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John Sciacca Writes...

Features, Reviews and a Blog by John Sciacca

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Random Thoughts (Blog)

Denon marks 100 years; says, "Who?" to first 90

Posted on September 20, 2010 at 5:25 PM

Since you are likely not a member of the A/V press corps – and if you are a member, then wow! Thanks for reading my blog, and stop trying to steal my stuff, Darryl! (I kid because I love. But I still watch…very closely) – then you probably haven’t been inundated with the deluge of press releases and materials reminding you constantly that Denon is about to celebrate their 100th Anniversary on October 1st.


Honestly, this is an incredibly cool milestone for ANY company, let alone a technology company that needs to continually grow, change, adapt, advance and evolve to stay current and relevant. It seems like just a few years ago Denon was making really nice turntables and then. Poof! Turntables were replaced by really nice Denon CD players. Which were then completely replaced by far better sounding Denon universal DVD/SACD players. Listeners continued to demand better and better sound quality and wouldn’t take any… Wait? What? Super Audio CD is essentially completely dead, people are STILL slagging the CD, compressed music with as MANY files as possible heard through sub $10 headphones is all that matters and turntables are making a (completely overblown yet you’d think it was rivaling iPod for sales figures based on how much press even mainstream media is giving it) comeback? Yet I’m still not fueling my DeLorean with a trash-filled Mr. Fusion?


For those interested, you can see Denon’s 100 years of innovation at this link: Denon 100 Year Timeline


So today’s e-blast was about Denon selecting five Centennial Partners. These are partners that are “being recognized by Denon for the pivotal role their technologies have played in the creation of Denon products throughout the years and continue to play in the company’s future.” So, you might expect to see some names ranging back throughout Denon’s 100 years in business. Names like Dick Banana III, inventor of the Banana Jack speaker terminal. Or Jerry Kordless, pioneer of the high-current detachable power cord. (Note: These*might* not be the actual names of the inventors.) The guy that made the Speaker-B button. Or the motorized volume knob guy. The engineer who eliminated the loud relay “Click-CLICK!” on older Denon receivers as you switched from one input to another. The cool guy that decided, “Hey! Wouldn’t it be neat if you could change a CD while another is still playing?” on 5 disc carousels. (Not up for any positive recognition, rather shameful public castigation, is pretty much EVERY designer that had a hand in Denon remote controls over the years. Practically EVERY Denon remote to ever roll-off the Nippon factory line could individually vie for the top position in the Remote Control Hall-of-Shame. Though, on the flipside, integrators everywhere thank those fiendish Denon designers as they made our jobs of selling third-party remote control systems SO much easier. “Look. I can’t even figure this thing out with the multiple slider switches and weird named buttons and odd glowing. Here, if you think this is how you want to operate your system, then fine. But if you want to actually ENJOY your new Denon receiver, then you are going to definitely want to buy this…” )


So, those companies that are being honored are Dolby, DTS, HD Radio, Audyssey and Control 4.


Now, Dolby and DTS I totally get. Without either of these, there probably isn’t a Denon – or any other home A/V manufacturer – still around to any meaningful degree. Home theater has saved this industry, and we all owe Dolby and DTS a debt of gratitiude for that. So, to you two, respect. (Appropriate complicated handshake and awkward bro-hug included.)


But the other three? Being honored as a Centennial Partner? That is WAY forward looking at best. I mean, these are all technologies that didn’t really exist for even a tenth of that time. Now, I personally think that Audyssey is a great thing and that it can do a terrific job of correcting listening problems in many rooms, and I believe that Denon incorporates Audyssey technology in one form or another in every receiver in their line-up. But Audyssey first found its way into a Denon receiver in 2004.


The Control4 partnership is the most Johnny-come-lately. While Control4 has been around since 2003, Denon has only been working with them on having components certified since THIS year. And not even like January 1. It was like April. The END of April. So, they have been together for 1% of the time and are getting the same 100 year credit. I guess that Denon is clearly banking a TON on this partnership going forward.


And the final item? HD Radio? Really? Does anyone even care about this? I mean, we can’t even receive any HD Radio channels where I live. (Granted, if you used “what I can receive in Myrtle Beach” as the benchmark, many of you would feel like you’d Back to the Future’d back to the Wild West. And not the cool Wild West where Will Smith was all steampunky, but the actual Wild West where people spit in the streets and order whiskey in dirty glasses.) Plus, no matter how much better it sounds, it is still radio which still pretty much sucked the last time I checked. If your selling point is that I can hear Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber more clearly, then, brother, you better guard your throat 'cause there may very well be a punch a comin'.


Seriously, Denon, you were totally on the money to ignore the S-Video coalition from your list. Those guys are just jerks and their 4-pin nightmare of a connector was forged in the most sulfur-isty bowels of Hell. But I think you should dump HD Radio off the list and throw the HDMI group on there instead. That is going to play a WAY bigger role in all of our futures. Or if you don’t like those guys – understandable since they are constantly changing their spec and making us all buy newer versions of your gear, which, let’s be honest, is one HELL of a good reason to throw them on there in the first place – how about whoever is behind streaming audio from the Internet? Surely there is someone there who would like to posse-up with you. Or just forget the whole group and nominate Pandora or Rhapsody. Those are both good people. Or the USB boys. Lots of really cool stuff you can do with a USB drive.

Categories: September 2010, Electronics

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