. This is for people who have a second set of front speakers that they prefer to use for 2-channel music, which are different than the speakers used for multichannel content. So, if you have a setup like this, it saves you the trouble of having to remember to switch to the "B" speakers for 2-channel music and then back to the "A" speakers for multichannel. For most of us, who only have one set of speakers for everything, just leave this on the default "Normal" setting.


STEP 2 - Set up Other Options

This section will cover the other options available in the MANUAL SETUP menu. If you have general questions about the use or operation of your Denon AVR, check out my FADQ (Frequently Asked Denon Questions)..


In general, with a typical home setup you can leave these all on their default settings and things should work, as long as you have correctly assigned all of your inputs. By default, modern HDMI-capable Denon have video conversion enabled, and are set up properly for an HDMI connection between receiver and processor.

The only reason to change any of the HDMI settings is if you have an atypical setup – like a HDMI/DVI connection to your TV – or if you want to specifically disable the video conversion and processing for some reason.

A brief explanation of the options (remember that not every option described below will be available on your specific receiver!):

  • HDMI AUDIO OUT: This selects whether HDMI audio is “stripped” from the signal to be played on your surround sound speakers, or whether you want the HDMI audio passed through to your TV. If you leave it on the default setting, "AMP", the sound will come from your speakers. If you switch it to "TV", the sound will be passed to your TV. Note that this is an either/or setting! You can't do both at the same time! Also, this only applies to HDMI audio. Your receiver will not "upconvert" other types of audio to be output to your TV via the HDMI cable.

  • COLOR SPACE: In general, just leave this on default (YCbCr) unless you specifically know you need RGB color. Generally, all modern video devices use the YCbCr component color space. This setting falls into the category of, "if you don't know what it is, just don't touch it because you probably don't need it." Note that this setting has been phased out and hasn't been available on current models for several years.

  • RGB RANGE: This setting is irrelevant unless you switch to RGB in COLOR SPACE. The RGB RANGE toggles between "video levels" and "computer levels" for color output range. As with COLOR SPACE, most modern video devices will be using "video levels" and so just leave this on "Normal" unless you specifically know what you are doing. Note that this setting is no longer available on current models.
The following HDMI options are only available on '09 and newer Denon AVR's, and require a compatible HDMI 1.3 display to function:


On older models (ending with an "8" or older) these options are GLOBAL and appear in the Manual Setup area. On newer models ending in "9" or "0", these Video Conversion settings are INPUT SPECIFIC and can be set individually by input in the INPUT SETUP or SOURCE SELECT menu (depending on the model).


A brief explanation of the various additional audio options (note that all options will not be found on all models):


The section is used to set up basic options for multizone use. For information on seting up Zone 2, see the FADQ Section.

A brief explanation of the various options (note that higher level models with 3 zones have an identical "Zone 3 option" menu as well):

  • L/R CH LEVEL: Used to balance output levels between the left and right speakers in Zone 2.

  • VOLUME LIMIT: Use this to set a maximum volume level for your Zone 2 speakers so you don't accidentally blow them out.

  • POWER ON LEVEL: Use this to set the initial volume level for the Zone 2 speakers when you first turn on Zone 2. Setting it on "Last" will cause the volume level when Zone 2 turns on to be the same as when it turned off. Setting it on "---" will cause the Zone 2 speakers to be muted when they first turn on. Otherwise, you can set a specific volume number.

  • MUTE LEVEL: use this setting to determine the function of the "Mute" button. Leaving it on the default "Full" will cause the Mute botton to completely cut off the volume, or you can set it so that the Mute button just attenuates the volume by "-20dB" or "-40dB".

On certain higher-end CI models, you can also set up tone controls (bass/treble) and a high-pass filter for your Zone 2/3 speakers.


The section is a catch-all for any other options available on your Denon AVR. Note that different models may have slightly different options available.


STEP 3 - Set up your Inputs

Once you have hooked everything up, set up your speakers, and tweaked your options as described above, it is time to enter the INPUT SETUP menu so you can actually enjoy all those things you hooked up!

HELPFUL HINT: For older ('08 and '09) Denon AVR's, you need to select the input you would like to work with by scrolling up to the top of the INPUT SETUP screen, and then scrolling left/right to choose between inputs. On newer model Denon AVR's, you first select the input using the Source Select control, and THEN open up the OSD/GUI and go to INPUT SETUP. Either way, any changes you make will ONLY affect the input you have selected. Note that any inputs you have deactivated using "Source Delete" (described above in the OPTION SETUP section) will not appear as you scroll through the inputs.

Remember the first lesson we learned: other than old school (red/yellow/white RCA cable and S-video) inputs, ALL INPUTS ARE ASSIGNABLE. The key to input assignment is to understand that the output you get is dependent on what SOURCE NAME you select, and how the inputs have been assigned or "mapped" to these source names.

Think of each source name -- like "TV/CBL" or "DVD" or "V-AUX" -- as different "faucets", and the physical inputs on the back of the unit as input "pipes". You can re-route those pipes on the back to come out of any faucet you want on the other side (when you actually select a source name).

So, when you are determining how you are going to hook up all of your components, first start by deciding which NAME each will be associated with. Start with the name (the faucet it will come out of ), and then re-map those input pipes on the back to correspond to your names.

To help illustrate how everything works when you assign inputs, let's use a hypothetical scenario where you are trying to hook up three devices: 1. an HD cable box that is hooked up with an HDMI cable to "HDMI-1"; 2. a Blu Ray player that is hooked up with an HDMI cable to "HDMI-2"; and a Wii that is hooked up with a component video cable to "COMP-1" and plugged in with analog RCA audio (the red/white cable) into the "DVD" input.

  • First, ASSIGN YOUR INPUTS. Using our hypothetical, go to INPUT ASSIGN and select the "SAT/CBL" input row. Set the "HDMI" input to "HDMI-1", and set everything else to "None". Now, that HDMI cable you plugged in to the HDMI-1 input has been "assigned" to the SAT/CBL source name. Next, choose another input name (like "BD"), go into the "Assign" menu, and set "HDMI" to "HDMI-2" and everything else to "None." Finally, choose the "DVD" input name and set "Component In" to "1-RCA", and everything else to "None".

    Now, when you turn to the "SAT/CBL" input, it will play the audio and video from the HDMI-1 input. When you turn to the "BD" input, it will play your Blu Ray player that is connected to HDMI-2. And when you turn to the "DVD" input, it will play the Wii via the component video and analog audio.

Now the biggest step is done -- you have correctly assigned your inputs! Now, there are a few other options in the INPUT SETUP menu that can be set for each input specifically:

  • INPUT MODE: Here, you can specify where the Denon AVR should "look for" the audio signal that is associated with a specific input. In general, leave this on "Auto" unless you want to force a specific configuration. Similarly, for "Decode Mode", just leave it on "Auto" unless you need to force a specific input type for some reason.

  • RENAME: As you can imagine, this is where you can rename your inputs to whatever you want. For example, in our hypothetical setup, we can rename "SAT/CBL" to say "CABLE", "BD" can be renamed to "BLU RAY", and "DVD" can be renamed "Wii". Now, when you hit the "DVD" button on your remote, the display on the receiver will say "Wii".

  • VIDEO: On 2009 and newer models, the video processing can be set up independently per input. The options in this menu are identical to those described in the HDMI OPTIONS section above.

    On older models, you can turn "Video Convert" on/off by input, but the main HDMI Video settings like resolution and color space have to be set globally in the HDMI SETUP menu. On these models, the "Video Convert" option is found in the "Other" sub-menu.

  • SOURCE LEVEL: This setting (found in the "Other" sub-menu on older models) allows you to balance out the levels of your inputs. On some models, you can also balance the digital and analog inputs separately.

    So, back to our hypothetical setup, let's say for some reason when you switch from watching cable to the Wii, the volume always blasts you out of the room. To correct this, choose the "Wii" (DVD) input, enter the "Input Setup", then scroll down to "SOURCE LEVEL" and turn the volume level of the analog source to "-10dB". Now, the "Wii" input will be 10dB softer than the "CABLE" and "BLU RAY" inputs. So if the volume level is "-30" when you are watching TV, when you switch over to the Wii it will effectively now be "-40", even though the display still says "-30".

Can you believe it? You are done with setup! Take a breath, and if you have any more questions, head over to the Frequently Asked Denon Questions (FADQ) section.

Shameless Plug

While I do have a "real" job, this website and all its content was created for free during my spare time. This is not a commercial website and I am in no way an AV professional. I do this because I enjoy learning about AV stuff and helping people out, and the contents and helpful hints found here are free for all to use.

However, if you found it useful, consider throwing a small donation my way to help me cover costs like web hosting, domain registration, time, etc. Maybe think about how much you would be willing to spend on a "Denon for Dummies" type book, and how much it would have cost to have a professional installer come over to set up your Denon.

Thanks for stopping by, and good luck with your Denon!