Whether you’ve got your eyes on 8K or next-gen gaming, X marks the spot, declares Steve May. Read our DENON AVC-X4700H Review.
Timing is everything, and with its first range of 8K-capable X Series home cinema amplifiers, Denon has seemingly got its timing just right. Not just because 8K flatpanels are slowly filtering through, but because this range is ready and able to play with the latest generation of consoles primed for 4K/120fps gaming thrills.
The AVC-X4700H has other game-friendly features too, courtesy of acronyms like VRR, ALLM and QFT. Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) reduces frame tearing, while Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and Quick Frame Transport (QFT) reduce input lag. These are a big deal if you’re a serious gamer. Thankfully, there’s also plenty for cinephiles to get excited about. Regardless whether you favour the black or silver finish, the AVC-X4700H is a heavyweight home entertainment beast.
The more observant amongst you may have realised the UK/EU version of the X4700H featured here is an AVC, which is to say it’s an amplifier without an FM tuner. The USA version is a classic AVR, with FM radio. Apart from that they’re pretty much the same unit.
That said, the X4700H doesn’t look overly different from its antecedents. Build quality and finish are exemplary. Edges are squared off, and the front fascia has a bright, clear display. The chassis is a dual-layer design, a step up in rigidity from Denon’s more affordable, but less powerful, AVC-X3700H stablemate.
Surround sound pick-‘n’-mix
Naturally, the X4700H is compatible with all the big-name immersive sound formats. Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, DTS Virtual:X, Auro-3D and Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization are all onboard. The latter is intended for those unable to implement physical height speakers, or utilise Dolby enabled upfirers. There’s also support for IMAX Enhanced decoding, the DTS:X variant gaining traction, in particular, with Sony’s 4K Blu-ray division.
HDMI provision covers eight inputs, straddling v2.0/2.1. Three outputs make the amplifier suitable for both a screen and projector in your main room, as well as a second video zone. Two of these outputs are designated 8K HDCP 2.3, and allow passthrough to 8K-capable displays. It’s unlikely we’ll see an 8K projector any time soon, but at least it’s thinking ahead.
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HDMI input 7 is the star attraction, being 8K/60Hz enabled with 4K/120Hz video passthrough. Simply labelled ‘8K’, it replaces the old Aux 2 input. Unsurprisingly, I wasn’t able to test this yet. Let’s assume it works fine.
Of course, having just one HDMI capable of a highspeed 4K input could prove frustrating, particularly if you aim to buy both incoming PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles. If that’s the case, one console would need to be hardwired to your TV, and its audio streamed back to the amplifier over eARC.
While you can customise all HDMI inputs in the UI, the AVC-X4700H will automatically register what’s connected and auto rename, which makes life a bit easier.
Other connections include an MM phono input for vinyl fans; two independent subwoofer preouts (as opposed to just parallel sub outs); multichannel pre-out for external amps; and plenty of analogue/non-HDMI digital fallbacks. Under a pull-down door on the front panel, you’ll find a headphone socket, bonus HDMI input and USB port.
For HDMI, Denon’s new Video Info screen offers frame- rate/colour space/resolution insights into input and output, likely to become useful as we move into the next-gen gaming era. You can also explicitly identify HDR10+ or Dolby Vision. Another new HDMI feature is Quick Media Switching (QMS), which allows a source to instantly switch the resolution or frame rate, thereby eliminating screen blackout.
As befits its 8K compatibility, the AVC-X4700H has an uprated image processor, able to upscale existing HD and 4K content to 8K resolution.
‘There’s huge headroom for dynamic transients. At no point did this amp feel like it was running out of gas’
The amp’s back panel may be intimidating, but Denon goes out of its way to aid setup, the Install UI holding your hand through the process, and Audyssey MultEQ XT32 doing a comprehensive job in full auto pilot (if you want to get really granular, it’ll work with the optional Audyssey MultEQ Editor app, for even greater customisation). The calibration routine can measure up to eight seating positions, or a minimum of four.
A new wrinkle this year is a Dual Speaker Setup preset function, which will appeal to those who like to run different EQs for two-channel music and multichannel home theatre. The preset allows you to instantly switch between two Audyssey-calibrated results.
This duality is usual for home theatre too. For example, one preset can be optimised for watching a TV with curtains open. A second preset can be tuned for projection, in a room with curtains closed. This immediately solved a problem for me, as normally I would set Audyssey for a room with curtains closed and a projector working, and then just lump it when I simply wanted to use the system during the day. A second practical implementation might see the sound system optimised to reflect the number of viewers. One preset could be for a single viewer, tailor-made for a sweet spot, while another could accommodate a wider viewing area.
Additional niceties include Apple AirPlay 2; Roon Tested certification; voice assistant support for Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Siri; and HEOS built-in. Just as pets aren’t only for Christmas, HEOS isn’t just for multiroom. The app also simplifies music streaming, placing key services like Amazon Music HD, Spotify, Tidal and TuneIn under singular control.
Bluetooth connectivity covers transmission to headphones, which could be a life-saver for night owls.
The AVC-X4700H offers nine channels of amplification, allowing Atmos/DTS:X speaker configs of 7.1.2 or 5.1.4, but there’s 11.2 channel processing onboard, so it can be augmented with extra amplification as and when required. Power output is rated at 125W per channel (into 8 ohms, two channels driven). After spending time with this Denon, I began to wonder if that figure is actually conservative. The AVC-X4700H plays loud and has huge headroom for dynamic transients. At no point during my audition did it feel like it was running out of gas or turning raspy.
Joseph Trapanese’s honking, ominous score for Project Power (Netflix, Dolby Atmos) is allowed to surge like a veritable tidal wave. I was engulfed and loved it. When the film declares ‘This is power!’, the AVC-X4700H underscores the declaration with a hammer fist. Yet despite all this orchestral heft, dialogue remains crisp and naturalistic (credit where credit’s due – the Audyssey calibration on this amp does an artful job).
The X4700H has a taste for popcorn too. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Blu-ray, Dolby Atmos) benefits from its grandiose presentation. The amp’s inherent sense of scale is almost operatic. When Orson Krennic arrives on planet Lah’mu to press gang research scientist Galen Erso into helping the Empire rebuild the Death Star, his ship carves through the atmosphere with tangible weight.
This is something I noticed time and again with this amp. There’s a physicality to the sound as it moves air. But conversely, it’s not leaden either. Surely playing their part are its two dual-core Sharc DSPs, which have been borrowed from Denon’s top-range AVC-X8500H and not only take Dolby Atmos in their stride, but have the processing headroom (10.8Gflops, to be precise) to handle whatever tomorrow will throw at them.
In Dolby Surround mode this model does a terrific job upscaling regular 5.1. The setup opener for Pixar’s Inside Out has an ethereal sonic quality, as it depicts the inside of Riley’s head for the first time. Remixed in Dolby Surround, exterior parental sounds have a fuller resonance that seeps high and wide, while the voices of Joy and Sadness in her head are laser-focused. Throughout, the height speakers are used to engorge the score in a naturalistic, organic way. There’s no sense that your speaker array has lost its top and gone convertible.
This machine is not just fun with movies though; it’s also got rhythm. Saint-Tropez by Post Malone (Tidal, Dolby Atmos) has a bass beat that drops and rebounds like a ball on elastic. The X4700H plunges deep to match and snaps back without overhang.
The future is now
Formidable in all the right ways, Denon’s AVC-X4700H is both a technical tour de force and a spine-tingling sonic performer. It has lashings of dynamic power on tap, with an ability to stage that would make even Cameron McIntosh envious, and handles the rapid transients of blockbuster
action with the casual grace of an Olympian. It’s genuinely musical too, alternately melodious and engaging, then hard rocking and clubbing.
But ultimately, the knowledge that this amp is ready for 4K/120fps gaming, and even 8K video, will seal the deal. Yes, it would have been nice to have more 8K-enabled inputs, but that’s not going to be a reality for several years yet. Consider this a home cinema amp equipped for the here and now, and tech yet to come. It’s stunning.
Powerful and entertaining, with 8K connectivity, this is nothing less than the future of home cinema.
denon avc x4700h price
DOLBY ATMOS: Yes
IMAX ENHANCED: Yes
POWER OUTPUT (CLAIMED): 9 x 125W (into 8 ohms)
MULTICHANNEL INPUT: No
MULTICHANNEL OUTPUT: Yes. 11.2
MULTIROOM: Yes. Three zones
AV INPUTS: 3 x composite; 4 x digital audio (2 x optical and 2 x coaxial); 6 x stereo phono; MM phono input
HDMI: Yes. 8 x inputs; 3 x outputs
VIDEO UPSCALING: Yes. To 4320p
COMPONENT VIDEO: Yes. 2 x inputs; 1 output
DIMENSIONS: 434(w) x 167(h) x 379(d)mm
ALSO FEATURING: HEOS multiroom compatible; Amazon Alexa/Google Assistant/ Siri voice compatibility; Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room calibration; eARC; ALAC, FLAC, WAV (to 24-bit/192kHz) and DSD 2.8/5.6MHz media playback; Ethernet; Wi-Fi; Bluetooth; USB; AirPlay 2; net radio; Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization; VRR, QFT, ALLM and QMS; 4K/120Hz and 8K/60Hz passthrough via HDMI
The Denon is specced for a high-performance home theatre – so is this premium 4K disc-spinner from Panasonic. Multi-HDR capable, with setup flexibility and exceptional build quality.
Denon X Series goes 8K
The Denon AVC-X6700H, the EISA-winning AVC-X4700H, AVC-X3700H, and AVR-X2700H will each carry 8K HDMI silicon on one dedicated 8K HDMI input, enabling 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz video pass-through.
The two top models support all key immersive audio formats including Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, IMAX Enhanced and Auro-3D out-of-box. The top AVC-X6700H will also support DTS:X Pro for up to 13 channels of DTS:X decoding with speaker configurations such as 7.2.6 or 9.2.4. Listeners can also enjoy the latest in IMAX Enhanced films in 7.2.6 or 9.2.4 speaker configurations thanks to newly adopted 13.2-channel processing capabilities with external amplification.
All X-Series models support HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG versions of High Dynamic Range, as well as 4:4:4 Pure Color subsampling and BT.2020 pass-through. They can stream multichannel audio from a TV using eARC, and there’s full gaming compatibility with 4K/120, VRR, QFT, QMS and ALLM supported. One handy new HDMI feature is Quick Media Switching, which aims to eliminate handshaking screen blackout when a source switches resolution or frame rate.
Individually the AVC-X6700H supports 11 channels of 205W amplification with 13.2-channel processing, the AVC-X4700H and AVC-X3700H support up to 9 channels of amplification (200 and 180W respectively) and 11.2-channel processing. The AVR-X2700H supports 7 channels of amplification rated at 150W.
Denon now also supports a new “Pre-Amplifier” mode for the AVC-X3700H, AVC-X4700H and AVC-X6700H, previ-ously only found on Denon’s flagship AVC-X8500H. Pre-Amplifier mode provides a clear signal path and 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.
And you can share the joy around a home, since the HEOS wireless multiroom platform is onboard all models.
The top two receivers are available now, with the other two following in October and November. More info www.denon.com.au
Sound United HDMI 2.1 fix
Dubbed the SPK618, this adapter will sit between the gaming console source and the receiver, and deliver ‘corrected HDMI data to the AVR.’ Sound United says this will remedy the error and allow a ‘4K/120Hz or 8K signal to pass.’
The arrival of the HDMI 2.1 ‘bug’, as it became known, was first reported last year by German technology magazine C’T, and was subsequently confirmed by Sound United, whose Denon and Marantz brands were the only ones to have HDMI 2.1-equipped AVRs and receivers on the market.
The company said at the time it was working on a permanent solution to the problem, which would require a hardware, rather than firmware, upgrade.
One more thing…
Denon and Marantz owners with Xbox Series X consoles will no doubt be happy, but there’s no getting away from the fact this fix involves adding another box to an AV setup.
At least the SPK618, which requires mains power, has an unobtrusive ‘low-profile’ design (it’s basically a black box) and should be easy to tuck out of sight. It features a single HDMI 2.1 input and HDMI 2.1 output, and will ship with an HDMI cable.
The adapter is being offered free-of-charge to owners of the following AV receiver and AV processor models:
Denon AVC-A110, AVC-X6700H, AVC-X4700H, AVC-X3700H, AVR-X2700H, AVR-X2700HDAB, AVR-S960H.
Marantz AV7706, SR8015, SR7015, SR6015, SR5015, SR5015DAB, NR1711 (pictured).
Anyone in the UK, Germany, France or the Netherlands who wants to receive one should head to www.denon.com/hdmiadapter or www.marantz.com/hdmiadapter for more information. Owners outside of those countries are advised to contact the retailer where they purchased their product.
Says Sound United: ‘Customers who have an affected receiver will not need to ship anything or retrofit their products at home.’
www.denon.com / www.marantz.com
Denon ups its AVR game
Clearly targeted at both home cinema enthusiasts and gamers, the new AVRs all feature a dedicated 8K-capable HDMI input–and dual 8K-capable outputs–among their 8-in/3-out connections bank, allowing 8K/60 and 4K/120 passthrough.
Further HDMI-based features new to the range include HDR10+ compatibility, VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) support, and Quick Media Switching (QMS) and Quick Frame Transport (QFT) features.
QMS is an HDMI 2.1 trick that, says Denon, ‘allows a source to instantly switch the resolution or frame rate to eliminate screen blackout.’ QFT, meanwhile, is a gamer-friendly feature that reduces latency, and is rated by the HDMI Licensing Administrator as delivering ‘no-lag gaming, and real-time interactive virtual reality.’
Turned up to 11
At the top of the four new models sits the AVCX6700H, an 11-channel design rated at 11 x 205W via Denon’s discrete monolithic amplifier architecture. The receiver borrows the dual SHARC+ core DSP chip design of Denon’s flagship 13-channel AVC-X8500H.
Format support covers Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, IMAX Enhanced and Auro-3D. Capable of 13.2-channel processing (through the use of an external amplifier), it will receive a firmware update later in 2020 enabling DTS:X Pro decoding for 7.2.6 or 9.2.4 speaker setups.
Stepping down the range, the AVC-X4700H (available now) claims 9 x 200W of onboard power and 11-channel processing, again with Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, IMAX Enhanced and Auro-3D compatibility.
Below this are the nine-channel AVCX3700H, which misses out on Auro-3D, and the AVR-X2700H, a seven-channel design supporting Dolby Atmos and DTS:X decoding for 5.1.2 setups, or traditional 7.1.
As expected from Denon, all four models integrate the HEOS streaming audio platform, allowing a cinema room to become a zone within a wireless multiroom system. There’s also Apple AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth support, the latter with transmission to Bluetooth headphones.
When it comes to system fine-tuning, Denon is continuing its partnership with Audyssey. The top-tier Audyssey MultEQ XT32 system resides on the three AVC models, with a new Dual Speaker Setup Preset feature to allow calibration and quick switching between two speaker configurations –stereo and multichannel, for instance.
Other features of Denon’s new AVRs include HDMI eARC; hi-res audio playback (24-bit/192kHz ALAC, FLAC and WAV, plus DSD 2.8MHz/5.6MHz); Roon Tested certification; and Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple Siri voice control.
Says Denon of its new X-Series: ‘With incredible picture quality and immersive audio decoding capabilities, it’s easier than ever to replicate the theatre experience at home.’ www.denon.co.uk