mmediately preceding this review, you’ll
find one of the Denon AVR-X2300W AV
receiver. We opened that review by asking:
‘How far do you want to go with your
home theatre?’ We then went on to commend
that receiver for striking a fine balance between
economy and features.
But what if you want to answer that question
not as a matter of compromise between competing
priorities (among which the dollar cost inevitably
has a big part) but to answer it: ‘all the way!’
The Denon AVR-X6300H home theatre
receiver is going to take you a very long way
towards ‘all the way!’
The Denon AVR-X6300H is an 11.2 channelcapable AV receiver, packing nine actual amplifier
channels. And, oh, what amplifiers they are! Each
is rated at 150W output (full audio bandwidth,
eight ohms, 0.05% THD, two channels running).
Unlike some brands, all channels support
four-ohm loads (with a protective system switch,
so no increase in power output). And some of
the amplifier channels can be redirected to the
usual other functions — driving additional zones,
bi-amping the front speakers and so on.
The 11.2 thing means that the receiver
supports full Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. That is
with three front speakers, two surrounds, two
rear surrounds and four height speakers, or Dolby
Atmos-enabled ones. Or, perhaps, we should
say it achieves full “mainstream” Dolby Atmos,
since Atmos can support many other channels,
and there are some very exotic high-end devices
which do provide more channels. However, that
is a matter of diminishing returns. It’s difficult
to exceed the effectiveness of the 11.2 model in
anything short of a massive theatre room. The
receiver supports a wide range of height speaker
placements, including some on the front or rear
walls, or all on the ceilings. You will need to add
two more channels of amplification for a full 11.2channel system deployment.
One of the markers of a premium AV receiver
is the retention of a lot of legacy connections. Yes,
this receiver has all the good stuff you’d expect,
with eight HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs,
all rated to full Ultra HD specifications with
wide colour and 10 bits of resolution, and the
latest HDCP copy protection. And, yes, it has a
phono input (for a turntable with moving magnet
cartridges). And the usual optical and coaxial
digital inputs.
There’s also a bunch of surprising analogue
video inputs. In lower-cost models these have
been mostly shed to shave a few cents here and
there from manufacturing costs. You might get
one composite video input, or one component
video input, but maybe none at all. Pretty much
all video sources nowadays have HDMI outputs,
so those old analogue inputs aren’t really needed.
But part of the package on a premium model is
support for older equipment which the discerning
user may still love.
Denon has made some interesting choices on
this front. First a surprising set of inputs has been
eliminated: there are no multichannel analogue
audio inputs. We’re not complaining. We don’t
know why anyone would still want to connect
some old device in such a manner when, chances
are, this receiver is going to do a far better job of
decoding any digital audio than said old device.
But 7.1 analogue inputs are something to which
manufacturers have clung for the premium
models. Not Denon.
On the other hand, there are no less than
five composite video inputs, and one of those
is labelled Blu-ray! Now the Blu-ray Forum’s
licensing controls have prohibited the release of
new Blu-ray player models capable of composite
video output for quite a few years now, so having
such an input does seem to be overkill. Still, no
harm, and all those composite video inputs (and
the two component video ones) are assignable. Or
perhaps people just want to use them to pass video
through to the Zone 2 composite video output.
The component video output can also be assigned
to Zone 2, and there’s a dedicated Zone 2 HDMI
output. Plus analogue audio line levels for both
Zone 2 and Zone 3, and assignable amplifiers.
There’s also a single RCA socket labelled
‘Denon Link HD’. This is a kind of legacy
Best Buys Audio & AV 2017-#2
connection too, but a proprietary one. It dates
from before HDMI took off — HDMI with its
strong HDCP protection system — and it was
Denon’s way of getting uncompressed multichannel digital audio from player to receiver while
complying with copy protection requirements.
And while it’s kind of legacy for that reason,
Denon’s latest high quality Blu-ray player still
sports a matching output, so it’s also current.
The receiver can convert and upscale composite
and component video to HDMI output, something
again often missing from lower-priced receivers.
Being a modern receiver, it provides full
network connectivity, with Ethernet and
dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi. And there’s a USB
socket on the front (normally under the fold-up
front panel that hides much of the fiddly stuff )
and Bluetooth (SBC codec only).
And since the Denon AVR-X6300H is going
all the way, rather than compromising, among
its network functions it provides support for
fitting into the HEOS multiroom audio system.
This is part of the extension of HEOS from a
typical multiroom ecosystem of wireless speakers
and soundbars into more serious and traditional
components such as amplifiers and receivers. It’s
quite the bonus, as we’ll see shortly.
This receiver’s set-up system is close to that of the
Denon AVR-X2300W; you can read the details
there. The calibration and signal processing is
performed by Audyssey MultEQ 32, so it’s all
very high quality. But there are, as is often the
case, a couple of things you should watch out for.
When we started playing network music — using
losslessly compressed FLAC files — the system
initially sounded a little harsh and bitey. Exploring
things, it turned out that an audio ‘Restorer’
circuit was switched on. That’s the kind of thing
that purports to correct for the losses in lossily
compressed audio, such as MP3. It’s ineffective for
that purpose, and positively damaging for FLAC.
So switch it off.
One other thing worth looking into is much
more positive. Denon receivers have an optional
separate setting for two-channel playback. That
means you can have the bass redirected to the
subwoofer for surround material from your
movies, but then have quite different settings for
your two-channel music. Just go into the speakers
set-up, choose ‘Manual’ and consider switching
off the subwoofer if your speakers have been
identified as ‘Small’ but you know them to be
bass competent.
And then select ‘Direct’ as the playback mode
to eliminate EQ, and you’re getting something
close to a pure, unprocessed signal path. We
listened to a lot of music in this mode, mostly
network audio and vinyl, and in both cases it was
delightful. The performance brought to mind that
delivered by an old-fashioned but high quality
analogue system. Control over the loudspeakers
was excellent, including with a large four-ohm pair
we sometimes use at the front.
And the result was equally impressive with
5.1.4 sound during movies. We didn’t add an
extra pair of amplifier channels for surround rear.
We put on the Ultra HD Blu-ray version of Mad
Max: Fury Road just to make sure that the Atmos
was working as expected, and ended up spending
the whole two hours re-watching the movie. The
transmission of the wide colour gamut, high
dynamic range video was perfect, while the Dolby
Atmos sound was delivered to spectacular effect.
This is a movie which must be watched loudly,
and this receiver permits that, in full.
The network audio functionality worked
perfectly, even over Wi-Fi. We enjoyed doublespeed Direct Stream Digital, and our collection
of remastered 192kHz, 24-bit FLAC renditions
of the Blue Note Records back catalogue. All the
playback was delivered gaplessly of course.
Amid such a wealth of features and raw
performance, the HEOS multiroom functionality
might seem like a small thing. But it was actually
a real icing, because it opens up your whole home
to this receiver. Using the HEOS app we could
not only easily access online music services, we
could digitally pipe music from any input on the
AVR-X6300H (the ‘H’ marks the HEOS compatibility) to either of the two HEOS 5 speakers
we had available. That included music from the
turntable we connected to the receiver. And from
the DAB+ tuner also plugged into it. Of course,
while the standalone HEOS speakers are rather
fine within their category,
they can’t measure up in
audiophile terms to a
proper speaker system
driven by the Denon
receiver. But, then,
they can return
the favour to
the receiver. It
can in turn
into HEOS
units. And
as the HEOS
platform spreads
into more products,
including those from sister
brand Marantz, its potential
power for sharing audio around
the home only increases.
If you’re in the market for a networked AV
receiver, you aren’t really looking to do much
compromising. And that’s something you
won’t have to worry about with the Denon
AVR-X6300W. Its connectivity and performance
are excellent, and HEOS brings the potential
to expand beyond your AV system and use this
receiver as a hub for the whole home.
Denon AVR-X6300H
networked AV receiver
• No compromise performance
• Two-channel mode
• HEOS compatibility
• No AAC or aptX for Bluetooth
Price: $4699
Tested with firmware:
Power: 9 x 140W (into 8 ohms, 2020,000kHz, 0.05% THD, two channels driven)
Inputs: 8 x HDMI, 2 x component video,
5 x composite video, 7 x analogue stereo,
1 x phono, 0 x 7.1 analogue, 2 x optical digital,
2 x coaxial digital, 1 x Denon Link, 1 x USB,
1 x Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AM/FM antenna
Outputs: 2 x HDMI, 1 x component video
(assignable), 1 x composite video, 1 x 11.2
pre-out, 11 pairs speaker binding posts,
1 x 6.5mm headphone
Zone: 1 x HDMI, 1 x component video
(assignable), 1 x composite video,
2 x analogue stereo, assignable amplifiers
Other: 1 x set-up mic, R/C I/O, 2 x 12V DC
out, RS-232C
Dimensions: 434 x 167 x 393mm
Weight: 14.5kg
Contact: QualiFi
Telephone: 1800 24 24 26
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