Further, if there is a computer handy, the Denon will happily stream its music files to your system. In this way, the ASD serves as a kind of digital gateway for a whole array of digital source material. Instead, setting up the Denon is a snap. Connect its output to an analog linestage or a DAC, then string an S-video cable to the nearest TV since the unit has no front panel for a user interface. At this point, the Denon will play tunes from an iPod. Track navigation is accomplished using the flimsy plastic wafer of a remote, but both it and the nested menu interface prove perfectly serviceable.
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Further, if there is a computer handy, the Denon will happily stream its music files to your system. In this way, the ASD serves as a kind of digital gateway for a whole array of digital source material. Instead, setting up the Denon is a snap. Connect its output to an analog linestage or a DAC, then string an S-video cable to the nearest TV since the unit has no front panel for a user interface. At this point, the Denon will play tunes from an iPod.
Track navigation is accomplished using the flimsy plastic wafer of a remote, but both it and the nested menu interface prove perfectly serviceable. The display helpfully shows track and album information, elapsed time, and cover art.
If you are also interested in streaming music from the Internet or a PC, one additional connection is needed between the ASD and a router. This can be either wireless or Ethernet. Either way, most of the ensuing setup, other than entering a wireless password, if appropriate, takes place automatically so long as the router supports DHCP, which most do.
Simply put, this proved to be one flaky unit. Once, the video feed unaccountably became a feast of squiggly yellow lines. I resolved the issue using the tried-and-true technique for all computer-based gear: a reboot.
Video restored. Neither the ASD nor my iPod would respond to commands. Some anxious moments ensued as I fretted over my fairly new iPod, but all was resolved by rebooting both devices. There was one other time when I could not get the dock to connect to my router no matter what I tried. I will say, though, that the unit had no further glitches after that operation.
The Sound I approached the sound of the ASD in stages, intending to work my way up from the lowest to the highest fidelity source material. Consequently, I began by listening to a smattering of Internet Radio stations, with resolutions that varied from 32kbps to kbps of highly compressed MP3. My expectations for sound quality were low, and they were fully met. Still, Internet Radio through the Denon is perfectly fine for its intended role as background music.
I had higher hopes for the higher-resolution material on my iPod. Neither bass nor dynamics existed in any meaningful way. Using a good coax cable, I plugged this output into a dCS Debussy. If the ASD was ever going to sound good, this was its best shot. And, indeed, it sounded…better. Through its digital out, the Denon rendered pianos more richly; bass made a modest comeback, and so did dynamics.
Comparing it to a good CD transport only revealed the wealth of important information the ASD was leaving behind. My reference deck, for example, fleshed out instruments much more fully, and its bass had a solidity the Denon never approached. When you add all these losses together, you end up with sound that is neither aurally nor musically engaging.
Indeed, while listening to this dock, I often found my mind wandering. Still, can any iPod dock match a reference-caliber CD transport? Yes, it can, as I learned when I swapped out the Denon for the less versatile but similarly priced Wadia i. The difference was simply staggering. Folks, these two products are in entirely different leagues. Most importantly, my attention never wandered as I listened to the Wadia; my focus stayed effortlessly and unwaveringly on the music.
This is the hallmark and the benchmark of all high-end-audio components.
Denon ASD-51N Owner's Manual
Notably, both new devices let users stream music from Internet Radio sources, as well as provide connection to Rhapsody and Napster music services subscription required and other network attached storage devices. New Features Geared Toward Custom Integrators Both new Denon Network-Enabled iPod Docks were engineered with a variety of features and capabilities designed to help professional custom integrators better serve their clients. In addition, a new Multi-Zone Management feature allows custom installers to quickly and easily perform a status check of all networked Denon products. This easy solution for wireless connectivity allows users to quickly connect the ASDW to the wireless router and automatically start communication and authentications without having to enter any password or SSID input.
Denon also offers the ASDN, which has only a wired connection. It has followed me around the house, from my home theater system in the basement to my upstairs HDTV. The package includes the dock, remote control, and power cable, as well as a screw-on antenna for WiFi connectivity and a special cable dongle that melds S-video, stereo analog, and a dock control connector into one cable. Analog audio is the default output option, but you can switch to digital output via the setup menu. The system does not allow you to output a signal from the digital and analog outputs simultaneously. The back panel sports an Ethernet port if you prefer a hard-wired network solution, but I went with the WiFi option.