Denon AVR-X4300H 9.2 Channel AV Receiver Review
This great all-rounder does the lot
What is the Denon X4300?The Denon AVR-X4300H is the manufacturer’s latest mid-range AV Receiver, sitting just below the 11-channel AVR-X6300H and the flagship AVR-X7200WA. The X4300 is a 9-channel amplifier with extensive surround sound support including immersive audio formats like Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and even, for a fee, Auro-3D. The receiver has a host of useful features such as HDMI inputs that support 4K, High Dynamic Range, Wide Colour Gamut and HDCP 2.2 copy protection. The X4300H also supports Denon’s HEOS multiroom system, which means you can send audio to and from the AVR as part of a home network. Incredibly all this can be had for just £899 as at the time of writing (April 2017), which means that if it delivers the goods in terms of performance, the Denon AVR-X4300 could be something of a bargain. Let’s find out...
DesignIf you’ve seen a Denon AV Receiver in the last two decades, then you’ll have a good idea of what to expect. There's a large source selection dial on the left hand side and an even larger volume dial on the right, along with a power button to the bottom left. In the centre there’s a large, informative and easy-to-read display which shows what type of signal the AVR is receiving and what it is outputting. Beneath this display is a drop down flap, behind which you’ll find some basic controls, an extra HDMI input, a USB port, a composite video input, a stereo analogue input, a headphone jack and a connector for the Audyssey setup microphone.The X4300 retains a minimalist appearance at the front because the majority of the controls and additional connections are behind a drop-down flap. Here you'll find all the controls you need to setup and use the receiver, should misplace the remote or not have it to hand. There are also some connections including an extra HDMI 2.0a input, a USB port, a composite video input, a stereo analogue input, a headphone jack and a connector for the Audyssey setup microphone. The X4300H measures 434 x 339 x 167mm (WxDxH) without the rear antenna and 434 x 389 x 236mm (WxDxH) with them attached and weighs in at 13.5kg. The receiver comes in choice of black or premium silver.
The X4300 has the usual Denon design, build quality and attention to detail
Connections & ControlAside from the connections behind the drop-down flap, the rest of the connections are at the rear and it’s an impressive selection, with everything you might need. First of all there are eight HDMI inputs, seven at the rear and one at the front, as well as three HDMI outputs. There is an output for your main monitor, which also supports ARC (Audio Return Channel), an output for a second monitor and an output for a second zone. All of the HDMI inputs and outputs support 4K at up to 60Hz, as well as High Dynamic Range (HDR), Wide Colour Gamut (WCG) and HDCP 2.2.
There's all the connections you'll ever need, a useful controller and a handy remote app
The remote control supplied with the X4300 is made of black plastic, has a brushed metal effect and is light weight but comfortable to hold. It uses a simple button layout that is intuitive to follow and easy to operate with one hand. All the most commonly used buttons are centrally positioned, including volume and channel controls, and direction buttons for navigation. At the top are the source selection buttons whilst playback controls, quick select keys and sound modes are at the bottom. Overall it's a well designed and effective remote control and our only complaint would be the lack of a backlight, although some of the most frequently used buttons do glow in the dark.
As you would expect these days, Denon offer a free remote app that is available for both iOS and Android smart devices. The app is an effective substitute for the remote control and also solves the problem of not having a backlight when in a dark room. The remote app operates in conjunction with the HEOS app, allowing you to move seamlessly from one to the other. This is a nice touch, allowing you to easily control all the functions on your X4300H using the remote app and also use the receiver as part of the HEOS multiroom system. All you need to do is switch into the HEOS app by pressing the icon at the top, allowing you to control all the devices in your multiroom system.
Features & SpecsAs already mentioned the X4300H is a 9-channel AV Receiver that can deliver 200W into 6ohms with just one channel being driven but that drops to 125W into 8ohms with two channels being driven. The receiver uses Audyssey MultEQ XT32 for the room equalisation and includes LFC (Low Frequency Containment) which dynamically monitors the audio content and removes low frequencies that pass through walls, floors and ceilings. There’s the option for up to two discrete subwoofers and the X4300 also has 11.2 channels of pre-outs, should you wish to add two more channels of amplification. There’s support for almost every surround format currently on the market, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, whilst there’s also an upgrade option for Auro-3D.
MORE: What is Dolby Atmos?The X4300 has extensive video support and can pass4K 60p, 4:4:4 and 36-bit video, it can also upscale lower resolution video, including analogue video and standard definition content, at up to 4K (3840 x 2160) resolution over HDMI and there are also ISF calibration controls. Although in general we would always recommend just passing the video through untouched and doing any scaling, processing or calibration on the display. There are eight HDMI inputs and three HDMI outputs, along with video support over HDMI for additional zones, as well as support for ARC (Audio Return Channel), HDR (HDR10), WCG (Rec. 2020) and HDCP 2.2.
MORE: What is DTS:X?
There is built-in Bluetooth and WiFi, both of which were extremely easy to set up, and the WiFi is dual band (2.4GHz and 5GHZ, IEEE802.11a/g/n) for improved stability and performance. The X4300 supports DLNA, AirPlay and playback of DSD (2.8 MHz and 5.6MHz) and FLAC 192 kHz files over connected networks or via USB. There's also support for ALAC and WAV, as well as gapless playback and all the usual lossy formats; so whether you listen to music over your network, via USB or on a disc of some sort, the X4300 should be able to meet your needs.
MORE: What is Auro-3D?The ‘H’ at the end of X4300H means that the receiver supports Denon's HEOS multiroom system, which, depending where you live, provides access to a wide array of music services (Spotify, Tidal, Amazon Prime Music, TuneIn, Soundcloud, Pandora, Napster, Deezer, iHeartRadio, Rhapsody and SiriusXM). Everything is seamlessly integrated with the HEOS multiroom system, allowing for fast and intuitive control and the AVR can be grouped with other HEOS speakers as either a group leader (master) or a group member (slave). The behaviour of the receiver is the same as any other HEOS speaker, as a result legacy inputs (CD, TV etc.) can be distributed throughout the house to other HEOS speakers, which can access the inputs on the AVR as sources.
It's feature packed with immersive audio, 4K/HDR support and Denon's HEOS multiroom system
Setup & TestingThe X4300H is easy to install with a Setup Assistant that takes you step-by-step through the entire process. The Setup Assistant offers simple, clear and concise instructions to the end user, making the Denon less intimidating to anyone who might be unfamiliar with multi-channel AV receivers. It covers everything from choosing your speaker layout to connecting the speakers and the various inputs and outputs, as well as any additional zones. It also checks the polarity of your speakers and the volume of your subwoofer(s) before taking you through the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room equalisation process using the included microphone.
If you have your own tripod you can attach the microphone to that but if not, Denon have thought of that and include their ‘rocket’, which is essentially a cardboard mic stand. The audio calibration process takes readings from up to eight positions, measuring test tones from all the connected speakers and any subwoofers, in order to calculate the sizes, crossovers, distances and levels, before equalising for the effects of the room itself. For most people we would recommend just using the automated room equalisation but there's also the option to perform a manual setup if you prefer. The menu system is as well thought out and intuitive to use as the rest the X4300, making it a great receiver to tailor to your specific needs.
In testing we started with a basic 2-channel setup, before moving on to a 5.1-channel speaker configuration and then a 7.1-channel setup. After that we tested the X4300H’s immersive audio capabilities with both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. We used 5.1.4 and 7.1.2 speaker configurations before adding two more channels of amplification and running a full 7.2.4 speaker configuration with three front channels, two side channels, two rear channels, two subwoofers and four overhead speakers. We used a range of content including movies and music in 5.1, movies in 7.1, Dolby Atmos soundtracks and DTS:X soundtracks. We used CDs, SACDs, DVD-Audio, Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray as our primary sources along with high resolution audio files and various streaming services including Tidal.
Denon AVR-X4300H Video Review
PerformanceThe first thing to mention is that whilst the X4300H is more than capable of handling the average sized living room, it doesn’t have the headroom of more powerful and more expensive AV receivers. That’s not to say it can’t go quite loud without distorting or becoming brittle but it doesn’t have the dynamic range that you might get from a receiver with better amplification. Having said that it was able to drive the Arendal 1703 speakers that were in for review at the same time and they’re not exactly small, so it should be able to handle most realistic systems. If you decide you want to run a 7.2.4 system then you can add a power amplifier for the front left and right channels, whilst using the built-in amplification for all the other channels, which is certainly one way of beefing up the X4300.
We started the testing process by setting up a 5.1 system using three Arendal 1723 monitors and matching 1723 surround speakers, along with one of their 1723 Subwoofer 3 subs. It’s a serious system, don’t let the word monitor fool you, and we were pleased to discover that even a relatively inexpensive AV receiver like the X4300 was capable of handling the big Arendals. We listened to various lossless 5.1-channel mixes using both Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. A film we use a lot for testing is Gravity, which has a very directional sound mix and the combination of the Denon and the Arendal 1723 speakers delivered the soundtrack with a lovely feeling of detail and dynamism. There was a nice sense of cohesion to the soundstage and directional effects remained tonally balanced as they moved around the room. Dialogue and music were clearly rendered whilst the low frequency effects were suitably deep but also seamlessly integrated.
Another film that we use quite a lot in reviews is Interstellar because the soundtrack is not only aggressive in places but also has moments that require real dynamic range, going from silent to very loud in an instant. The X4300 handled these transitions well, proving responsive and the escape from the gravitational pull of the black hole resulted in the sounds of the spaceship rattling all around you. We then switched to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which has an excellent 7.1-channel mix with a brilliantly conceived opening sequence. The Denon rendered the subtle mix with skill, picking out the breathing of the apes, the rain, the sound of them moving through the trees and the choral music in the background. There is a moment where the hunt suddenly begins and the entire sound field bursts into life and once again the receiver handled the dynamic range well.
The X4300H includes upmixing capabilities in the form of Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X, with both proving to be very effective. You have the option to use either upmixer on both Dolby and DTS soundtracks and although we couldn't say that one was better than the other, both were very capable of taking the 5.1 or 7.1 source and upmixing it to use all 9 channels or even 11 if you've added two more channels. We used Top Gun for testing and the upmixing features were able to give the impression that jets were flying overhead, even though we know the track wasn't actually mixed that way. We don't usually approve of processing a soundtrack to make use of more speakers but we definitely found that these upmixing features are able to create a greater sense of immersion without adversely affecting the overall sound experience.
Of course, as good as this upmix processing is it's no comparison to a genuine immersive audio soundtrack and our current favourite Dolby Atmos test disc is Deepwater Horizon. This is an absolute masterclass in audio design, with one of the most active and dynamic soundtracks we've ever heard, especially during the second half of the film. When the disaster begins, there are sounds coming from all around you, including overhead, and they are very precisely positioned within three dimensional space. It's no exaggeration to say that at certain points in the film we actually ducked! The same was true with Sully, where the use of the Dolby Atmos soundtrack really puts you in that plane as it is landing on the Hudson River. Although we don't have as many DTS:X discs as we do Dolby Atmos discs, a regular DTS:X test disc is Crimson Peak and the X4300H did a marvellous job of bringing its complex and aggressive sound design to life. The sounds of the titular house moved all around the room including along the walls and over our heads, completely immersing us in its beautifully designed gothic world.
Finally we moved on the stereo and multi-channel music and the X4300 didn't disappoint in this area either. We listened to the cast recording of the David Bowie musical Lazarus on CD and we were impressed by the way the Denon handled the simple female vocals and piano of 'Life on Mars' or the more complex arrangement of Absolute Beginners. In terms of streaming music we listened to tracks by M83 and Sigur Ros on Tidal and again the receiver did an excellent job, whilst the support for HEOS multiroom added to the potential musical sources and also allowed us to listen on our HEOS 1. When it came to multi-channel music such as Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by The Flaming Lips on DVD-Audio and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon on SACD, the Denon reproduced the enveloping musical mixes with precision. Ultimately the X4300H is simply a great all-rounder that is sure to please anyone looking for an assured and fun AV receiver.
The X4300 handles both music and multi-channel, including immersive audio, with a sense of fun
- Excellent all-round performance
- Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D
- Superb set of features
- HEOS multiroom support
- Easy to setup and intuitive to use
- Nicely designed and made
- Great price
- A bit more power in the amps would be nice
- No backlight on the remote
Denon AVR-X4300H 9.2 Channel AV Receiver ReviewThe X4300H is yet another outstanding AV receiver from Denon that combines their usual build quality and attention to detail with an extensive set of features and an impressive level of performance. The AVR is nicely designed, easy to set up and simple to control with an excellent standard of construction. The menu system is well designed, the connections are sensibly laid out and installation is simple thanks to a helpful setup assistant and Audyssey room equalisation. The provided controller is nicely configured and effective to use, whilst the combined remote and HEOS apps allow you to control the X4300 via your smart device, either on its own or as part of a multiroom system.
In terms of features the X4300H has just about everything you could want, from HDMI with HDR and HDCP 2.2 support to built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. There’s nine channels of built-in amplification and support for immersive audio formats like Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and even Auro-3D for a fee. You can run dual subwoofers and if you add two more channels of amplification you can run a full 7.2.4 speaker setup. There’s also support for hi-res audio, music streaming and internet radio, whilst for the more retro amongst you there’s a phono stage and AM and FM tuners.
Of course all the looks, build quality and features in the world mean nothing if the receiver doesn’t sound good but thankfully the X4300 delivers in this department as well. It has an assured level of performance with a well-balanced and slightly warm sound that delivers enough power and detail to make movies and music exciting. The Denon handled object-based audio extremely well, producing an immersive experience with great positioning and steering of effects. The receiver isn't a powerhouse but could go loud without distorting and was capable of retaining a sense of cohesion even with the most complex of sound designs.
The X4300H is a great all-round AV receiver that delivers in every aspect of its design, features and performance. It can be picked up for just £899 and we’re finding it hard to think of any negatives at that price point. It’s difficult to imagine any better alternatives either unless you want to spend a bit less and go for the Denon AVR-X3300, although you’ll lose the HEOS support, or spend a bit more and get a Marantz SR7011 which is slightly better with music. However, all things considered, the Denon AVR-X4300H is something of a bargain and the worthy winner of an AVForums Best Buy badge.
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Suggested retail price when reviewed: £899.00
Value For Money10
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