With the AVC-X4800H, Denon presents a complete and powerful AV receiver with which you can build a very extensive home cinema. And it’s not just a minor update to last year’s AVC-X4700H. The new receiver brings a lot of new functions, including support for four subs and Dirac.
The Denon AVC-X4800H can be regarded as the accessible top model in the new AV receiver line-up of the venerable Japanese brand, more or less anyway, because there is also the mighty AV-A1H as the real flagship. But that is a 15.4 receiver of 32 kg and 7,000 euros expensive. Rather something for a different audience, we think. Usually, there should also be an 11-channel AVR-X6800H (the ‘8’ in the name is the 2023 generation) positioned even higher than the AV receiver we’re looking at here. But so far, there is no trace of that model. Just like the cheaper AVR-X1800H, it is still missing in action. And we don’t know if it ever will.
And so, this 9.4 AV receiver of 2,599 euros is an accessible high-end option for those looking for a powerful engine for their home cinema. After all, power is what this Denon model is all about. The (much) cheaper AVR-X3800H offers 9.4 channels and can do the same on paper. However, the AVC-X4800H’s monoblock amplification section is much more powerful and better suited to delivering dynamic peaks – explosions, gunshots, and John Williams going wild with the horns.
|What||9.4 AV receiver|
|Assets||9 x 125 Watts|
|Inputs||7 x HDMI 2.1, 2 x optical, 2 x coaxial, 6 x cinch, phono|
|Outputs||HDMI-eARC, 2 x HDMI, pre-out (11 channels), 4 x sub-out|
|streaming||HEOS app, AirPlay 2, Bluetooth, DLNA|
|Extras||Audyssey MultEQ XT32, Dirac, smart home integration|
|Dimensions||43.4 x 38.9 x 16.7 cm|
Silver or black?
From afar, the AVC-X4800H resembles the Denon receivers of previous years and even the cheaper models. In terms of design, AVR designers like consistency and functionality. If you are working with the device, you will notice it is a better-finished model. For example, the housing is a bit more solid with a metal front panel. The flap just below the screen hiding the many buttons for advanced options is heavy. This device is therefore built in Japan, in contrast to the cheaper AV receivers that roll off the production line elsewhere in Asia. As always with Denon, you can get the AVC-X4800H in a silver or black version.
Completely on time
We are now entirely past the point that HDMI 2.1 is half-heartedly implemented on AV receivers, at least at Denon. All seven HDMI inputs on the AVC-X4800H support 4K120/8K60 and a more comprehensive HDR range, so you can easily connect to a next-gen console. There are three HDMI outputs; two also support 8K output. Regarding HDR standards, this Denon is also entirely up to date. Dolby Vision and HDR10+ are the most important; in our opinion, this device also supports Dynamic HDR – a standard that may one day be relevant. Legacy video inputs are still there, and Denon is one of the few that still offers it.
Everything is also present regarding audio standards: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Auro3D (Auro-Matic, particularly, knows how to mix stereo music beautifully), and 360 Reality Audio (MPEG-H derivative). However, we have to think carefully about how you can play music in this format from Sony from an HDMI source. After all, streaming is not possible. To be honest, we don’t immediately see a way.
In terms of audio connectivity, the Denon AVC-X4800H is also well-equipped. We can’t imagine owning more audio sources than you can connect to those seven analog inputs (one for MM turntables) or four digital inputs.
The presence of full pre-outs (eleven channels) plus two zones and four subwoofer outputs also gives you a lot of room to move in the future. For example, if you prefer to have those stereo channels handled by a high-end stereo amplifier, for example. In the interface, you can indicate per channel whether you want to work via the pre-outs or the loudspeaker outputs.
Options presented in razor-sharp detail
It was already covered in our recent review of the Marantz Cinema 70s: Denon and Marantz receivers (which use the same software) finally have an interface suitable for large 4K screens and projection in higher resolutions. It was not such a breaking point, but it is nice that the menus on this AVC-X4800H look sharper and more modern than ever. It also helps that the new receivers receive a hardware update, which makes navigating through the many menus smooth. The difference with our Denon AVR-X6300H is striking in that respect. It’s almost like we’re wading through syrup on the older receiver…
The fact that the user experience has now been modernized is significant. With an AV receiver, you will often dive into the settings, especially when you are fine-tuning the device in the first weeks. You also want to do that without delays and in appropriate quality.
In addition, Denon has been setting the tone for years regarding user-friendliness. It maintains that lead with clearly designed menus that allow you to quickly find the suitable options, especially on a receiver for advanced users like this, which also translates into many choices. We have mainly thought about how diverse a home cinema can be filled in. You can build very different setups with nine channels of this device, up to 5.4.4. Because processing and pre-outs are provided for eleven channels, you can even go up to 7.4.4 or 5.4.6 if you add an extra stereo amplifier. That flexibility is also available at the level of the speakers themselves. For example, you can opt for height channels on the wall at the front and two Dolby speakers at the back that reflect sound from the ceiling. That is not possible with every AV receiver.
Note that the four subwoofers can be controlled individually. That promises if this receiver gets its Dirac update, hopefully with support for Dirac Bass Live Management.
But the Setup Assistant, with which you can quickly set up this device, remains distinctive in terms of ease of use. The setup With an AV receiver is a bit more complex than with an average stereo amplifier or soundbar. The added value of such an assistant with a high-end receiver such as this is something you can discuss. You are taken by the hand, step by step. An installer or someone at home in Surround will find that too compelling. But laymen will appreciate this, including the instructions on correctly connecting cables. In any case, getting started with a device like this lowers the threshold.
Now also web interface
Like most other Denon AV receivers, you can operate the AVC-X4800H differently. What immediately strikes us is that the supplied remote control is slimmer and less massive than before. It remains a typical AVR remote with many buttons, but the chance that you innocently press the wrong button has become more negligible. We also see an HDMI button that lets you quickly switch between the three HDMI outputs. Handy if, for example, you use a second TV in the kitchen or combine a TV with a projector that is only used on movie nights.
We prefer to operate Denon receivers with the Denon AVR app on a tablet (Android or iOS). Functionally, it does precisely what you would want it to do. It quickly replaces the remote and gives access to many settings. Not all, however, but because the new generation of Denons has a web interface you can quickly reach from the app, that is not a stumbling block. You can adjust deeper settings without pushing away the content on the screen.
Audyssey or Dirac?
An AV receiver is best adjusted with the built-in room calibration software. Denon has opted for the Audyssey software for years in the more extensive MultEQ XT32 variant. You will find the necessary measuring microphone and an ingenious cardboard tripod in the box. Handy (although we prefer to use a photo tripod ourselves) because you can position the microphone at the correct (ear) height. That is an absolute must for a good calibration.
Following the Setup Assistant or starting the measurement later will guide you through the procedure. You can also invest 20 euros in Audyssey’s MultEQ Editor app to adjust curves manually after the measurements. It is recommended if you want to dive deeper into the matter. The advantage is also that you can save the measurement to adjust it several times later. Now that’s even more useful because you get two slots for speaker setups.
From this year – and therefore also with the AVC-X4800H – Denon offers you not one but two calibration options. In addition to Audyssey, which the brand has been offering for years, there will soon be an alternative in the form of Dirac. The firmware update required for this will appear this month.
The sophisticated Dirac software is regarded as the best acoustic solution available but requires a little more knowledge and effort to set up. And in this case: also some extra investments. To use Dirac, you must purchase another measurement microphone (we recommend the UMIK-1) and the Dirac software. You quickly lose an extra 200 euros, an investment we have seen done before by professionals and people who are a bit further in their home cinema adventure.
HEOS as a platform
Somehow it is extraordinary that there is a separate app for streaming. Although it does ensure that family members who want to play music are not accidentally lost in complex settings. That division in terms of apps is because Denon (and Marantz) use a different streaming platform, HEOS. Previously intended to rival Sonos, HEOS has now evolved into a broader platform that mainly appears on audio devices. Although, with the wireless Denon Home speakers, the Japanese brand also has alternatives to Sonos speakers. The bottom line is that you can build a more varied multi-room system with HEOS. An AVC-X4800H in the living room, for example, a Marantz mini system in the bedroom, and a pair of Denon Home speakers in the kitchen it’s just an example of how flexible you are. An advantage is that you can easily forward connected sources to other HEOS devices. You can also play a record player hanging on the Denon receiver in the kitchen.
In the HEOS app, you will find everything about streaming: a limited number of streaming services (Amazon, Deezer, Tidal, and Soundcloud), and the possibility to play your music files over the network or from USB and internet radio. A strong point of the HEOS platform is the excellent support for hires files. Not every obscure format will play, but DSD, for example, will. In terms of presentation, the HEOS app is remarkably sober, especially if you compare it to the rich music interfaces that software such as Roon or Volumio now offers.
There are still plenty of options for streaming: AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, and Bluetooth (including the handy option to connect Bluetooth headphones). In short, although HEOS does not support that many services, you can find a way to play your favorite service through these other options.
Also for gaming
As usual, we placed the Denon receiver in the AV rack to connect it to the fixed 5.1.4 setup with DALI Rubicon speakers and Alteco models for the height channels. We will stick to one subwoofer for this test, an ELAC Sub 2050. We will therefore skip the possibility of integrating up to four subs in these tests, but we will dive deeper into this when we get started with the AVC-A1H. On the source side, we use an Oppo UDP-203, an Apple TV 4K, and – a new addition – a PlayStation 5.
We’ll start with that since we’ve had to wait a long time for that PS5. Unfortunately, the Sony KD-65AF9 in the test room is not equipped with HDMI 2.1; it’s a great TV, but we can’t test 4K/120 on it.
Games like Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War are always cinematic anyway; the opening credits, with ‘Spirit in the Sky’ and Ronald Reagan giving a speech, come in strong. With the Dolby Surround game audio mode turned on, the music envelops us convincingly as we receive our marching orders from the president. In terms of scene-setting, this is fine. A difference between games and movies is that the surround image is very moving; in a movie, the sound effects are anchored to the screen. In an AV receiver and speaker setup, we are mainly looking for the ability to move sound effects quickly (for example, if your game character turns around) and bring dynamic effects through all channels.
The Denon succeeds very well in this, and we also note that the sub is perfectly integrated (we also used ELAC’s built-in correction). This ensures that explosions are powerful but also well-defined. Key audio details don’t get lost in the action – great. Regarding positioning sound effects, the Denon also does an excellent job, allowing us to respond quickly to the action based on what we hear. Directions from your team members (“Get fucking moving!”) while you hunt for Iranian terrorists in the stairwell of an Amsterdam building come from behind; it is indeed as if they are covering your back. When a few shooters fire at the team from a higher roof a little later, we immediately have the impression that shots are coming from something above the TV. Not bad because this is up mixed content,
It gets quite hectic during the chase through the roofs, but the Denon receiver also knows how to hold the reins at higher volumes without any problems. In short, although the AVC-X4800H does not focus on refined detail – the speakers also play a role here, of course – the receiver does respond sharply and correctly to the dynamic sound scene. It’s a huge upgrade over even the best soundbar.
Powerful and enveloping
We are very curious how the Denons will eventually perform with Dirac. But honestly, the Audyssey measurement we have now performed already yields a successful result. Integration in the front of the room and with the height channels is perfect, we notice when we watch an episode of the second season of ‘Carnival Row’ (Amazon Video, Dolby Atmos). The surround channels in the back are a bit too dominant; it is handy that you can easily adjust the levels of individual channels via the remote or the Denon app.
In recent years there have been more series and films that delved deep into the harsh living environment of the Vikings. ‘The Northman’ (Dolby Atmos) is a more recent foray, one that focuses less on the raids in Western Europe, but the familiar ‘righteous blond king’ is slain by a sly black-haired brother in front of his frail son who, years later transforms into a muscular avenger’ card. It won’t win a prize for originality, but the sound production is pretty good. Including the dreamy rite of passage of Prince Amleth, where the atmosphere of drugged detachment is effectively conveyed. A little later – spoiler alert – arrows fly out of the forest, sound effects that are brought clearly and correctly positioned by the Denon. In our opinion, Denon places more emphasis on the total surround experience and dynamics and slightly less on micro detail. But that is not a bad choice for gaming and movies, as we also notice with ’47 Ronins’ (Apple Movies, Dolby Atmos). The battle between John Wick – sorry, Keanu Reeves – and the dragon gets a high level of spectacle through the Denon. The music is perhaps too put down compared to the sound effects, significantly affecting the center channel. It is helpful that we can quickly switch on the well-functioning Speech Enhancement function via the Options button. In Denon’s case, offering many functions does not mean you lose time during a movie night to fine-tune the display quickly.
The Denon AVC-X4800H is an AV receiver from the upper middle class that still offers a lot of a flagship. You can build a more extensive surround setup with it, while the interface excels in user-friendliness and flexibility. Those two things rarely go hand in hand, but Denon has mastered that balance well. The AVC-X4800H is also well-equipped when it comes to power and dynamics. That makes it effortlessly suitable as a motor for larger home cinemas where action films are regularly featured. Features such as support for four subwoofers, the web interface, and Dirac complete the picture, even for demanding users.
- Perfectly reproduces dynamic sound effects
- Very flexible in terms of setups and configurations
- Suitable for larger home theaters
- Preouts on 11.4 channels
- Wide codec support
- Dirac certainly still requires investment
- HEOS app may be refreshed in terms of experience
- Price gap compared to the lower model