Denon AVR-X4000 AV receiver review

Inside CI 4 Rating

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posted on Thursday, 19th September 2013 by Steve May

home cinema  Multi-room  AWE Europe 

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Denon's AVR-X4000 (also known as the Denon AVRX4000B) represents a significant refresh of the brand's once dominant AV receiver range. It comes with a comprehensive connected feature set and improved usability. It may not be resolutely high-end, but it's certainly well heeled. 

The AVR-X4000 offers seven channels of amplification, but supports nine-channel processing via additional amplification. The familiar codec package, DTS-Neo:X, Audyssey DSX and Dolby Pro-Logic IIz is bolstered by Audyssey DSX and DTS-Neo:X. However there's no THX Select certification, which may disappoint avid badge hunters.

Denon AVR-X4000: Specification
The AVR-X4000 confirms its mid-range ranking by tipping the scales at a lean 12.3kg. The package is well executed. Speaker terminals are colour coded, which may at least subliminally speed up your install, and connectivity is generous. There are seven HDMI inputs, one located under the front drawbridge.

Three HDMI outs are provided, for TV and projector, plus a second zone. There's also distributed audio to a third zone, with digital-in support. It's worth pointing out that InstaPrevue thumbnail previews deactivate when you run a second zone.

As is the fashion, the receiver boasts 4K pass-through or upscaling to 3840 x 2160 (this applies to the main zone output and not the second zone). It remains to be seen if there's any particular value in this upsclaing talent. We suspect the current crop of well specified 4K displays remain the best placed to upscale, however when cheaper Chinese panels enter circulation the upscaling silicon inside the likes of the AVR-X4000 may well prove more useful. Installers can also assign various picture adjustment presets to sources, as well as customise contrast, brightness, saturation, hue and noise.

Additional ports include a fistful of AV phonos, four digital audio inputs (two coax, two optical), plus a pair of component inputs. There's that full complement of pre-outs too, plus twin subwoofer outs. There's even get a phono stage input for turntable jockeys. Additional front fascia inputs include USB, full-size headphone, stereo AV and a jack for the auto calibration microphone.

The AVR-X4000 comes with a rather dour universal remote control. Alternatively you can use a downloadable control app for iOS and Android; integrated system control options include IP, RS-232 and two 12v triggers.

Denon AVR-X4000: Design and Features
The AVR-X4000 looks neat. The receiver's fascia has a classy brushed finish and lightweight control knobs add symmetry either side of the central trapdoor. The 2-line FL display above is crisp and clear. Available exclusively to custom installers, through AWE Europe, is a special silver edition of the receiver.

Obviously there's plenty of trademark Denon audio tech onboard, including the brand's proprietary Denon Link HD anti-jitter audio transmission malarky. User facing feature attractions include Apple AirPlay, Spotify, Internet radio, Last.fm and Flickr. The latter must have been part of a BOGOF licensing deal, as we can't see any other reason for it being here.

Denon has strived to improve the usability of its AVR fleet with a graphical Setup Assistant, but at times this model remains oblivious to its own complexity. The sound parameter menu is accessed by holding down the four colour coded buttons (Movie, Music, Game, Pure). There's no indication that you need to do this, as the only explanation is in the manual which is only supplied as a PDF on a CD Rom, or as a download. Getting to grips with its functionality often seemed akin to mastering the Konami Code through guesswork.

Audyssey's top-level MultEQ XT32 (Pro) auto calibration is available for quick room EQ. We found this generally accurate in terms of speaker positioning, although inevitably best results came via manual intervention. A good time saver though.

Denon AVR-X4000: Performance
Despite its occasional user quirks, there's no question that the AVR-X4000 is a kick-ass performer. It's sonically rich, and delivers plenty of detail. Rated at 125w (into 8ohms) with all channels driven, it's not the most powerful of receivers, but it's more than able to serve smaller theatre rooms or large living spaces.

High resolution two channel content sounds lush, but high octane DTS HD Master Audio is even better. The AVR-X4000 is consistently entertaining in multi-channel mode, and provides a deeply immersive soundfield when treated to a 7.1 sound mix.The DLNA-compliant receiver also happily plays audio files across a network and from USB. Support is broad; we successfully played a variety of MP3, AAC, WMA, WAV and FLAC-HD (192kHz / 24bit) content, aided by the brand's clever sound retriever technology.  

New this year is Audyssey LFC, which has been designed to control the dispersion of deep bass without adversely impacting LFE performance. It basically manages this by neutering the bass out of the receiver via seven levels of 'low frequency containment.' A more sonically satisfying solution would be to turn the receiver off and go to bed.

HDMI Pass-through is a more welcome addition, although can have unexpected side effects. If your sky+ HD box has been configured to output Dolby Digital 5.1 to the receiver, when this passes through to a TV that audio ends up muted. The solution is to stick with PCM audio over HDMI and take Dolby Digital from the digital input.

Denon AVR-X4000: Verdict
Those looking to specify a reliable multi-channel AVR, with good system control options and multi-room versatility, should take a closer look at this new mid-range offering. It boasts big bang for buck and sounds great for the price. The receiver is a convincing connected candidate too, with versatile file format playback support and both AirPlay and Spotify onboard.

Available now.
Price: £1,099
Denon's CI channel distributor is AWE Europe. For more on AWE's brands and services, visit our partner page here.

Also read:
Arcam FMJ AVR-X4000

Denon X-rated AVRs now shipping from AWE Europe

Interview: AWE and the future of custom install

Denon Marantz dealer con 2013: Photo Gallery

Steve May

Steve is a veteran of the UK consumer electronics industry, having covered it for
various media outlets for more than 20 years.

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