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  • November 15, 2021 4 min read

    If you’re looking to buy an AV receiver to power your surround sound system, then there’s one class-leading brand that will no doubt feature on your shortlist. Denon AVRs are synonymous with high-quality home cinema, and for good reason: the regularly refreshed line-up combines exhaustive feature lists with equally compelling performance and options to suit every budget and set-up. 

    The current offering of Denon home cinema amps includes models from the past two years and spans three different ranges. There's the limited edition A Series, released in 2020 to coincide with the company's 110th anniversary; the X Series of mid-to-high-end receivers with top-quality components and format support; and the S Series of mid-range to affordable amps for smaller systems and budgets.

    The products featured on this list may be the very latest that Denon has to offer, but such is the calibre of the company's AVRs that older versions tend to remain on the market long after being superseded. While we won't list every single amp that the company's ever built, it's certainly worth exploring reviews of previous models as some could be well worth consideration.

    Want to know everything about Denon's most recent AVRs and AVCs? Allow us to run through all of the highlights and break down the details of the models in the line-up to find out which is the one that best suits your needs.

    Next Gen gaming and video features

    Denon tends to refresh its home cinema amps every year or so, and with good reason. Technology ages quickly, and three years can see dramatically different customer expectations. In just the last couple of years, we've seen the arrival of 8K TVs and next-gen gaming consoles, for example, both of which are designed to take advantage of new, more advanced video formats. 

    You may think of your AV receiver as primarily an audio product, but as it sits at the centre of a home cinema system, connecting every component to the screen, it's vital that it can handle every video format that's thrown at it – or that might be thrown at it within the next few years. 

    In this respect, Denon excels with the entire X-range, the AVR-S960 and the limited edition A-model, all offering 8K@60Hz passthrough and upscaling, as well as 4K@120Hz

    Gamers will be pleased to know that across its three ranges, Denon boasts extensive support for other next-gen gaming features such as ALLM (Auto Low-Latency Mode), VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), QMS (Quick Media Switching) and QFT (Quick Frame Transport), right down to the AVR-S960H. The two models below lose most of those features but do support ALLM.

    HDMI 2.1...almost

    Unfortunately, despite going to great lengths to ensure its amps are at the cutting edge of video technology, Denon was afflicted by last year's notorious HDMI 2.1 bug (which also hit Denon stablemate Marantz, as well as Yamaha and others). The glitch causes a loss of picture when 4K@120Hz signals are sent from an Xbox Series X or Nvidia RTX30-series graphics cards and affects 2020 models from the A-Series and X-Series plus the AVR-S960H.

    Sound United, Denon's parent company, says it has been "working tirelessly" to address this long-running HDMI issue, and thankfully receivers manufactured after May 2021 are now officially glitch-free. The new models can be identified by series numbers that read xxxxx700001 and upwards and should be fully functioning as they boast an upgraded HDMI 2.1 chip. Those with older affected units can get hold of Sound United's external HDMI adaptor, which contains the new chip and corrects the bug.

    Denon AVC X4700


    HDR and Immersive sound formatats

    As well as high resolution and frame rates, Denon also offers wide-ranging support for HDR formats, including Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and HLG down to the AVR-S960H. The rest of the S range maintains Dolby Vision and HLG but HDR10+ drops to standard HDR10.

    Denon is equally as generous in its surround sound format options, with top models featuring Dolby Atmos, DTS:X Pro (allowing users to listen to up to 13 channels of DTS:X decoding with speaker configurations such as 7.2.6 or 9.2.4), IMAX Enhanced, and Auro-3D. The only model not to include support for any height channels is the AVR-S650H, which has just 5.2 channels.

    Pre-amplifier mode

    Denon has trickled down its ‘Pre-Amplifier’ mode from its 2019 flagship AVC-X8500H across its X-range, down to the AVC-X3700A. The first company to offer this feature, 'Pre-Amplifier' mode provides more tolerance in clipping levels by disconnecting internal amplifiers when the receiver is used as an AV processor and all speakers are powered by external amplifiers.

    Customers will be able to use their AVR as a pre-amp for all channels or, by setting the amp assign mode to 11.1, just for their front stereo pair.

    Music playback

    In addition to Apple AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth, all Denon AVRs come with HEOS built-in. This allows you to wirelessly play music across compatible HEOS components from a variety of streaming services, including Tidal, Spotify, Amazon Music HD, SiriusXM and Pandora. 

    The X-Series is also Roon-tested and features a front USB port for easy playback of MP3s and high-resolution audio formats including WAV, ALAC, FLAC and DSD.

    Room Calibration

    Denon's step-by-step room calibration system Audyssey uses audio measurements from the included reference microphone to optimise the receiver's performance to the acoustic environment of the user's space.

    Across the range, the calibration level varies. S-series models have the more basic Audyssey MultEQ, the AVR-X2700H and AVR-A17000H have Audyssey MultEQ XT, and the more premium models get Audyssey MultEQ XT32 with subEQ HT for independent subwoofer refinement.

    Models released since 2020 also support a new feature called Dual Audyssey Preset function, which lets you store, recall and switch between two different Audyssey configurations. This is handy for making comparisons and for those who like to have different speaker settings for different content types or even moods, but it's also great for rooms in which the acoustics or layout can vary, such as with a drop-down projector screen.


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