When we tested the Denon AVR-X2300 last year, we really missed only one thing: HEOS. But cheers, because Denon adds the multiroom function to the successor, the Denon AVR-X2400H. Is ‘very good’ becoming ‘great’?
It has almost become a tradition. After we watched the AVR-X2200 two years ago and the AVR-X2300 last year, it’s time for the latest iteration. This Denon AVR-X2400H costs just under 700 euros and is therefore at the price point where most AV receivers are sold. Or to put it differently: this is the device that all Denons will probably find a place with most consumers. But there is a lot of competition, with very similar features. That phenomenon has been around for some time.
But what about anno 2017? Denon is sending the new AVR-X2400H the pitch this year. It is a very similar device to its predecessor, but with a significant addition. Can Denon therefore stay ahead of the competition? That is what we read in this test of the Denon AVR-X2400H.
Denon AVR-X2400H: difficult battle
The competition in the AV receivers segment is very intense. The top brands publish new receivers every year, so that a shortcoming or defect in a model can be tackled the following year. If brand A is set to function X, then brand B can have an answer twelve months later. Last year Denon decided to bring HEOS to higher receiver models. Up to that point, this Sonos challenger consisted mainly of a series of wireless speakers and a soundbar. But the competition did not stop, especially Yamaha. That then brought his MusicCast function to lower price segments.
The decision that Denon made earlier this year was written in the stars: HEOS would be built into almost all new AV receivers, including the cheaper models. This brings us to the Denon AVR-X2400H, which has been improved mainly compared to the X2300 by the addition of the HEOS function. Although the previous model also had streaming options, such as Spotify Connect and Airplay, HEOS brings multiroom with it. So you can let the Denon AVR-X2400H play together with HEOS speakers. Unfortunately he can not do what the stylish ‘lifestyle’ HEOS AVR can: use HEOS speakers as rear channels. With this receiver you therefore have to connect all speakers with cables, as usual.
Denon AVR-X2400H: the sweet spot
In many ways this Denon is on the sweet spot, the place where you get a lot of functionality for a reasonable amount and a solid reinforcement. Well, the well-equipped family car that most people are happy with. If you want to build a dedicated home theater, you have to aim higher, for example in the direction of X4400H or X6400H. Name the two but the luxury SUV and the powerful premium limousine. If you are completely crazy about film sessions that are detected by seismographs, you should of course go for discrete surround processor and poweramp. But then you talk about an amount of at least six times the X2400H.
Just back to the real world. The Denon AVR-X2400H is a 7.2 receiver with Dolby Atmos and DTS: X support. You choose whether you place seven speakers at ear height or a 5.1 setup with two height speakers. These can be ceiling speakers or reflective Atmos speakers that you place on top of your floorstanders. The Denon interface is provided on those different types. It is also an option to place the last two speakers in a second zone, for example to control wired speakers in the dining room. The HEOS app is designed for this, although you can not play a separate music stream in the second zone.
The Denon AVR-X2400H changes very little to the design that now features Denon receivers for a few years now. It looks relatively modern, with a reasonably good display. You will not experience a real premium feeling now – the volume knob, for example, turns very lightly in the hand – but it is all very well.
Denon AVR-X2400H: connections to surplus
The AVR-X2400 has seven HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs. The receiver is ready for 4K and has HDCP 2.2 on board. The landscape of HDR standards is still in full swing, but this receiver is ready for most. HDR10 and Dolby Vision are no problem by default, for HLG it is waiting for an update that would appear in 2017. We do not have any information yet about HDR10 + , it is simply too early.
Denon is one of those manufacturers who continue to equip their receivers with legacy video connections, such as component. It does not hurt, of course, but we think it’s time to delete those connections. It would make the connection of an AV receiver seem a lot less complex for a layman. On audio level you can count on four cinch connections and two optical inputs. The latter two can be assigned to a video input, as it should be. A pre-out for a second zone and a connection for two subs complete the list.
The AVR-X2400 can be connected to the network via ethernet or via WiFi. We recommend a wired connection for an AV receiver, but WiFi also worked well in our test environment. Since the device also supports Airplay, connecting to the wireless network is child’s play if you have a recent iPhone or iPad. A few taps on your Apple tablet and the X2400H is online.
Denon AVR-X2400H: great setup
The first strong point of the X2400H you will meet a few seconds after plugging in and connecting to the TV. After choosing the menu language (Dutch is possible), you are guided gently by a very step-by-step plan for setting up the receiver. Clear images show you what needs to be plugged in, how to connect to the network, what is needed to perform the room measurement, and more. If you pay attention to it, there can be little error. Are you an expert, you can of course skip this.
An important step in the setup is the speaker calibration. Denon works with the Audessey system. The microphone and a do-it-yourself cardboard stand are included in the box. The tripod seems to be a toy, but it is very useful to ensure that the microphone is really at ear height when measuring. It can have an immense impact on the result.
When checked after the eight-step measurement, Audessey MultEQ XT seems to have estimated the distances of the speakers and the result sounds pretty good. You can manipulate all sorts of variables afterwards, but there was no great need for this.
Do you really want to dive into the various speaker settings, then the MultEQ app of 21 euros worth the purchase. With this app you can dive much deeper into expert settings on an iOS or Android device, more than is possible via the TV interface. There is only one thing you want to measure: you should use the app immediately immediately before you calibrate. Otherwise it will still ask to carry out the measurement again. You do not necessarily need this app, because in the Denon AVR app you can make basic adjustments (such as switching Dynamic EQ on and off).
Denon AVR-X2400H: streaming via HEOS
With the AVR-X2400H Denon did not really change the interface very much. That was not really necessary. The Denon menus are clear and well extended. Ok, that sounds like a contradiction, but we prefer menus that are not over-complex and immediately bring you to the most important – but at the same time allow fine tuning if necessary.
Yet one point of criticism: now that a receiver has to be 4K-ready and perhaps also ends with an Ultra HD screen with a high-end user, why are the menus still in such a low resolution? Of course you will not die of it, but it would be just a bit nicer if Denon aimed a bit higher here. The Onkyo TX-RZ1100, which we also have in our test room, presents album covers when listening to music much nicer.
Now the value of the TV interface is relative. Denon provides several apps to control the receiver: Denon AVR-remote and the HEOS-app. You see that dichotomy between an app for institutions and one for streaming, like with Onkyo and (formerly) with Yamaha. The optional MultEQ app is the third, for those who are at expert level.
The HEOS app is smartly organized. In three screens you reach by tapping the bottom of the screen. Under ‘Rooms’ the Denon AVR-X2400H appears with both zones that you can switch on separately but do not operate separately. Under “Music” all possible sources appear: streaming services, DLNA servers, USB media and also the physical (music) inputs on the receiver. So you can do the most from the HEOS app, although we do miss the TV audio that is supplied via ARC at this type of input . The third tab shows what is now playing.
The HEOS experience is simple and smooth to use, as it should be. Also linking with other HEOS speakers (we tried it with a single HEOS 1) goes smoothly. Better does not have to. In terms of streaming HEOS supports Spotify, Deezer, Napster, Soundcloud and Tidal, but we miss Qobuz. You can also listen to the radio via TuneIn. In terms of formats support is pretty good, but limited if you really are a fan of more obscure formats.
Yet you sometimes have to grab the remote or the Denon AVR app, perhaps if you want to switch from sound mode. If you listen to music as well as watch movies, you will not want to do all that with the same mode. Still prefer music in stereo and film in Dolby Surround-for example.
Denon AVR-X2400H: dynamically strong
For this test we used our (temporary) permanent set-up consisting of two Dali Opticon LCRs, an Opticon Vokal and two Opticon 1’s for the rear channels. The subwoofer of service was the Bowers & Wilkins DB2D that we tested recently – a sub that is more than a little overkill compared to the other speakers.
With this configuration, we set ourselves down with the usual DTS and Dolby test discs. The first impression is that the Denon AVR-X2400H shows a successful surround sound after the measurement and with the Reference setting, where we only really adjust to the levels of the rear channels. They are therefore closer to the listening position than what is appropriate – but that is often the case in practice.
A few days ago in our test room a relatively simple soundbar from Yamaha was set up, where we watched ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’. We are now doing the same with the Denon and Dali combination. Anyone who doubts the added value of the step from soundbar to surround setup should come and listen, the difference is day and night. Of course the difference in price tag is also significant …
If we switch to the new release of ‘Fast & Furious 8’, the Denon AVR-X2400H puts us in the front row. This is an action movie as you often come across: rich in audio effects in all channels and with lots of music in the soundtrack, and all of this in quick succession. Already in the first minutes it is already that far, with a violent street race in Havana between Dominic Toretto and a local Cuban hustler. It all ends in flames, like every time Toretto crawls behind a wheel.
The challenge is to present all of them separately and discreetly, something that the Denon receiver is quite competent at. The general presentation is weighty and detailed, and we will not soon encounter any limitations. Compared to our reference receiver, the X6300H, the X2400 is slightly less powerful when it becomes extremely dynamic and open. We were also pleasantly surprised when it came to music. HEOS opens the door to a lot of music and presents it very musically and with a sense of detail.
Denon AVR-x2400H: conclusion
The Denon AVR-X2400H is a particularly well-equipped receiver that scores well in many areas. Not surprising, because he builds on the excellent X2300. This is far from a totally new receiver, but a slightly better version. The addition of HEOS is simply very smart. HEOS as a platform may not be complete, but it works very well and supports the most popular services. The Denon interface is still the best in its class, although we must say that certainly Onkyo is no longer far behind. Yamaha has also worked hard to improve the installation and user menus. Yet Denon remains as a total package at the top.
One thing we really liked: the support for wireless rear-speakers. The HEOS AVR can do it and this is a function that many people would like to have. Maybe something for the X2500 next year?