AV Receiver Reviews

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Chris Lewis  |  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.

Thomas J. Norton  |  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.

Daniel Kumin  |  Apr 30, 2005  |  0 comments
Don't buy this receiver if you have a bad back, a rickety rack, or a bulging credit limit. Because Denon's latest flagship, the AVR-5805, is as tall as many receivers are deep, as deep as many are wide, as heavy as a pair of many other flagship models - and as expensive as a two-year-old Kia.
Kim Wilson  |  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.
Mark Fleischmann  |  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.

Mark Fleischmann  |  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.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Nov 20, 2015  |  3 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.

Daniel Kumin  |  Mar 08, 2018  |  6 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Solid two-channel and multichannel power
3.1.2-channel Dolby Atmos/DTS:X virtual height effects
Excellent Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction
HEOS wireless multiroom
Minus
Wired multiroom limited to one zone

THE VERDICT
A fine seven-channel amp, attractive ergonomics, full 4K/HDR-readiness, and 5.2.2 Dolby Atmos and DTS:X make for a very competitive midrange option.

Denon’s new AVR-X3400H A/V receiver scored points with me even before I got it out of its box: The four-piece packaging foam (top/bottom front and back) allows for easy removal of a heavy-ish item without battling box flaps, splintering full end-cap pieces, or leaving a trail of Styrofoam crumbs behind. (Yes, I’m packing-material obsessive.) But let me not prejudge.

Daniel Kumin  |  Sep 29, 2016  |  6 comments

Audio Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Very solid amplifier performance
DTS:X, Dolby Atmos on board with seven-channel power and nine-channel processing
Good streaming-audio client performance and ergonomics
Minus
Ho-hum remote
Firmware/feature upgrade process is clumsy

THE VERDICT
Denon’s latest-generation upper-echelon AVR does all of the most current modes, sources, and processings very competently indeed, with ample audio power and fully up-to-date video abilities.

Full disclosure: Denon holds a special place in my hi-fi heart, because the brand’s former parent company, Nippon Columbia, brought me to Japan for my first time, on a sort of mini–press junket cooked up by the firm’s U.S. marketing guru. When I say mini, I mean it: It was just myself; Ken, the marketing guy; colleague Ken Pohlmann; and the late consumer electronics editor Bill Wolfe, whom I already knew well through long associations at titles like Video, Car Stereo Review, and (Plain Ol’) Stereo Review (S&V’s precursor).

Daniel Kumin  |  Nov 19, 2014  |  5 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.

Mark Fleischmann  |  May 19, 2016  |  14 comments

Audio Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Gobs of power for almost any situation
Audyssey MultEQ XT32
Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro 3D
ISF certified
Minus
Daunting price

THE VERDICT
The Denon AVR-X7200W is pricey, but this flagship is loaded with power, features, and performance.

Ticking off all the feature checkboxes does not automatically confer popularity on a flagship audio/video receiver. Some prospective buyers will look at the four-figure price tag of the Denon AVR-X7200W and just say, no, sorry, not for me—despite the fact that many other high-end audio products, and luxury products in general, sell for far more. The AVR category is the spiritual home of those who love to get more for less. Why, asks the hardheaded audio buff, do I need to pay three grand for all those features, all those jacks—all that stuff I’ll never need? The answer is that the features you do need may be worth the price. If your speakers are a little more demanding than the home theater norm or you have a large room, you’ll want as much power as possible, and this receiver is Denon’s best shot.

Michael Trei  |  Aug 08, 2018  |  5 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Clear, punchy sound
Beefy 13 x 150W class-AB power amp
Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Auro-3D decoding up to 7.2.6 or 9.2.4
Minus
No HD Radio
Flagship price to go with flagship performance

THE VERDICT
Denon’s latest flagship receiver checks off every box on the A/V receiver feature wish list, and it provides plenty of brawn to back up its brains.

Some people get weird about anything with a 13 in it. Fear of this seemingly innocuous number, otherwise known as Triskaidekaphobia, has brought us buildings with no 13th floor, and even the renaming of the 13th Space Shuttle mission. But Denon has shown us they don’t have time for silly superstitions by delivering the world’s first A/V receiver with 13 channels of onboard amplification.

Rob Sabin  |  Dec 24, 2019  |  5 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Audiophile-quality sonics
Easy access to networked and internet-streamed music
Extensive HDMI switching
Minus
Non-backlit remote

THE VERDICT
Denon’s modern take on the classic stereo receiver delivers excellent sound quality, video switching for 2-channel home theater, and all the amenities of an app-driven, internet-connected music system.

As I uncrated the Denon DRA-800H stereo receiver and set it on my rack for review, I was struck by a powerful wave of nostalgia. Back in my early days of audiophilia, stereo—no wait, stereo and vinyl—was pretty much the game. Buying a basic receiver was a typical rite of passage for a high school or college student back then, and it was staring at rows of them at the local TV/appliance store—with their shiny brushed chrome faceplates, dials and buttons, and backlit tuning displays—that got me hooked on audio in the first place.

Mark Fleischmann  |  Sep 19, 2017  |  1 comments

Audio Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $999

AT A GLANCE
Plus
App-driven HEOS eco-system
Up to 5.1 channels
Wireless HEOS surround and sub options
Minus
Nearly no front-panel controls
No low-volume mode
No Dolby Atmos or DTS:X

THE VERDICT
The Denon HEOS AVR reimagines the black-box receiver as a sleek, shapely, app-driven beauty that leverages the home network to provide wireless sub and surrounds.

Having successfully developed their own wireless ecosystem under the HEOS brand, Denon is using it to reinvent the audio/video receiver. What the company calls the HEOS AVR departs from the black-box norm by offering suave dove-gray aluminum as an optional alternative to the usual black. It isn’t a box, either, or at least not a pure rectangular solid, thanks to a diagonally split, convex front panel. Whereas other A/V receivers wear lots of buttons or conceal them behind a flip-down door, the HEOS AVR has a front panel that’s pointedly devoid of any controls except a large metal volume dial. And in lieu of a front-panel display, it has only a large horizontal LED stripe in the HEOS style for volume and status. This isn’t just another receiver. It’s a deliberate provocation.

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