What is the Denon AVR-X5200
X5200W Remote Controls
The wizard also checks the polarity of your speakers and the volume of your subwoofer(s) before taking you through the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 (Pro) room equalisation process. Denon include a dedicated microphone that you connect into the front of the X5200 during the setup process. If you have a tripod, then the overall process is easier but in case you don’t, the manufacturer helpfully includes a cardboard stand to help you out. The audio calibration process takes readings from up to eight positions in order to measure test tones from all the connected speakers and any subwoofers and thus determine the sizes, crossovers, distances and levels, before equalising for the effects of the room itself.
What is Dolby Atmos?
What is Auro-3D?
Finally, you can add all these to a 7.1-channel layout to create a 13.1-channel configuration with five height channels and the 'Voice of God' channel. The X5200 can support a 9.1-channel configuration or, if you add extra amplification, a 10.1-channel configuration with the 'Voice of God' channel overhead but it can't handle either the 11.1- or 13.1-channel configurations. Auro-3D is delivered through the PCM tracks on a normal Blu-ray disc, so it's completely backwards compatible and there are a number of Auro-3D music Blu-rays available but, to date, no movies have been released in the format. You can read more about Auro-3D, Dolby Atmos and the forthcoming DTS: X in this article.
Testing the X5200
As luck would have it, the position and orientation of our overhead speakers meant that we could, along with Dolby Atmos, also use them for Auro-3D. Technically the speakers should have been slightly lower down and above the front and rear speakers but they were close enough for our needs. We used the Auro-3D demo disc for testing the new format, which included clips from three Dreamworks Animation movies, along with plenty of musical material and other demos. We also had a couple of Auro-3D music Blu-rays with which to test the X5200. In addition, we listened to an extensive amount of regular two-channel music, with the X5200 in a more purist configuration.
Denon X5200 Specs & Features
There’s the option for discrete subwoofers and the level and delay can be adjusted for each one separately. Audyssey Sub EQ HT is designed to make the integration of the two subwoofers seamless by compensating for any level and delay differences and applying EQ to both for better bass response. There’s support for almost every surround format currently on the market, including the previously mentioned Dolby Atmos and DTS Neo: X, along with the newly available upgrade for Auro-3D.
On the video side, the X5200 can pass Ultra HD 4K at up to 60p and even supports image processing for 4K 60p, 4:4:4 and 24-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’s ISF calibration controls. 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).
The addition of built-in WiFi and Bluetooth is very welcome and setting up both was very quick and easy, especially with the free remote app. The X5200 also supports DLNA, AirPlay and playback of DSD (2.8 MHz) 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 X5200 can meet your needs.
The X5200 can also be set up and operated by a home computer on the network via IP control, either via wired LAN connection or via Wi-Fi wireless connection. In addition to the available smartphone remote apps, there's also the new Denon remote app specifically for tablet devices, and it's available for iPads, Android tablets as well as the Kindle Fire. Finally you get support for the ubiquitous Spotify, along with built-in AM/FM tuners and Internet Radio.
Denon X5200 Movie Sound Quality
When we moved onto Dolby Atmos soundtracks the results were as impressive as we hoped, with the additional overhead speakers really opening up the immersive nature of the audio. The dimensional effects of the object-based mix meant that pinpointing specific sounds became much easier and the sense of spacial awareness was remarkable. We tried various demo material in 5.1.4, 7.1.2 and finally 7.1.4 and all sounded great; although the full 7.1.4 experience was superb. Whilst there might only be a limited amount of Atmos-encoded material available at the moment, you can give any 5.1- or 7.1-channel mix the 'Atmos' treatment using the Dolby Surround setting.
This proved to be highly effective, giving all our favourite surround soundtracks a new lease of multi-dimensional life. We're not saying that it's going to make all films sound as though they've had a genuine Atmos-mixed soundtrack because clearly it would be impossible to replicate the object-based approach that the new format uses. However by channelling certain sounds to the overhead speakers it does open the overall sound field out, creating a greater sense of immersion. We watched How to Train your Dragon 2 and the 7.1 mix really came alive during the flying sequences, with sounds whirling all around you. Even an older film like Gremlins, which has a 5.1 mix, seemed to benefit during a scene where the protagonist was in the kitchen and the gremlins were moving around in the attic.
Finally we moved onto our Auro-3D 9.1 setup and whilst the approach may differ from Dolby's Atmos, the results were just as impressive. Although we didn't have the overhead 'Voice of God' channel, we found that the convenient positioning and orientation of the overhead speakers resulted in a wonderful sense of dimensionality. The Auro-3D demo disc includes some great material recorded using multi-layer microphones and the results were very impressive. In one you felt as though you really were standing in a square in Amsterdam, in another a huge tractor drives straight past you and in yet another one, two helicopters fly directly overhead. When the demo switched between turning the height layer on or off, the realism created by the additional channels was very apparent.
Whilst no films have been released in the format to date, the three scenes on the demo disc (Rise of the Guardians, The Croods and Turbo) all sounded fantastic, especially the scene from Turbo. However it isn't just movies that benefit from Auro3D, music and live music in particular, can sound incredible in the new format with a genuine sense of spacial awareness. Whilst there aren't currently any movies available, there is an ace up Auro-3D's sleeve in the form of the 'up-mixer' that can add a greater sense of immersion to any material. In one demo we listened to a mono recording of Marvin Gaye's I Heard it through the Grapevine and with Auro-3D the entire song suddenly opened up and filled the room.
The same was true when watching the Blu-ray of the movie Red Tails, where the aerial dogfights completely enveloped us and sounds moved seamlessly around the room. This film was the first theatrical release to have an Auro-3D 11.1 soundtrack but the Blu-ray only has a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack and no PCM track to deliver Auro-3D. So unfortunately although the film was mixed in the format, and despite rumours to the contrary, there is no actual Auro-3D track on the Blu-ray disc itself.
As with any new format, just how effective it sounds will come down to the skill of the sound designers and mixers - this will apply to both Atmos, Auro-3D and any another other format for that matter. However the ability to effectively use these new formats on content that wasn't originally created for them, certainly opens up more possibilities. The real decider will be the level of studio support, although the lack of compatibility in speaker configurations won't help when it comes to mass market acceptance. Whatever happens at least with the X5200 you have a choice of either, or indeed both, formats and, if nothing else, Atmos and Auro-3D both sound fantastic.
Denon AVR-X5200W Video Review
Denon X5200 Music Sound Quality
As is often the case, we felt the most effective results were gained by running the Denon in its Pure Direct two-channel mode without the subwoofer, although if you prefer to use your sub with music that also works very well. Aside from streaming music from our network and via Bluetooth, we also tried through USB and AirPlay and, overall, the X5200 delivered excellent results. Where possible we try to keep the resolution of our music as high as possible but we did find that the Denon could also be surprisingly sympathetic to heavily compressed sources.
- Impressive sound quality
- Excellent surround performance
- Dolby Atmos and Auro3D support
- Plenty of great features
- Easy to setup
- Great design and build quality
- Very flexible
- Remote app is rather basic
- No backlight on remote control
Denon AVR-X5200 AV Receiver Review
Is it worth buying?There are obviously a large number of AV receivers available, even if you're looking for ones that support Dolby Atmos, so it's a competitive market place. However the design, features, flexibility and performance of the Denon AVR-X5200W, make it a strong contender for anyone looking to buy a new receiver. The level of features and overall specifications are second to none and the ease of setup and well designed controls and menu systems make it a very attractive proposition.
The performance was excellent, regardless of which audio format you choose, and the Dolby Atmos decoding was incredibly immersive. If you want support for Auro-3D the choices are more limited and, in terms of mass market receivers, only Denon and Marantz currently provide that option. Yes you'll have to pay an extra fee for the privilege but it seems a small price for cutting-edge technology and the X5200 doesn't disappoint in terms of the quality of its Auro-3D performance.
What are the alternatives?If it's just Dolby Atmos that you're interested in then Yamaha's RX-A2040 provides a great alternative, with a wonderfully implemented multi-channel performance, superb build quality and plenty of features. There's also Pioneer's SC-LX58 which again delivers in terms of performance, build quality and features. However the most obvious competitor comes from the X5200's own stablemate - the superb Marantz SR7009.
This uses exactly the same internal architecture as the Denon, so you get all the same audio formats and features, including the optional Auro-3D upgrade. The X5200W has slightly more power in terms of amplification but otherwise, the SR7009 looks very tempting, especially as it can now be picked up for £999. However if you're looking for a genuinely impressive AV receiver that delivers in all the important areas, then look no further than the Denon AVR-X5200W.
Value For Money
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