Does Denon's AVR-X4000 offer the simplicity, performance and pricing that the company promised?
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What is the Denon AVR-X4000?
When Denon launched their new X Series of AV receivers last year, they promised a brave new world.The manufacturer declared that the complex, intimidating and unattractive AV receiver was a thing of the past. Instead they would replace the traditional black box with something altogether more modern. They said that setup would be easier, the interface more intuitive and the connections simplified. The design would also get a makeover with a less intimidating front facia and a more ergonomic remote control. Throw in streaming and networking capabilities and a slick remote app and Denon hoped to offer a range of AV receivers fit for the 21st century.
Of course sound quality still remains paramount, with seven channels of amplification and host of sound formats. However, the latest receivers have been redesigned with a new generation of users in mind. Denon have a history of releasing great performing receivers at very competitive prices and even at launch the top model in this new range was well positioned. Since then the cost of AVR-X4000 has halved, making it an even more tempting proposition. So does the latest Denon receiver fulfil its promise or is the X4000 too good to be true?
Denon AVR-X4000 Design and ConnectionsDenon challenged their designers to come up with a look that wouldn't scare potential customers, eschewed the usual bulky black box and showed a bit of style. Whilst perhaps not quite succeeding, the results certainly do tick a lot of those boxes. The basic layout might be classic AV receiver with two large dials, one on either side, and a central display but the front facia is refreshing free of an excess of intimidating controls. In fact apart from the power button there are none, with all the controls and some additional inputs being hidden behind a drop down flap.
The central display is large, informative and easy to read from a distance, which is handy as AV receivers often tend to be positioned on the other side of the room. Whilst the basic layout might not be revolutionary, the brushed metal finish is very attractive and the clean lines and simple styling really make a difference. The build quality is excellent, with a well engineered feel and a very solid construction. The X4000 measures 434 x 167 x 379mm and weighs 12.3kg, with a choice of either black or silver. Denon's philosophy of simplicity and accessibility also applies to the packaging, with everything sensibly laid out when you first open the box.
The design might not be revolutionary but the brushed metal finish and clean lines are very attractive.
This new design ethos also applies to the rear of the X4000, where Denon has made an effort to simplify matters, removing many of the unnecessary legacy connections. Instead the emphasis is sensibly on HDMI, with seven inputs in total and three outputs. There is passthrough for 4K content and support for ARC and 3D, whilst the X4000 can run two displays simultaneously whilst also sending video to a second zone and audio to a third. There's also coaxial and optical digital inputs, composite and component video inputs and 9-channel pre-outs with outputs for up to two subwoofers. Denon have also sensibly laid the speaker terminal out in a line to make access easier and used colour coding for the different channels.
The remote control follows the same basic design used with previous Denon AV receivers but again the layout has been simplified to make it easier and more intuitive to use. There are controls for navigation and volume, along with buttons for selecting inputs and playback of streaming audio. Denon also offer a remote app that has been developed for use with either iOS or Android, which allows for easy selection of input sources, network content, zone control and more. The interface is well designed and there are eight customizable home screen shortcut buttons allowing you to tailor the look and function of the Denon Remote App to suit your needs. There's also a multi-zone control page which lets you adjust power, volume and input selection for all zones from a single screen.
Denon AVR-X4000 MenusDenon's policy of simplifying the AV receiver experience includes the setup process and so they have created a clear, concise and intuitive menu system. After connecting the X4000 to your display via HDMI and wiring up your speakers, all you need to do is turn the Denon on and follow the Setup Assistant. First you select the correct language and then follow the simple instructions displayed to set up the speakers, calibrate the speaker system, set up input sources, the remote control and the network. There X4000 includes Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction and Auto Setup, which uses a provided microphone and allows for up to eight measurement points for better accuracy. As a result, getting the best out of your new Denon couldn't be easier and the receiver is quite flexible in terms of speaker layout.
The Setup Menu offers six basic sub-menus that allow you to fine tune and change your setup after the initial configuration using the Setup Assistant - there are Audio, Video, Inputs, Speakers, Network and General. The Audio and Video sub-menus will be discussed later but the Inputs sub-menu obviously allows you to assign inputs; rename sources; hide them; adjust the playback level; and combine the video of one source with the audio of another. The Network sub-menu includes options to display the network information; to set the network function; change the name of the receiver shown on your home network; select the settings for a wired LAN and set whether or not to display Last.fm on the menu. Finally, the General sub-menu allows for selecting the language; setting up and renaming the second zone; adjusting the brightness of the front display; and updating the firmware.
There's a host of lifestyle features geared towards making the X4000 easy to integrate into a modern networked home.
Denon AVR-X4000 FeaturesThe X4000 uses seven channels of amplification, which are rated at 125W each, along with TI PCM 1690 digital-to-analogue converters. There's also Denon's proprietary Dynamic Discrete Surround Circuit (D.D.S.C.-HD) technology and their anti-jitter Denon Link HD connector. You'll need a Denon Blu-ray player to take advantage of the latter but based on our previous experiences, it works very well. There's also decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, along with support for Dolby Pro Logic IIz processing, DTS Neo:X and Audyssey DSX. The X4000 can be configured with either height or width speakers in lieu of the back channels or alternatively, you can run a 9.2 setup if you add additional amplification.
The X4000 comes with a host of next-generation lifestyle features clearly geared towards making the receiver easy to integrate into a modern networked home. Whilst there's no WiFi or Bluetooth, the Denon can be connected to your home network using a standard Ethernet cable, making streaming audio and internet radio simplicity itself. It is also DLNA 1.5 compliant, allowing for content to be easily streamed and you can of course hardwire your iDevice into the receiver’s USB inputs and control music playback via the remote. In terms of file support the X4000 is fairly comprehensive, providing DLNA streaming and playback for formats such as MP3, AAC, WMA and FLAC and WAV up to 24-bit/192kHz.
This enhanced network capability includes the addition of support for Last.fm, Flickr and Spotify. The addition of Spotify is particularly useful because it means you have access to a vast amount of music, as well as certain aspects of your account like pre-saved playlists and any music you've "starred". As you might imagine, you can't access your imported music this way, but since the X4000 can connect with your home network via DLNA, you can also listen to your own music collection. In addition to the built-in FM tuner, there is a full suite of internet radio stations, which means access to literally thousands of global channels and if you find any good ones, you can save them to your favourites.
Denon AVR-X4000 Video ProcessingThe X4000 includes video processing with scaling up to 4K , along with 4K pass-through, 4K HDMI switching and 4K GUI overlay, thus providing a degree of future proofing. The Denon includes the capability to add a degree of video processing to connected video devices and within the video sub-menu there are options for Picture Adjust, with controls for adjusting contrast, brightness, saturation (colour), hue (tint), noise reduction and edge enhancement. All of these controls are found on your display and any adjustments are best done there. If you leave the resolution output on the default auto setting, the X4000 will match the output resolution to the native resolution of your display. The receiver can output at 480p, 576p, 720p, 1080i/p, 1080p/24 and 4K.
When it came to handling standard and high definition content, the Denon delivered an impressive performance, deinterlacing 480i, 576i and 1080i signals and scaling up to 1080p over HDMI. It also passed through 1080p/24 signals from Blu-rays without any problems and passed a 3D signal without any problems as well. We were pleased to see that the X4000 also had no problems detecting both 3:2 and 2:2 cadences, as well as scaling standard definition content without introducing unwanted artefacts or jaggies. As long as you left the picture adjust controls in their default zero or off positions, then the X4000 could pass-through the video signal without tampering with the image accuracy.
The X4000 delivered a detailed and lively surround experience with a side order of bass.
Denon AVR-X4000 Sound QualityAfter setting the X4000 up using Audyssey, we doubled checked the measurements and tweaked a few of the settings before sitting down to test the most important aspect of an AV receiver's performance - the sound quality. Denon have a long history of producing excellent mid-range AV receivers and the X4000 is another great addition to that illustrious list. The X4000 is best described as lively and full-bodied, with plenty of detail and clarity, not to mention activity in the surrounds. The experience was certainly enjoyable, with a well defined and suitably immersive soundstage. A film like Captain Phillips has a very specific sound design that is intended to place you right inside the lifeboat during the nail-biting last 40 minutes, so there are plenty of surround effects that the X4000 rendered these with ease. The imaging and panning was also excellent, moving effects seamlessly around the sound field, whilst the localisation and position of instruments within the score was also handled with aplomb. Certainly when it came to film soundtracks the X4000 was a very capable performer.
The bass was suitably effective too, with plenty of low end presence, although it could could have been better integrated within the rest of the audio. There was a tendency for the low-end to dominate rather than subtly add impact and in a bass-heavy movie like Pacific Rim, the result was a feeling of excessive low frequency effects, sometimes swamping dialogue on the centre channel. This could be mitigated to a degree but the overriding impression was of an AV receiver that was enthusiastic rather than refined. Of course that kind of enthusiasm, combined with plenty of detail to the soundstage is great for movies. When it came to music, the X4000 was still a capable performer but it sounded a bit clinical, thus lacking in the warmth and musicality found on other receivers. It thus suited electronic music better than lush orchestrations or acoustic recordings in some respects, although rock music definitely benefit from the enthusiastic delivery making it a good match for the Denon. Overall though we found the X4000 to be a good all-rounder and at its current price, you really can't go wrong.
- Detailed and lively sound
- Plenty of bass
- Easy to setup
- Attractive design
- Good connectivity
- Can sound a bit clinical
- Bass could be better integrated
Denon AVR-X4000 AV Receiver ReviewDenon's goal has been to take the intimidation factor out of AV receivers and with the AVR-X4000 they are certainly on the right track. It might not be able to completely shake the classic receiver look but the lack of controls on the front makes for cleaner lines and a simpler design. The brushed metal finish is very attractive and the build quality is excellent, with a very solid chassis that comes in a choice of black or silver. Denon has wisely dropped a lot of the unnecessary legacy connections at the rear, logically concentrating on HDMI and they have also made the speaker terminals easier to access. The remote has also been simplified and there's even an excellent remote app available. Setup is relatively straightforward thanks to an intuitive menu system and the inclusion of Audyssey MultEQ XT32 for automated calibration.
The X4000 can be connected to your home network via Ethernet, making streaming audio and internet radio easily accessible. The Denon also includes support for AirPlay, Spotify and numerous file formats including high resolution audio, along with some handy video processing features. The X4000 has seven channels of built-in amplification and with support for Dolby Pro Logic IIz, DTS Neo:X and Audyssey DSX, it can offer either height or width channels. The overall sound quality was excellent, with a detailed, lively and enjoyable surround experience that had plenty of bass presence. The sound could be a little clinical, especially with music, and the bass wasn't as well integrated as we'd like. However, overall the Denon AVR-X4000 is an impressive performer and, considering its current price, it's also a real bargain.
Value For Money9
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