The 8 Best Denon Receivers
This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in August of 2018. All too often people buy a big TV to enjoy a cinema-like experience at home, yet forget that the sound is just as important as the picture. Because Denon is known for making top quality AV receivers, we've put together a list of their best models, with a range of intelligent and powerful features. Here you'll find options to fit every budget, and to suit every type of listener. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
October 21, 2020:
A handful of the company's most prominent models saw recent upgrades, including the new AVR-X4700H 9.2 and the S-Series 960H. In their most expensive models, one of the biggest new additions is the 8K passthrough functionality that should theoretically futureproof those selections from the coming advent of 8K televisions. Many models only feature the one 8K input, however, so by the time all your gaming and streaming devices catch up and output in 8K, you might need an upgrade.
Even that 960 model has an 8K in and out, but it should be noted that the company hasn't raised the unit's wattage per channel. At 90 watts each, it is more powerful than some other models like the Denon AVR-X1600H, but it still can't compete with their more expensive offerings. Another thing to look for in some of these models is height virtualization like you see on the X-Series 6700H, which comes from dedicated outputs designed to feed speakers set up in the ceiling or at the upper corners of the room, creating a hemispherical audio landscape that's even more immersive than surround sound.
July 06, 2019:
Denon is pretty well-known for their high-quality home audio products, and their all-in-one AV receivers are no exception. Thankfully, you don't have to shell out a ton to land yourself a functional and great-sounding surround sound controller. The S540BT is worth a look if you're on a strict budget and want to remain loyal to the brand, but if you can afford it, the S650H is probably worth the extra money. The S750H and X3500H are mid-range options that will serve many households well, as long as you don't plan on needing an entire 11 or 13 channels. The X4500H is pretty costly, but it's also an excellent balance of power and flexibility. Then there are the 6500 and 8500; these are super-high-end devices that only those truly dedicated to home theater may appreciate. If you plan on going all-out with your speaker setup and have the cash, give these a look.
Also keep in mind some of Denon's more interesting technologies. Their HEOS wireless streaming makes it very easy to run a multi-room audio system without laying down any wires, and IP integration allows you to control the setup through your smartphone. Also worth mentioning is the Audyssey equalizer adjustment. It uses a microphone to listen back to the unit's sound after it's been installed and adjust itself accordingly, ensuring that all the speakers sound as good as they possibly can, without requiring you to have experience in fine-tuning a sound system. We think that's both clever and useful.
AVR-A110 Anniversary Edition Released to commemorate the company's 110th year in business, this model combines the bulk of their most lauded technologies, including a whopping eight height virtualization channels. It also offers dual optical inputs, 3D audio processing, and 8K upscaling to bring all of your content to the cutting edge. It is an especially expensive selection, however. denon.com
The Most Important Receiver Features
Most receivers will offer HDMI inputs that allow you to pass your source media through the receiver before it goes to your TV and your speakers.
Whether you’re setting up a home theater or creating a space for appreciating music on a whole new level, one of these Denon receivers is surely going to offer you everything you could need. Understanding which one is best for you is going to come down to a number of features, however, as well as your available budget. If you can afford it, it’s always better to get a little more receiver than you may think you need, as you can grow into it rather than out of it.
One of the most important things to consider when comparing receivers is the type and number of inputs. Most receivers will offer HDMI inputs that allow you to pass your source media through the receiver before it goes to your TV and your speakers. The receiver can split this signal for something like a movie, sending only the picture to your screen and the audio to your speaker array. That’s why it’s important for at least one of those HDMI channels to offer a passthrough that’s at least the resolution of your television. Most offer 4K passthrough, allowing you to send a 4K signal through the receiver and to the television without losing any resolution.
Beyond HDMI inputs, you’ll want to make sure you have proper inputs for a variety of other media. If you want to hook up your computer to share media that way, a VGA port could come in handy. And vinyl aficionados will want a dedicated phono input, because they know that record players require preamps to perform at their best. Merely plugging one into any old ¼-inch or 3.5mm jack won’t give it enough of a boost, forcing you to push your receiver’s volume to the max without much benefit.
Another vital feature to consider is a receiver’s interface. Some receivers offer small screens and minimal front panels, relying heavily on the remote to get things done. But the ability to make adjustments right on your receiver while plugging in new media or making other changes to your entertainment system is always a nice benefit that will streamline setup and use. Don’t let your first look at some Denon models fool you, though. A few of their nicest offerings look deceptively simple at first glance, but a peek behind an aesthetically designed panel will reveal a whole host of additional controls built onto the face of the receiver.
Secondary Features That Might Tip The Scales
While the big things like an intuitive interface and enough of the right kind of inputs are vital for being able to set up and use your receiver without losing your mind or having to upgrade the moment you get a new gaming console, there are somewhat less consequential features that might still prove to be the difference between one model and another, especially when dealing with a brand that offers so many similar products.
You want to be able to memorize its functions effortlessly, and to reach the most commonly used buttons like volume and input source, without repositioning your grip on it.
One of these secondary features is known as HEOS, and it allows you to send an audio signal wirelessly to certain speakers. This can help you set up a pair of wireless satellite speakers in a surround sound environment or establish a second room in the house that can enjoy the same audio playing in your main entertainment space, all without having to run any cable through your walls. That can save you hours in setup and troubleshooting.
Another popular feature available with many, but not all Denon models is room tuning. These receivers will come with small microphones that can analyze the sound patterns bouncing around your room and automatically make adjustments to things like balance and EQ, so that you don’t have to mess with overly complicated controls to get the best sound available. Of course, this technology has some limitations, but it can be a great place to start for most users who can then make minor tweaks from there to achieve the sound profile they prefer.
Then, you can begin to scrutinize that remote, which should offer you every parameter that the receiver itself does and then some — and, ideally, it should do this without confusing you too much and with an intuitive placement of buttons for a relaxed hand position. You want to be able to memorize its functions effortlessly, and to reach the most commonly used buttons like volume and input source, without repositioning your grip on it.
A Brand You Can Trust
Since the modern electronics landscape is littered with fly-by-night, unpronounceable brand names for everything from DVD players to camera equipment, it’s more important than ever that your most foundational components come from trusted manufacturers. One of the things that can establish that trust is time, and Denon has been producing innovative and reliable electronics for more than a century.
Their 2018 release of a 13.2-channel surround system is a great example of this.
Founded in Japan in 1910 by an American named Frederick Whitney Horn, Denon takes its name from two of the syllables in its overly long original name: Nippon 'Denki Onkyo Kabushikigaisha. That’s a mouthful. They started out as the first Japanese producer of cylinder discs for recording and playing music, and by the 1950s, they became the first manufacturer of Japanese LPS. It’s been all about audio quality from the beginning, it would seem.
The company collected a number of awards for design and product quality over the years, including the prestigious Montreux International Diplome d’honneur Technique. But Horn’s company didn’t rest on its laurels, instead forging ahead to be the company that developed and released the CD-ROM format in 1984. Thirty years later, they introduced their wireless HEOS functionality, allowing users to establish wireless surround systems in their homes.
It seems the company is intent on continuing in the spirit of innovation, pushing the boundaries of what their receivers are capable of, and forcing consumers to rethink what they want their entertainment systems to be able to do. Their 2018 release of a 13.2-channel surround system is a great example of this. It may seem like overkill in the moment, but given the company’s track record, it’s likely the future of audio design.