Denon AVR-X4500H Review: Why so serious?

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4.8 VOTES: 64 TECHWEEK

The Denon AVR-X4500H is a 9.2 configuration AV receiver equipped with decoders for all the latest surround formats. With nine built-in power amplification channels, the device allows you to build a home theater system for sounding a fairly large room at no extra cost. And by adding an external stereo power amplifier based on this AV receiver, you can create an 11.2-channel system.

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The Denon AVR-X4500H receiver can process sound in object-oriented 3D formats Dolby Atmos, DTS: X and Auro 3D, as well as add additional spaciousness to recordings in conventional multichannel standards. The AV receiver’s new SHARK DSP and proprietary AL32 multichannel processor provide error-free real-time audio processing to achieve the exact sound that the director intended when making a movie. The newest 32-bit DAC AK4458VN for all channels is installed in the sound path of the device. The Denon AVRX4500H uses one of the most advanced Audyssey MultEQ XT32 calibration systems available today for automatic sound tuning. At the same time, its operation can be controlled using a special application, which further increases the flexibility of setting the Denon AVRX4500H.

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The AV receiver has eight HDMI inputs (three on the rear and one on the front), as well as three HDMI outputs, two of which can be used in the main zone and one in the secondary zone. All HDMI interfaces are compatible with 4K UHD video, support high dynamic range HDR, as well as HGL and Dolby Vision. The AV receiver’s powerful video processor upscales any input signal up to 4K resolution.

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The Denon AVR-X4500H has the latest networking functionality with support for a variety of online services, playback of files from available devices (PCM and DSD) and Wi-Fi connectivity. Also in the presence of a stable working Bluetooth, support for AirPlay and proprietary HEOS multi-room technology. For complete control over all functions of the device, you can use the proprietary Denon AVR Remote application, and, after the next firmware update, Alexa voice control will also become available.

Nearly every modern high-end AV receiver with premium audio is a nine-amp design. It would seem, why so many, if even home theater fans rarely use more than seven channels in their systems. But we have found the most worthy use for such an arsenal.

In terms of the design of the front part, you can’t say that this model is much more serious than the older seven-channel Denon AVR-X3500H , it is with it that the premium audiophile receivers with an advanced element base begin. However, we will talk about the differences later, but for now let’s look at the common features.

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It is immediately striking that the X4500H case has the same dimensions as the model one step below. The device can serve exactly the same number of sources and also supports signal output (including via HDMI) to the second zone. Its switching “peripherals” are almost identical to those of the AVR X3500H, differing from it only in a couple of added analog video outputs.

As with all Denon receivers in the 2018/2019 range, the video section is fully compliant with the latest HDMI and HDCP 2.2 specifications, and works with any 4K Ultra HD source with HDR, Dolby Vision and HLG support. All current wireless and multi-room functions are included – HEOS interface, Apple AirPlay 2, Bluetooth. At the same time, I will mention a couple of very useful innovations that almost the entire range of Denon receivers has acquired.

It is web-based management support that allows technicians to remotely diagnose end-user system settings using the SRM (Smart Remote Management) service from Domotz or Ihiji. Secondly, it features HDMI connection error detection and extended alerts when amplifier protections are triggered. Thirdly, these are the improved bass manager settings.

Let’s move on to the features and differences. Instead of a conventional remote control, our model comes with a programmable RC-1219. On the front side of the receiver there is a two-line display. On the rear panel, in addition to nine pairs of terminals for connecting acoustics, there is also an 11.2-channel “preout” for upgrading the system using additional power amplifiers. Of course, hardly anyone will connect 11 external power supplies, but the fact that there are so many outputs means that the X4500H uses a much more serious surround processor.

This is true – in addition to the usual and object-oriented Dolby Atmos and DTS: X, the device supports the most audiophile three-dimensional format Auro 3D, and all this is implemented on four high-speed SHARC DSP processors of the fourth generation.

The architecture of the digital part also differs from the younger model X4500H. It is based on the same advanced DDSC HD Digital platform, includes AL32 Processing Multichannel audio processing and contains a jitter suppression circuit, which repeats the ideology of the flagship receiver, yielding to it only in the class of output converters (Asahi Kasei AK4458VN is used).

The power section is also arranged differently. Instead of one wide vertical termination board, the X4500H has two separate ones. One serves four channels, the other five. Since this kit is much more powerful and generates more heat, the developers had to put two miniature low-noise coolers inside.

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And a few more words from the technical documentation for internal use. The capacity of the capacitors in the power supply system has been increased from 12,000 to 15,000 uF, but the main thing, perhaps, is not an increase in the nominal value, but the fact that these are more expensive custom electrolytes with a polyolefin dielectric. The system is serviced by a massive shielded transformer on the W-core weighing under five kilos, which in terms of its dimensions is almost as good as the 750-watt analogue in the more expensive Denon AVC X6500H .

Such a significant headroom in the power supply will never become a limiter for dynamics in stereo reproduction, even when using a buy-amping scheme that requires the simultaneous operation of four amplifiers. But will it be enough if we apply all nine channels, building, as an example, a music system for playing music programs in Auro 3D?

To check this in the most correct way, here’s what we will do: take the already tested set of HECO Aurora 5.1 acoustics, add four ceiling speakers to it in the corners of the room, set everything up with Audussey autocalibration and conduct a “battle” – stereo against all possible 3D variations. This means that we will listen to the same two-channel recordings first in their usual version, and then in nine-channel with synthesized surroundings and high-altitude “tier”. This experiment, by the way, will not only show the real class of the new receiver, but at the same time answer the difficult question: does such a significant complication of the system justify the desire for a three-dimensional sound picture when playing music?

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It is always better to judge the quality level of any receiver in Pure Direct, when the path has minimal effect on the signal (even though this mode does not give a complete picture of the capabilities of the technology). A different approach can be taken to the AVR-X4500H – its advanced 32-bit platform does not allow signal degradation even with deep DSP processing. However, it is important to make sure that some of the receiver’s basic defaults (dynamic range compression and Restorer) are turned off completely in the audio setup menu – they can greatly affect your listening experience.

Without auto-calibration, our two-channel device sounds with a very serious dynamic scope – rude, but very lively. In the 5.1.4 configuration with basic settings, this is added not so much “three-dimensionality” as bass – there is a lot of it, and it is not too intelligible. But after auto-calibration, everything comes to a common denominator. And at the same time, the overall feed also changes. Reproduction becomes a little more emasculated and bland, but detail is improved and the LFE channel is perfectly matched. For those who do not like perfectly even tonal balance, there are several tools to bring it back to what you get in “honest” Pure Direct.

We go to the “Audio” settings, in the “Audyssey” section, turn off the MultiEQ XT32, and then, taking a step back, we see the new “Graphic EQ” menu, where you can turn off or change all the frequency response presets, leaving the others intact (levels, delays …). In my opinion, the best result is given by the manually corrected “Odyssey” version of the correction. To do this, you need to find the item “Copy characteristics” in the menu or use the even more advanced Audyssey Editor application for a smartphone. Also, the X4500H provides the ability to separately configure the multichannel configuration for cinematic sound and separately for stereo recording.

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So, we have everything set up. Now – to the comparison. When our system reproduces music tracks as in the original, that is, in a purely two-channel version, we get an ordered bass, clean top and a wide scale scene with slightly enlarged virtual images. The spatial depth is not clearly expressed, but the timbres are very well revealed, and many images are formed as in a serious audiophile system – with almost material outlines.

We turn on Dolby Audio Surround, which uses all available rear and high-altitude channels. The stereo scene narrows, in the lower register the relief increases, in the middle – the timbres become poorer, and the sound as a whole “closes” and, as it were, moves away from the listener. On some recordings, this mode really adds “height” and “three-dimensionality” to the sound field, while on others – the effect is strange. In the first case, there is a feeling that you have been transplanted to the gallery of a concert hall. In the second, it was as if they were even taken backstage.

There is no particular realism in either one or the other – sound phantoms from the rear channels interfere, which are sometimes so active that they pull the front virtual sources onto themselves. But if you attenuate the signal in the surround channels, you get a rather valuable and quite usable effect of “scene concentration” for those cases

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What makes DTS Neural: X happy? This option for converting stereo to 3D is even more interesting. The stage does not narrow, but changes dramatically – the images change their location in the scene relative to each other, and some move close to the listener. But the general interpretation, if you close your eyes to space, is dynamic and vital. All timbres are served richer and seem even more “tasty” and organic than in stereo. Formally, the sound is very different from the original, but while listening, you stop wondering “how is it reproduced” and easily switch to the musical essence, namely, “what is reproduced”. This option is also quite working – especially for those rooms where it is not possible to arrange all the speakers correctly and symmetrically.

The most valuable effect for listening to music is the inclusion of Auro 3D. According to the developers’ plan, initially it makes sense to encode only multichannel soundtracks into this format, and as for stereophonic sources, the necessary “height” and “surrounding” components can be extracted from the original recordings already at the playback stage – using the Auromatic algorithm built into the decoder. And he will do it amazingly! The Auro 3D decoder minimally interferes with the usual geometry of the scene, but adds a sense of volume, which is expressed not through artificial effects, but precisely through the creation of an open area air.

The stage expands and rises quite a bit, but the localization remains very accurate, and the physicality – which is quite amazing – even intensifies. Not the slightest illusion! We get basically the same stereo, but with more recognizable details, with a more stable position of images and a distinct depth even on the flanks of the stage. I can only guess what this mechanism is based on. Probably, the Auro 3D processor takes direct sounds from the phonogram, determines all its early reflections (due to which clarity is lost) and all late responses and reverberations (they create a sense of volume), and then decomposes all this into nine channels so that everything is audible perceived as something even more realistic. In addition, Auro 3D uses the subwoofer channel extremely well. There is only one minus.

This setting gives the upper case a little more rigidity. determines all of its early reflections (due to which clarity is lost) and all late responses and reverberations (they create a sense of volume), and then decomposes it all into nine channels so that everything heard is perceived as something even more realistic. In addition, Auro 3D uses the subwoofer channel extremely well. There is only one minus. This setting gives the upper case a little more rigidity. determines all of its early reflections (due to which clarity is lost) and all late responses and reverberations (they create a sense of volume), and then decomposes it all into nine channels so that everything heard is perceived as something even more realistic. In addition, Auro 3D uses the subwoofer channel extremely well. There is only one minus. This setting gives the upper case a little more rigidity.

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By the way, there is also the Auro 2D setting, but this mode does not give such an open effect as Auro 3D. Timbre and intonation intelligibility increases when it is turned on, while spatial intelligibility, on the contrary, decreases, but it allows you to concentrate just not on the overall picture, but to hear the sound of each instrument.

Conclusion

A decent receiver with the Auro 3D system is a step into that area of ​​musical perception, where previously it was possible to penetrate only by assembling a very expensive elite stereo system. To do this, of course, you have to tinker a little with the settings and buy not two, but nine normal speakers, and at the same time you get a serious home theater for all existing formats. And in the case of the Denon AVR-X4500H, you don’t overpay.

What do you think?

4.8 / 5. 64

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