Denon AVR-X7200WA 9.2 AV Receiver Review
This superb receiver has got the lot!
What is the Denon AVR-X7200?This review was updated in February 2016 to include the DTS:X firmware upgrade.
The AVR-X7200WA is the latest flagship 9-channel AV receiver from Denon, it sits at the top of their range and includes all the surround sound capabilities found on their older models plus a host of additional new features. In terms of what the X7200 adds, first of all there's a larger chassis to accommodate the new receiver's mono-block construction. As a result the X7200 has a bit more power, delivering 210W per a channel and the option for up to 11 channels with additional amplification. As with earlier models, the X7200 supports Dolby Atmos and Auro-3D via an upgrade but, as of the end of January 2016, it also adds DTS:X to the equation.
The X7200 uses DDSC-HD32 with 32-bit DACs and AL32 processing, includes 7.1-channel inputs and adds an extra component input, along with a USB port at the rear. There's also a Custom Amp Assign mode which provides greater flexibility when setting up the speaker layout and a programmable remote control with an LCD screen and backlight. In terms of future proofing the X7200WA uses HDMI 2.0a inputs and outputs, which means its supports HDCP 2.2 and HDR. The fully specified AVR-X7200WA retails for around £2,499 as at the time of writing (February 2016) and seems to have the lot. Let's find out...
DesignAt first sight the X7200 looks the same as the previous AVR-X5200 until you try to pick it up and then you realise that the chassis is quite a bit bigger and heavier. To accommodate the mono-block construction the X7200 has a chassis that measures 434 x 427 x 195mm and weighs a hefty 17.1kg. However, aside from the dimensions the design is essentially the same as other Denon receivers with an input selector on the left, a volume dial on the right and sandwiched between them a large, informative and easy to read display. The X7200 comes in a choice of black or premium silver with a metal front plate, an attractive brushed metal finish and an excellent level of build quality.The X7200 has a drop-down flap at the front, beneath the display, and this keeps the front very clean. Aside from the power button, all the other buttons and additional inputs are hidden away behind this drop-down flap. It's here that you'll find a set of basic controls and some additional inputs, including an extra HDMI connector and a USB port. There's also a headphone jack and a socket for the setup microphone that you use with the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room equalisation software.
At first glance the X7200 looks identical to other Denon receivers - until you try to pick it up!
ConnectionsAlthough Denon have tried to reduce the number of connections at the rear of their receivers, the X7200 is their flagship model and so comes with an extensive selection. As a result you get a fairly comprehensive set of component and composite video connections, along with analogue, coaxial and optical inputs and outputs. There are also 7.1-channel analogue inputs which can be handy for those with older disc players or those who would rather use their player's on-board DACs. The X7200 has analogue outputs for up to thirteen different channels and two subwoofers, although the maximum setup it can actually process is 11.2 channels. Still that does provide you with plenty of flexibility in terms of setup, especially if you want to add additional amplification and create a full 7.2.4 Dolby Atmos configuration.
In addition there are eight HDMI 2.0a/HDCP 2.2 inputs (seven at the rear and one at the front) and three HDMI 2.0a/HDCP 2.2 outputs, the main one of which supports ARC (Audio Return Channel). Although we had multiple devices connected to the X7200, we had no issues with HDMI handshaking but that can be very device specific, so we can't guarantee this will always be the case. Aside from the HDMI ports, other useful connections include a USB input, a LAN port, sockets for the AM and FM tuners, two 12V triggers, an IR Flasher and an RS232 port for serial control. There are also twin antennas at the rear, which provide both built-in WiFi and Bluetooth; along with pre-outs covering various speaker configurations, two subwoofers and multiple zones. Finally Denon has sensibly laid out the four-way speaker terminals in a line to make them easier to access and also clearly marked and colour-coded them.
Remote ControlsThe X7200 comes with a different remote to the one provided with their cheaper models and it's well designed, providing the maximum amount of control with the minimum amount of clutter. The remote is sensibly laid out, with well spaced and large buttons that make it quite ergonomic in use and comfortable to hold. There is a backlight that is motion sensitive, an LCD display at the top and the remote is programmable with four macro buttons.
Of course these days you don't have to use the provided remote control if you don't want to because Denon also offer a free remote app as an alternative. The app is available for both iOS and Android and whilst it isn’t as slick as some of the competition, it does include all the controls you'll need and proved an effective alternative. Alternatively, if you happen to be near the receiver and want to quickly change something, you can also use the controls on the front.
Although sophisticated and flexible, the X7200 is easy to setup thanks to a well designed menu system.
SetupOver the last few years, Denon have been trying to make their receivers easier and, despite its sophistication and flexibility, the X7200 is another fine example of their success in this area. There is a very handy setup wizard that takes you through the entire process, so even a complete novice shouldn’t have any problems. This approach is sensible and makes the X7200 far less intimidating to anyone who might be unfamiliar with multi-channel AV receivers. The wizard covers everything from choosing your speaker layout to setting up your various inputs and outputs and any additional zones.
Denon even provide colour coded tags for all your different speaker cables which is very handy when you have up to 13 channels to connect. 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 X7200 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 as an alternative.
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. Once you have run the Audyssey software, you can then fine tune the setup manually either via the menu system or using the network feature. We created a basic 5.1 speaker setup, then a 7.1 setup, before setting up 5.1.4, 7.1.2 and 7.1.4 configurations for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, as well as a 9.1 configuration for Auro-3D.
Denon X7200 Menus & Setup Video
What is Dolby Atmos?There have been a number of new audio formats launched recently, all of which are designed to offer a more immersive surround experience. The first to hit the market was Dolby Atmos, which is a multi-dimensional and object-based audio format that can be included within Dolby TrueHD soundtracks. It adds additional overhead and width speakers in order to create a more immersive surround experience. The X7200 offers the choice of either a 5.2.4 (four overhead speakers) or a 7.2.2 (two overhead speakers) configuration using the nine channels of built-in amplification and up to two subwoofers. However if you add two more channels of amplification, you can also create a 7.2.4 configuration or a 9.2.2 configuration with additional width speakers. For more information on Dolby Atmos read our handy guide.
What is DTS:X?The second of these new audio formats is DTS:X, which has only recently been released as a firmware update, and the X7200 is the first AV receiver to get such an upgrade. This format is also a multi-dimensional and object-based audio system and, much like Atmos, is included within DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks. It adds additional overhead, height or width speakers in order to create a more immersive surround experience. The X7200 offers a choice of speaker configurations that reflects the general flexibility of DTS:X but the most sensible approach is to use the same speaker layout that you have chosen for Dolby Atmos, thus allowing you to use the same speaker configuration for both soundtracks. You can find out more about DTS:X here.
What is Auro-3D?The third new immersive audio format is Auro-3D but this takes a very different approach to Dolby Atmos and DTS:X when creating a multi-dimensional experience. Instead of height speakers and an object-based approach, Auro-3D uses more traditional channels and a three layer system to add height and overhead speakers. The basic Auro-3D setup uses extra height speakers over the front left and right and rear left and right speakers to create a 9.1 setup (the usual 5.1 plus four height channels). There is also the option to add a 'Voice of God' speaker directly above the listener, creating a 10.1-channel configuration and an extra height speaker over the centre channel to get an 11.1-channel configuration.
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 X7200 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 discover more about Auro-3D here.
The X7200 includes support for all three immersive audio formats - Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D.
Testing the X7200Along with our usual 7.1-channel speaker configuration, we have installed four overhead speakers into our home cinema, which means we were in a position to fully test all the usual audio formats and the new immersive ones. As we mentioned in the setup section, we tested movies with both 5.1 and 7.1 soundtracks before moving to both 5.1.4 and a 7.1.2 Dolby Atmos and DTS:X speaker configurations. We also added a Cambridge Audio Azur 651W 2-channel power amplifier to run the main front left and right speakers, allowing us to create a 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos and DTS:X configuration. To test Atmos we used Dolby’s own demo disc, as well as a number of Blu-rays with Dolby Atmos soundtracks. In order to test DTS:X, we used the DTS demo disc and the Blu-rays of Ex Machina and American Ultra, both of which have DTS:X soundtracks.
As luck would have it, the position and orientation of our overhead speakers meant that we could, along with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, also use them for an Auro-3D 11.1 configuration. 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 includes clips from three Dreamworks Animation movies (The Croods, Rise of the Guardians, Turbo), along with plenty of musical material and the German Blu-ray of Red Tails which includes an Auro-3D soundtrack. We also had a couple of Auro-3D music Blu-rays with which to test the X7200. In addition, we listened to an extensive amount of stereo music, with the X7200 in a two-channel configuration with and without a subwoofer.
Specs & FeaturesThe X7200 uses a left/right-separated monolithic amplifier design and custom made DHCT (Denon High Current Transistors) combined with discrete circuitry that delivers 175W into each of the nine channels. The X7200 uses Audyssey MultEQ XT32 (Pro) for the room equalisation and then adds a host of other features such as Audyssey DSX for additional height or width speakers. There’s also Audyssey LFC (Low Frequency Containment) which dynamically monitors the audio content and removes low frequencies that pass through walls, floors and ceilings; which could be useful if you live in an apartment.
There’s the option for up to two 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 Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D, currently making the X7200 the only AV receiver to offer all these options.
On the video side, the X7200 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 2.0a inputs and three HDMI 2.0a outputs, along with video support over HDMI for additional zones, as well as support for ARC (Audio Return Channel), HDR and HDCP 2.2. For those with the older AVR-X7200W there is the option to upgrade their HDMI board to support HDMI 2.0a/HDCP 2.2 for a fee.
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 X7200 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 X7200 can meet your needs. The Denon also includes DDSC-HD32 with 32-bit DACs and AL32 processing.
The X7200 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. Despite all these features, thanks to Denon’s Setup Assistant, you can quickly and easily setup your new X7200.
The X7200 delivered a great performance with movies and when it came to immersive audio the results were stunning.
Movie Sound QualityWe have reviewed a number of receivers from Denon and they have all been excellent when it comes to multi-channel audio, so it came as no surprise to discover the X7200 was equally as adept. When listening to 5.1-channel soundtracks the Denon did a great job of delivering a lively and dynamic sound field. The surrounds were well integrated and had presence, without drawing too much attention to themselves; whilst sounds and effects were seamlessly panned around the room. The front soundstage was open and detailed and dialogue remained clear and focused on the centre channel. The bass was well integrated, supporting the entire mix and providing impact where necessary. As a result the entire sound field remained tonally balanced, helping to envelope the listener with greater precision. When we moved to 7.1-channel soundtracks the rear opened up a bit more, whilst retaining all the strengths we found with 5.1-channel mixes.
When it came to Dolby Atmos soundtracks the results were as impressive as we expected, with the additional overhead speakers really opening up the immersive nature of the audio. The Blu-rays of John Wick and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 sounded superb and thanks to the dimensional effects of the object-based mix, pinpointing specific sounds was 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 it all sounded great; although the full 7.1.4 experience was the best. We had a similar experience with DTS:X, although Ex Machina is probably not the best choice of film to showcase a new audio format. However American Ultra is fairly action-packed and it sounded great in DTS:X. If you are watching a Blu-ray with a Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack, then you can use their respective up-mixers to create a more immersive audio experience.
They both 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 immersively-mixed soundtrack because clearly it would be impossible to replicate the object-based approach that the new formats use. However by channelling certain sounds to the overhead speakers it does open the overall sound field out, creating a greater sense of dimensionality. We watched Star Trek and Star Trek Into Darkness and found that both benefited from the additional sense of immersion, with the feeling that sounds were coming from above you.
Finally we moved onto our Auro-3D 11.1 setup and whilst the approach may differ from Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, the results were just as impressive. The Auro-3D demo disc includes some great material recorded using multi-layer microphones and the results were highly immersive. When the demo switched between turning the height layer on or off, the realism created by the additional channels was very apparent. The three scenes on the demo disc (Rise of the Guardians, The Croods and Turbo) all sounded fantastic, as did Red Tails. However it isn't just movies that benefit from Auro3D, music and live music in particular, can sound very impressive in the new format with a genuine sense of spacial awareness. Auro-3D also includes an 'up-mixer' that can add a greater sense of immersion to any material.
Denon AVR-X7200 Unboxing Video
Music Sound QualityWe have often found that whilst AV receivers are great with multi-channel soundtracks they sometimes come across as clinical or too muscular where two-channel music is concerned. Of all the receivers that we have reviewed the similarly priced Anthem MRX 710 delivered the most musical performance with two-channel content. However, thanks to its mono-block construction and Pure Direct mode, the X7200 certainly gave the Anthem a run for its money, delivering a great two-channel performance but also offering the prospect of Atmos and Auro-3D into the bargain. Our current album of choice is Lost in the Dream by The War on Drugs and it sounded very impressive, with an open front soundstage and plenty of detail.
Once you take into account its networking and Bluetooth capabilities, the X7200 becomes a genuinely capable partner for music. 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 X7200 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, glossing over some of their limitations.
The X7200 delivers everything you could want from an AV receiver, making it the current best choice.
- Superb sound quality
- Impressive surround performance
- Dolby Atmos, Auro-3D & DTS:X
- Excellent features
- Easy to setup
- Great design and build quality
- Very flexible
- Nothing really
Denon AVR-X7200WA 9.2 AV Receiver Review
Should I buy one?In terms of features and performance the Denon AVR-X7200WA does more than enough to justify its price tag. The level of build quality and the design are both excellent, whilst the features are second to none including support for HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2. The X7200 supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X out-of-the-box and for a small fee you can add Auro-3D. The X7200 is easy to set up, very flexible and intuitive to use with built-in WiFi and Bluetooth. The rear connections are comprehensive and well laid out, whilst the remote control and menu system are both simple and ergonomic.
When it comes to movie surround soundtracks the X7200 is a stellar performer and with Dolby Atmos the results could often be jaw-dropping. The performance with DTS:X and Auro-3D was equally as impressive, although there are currently fewer films available on Blu-ray for these particular formats. The X7200 also managed to deliver a highly impressive performance with music and the mono-block design certainly paid dividends. So overall the AVR-X7200WA is an excellent AV receiver and more than deserving of a Highly Recommended award.
What are my alternativesIn terms of its price tag, the X7200 is one of the more expensive 9-channel AV receivers but there is nothing we have reviewed to date that out-performs the Denon. In fact in overall performance terms, the X7200 is one of the best AV receivers on the market and its nearest competitors would be the Pioneer LX-88, the Onkyo TX-NR1030 and the Yamaha RX-A3040. However given the relative future-proofing of the Denon AVR-X7200WA and it's overall performance and features, it currently is the AV receiver to beat.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £2,499.00
Value For Money8
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