Denon’s current line-up is really great. Almost all entries perform and have reviewed well. However, if you are serious about your home cinema, you should consider only the models from AVC-X3700H and up. This is because the receivers in the higher end of the line-up include Audyssey XT32 Room Correction which will perform massively better than the lower end XT variant – especially when it comes to subwoofers.
However, beyond this, the selection is still quite large, so let’s have a look at the models and some critical specifications. I have summarised them in the table below.
Auro 3D (11 ch)
DTS X Pro
Auro 3D (13 ch)
DTS X Pro
Auro 3D (13 ch)
DTS X Pro
Auro 3D (13 ch)
Choosing Based on Build Quality
Clearly, if you want the very best quality, you will go for the AVC-A110 which is basically an AVC-8500HA with the latest 8K HDMI board upgrades and custom high-quality capacitors / internal components / upgraded power supply for the most pristine sound quality. While it may not be as special as some of the tanks Denon used to build, it is a truly outstanding product.
However, you need to consider that for the AVC-A110 to make much of a difference, you would need to invest in great speakers AND great room treatment. Because you can have the very best speakers and amp on the market, but shove them into an untreated room and you’ll seriously compromise their performance. Therefore, I would only recommend this receiver to those who are willing to invest just as much in their speakers and their space.
Ultimately, the AVC-X6700H and above receivers have exceptional build quality and would give most people very satisfactory results.
When it comes to the AVC-X3700H, most of the price has gone into the technology within the receiver. While this version is improved from the previous years’ models in terms of build quality, it is only recommended for non-dedicated rooms or if you will pair it with external amps. All models have the ability to be used as a pre-amp only with the pre-amp and amp sections disconnected, which makes even the AVC-X3700H a really great proposition.
Choosing Based on Channels
If you are going to use external amps, then you only need to worry about the number of decoded channels. However, if you are going to use the internal amps only, I recommend getting one that can amplify all your speakers for the foreseeable future. While it is possible to extend any of the receivers with external amps in different configurations, I find that running all channels using the internal amps – when planned correctly – can give more cohesive results for most people. However, it depends on the speakers, loads and choice of external amplifier and whether that amplifier will sound transparent.
Choosing Based on Decoders
If you want to be able to expand DTS X beyond 7.2.4 speakers and configure wide speakers or more ceiling speakers for example, you will need DTS X Pro. DTS X is limited to a 7.2.4 layout so some of the speakers can go unused when playing back DTS X program material without the latest decoder. You will need to get the AVC-X6700H or a higher-end model for DTS X Pro playback.
On the upside, there really isn’t a lot of DTS X material out there. The majority of studios – and therefore disks – as well as streaming services seem to use Dolby Atmos.
What is even more rare is Auro 3D which adds top centre speakers. While it is a great novelty, there really isn’t an awful lot of material out there encoded in the format. However, if you are keen, you will need to get the AVC-X4700H or a higher end model.
MPEG-H is relatively new in terms of adoption but will likely be used for broadcast applications – just like Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) is used for the HDR side of broadcast. However, adoption has been slow and set top boxes will likely allow transcoding to Dolby audio for the broadest compatibility. However, it is a feature that is there for future-proofing.
Choosing Based on Power Delivery
I have to be honest here: the relative power rating between these receivers is not very representative of the quality of the amplification that is on offer. For example, the AVC-X6700H offers substantially better power delivery and dynamics than the lower end models, simply because of the number of channels it needs to support. The power supply is larger and can allocate power dynamically to the channels that need it most. When it comes to the AVC-X8500HA especially, with its large power supply and symmetrical power rails, the clarity on offer is yet another step up, even though it is rated only 5W better per channel than the AVC-X6700H.
The AVC-A110 adds custom components for an even cleaner power delivery. However, as I said earlier, it is unlikely to be heard unless in the most pristine and well-thought out setups.
8K Inputs and Outputs
These receivers have the first-generation 8K HDMI chips, which means that they have had issues with uncompressed data from Xbox Series X and some PC GPUs when feeding 4K 120Hz (and therefore likely 8K output once that is enabled on the Xbox Series X). However, Denon provides a workaround using a free external HDMI converter box that can be put between the Xbox and the receiver for connection. You will need proof of purchase for both and Xbox Series X and an affected Denon receiver before Denon will provide you with one however.
Since the X8500HA (upgraded X8500A) was released after this issue surfaced, it should not be affected but it is always advised to look at reviews and forums for any known issues before purchasing
I earlier reported that the A110 was not affected but this was incorrect as earlier production runs of it were.
UPDATE 14 Aug 2021: Sound United confirmed that new production runs of all Denon and Marantz receivers (including the above models) feature updated bug-free HDMI chips. The new models have serial numbers starting with xxxxx70001. Old models will still be around as old stock so best to confirm before purchasing.
I have to say that the AVC-X6700H is just a killer product in terms of price / performance ratio. Unlike its bigger and larger sibling, the AVC-X8500HA, it actually fits into a normal equipment rack without taking the wall down behind it. However, if you have the space for the AVC-X8500HA, it is a clearly superior product built on a brand new, exceptionally designed platform that is sure to impress.
However, there is one major issue with all these products: the lack of 8K HDMI inputs. Even the AVC-X8500HA and AVC-A110 only feature ONE dedicated HDMI 8K input. If you need to connect two next-gen consoles for example, you will need to use eARC to get sound back from the TV and have at least one console connected to the TV directly. This isn’t exactly ideal. For those that will want 8K players, consoles, etc, it is likely best to wait for the next generation of these receivers before upgrading. Of course, there are workarounds so if you cannot wait for an upgrade, then go ahead.
Related Free Guides
If you are planning to buy or have recently bought a Denon receiver, check out the below guides.
Secrets of Audyssey is also a Professional Guide available for those that want to get the very best out of their Denon (and Marantz) receivers.