Denon AVR-4520CI A/V Receiver Test Bench

Test Bench

Two channels driven continuously into 8-ohm loads:
0.1% distortion at 172.6 watts
1% distortion at 190.7 watts

Five channels driven continuously into 8-ohm loads:
0.1% distortion at 121.8 watts
1% distortion at 145.3 watts

Seven channels driven continuously into 8-ohm loads:
0.1% distortion at 108.8 watts
1% distortion at 121.7 watts

Analog frequency response in Pure Direct mode:
–0.05 dB at 10 Hz
–0.01 dB at 20 Hz
–0.11 dB at 20 kHz
–3.54 dB at 50 kHz

Analog frequency response with signal processing:
–1.09 dB at 10 Hz
–0.34 dB at 20 Hz
–0.48 dB at 20 kHz
–19.15 dB at 50 kHz


This graph shows that the AVR-4520CI’s left channel, from CD input to speaker output with two channels driving 8-ohm loads, reaches 0.1% distortion at 172.6 watts and 1% distortion at 190.7 watts. Into 4 ohms, the amplifier reaches 0.1% distortion at 237.5 watts and 1% distortion at 287.1 watts.

Response from the multichannel input to the speaker output measures –0.03 dB at 10 Hz, –0.00 dB at 20 Hz, –0.22 dB at 20 kHz, and –3.65 dB at 50 kHz. THD+N from the CD input to the speaker output was less than 0.005% at 1 kHz when driving 2.83 volts into an 8-ohm load. Crosstalk at 1 kHz driving 2.83 volts into an 8-ohm load was –74.77 dB left to right and –74.69 dB right to left. The signal-to-noise ratio with an 8-ohm load from 10 Hz to 24 kHz with “A” weighting was –107.59 dBrA.

From the Dolby Digital input to the loudspeaker output, the left channel measures –0.00 dB at 20 Hz and –0.60 dB at 20 kHz. The center channel measures –0.00 dB at 20 Hz and –0.43 dB at 20 kHz, and the left surround channel measures –0.01 dB at 20 Hz and –0.51 dB at 20 kHz. From the Dolby Digital input to the line-level output, the LFE channel is +0.01 dB at 20 Hz when referenced to the level at 40 Hz and reaches the upper 3-dB down point at 118 Hz and the upper 6-dB down point at 121 Hz.—MJP

The scores and ratings above reflect the Denon’s performance with a component digital video YCbCr 4:2:2 HDMI input—the type of input that most commonly passes through home HD video devices (but see “Tech Note,” below). The only shortcoming in the Denon’s video performance with this common input was a failure in the chroma resolution at our highest frequency test burst.


The tests that involve 1080p passthrough (clipping and resolution) were repeated (but not included in the above ratings) with an RGB (Video Level) input to the Denon (courtesy of the options available in an Oppo BSP-103 player). The results were the same as above with one exception: With either RGB or YCbCr 4:4:4 inputs, the Denon did pass the chroma resolution test.

The Denon’s 4K upconversion (also not reflected in the video performance ratings) was good on HD sources, but poor on our 480i tests (apart from 2:2 SD, which it passed). Due to the frame rate limitation of HDMI 1.4 in 4K (30 fps maximum), the Denon passes-through a 1080p 3D source but will not upconvert it to 4K. It automatically outputs it at 1080p even if the video upconversion menu is set to 4K. The 4K display must then upconvert the 3D source to 4K to fill the screen.

Tech Note: The 4:x:x designations indicate the level of color subsampling, a complete explanation of which is a complex subject for another day. Put briefly, all current consumer video sources originate as 4:2:0, but this is interpolated up to 4:2:2 by the player or other source device. No HDMI level below HDMI 2.0 will pass 4:2:0. —TJN


6311's picture

Get serious invest in receiver without DisplayPort 1.2 or hdmi 2.0 Not serious

miller68ny's picture

I've read reviewers, possibly you, comment on how these room correction software improve on the sound of a receiver and I couldn't agree more. I purchased an Onkyo AVR after reading many reviews but wasn't thrilled with the way my Paradigms sounded. The old Sony AVR was much richer in the midrange and better integrated with my subwoofer. Only after I ran it through the Audyssey EQ did it approach the sound of the Sony. The manual even recommended running the MultEQ as the first step of the speaker set up so this begs the question, why did I just upgrade? If the sound of my old clunker sounded better with my speakers right out of the box, why did the Onkyo need all this processing to sound close to an AVR that clearly was it's inferior? Can we just make do with a middling AVR just as long as it has killer room correction?

Mark Fleischmann's picture
I once asked the Audyssey people whether their room correction systems would compensate for flaws in amplifier design -- in other words, would it flatten out an amp that didn't measure flat? They said yes. However, in practice, I still find that room correction interacts with amp design in unpredictable ways. In this case, the amp needed room correction to provide adequate detail and imaging. In other cases, I've found that room correction firmed up detail but at the expense of comfort, especially with music. My best advice is to buy a receiver based on a good-sounding amp -- that is, one that sounds good when all the enhancements are stripped away. Your room may respond to correction differently than mine. And you may want to use it only with certain content or not at all.
biaubill's picture

I have an Integra DHC-80.3. Setting up my speakers (which are full range) with the XT32, it set cross-overs at 40hz (L,R), 45hz (C), and 45 (LS, RS). Why did you set your crossover to 80hz?? I read the same thing on various forums about setting the cross-over to 80hz to utilize better bass management, but I just don't get it why. Isn't setting it to where the XT32 wanted it appropriate? I understand you used bookshelf speakers for your demo, so would it be appropriate to set the crossover to 80hz for full range speakers? Also, what other tweaks did you do on the receiver? Thank you the excellent review! I look forward to you reply.

Mark Fleischmann's picture
80Hz is the crossover recommended by THX though that's not the reason I stick with it. I use it because my speakers have limited bass response (which is not the same as no bass response) and they begin rolling off below that point. Most room correction systems detect them as "large" speakers, but that leaves a notch in bass response where the rolloff begins, so I reset to "small" and 80Hz. To determine whether this is right for you, find some reviews of your speakers with measurements (if possible) and determine where they roll off bass. If your speakers have more bass than mine, you might prefer a lower crossover; if they have more bass than mine, you might prefer a higher crossover. The other consideration is how much bass your receiver can handle before it goes into clipping. If a low crossover makes your receiver clip, you may need to use a higher crossover to give it an easier workload, avoid clipping, and improve dynamics.
mnc's picture

Mark, I'm very curious how this sounds compared to the Marantz 7008?

Mark Fleischmann's picture
While I didn't have them in the room for a direct comparison, in general Marantz had a better-sounding amp once all the room correction and other digital enhancements were stripped away.
palmharbor's picture

Since the Japan Nuclear issue...production for both units are in the same factory using the same parts. I know this for a fact.

palmharbor's picture

I have owned the AVR 4310 CI for a year now and I am totally pleased with it...its easy to set up, telephone support is great, you do not wade through 10 different selections. I used to have Emotiva separates but had problems with getting the subwoofer to work and they were not able to fix it. I would recommend this unit highly.

PeterC's picture

Wouldn't the AVR 4520CI be a better comparison to the Marantz AV8801 which also has XT32 processing ( I realize that it would require a separate amp)?
I have been considering the AV8801 based on the great review by S and V.
How would the 4520CI compare to this Marantz?

Macahan's picture

Mark, I have a pair of PSB Stratus Silver speakers that I bought in the 90's which are bi-wired with a Definitive Tech Supercube 8000 sub, just a simple 5.1 system. When I run the Audyssey program it wants to set the PSB's as large and full band. I called up a local installer and said if you have a sub are you not supposed to run them as small? He said not if they are bi-wired and also said that audyssey made the right call. What do you think?