How to Use an External Amp to Create an 11.1 System

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Q I have a Denon AVR-X7200WA A/V receiver and a 9.2-channel speaker system. I recently bought an additional pair of height speakers and a Marantz five-channel amp to expand the system to 11.1 channels. How should I go about connecting the Marantz amp? —Dipin Patel / via email

A There are multiple connection strategies you could pursue when combining a five-channel amp with your Denon AVR-X7200WA receiver. If you plan to upgrade from a 7.2.2 to a 7.2.4-channel Dolby Atmos configuration, use the second set of Height preamp outputs on the Denon to connect to the Marantz amp, which will power the new speaker pair.

And now that you have three extra amp channels to play with on the Marantz, I’d suggest using them to power the system’s front left /right and center speakers. Our bench tests for the Denon AVR-X7200WA determined that its 150-watt-per-channel rating held up well in multichannel power tests. That said, the increase in dynamic headroom that you generally get with external amps—even multichannel ones—can provide a solid sound quality benefit.