AV RECEIVER REVIEWS

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 11, 2014 13 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Top-drawer room correction
Strong dynamics
Bounteous custom features
Minus
Bluetooth requires accessory

THE VERDICT
The Denon AVR-4520CI and Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction combine to produce a close to perfect-sounding receiver.

Denon and its sister brand Marantz are among the most popular A/V receiver makers. The AVR-4520CI is Denon’s top-of-the-line model, the brand’s best shot at building every feature worth having into a nine-channel powerhouse. It does not attempt to be all things to all people (Bluetooth users, for instance). But it does offer a feature set that is strong in custom integrator features; hence the CI designation in the model number. And, as I discovered in this review—you won’t mind if I give away the ending, will you?—it also offers the best implementation of Audyssey room correction I’ve ever heard. Room correction has always seemed like a great idea, but the results have been hit or miss. Here it consistently produced great sound.

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Bruce Fordyce Posted: Sep 03, 2000 Published: Sep 04, 2000 0 comments
Denon's AVR-4800 receiver is the one-box key to home theater nirvana. Just when you thought it was safe to go back in your living room, the consumer electronics industry has come up with yet another home theater surround scheme: THX Surround EX. If excess truly is the path to the palace of wisdom, then it will be home theater products, not those retro hippie Gingko brain supplements, that make us all smart really quick. Wisdom will, however, probably have to take a back seat to confusion before all is said and done. Nonetheless, THX Surround EX is here, although its entrance was not celebrated with the carnival-like fanfare that heralded the entrance of Dolby Digital and DTS.
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Fred Manteghian Posted: Apr 29, 2007 0 comments

"The new phone book is kinda' slim. Everyone must be switching to cellular," Gina remarked seeing what I was holding.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 08, 2010 0 comments
Price: $2,999 At A Glance: First Denon A/V receiver with nine channels of amplification • Networked audio features include Wi-Fi • Strong audio fundamentals

Need Supersizing?

Has the concept of supersizing peaked? The McMansion-driven housing boom is a bust. Some SUV owners are trading in their gas-guzzlers for more efficient hybrids of the same size, while others are opting for more efficient hybrid sedans. Fast food addicts are counting the calories in their Happy Meals.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Aug 25, 2008 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Denon redefines the surround receiver.
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Wes Phillips Posted: Jul 14, 2008 0 comments

When I answered the door and saw the UPS man standing there with a massive box, I knew that Denon's AVR-5308CI had finally arrived after a series of misadventures. (Don't ask.)

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Michael Fremer Posted: Mar 29, 2001 0 comments

"The world's most advanced Home Theater Receiver" is Denon's claim for the AVR-5800, and, now that I've spent a few months with it, they'll get no arguments from me. It's the world's first 7.1-channel receiver with DTS-ES Discrete 6.1, DTS-ES Matrix 6.1, DTS Neo:6, THX surround EX, Dolby Digital 5.1, and Dolby Pro Logic. It's like one of those new cruise ships that more closely resembles a floating city. What Denon has managed to pack into its large, sleek, heavy black hull (at 62 lbs, it's the most massive I've seen) is remarkable in terms of both versatility and performance. Denon's marketing manager, David Birch-Jones, proclaims the AVR-5800 to be "Without question the finest A/V receiver ever created." But are "most advanced" and "finest" necessarily the same thing? We'll have to dig deeper to find out.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Feb 05, 2003 0 comments

"What's possibly left to add to an A/V receiver?" industry observers and reviewers ask at the end of each new product cycle. But always, by the time the replacement model has been introduced, manufacturers have found plenty to tack on. Only owners of last year's "state-of-the-art" A/V receivers can say how worthwhile are these additions, refinements, and upgrades.

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Chris Lewis Posted: Nov 22, 2005 0 comments
It will do everything but cook you dinner.

Unless you've been in a cave for the last decade, you already know that audio is rapidly steamrolling toward multichannel forms. Evidence is abundant on both the software and hardware fronts. These days, you'll be hard-pressed to find a modern movie in stereo on any medium outside of television. Music probably has years to go before its stereo form becomes esoteric, but the writing may be on the wall. As for hardware, try finding any electronics that don't support some multichannel form or another—if not several—anywhere but the smallest specialty shelves. Whether stereophiles like it or not, multichannel is as embedded in audio's future as digital coding itself.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 01, 2006 0 comments

Denon's flagship AV receivers have long been rated among the best, if not <I>the</I> best that money can buy. They've also been loaded with features, sometimes to the point where using them for anything but normal operations is a real challenge for the average user. The company's latest top-of-the-heap effort, the $6000 AVR-5805, is both of these things, and much more.

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Kim Wilson Posted: Mar 17, 2008 0 comments
Never has the field been so full of top-quality A/V Receivers and the competition is fierce among the top manufacturers for these types of components. It used to be that low-end models kept costs down by eliminating features and seriously compromising sound quality. However, consumers have come to expect the most bang for the buck, at any price, significantly raising the bar on less expensive models such as the $749 Denon AVR-888.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 20, 2013 4 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $599

AT A GLANCE
Plus
AirPlay
Streamlined interface
New binding posts
Minus
No Bluetooth

THE VERDICT
Denon has successfully rethought the budget receiver, a real achievement, and produced an all-around good performer at a reasonable price.

The Denon AVR-E400 reminded me that I’m a guy who gets excited about speaker terminals. Make of that what you will.

The receiver had been out of its box for only a few seconds before I noticed something different on the back panel. There I found speaker terminals of a type I’d never seen before on a receiver. Press in on Denon’s new spring-loaded binding posts, and a hole opens at the side to accept the cable tip or banana plug. This is a different arrangement than the collared binding posts on most receivers—which accept cable tips through a hole on the collar, or banana plugs through a second hole in the center of the plastic nut, before you tighten the nut to secure the cable. The new posts are an upsized version of those used on some satellite speakers. The practical result is that the terminals grip the cables so tightly that it’s nearly impossible for them to fall out without your permission.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 19, 2014 4 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $650

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Wi-Fi, AirPlay, Bluetooth
HDMI 2.0
Cool cardboard mike stand included
Minus
Slow DLNA media access
No MHL for phone streaming

THE VERDICT
The Denon AVR-S900W offers high value at a crowded price point, with superb performance, a competitive feature set, and a supplied stand for the room-correction mike.

You can’t set up room correction without a microphone, and you can’t use the mike without bringing it to ear-level elevation. But few A/V receiver makers include a mike stand. Along with Anthem, Denon is now one of the happy exceptions. No, the stand packed with the AVR-S900W isn’t a metal photography tripod with all the mechanical trimmings. But it is an effective platform for the mike used to set up Audyssey room correction. Constructed entirely of black card stock, it consists of a four-finned base, two plain column pieces, and a third column piece with sawtooth holes for height adjustment. Piece it all together, top it off with the customary Hershey’s Kiss–shaped mike, and you have something that looks like a rocket. Run Audyssey’s auto setup and room correction program—in this case, the MultEQ version, which measures from six seating positions—and your home theater system is ready for liftoff.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 20, 2015 2 comments

Performance
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $599

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Dolby Atmos and DTS:X on board
HDMI 2.0a with HDR video
Audyssey MultEQ XT room correction
Minus
Like other seven-channel AVRs, just two Atmos height channels
Remote volume keys undernourished

THE VERDICT
Triple wireless connectivity and excellent room correction may lure more listeners to this top-performing budget receiver than its limited 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos and DTS:X capabilities will.

The Denon AVR-X1200W is among a growing trickle of receivers that name-check DTS:X surround sound. By the time you read this, it might even be operational.

For every one of Dolby’s home surround standards, there has been a DTS equivalent. The competition began in the mid 1990s, when Dolby Digital and DTS first went head to head on laserdisc, with DVD following soon after. Dolby then added back-surround channels for Dolby Digital EX; DTS responded with DTS-ES. Dolby upgraded to lossless encoding with Dolby TrueHD; DTS shot back with DTS-HD Master Audio. Object-oriented surround—which uses metadata to map objects in a dome-shaped soundfield—is no different. In response to Dolby Atmos, which has just begun infiltrating surround receivers, DTS offers DTS:X. This is a transitional time, and you’ll find some models supporting Atmos without supporting DTS’s answer. Others are “DTS:X ready,” but not yet functional as they await the release of new firmware.

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Daniel Kumin Posted: Nov 19, 2014 6 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Dolby Atmos surround
4K-ready/upscaling with HDMI 2.0
Nine channels of flexible power
Top-tier Audyssey room/speaker correction
Minus
No HDCP 2.2 for future UHD content
Fairly basic supplied remote
Some mode-selection options a bit cumbersome

THE VERDICT
Outstanding audio capabilities and thoughtful ergonomics underpin our first Dolby Atmos–capable A/V receiver.

It’s been several years since I’ve had the opportunity to “do” a big Denon A/V receiver. So when a sample arrived of the company’s behemoth AVR-X5200W, one of the very first receivers ready to decode and distribute Dolby Atmos in a home theater setting, I was ready to begin. Atmos is the San Franciscans’ latest, “object-based,” scalable-multichannel surround format.

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