With so many different Denon AVR’s out there, the dizzying variety of model number designations can be very confusing. However, once you understand the Denon nomenclature for numbering their receivers, things make a lot more sense.
The first thing to learn is that until the 2012 models, Denon put out two parallel receiver lineups, with four-digit and three-digit model numbers. The primary difference was the retail distribution channel: four-digit models were generally sold by high end stereo shops and custom installers, whereas the three-digit models were the “consumer” version sold in retail outlets like Circuit City and Fry’s.
However, there was ZERO difference in terms of power, specs, sound quality, build quality, etc. between the two lines!! Denon did this for years, as do many other brands; for example, it is exactly analagous to how Yamaha had “HTR” and “RX-V” parallel receiver lines. But each 3-digit/4-digit “twin” model had IDENTICAL internals; do NOT believe any marketing B.S. that the 4-digit models had higher quality components.
There were usually one or two minor differences to differentiate the three-digit and four-digit models. In general, the four-digit versions had a couple of “custom installer friendly” features like an RS-232 serial port, slightly more flexible multizone options, 12V triggers, or a room-to-room remote jack. There was also typically a slight cosmetic difference between the two lines.
However, this parallel numbering scheme has gone away as of the xx12 models.
Making life a bit easier for all, the number scheme is now fairly straightforward, as detailed below:
- The FIRST TWO numbers (or first number on the older three-digit models) tells you the “level” of the receiver. So the 23xx is above the 19xx, which is above the 16xx, and so forth.
- The LAST TWO numbers is the model year. So, for example, the 1909 is the 19XX level receiver from 2009, and the 1912 is the 19xx level receiver for the 2012 model year. Note that Denon model years are like cars, with the “2012 model” coming out in mid to late 2011.
- The “CI” designation means “Customer Installer”. These models have some extra features that make them suitable to integrate with customer installs (things like automated control via IP or Serial interfaces) but there is no reason that the “normal” consumer can’t use them too. You can just think of the “CI” designation as a proxy for “higher end model”.
That’s pretty much it! So, if you are at Best Buy and you see the brand-new 1913 model, but there is also a special on the 2312CI model, you now know that the 1913 (ends in “13”) is the new “2013” model (ends in “13”), but the 2312CI is a higher-end model (the first two numbers are bigger, the 23xx series is above the 19xx series). So you’d be comparing a higher-end closeout model from last year versus a lower-end but new model.