Preamp Outputs: Some receiver manufacturers go feature happy with their models and forget to make sure each feature actually works well. Denon, however, hit the nail on the head with this unit, including some new features not found on any Denon receiver at any price point in prior models. Features For the Gen-Xer AirPlay, Spotify, direct iPod connection, control via mobile app or web browser, these are the types of features that 20 or 30 somethings care about.
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Denon has high hopes for its X-series of AV receivers, with the new range boasting an unapologetically modernistic feature set and some welcome refinements, including a reworked user interface, clearer front panel display and hand-holding Setup Assistant to demystify installation.
The AVR-X is a seven-channel design, but supports nine-channel processing should you want to lace up an additional stereo power amp. Neat design Cosmetically, this receiver is slick without being idiosyncratic.
The fascia itself has a neat, brushed finish and lightweight symmetrical control knobs that frame a central trapdoor. The roof of the AVR sports a couple of plastic heat mats, secured over the front-facing vents with little plastic clips.
These slightly ugly toupees are designed to prevent the roof of the unit exceeding predetermined temperature levels when the receiver is run at high volumes. Overly cautious perhaps, but Denon and Marantz have been using them for years. To optimise fidelity, signal paths have been minimised. The layout of the rear panel is measured and manageable. The HDMI provision is generous, with six inputs plus a seventh around the front , coupled to InstaPrevue thumbnail previews.
The receiver can also distribute audio only to a third zone. In terms of distance and level it proved pleasingly accurate in my room, but I still felt the need to make my own extra manual adjustments.
When engaged, pretty much every thud of bass is exercised from the soundtrack, leaving nothing but shrill squawking. I may have been playing The Expendables 2 on the Blu-ray player, but my neighbours must have thought I was culling parakeets. The setup and main menus of the AVR-X are easily navigated, enlivened with engaging graphics. Selecting the Network input brings up a collection of icons representing internet radio, Last. Those running a music server NAS are well served.
The AVR also features a variety of picture presets plus a user mode which allows you to tune contrast, brightness, saturation, hue and noise reduction. Personally, I feel your source and display are the more logical calibration point. Engines were panned front to back, left and right, in a glorious cacophony. With pumped-up actioners, like the aforementioned As Sly and his team unleash their ordnance, the Denon responds with quick-fire transients.
Clarity and definition remain admirable. The amplifier is rated at W into 8ohms with all channels driven. Overall, the AVR-X delivers on its modern promise.
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