Denon recently presented a number of new AV receivers, including the AVR-X250BT. This model is with a price of 279 euros a real entry model but still with several interesting features to control your home cinema. In this review we look at the Denon AVR-X250BT extensively.
Denon line-up cheap AV receivers
The bottom part of the av receiver line-up of Denon consists of the AVR-X250BT (279 euro) and AVR -X550BT (349 euros) AV receivers. These cheap AV receivers have to do without network compatibility, but they do have bluetooth so you can still stream music. They both have a 5-channel structure with 130 watts of power per channel, 4K and HDR support, Dolby TrueHD & DTS-HD support and five HDMI inputs. The AVR-X550BT has the additional features of a bluetooth app, support for Dolby Vision, a second subwoofer output, a USB port on the front and automatic speaker calibration.
Denon AVR-X250BT – specs and features
The Denon AVR-X250BT is a 5.1 channel receiver, with a capacity of 130 watts per channel. The receiver can control a 5.1 / 2-channel setup, so Dolby Atmos and DTS:X are not possible. However, the receiver has support for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The device is equipped with five HDMI inputs with support for HDCP 2.2 (on three inputs) and support for 4K Ultra HD on 60Hz, HDR (HDR10 and HLG), ARC and HDMI CEC. Streaming is one of the areas that have been saved because there is no WiFi and there are no streaming services on board. So you have to do it with bluetooth, by streaming music from a phone or tablet. Furthermore, the receiver comes with the well-known set-up assistant from Denon and the well-known Intelligent ECO mode, which makes the energy consumption transparent and adaptable.
Denon AVR-X250BT – First impression
Once from the box, of course, it is obvious that we are dealing with an entry-level receiver. If we compare this device with the AVR-X6400H that we have, we see, among other things, that there are standard loudspeaker connections instead of screw connections, that the number of connections is considerably reduced and that the connections are not gilded. In addition, the device obviously weighs a lot less than its more expensive family members. But, that is all to be expected when we look at the price. However, the front still has a real Denon look; simple, tight and neatly finished. It may be an entry-level model, Denon does not give the device a cheap appearance.
In this review we use a LG E6V-series OLED TV for the reproduction of video material, Spotify for streaming music, a USB stick with high-res audio, the Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray player for the display of CDs and (Ultra HD) Blu-ray discs, and the B & W CM S2 series loudspeaker system for optimal audio playback.
Denon AVR-X250BT – Operation and installation
We can be quite short in installation and operation. Where Denon holds on to the well-known TV interface for the majority of his AV receivers, they go a step back for the AVR-X250BT. This TV interface looks like a Mario game from 30 years ago and can only be used in English.
Now we do not find the old-fashioned design a big problem – certainly not because it just works fast and clear – and with we can also live the English language, but it is no longer of this time, even for an entry-level model. The menu and the setup assistant are well structured and easy to use, which is what counts. Everything is controlled purely and solely by the included remote control. There are no network functions on board, so an app can not be used. In terms of placement, you only have to allow enough room for the appliance to lose its heat.
The installation is a piece of cake, because you are guided through the most important settings and connections in a few simple steps. Among other things, connecting the speakers and sources is explained. Furthermore, it is not very exciting because the absence of Audyssey (there is no automatic calibration on board) and streaming options, the menu is not very extensive.
As said, there is no automatic calibration on board. This means that you can only do some advanced adjustments manually for audio playback. So you can set the distance to the speakers, what the crossover should be and how much dB each speaker should be reduced or raised. That may be too much for the beginner, so choosing an audio / surround mode is the only option. If you want automatic calibration with a microphone, you can go for the AVR-X550BT.
The remote control that Denon with the AVR-X250BT delivers is a very simple, which we also understand given the price. It is a completely plastic remote control with a limited number of buttons. This allows you to quickly and easily select the desired input, adjust the volume and access the menu. You can also automate something via the Quick Select buttons. The remote is easy to handle and the receiver responds quickly to input.
Denon AVR-X250BT – In use
What is important to mention is that it is a 5.1-channel receiver and you can also connect up to five speakers and a subwoofer. Frequently-heard terms such as Dolby Atmos and DTS: X can be forgotten with this model. However, there is support for high definition audio formats such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.
Music streaming (bluetooth)
The use of the AVR-X250BT is quite simple, especially because it lacks most advanced options which we see on more expensive receivers. The package has also been depleted in the area of streaming. You only have access to bluetooth to play files from a tablet, smartphone or other device. Select the receiver on your smartphone and then play the music you want to hear. A child can do the laundry. Via the receiver itself you have no access to, for example, your NAS or services like Spotify, but everything that you can play on your mobile devices can be played via Bluetooth via the receiver. Incidentally, the AVR-X250BT is compatible with the HEOS Link if you want to make the receiver part of a multiroom network. Unfortunately, the receiver does not have a USB port, which we would have liked to see again. But, the 70 euro more expensive AVR-X550BT does have it here.
Denon AVR-X250BT – Audio quality
The ease of use and the features of the AVR-X250BT is good, but the most important part is of course the audio quality. In our test room and home theater, which is fully optimized in terms of acoustics, we have the Bowers & Wilkins CM S2 series in a 5.1-channel setup. The subwoofer is the B & W ASW610XP and the Oppo UDP-203 takes care of the reproduction of films.
Let us first say that we can not compare the AVR-X250BT with the AVR-X6400H that we normally have. That is really a world of difference, both in terms of price and in terms of performance, possibilities and use. More important is the question whether you can also enjoy a piece of music or film with an affordable receiver and a good loudspeaker system.
And the answer to that question can be answered directly with ‘yes’. Of course, the possibilities are limited, because only that which can be sent via bluetooth or via an HDMI or audio connection comes in through the speakers sound. Streaming music via bluetooth is the lesser option because in all cases it is still compressed content. Yet that does not have to be a big problem, because the AVR-X250BT lets our Spotify music with enough details, tight bass lines and a wide audio field. It is and will not be a high-quality reproduction, but it offers enough to show your music collection with quite a bit of dynamism. Still, there is some ‘body’ that makes the distance between the artist and the listener seem larger. The receiver also makes it somewhat more difficult to control the Bowers & Wilkins loudspeakers with the more intense pieces on, for example, the Muse album. Even if we turn up the volume a little bit further, it may be somewhat messy for those who are more accustomed.
If we connect the Oppo media player and we have the music completely wired to the receiver then there is Something along with the view. The receiver still lacks control at high volumes and music with a lot of dynamics and power to steer the loudspeakers very tight, but we did not expect anything else. The audio field, however, is convincingly wide, the vocals sound clear and warm, and even in the low we get enough ‘punch’. All in all, the sound of the music just sounds nice and smooth, without really disturbing us.
The AVR-X250BT is of course a multi-channel AV receiver and should therefore show what it can do with multichannel content . We have a complete Dolby Atmos setup, but we can only use the 5.1 channel setup with this model. It is important to know that 4K Ultra HD and HDR are supported via the HDMI ports, but that Dolby Vision is not supported. For this review we have looked at Everest, Jumanji and Deadpool.
First of all, it must be said that the lack of automatic calibration makes it somewhat more difficult to adjust the receiver optimally for a specific room. Our space is measured and most of the data can be used to partially adjust the receiver, but for the novice users who do not / can not, space remains an important factor that affects the display without calibration. Now this will play a lesser role in this price category, but it is something to be reckoned with.
Nevertheless, the audio track of the films mentioned has certainly attracted us at many times. The AVR-X250BT knows how to provide a spacious and lively display with average volume. The space between the speakers is sufficiently filled with effects, which definitely benefits the surround experience. Dialogues are clear and easily understood and the placement in the room is good. The receiver convinces in both subtle and powerful surround effects, tight bass and a broad and deep soundstage.
What is missing is that little extra power (and control) at high volumes and (in terms of audio) very dynamic scenes, but also that feeling of the low tones in your lower abdomen and the really sparkling and detailed high tones are missing. The receiver lacks the flexibility and especially the power to – our loudspeakers – balanced, tight and convincing when there is more demanding. But, again, that is no surprise given the price point.
It is of course to which speakers you want to send and what those of the receiver ask, but looking at the price range in which we are then we can actually talk about the audio reproduction especially positive. After all, it is a real entry model, with of course limitations. If you do not want too much volume in terms of volume, this device will certainly not disappoint.
Denon AVR-X250BT – Conclusion
The Denon AVR-X250BT is priced at a price of 279 euros, but also a receiver for a specific target group. Especially those who do not need all those extra (streaming) options and connections, who do not have a pricey loudspeaker system and do not have high demands on the audio output, with this model in the base just get an excellent receiver. If you do not push this model too much towards its max you can enjoy both music and film, because the right balance has been found. The device is friendly to use, looks like a real Denon and offers good value for money. There are also some downsides, such as the lack of control and flexibility as you turn up the volume knob a little further, the very old-fashioned TV interface, the lack of the USB port and the lack of automatic calibration. All in all, we can say that the AVR-X250BT in this price range will not easily disappoint, and for many starting home cinema fans a nice first purchase. If the USB port, Dolby Vision and the calibration are desired, then you can go for the 70 euro more expensive AVR-X550BT.