Denon AVR-4800 Receiver Page 3

Once the setup of the unit is complete, the 4800 rewards you with outstanding performance in every department. The unit's face offers a number of one-button controls and enough backlit indicators to keep you informed as to what mode the unit presently resides in. As for the sound quality, the THX Surround EX mode does indeed create a sonic presentation that Dolby Digital or DTS alone can't touch. During heavy action sequences, the realism created by the extra speaker(s) was truly astounding. The claim of enhanced spatial realism is only slightly exaggerated in the marketing material. Considering the level of hyperbole consumers are subjected to these days, living up even reasonably close to the hype is a commendable accomplishment for both THX Surround EX and Denon. At the time of this writing, there's not a lot of EX material available. As this surround mode becomes more well-known, though, I'd be surprised if "big" movie-production houses don't embrace it. Many first-rate theaters have made the necessary upgrades to take advantage of the format.

In stereo mode, the receiver delivers crisp, clear reproduction with no hint of receiver-induced colorization. Whenever I test sound equipment, I unleash the eclectic Fordyce reference-CD pack: music that ranges from the Stones to the Pistols to piano concertos. The 4800 handled all of it quite well. With 125 watts per channel, it handled it quite loud, too.

Stripped down to its most basic form, the AVR-4800 is an awesome piece of machinery that leaves no stone unturned in its goal to provide everything needed in a home theater receiver while staving off obsolescence as much as possible. The AVR-4800 kills anything in its price range, both in the options it offers and its audio performance. If you're looking for a one-box solution to achieving home theater nirvana, then you definitely need to check out this Denon offering.

To take advantage of surround schemes that use more channels than a 5.1-channel receiver offers, you'll need to chain-in an external amplifier. Theoretically, any THX-certified amp of equal power will work fine with a THX-certified receiver that has the appropriate line outs, but it's usually a good idea to stick with the same manufacturer—if for no other reason than the components look as if they're from the same family. Denon offers the POA-5200 two-channel amp ($699) as a complement to their AVR-4800 receiver. The 5200 is a THX Ultra-certified two-channel amplifier that delivers 120 watts per channel into 8 ohms or 200 watts into 4 ohms. It features a rear-panel jack for remote power-on/-off control through the AVR-4800. The 5200 differentiates itself from many stereo amps in that it's actually two mono amps in one box—each channel has its own power transformer and DC-storage-supply section. It also features A/B switching for each channel so that one or two speakers can be connected to each channel and can be turned on or off as needed. When testing the POA-5200 in conjunction with the 4800, I found no distinguishable sound or level differences between the two, proving that the 5200 is an excellent addition to the 4800 for bringing THX Surround EX to life.

• Astounding realism with THX Surround EX
• Daunting but doable setup
• Gives separates a run for their money

AVR-4800 Receiver
(973) 396-0810