Denon AVR-X4200W A/V Receiver Review Page 2

A quick tour of established movie scenes confirmed equal virtues with film sound. The AVR-X4200W delivers ample real-world power to all channels for real-world loudspeakers in real-world rooms—at full quality. I make this evaluation because my own rather quirky but highly effective loudspeaker array is, at a guess, 2 to 3 decibels less sensitive than the typical home theater designs of today, yet even a torture test like the densest Black Hawk Down sequence sounded just fine at my preferred serious-viewing level, some 4 or 5 dB below reference.

(To be fair, the Denon shares this amplifier competence with most midrange-or-up AVRs I’ve experienced in recent years. While I still think that all-channels-driven power is a worth-knowing measure of power supply robustness and general over-engineering, it just isn’t a big deal for reproducing actual soundtracks via actual speakers, because all channels essentially never go full-scale simultaneously, in-phase. Or at least, as Gilbert & Sullivan would say, almost never. )

Eager to experience DTS:X, I cued up Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, the slight but nicely produced Tina Fey vehicle. The Denon dutifully selected DTS:X mode (no firmware update required because the receiver is X compatible out of the box, yay), and it delivered the expected verticality on scenes such as the helicopter trip in chapter 3. Admittedly, I was using a quartet of Dolby Atmos–approved “ceiling-bounce” elevation speakers rather than in-ceiling direct radiators as DTS prefers; nevertheless, via the Denon, DTS:X did a fine job of reproducing the overhead element of cues such as overflying helos and arcing missiles. (Interestingly, on this film at least, the mixer elected to put a substantial number of ambient-music cues into the height channels as well, which makes for a subtly but distinctly different scoring effect.)

916denonrec.rem.jpgHowever, this is not the place to compare and contrast Dolby Atmos versus DTS:X, and anyway, the AVRX4200W has a whole lot more going on—even in just the surround category. For one thing, there’s Audyssey DSX, which can derive as many as 11.2 channels, including both width and height additions, and can apply itself to anything from two channels on up. Although much overlooked, DSX is an intriguing option that could add a lot of dimensionality to a lot of programming. Except for its chief drawback—which is the same as that cited for every spatial development since stereo: All. Those. Speakers.

A word regarding Auro-3D: This European-originating system specifies multiple ceiling speakers—direct, not Atmos “bounce” types—including a top-middle “voice of God” channel, none of which were options for me. I confirmed Auro’s operation using my 5.4.2 Atmos/DTS:X setup but cannot, of course, make any judgments on the system other than to confirm that it was indeed available from the Denon’s Modes menu and remote buttons and that it did induce a surround effect audibly distinct from Dolby or DTS. There’s doubtless much more to be learned here, but so far little in the way of Auro-encoded movies

is widely available in this country—the system can also be applied “single-ended” to derive channels on non-encoded material, as can both Atmos and DTS:X—so we’re not diving in here. Denon’s choice to make the system optional at extra cost seems to me the right one at this point in time.

On the video side of things, the receiver can scale anything from 480i on up to anything from 480p on up, right on up to 4K/60, and it can do so from analog (including component) or HDMI inputs. My un-instrumented No. 1 eyeball judged these conversions to be generally fine. I did encounter some motion artifacts when the Denon scaled DVD up to 4K/24, but I’m far too much of a 4K newbie to know if these originated in the receiver’s processing or in the display’s, or if they simply were endemic to this largely irrelevant conversion option. The receiver also offers a full complement of picture adjustments, along with six preset selections, including ISF-Day and ISF-Night. While these have certain utilitarian value, I expect most videophiles will choose to roll their own, using their particular display’s options.


Denon has endowed the AVR-X4200W with the familiar vTuner client, along with streaming audio from services Pandora and SiriusXM—plus Spotify Connect, which requires you to cast from your Spotify account on a smartphone, tablet, or multiroom setup. (I endorse this stripped-down approach: Does anybody really need hooks to 16 different streaming services?) The receiver also handles media from a DLNA server, which worked glitch-free and smoothly from my iMac’s TwonkyMedia software, as well as a good deal more quickly and responsively than many other AVRs’ streamer-clients I’ve tested. Better still, it played all my files without hiccup or pause, including DSD-2.8, FLAC up to 176/24, uncompressed WAVs, and of course MP3 and AAC. Playback was satisfyingly transparent, providing all the texture and detail I expect from the bettersort hi-res files. Denon’s streaming client puts up a nice, full-disclosure onscreen display, showing file type and bit rate in addition to track and folder/album info—all of which, along with the AVR-X4200W’s simple navigation and swift response, makes it one of the best receiver clients I’ve encountered.

The Hands-On
The Denon’s ergonomic attributes are unfussy and generally usable. Menus are snappy and straightforward, and the remote control, while unlikely to win any industrial-design or human-factor awards, gets the job done, though its lack of illumination is a bit disappointing. There’s also, of course, the expected control app, available in both iOS and Android flavors. I found the iOS variant quite helpful, especially in delivering direct access to individual channel-level trims (something the hardware remote can’t match) as well as to all the receiver’s audio and video options, despite the app’s occasionally leisurely screendrawing priorities and slightly ho-hum graphic and ergonomic layout. On the other hand, the app includes a one-touch link to Denon’s online HTML owner’s manual (it opens in the browser of your phone or tablet), a very useful pop-up.

So while Denon’s latest breaks no earth-shattering new ground, it in fact does a great deal, does it very well, and with perfectly acceptable usability. The AVR-X4200W boasts unimpeachable audio quality and full 4K video capabilities, combined with a deep feature set (among them nine-channel processing in a seven-channel AVR) and a host of multiroom and automation options (including an HDMI Zone-2 output), all at a fair (though not inconsiderable) price. At the end of the day, this receiver is an easy recommendation.

(201) 762-6665

dommyluc's picture

"$199 software upgrade"! Good luck with that! For that price, they had better pop the corn and provide terrific sex after the movie is over.

jnemesh's picture

Your statement that it only amplifies 7 channels is incorrect. The AVRX4300H has 9 channels of amplification, and supports 11.2 with the addition of an external amp. The step up 6300H offers 11 channels of amplification, no external amp needed.

jnemesh's picture

Sorry about that, I thought you were reviewing the 4300H, not the now discontinued 4200W.

Is there any way you guys can be more timely with your reviews? By the time you publish a review, like this one, the product is already discontinued and the new model is already shipping!

Jackblues's picture

Unless there was a typo I'm hoping that we'll get reviews of equipment that's still available for purchase "new".

alexanderc's picture

As others have mentioned, this was discontinued about a month ago and replaced with the X4300H. On the plus side, it's currently available new on Amazon for $800.

Mr. Mxyzptlk's picture

Sorry to repeat the sentiments of others, but I am pretty disappointed that you guys are just getting around to publishing this review. I was really hoping to see a review of the CURRENT crop of AVR's on the market as I am looking at several D+M models (AVR-X4300H, AVR-X6300H, and SR-7011) for an upcoming purchase. Hopefully some of these will be reviewed in a more timely fashion.