So I took a trip to Sound Town and had a good time. (Product Review)

Alter3go

Member
EDIT: Didn't know there was an auto swear filter. I am now using 2nd grade words throughout this.

So a few weeks ago I finally put in the order for the receiver I’d been eyeing for at least 4 months, the sweet sweet Denon x3500h, the mid-range, feature rich beast of a receiver that seemed to do everything I needed and a little more. But I certainly didn’t need anything more than 7.1. Don’t need to pay $4000 for the x8600h with 11.54321 sound in my pretty small apartment. As much as I would like to have such a setup, impossible where I live. Not giving two sh*ts about eARC because the whole point of a receiver is to have everything running through it, I decided to go for the now cheaper 2018 model. So after much research, and demanding that there be passive outs for each speaker (so SO glad I did), I finally settled on the x3500h, and then salivated for a while. I finally pulled the trigger when I realized that the deal they were having on Amazon for $550 for this baby new was not gonna be there forever. It had already been up there nearly month. So I finally dived in, and a few days later it was indeed gone. Yes, it runs for that new on eBay, but you don’t get the same guarantees, nor ease of return, as you do with Amazon. On eBay every seller is different.

BTW, I know what forum I am in. The receiver isn’t the point, but it does lead up to my vacation to Sound Town, which I’ll get to in a moment.

So, when I finally got the thing in the mail at the beginning of the month, I was quite giddy. I immediately went to set it up, gleefully transferring each speaker wire from my aging Sony STR-DH740 (which I had recently picked up for only $80, quite disappointed to find out that it did indeed support 4k like I needed, but did not support HDR), to my shiny new x3500h. I was expecting at least a nominal increase in overall sound quality, especially with my music, and to enjoy all the new features it had. When I finally turned it on however, my joy turned to sadness, as, well, it was broken…

An x3500h arrived at my place today. Was so stoked. Now I'm wondering if it's broken.

…except that it wasn’t. After much research and adjusting, and even beginning the process of an exchange, I finally came to the conclusion that it wasn’t broken. It was just bad, really really really bad when it came to stereo music. Not just bad; it outright sucked a soggy sack of dicks. I could not be more disappointed. Music is the main thing I do on my setup.

It certainly didn’t help matters, as you can see in that thread, that I was getting this awful underwater sound through my phono input, which made it seem legit broken. But as I suspected, and was later able to prove by trying a different cartridge on my turntable, that it was indeed the result of a relatively low voltage coming out of my Denon DL-110 cart. Although it is indeed moving coil, it is high output, just not quite as high as MM, but I’d never had problem running it through any MM phono stage. So that’s pretty sh*tty for the x3500h, but I was never planning to use a silly built-in phono preamp anyway. But I digress…

So I endured a sort of musical hell for a few weeks. After much tinkering, tweaking and Audysseying, I got it to sound somewhat better, but it ultimately rang hallow, and was a considerable, if not massive downgrade from my STR-DH740 in musical quality. But I was stuck on whether to return it or not. Feeling kinda slapped in the face in regards to music, but happy with everything else, it was a difficult decision. But I kept it.

I had planned to use the line-level passive outputs anyway, I just hadn’t planned to do it so soon. I planned the new amplification that I would add on to be icing on the cake, instead of the cake itself. But the cake tasted terrible, and had to be utterly replaced.

Now is a good time to describe my setup. My two main front speakers are large floor speakers, each with a tweeter, 12” sub, and a 6” midrange driver. They are unto themselves full frequency, and thus I have yet to add a sub to my setup, though I am considering it, and if I do, it will be ironically only 8”. They are the DCM KX212s. Certainly not the greatest speakers in the world, but I doubt anyone couldn’t say they are at least decent, if not good, for the price they command. I lucked out and picked up the whole pair for only $15 at a Goodwill. Not even $15 each, but $15 for the pair. Sweet Deal. The only place they aren’t too good is the highs, but I am anxiously awaiting a new set of tweeters in the mail.

Then there are my front highs. They are a pair of BIC DV62SIs. Although nothing phenomenal in the wide world of speakers, for just over $100, I think they are fantastic. I also got the Ed Frias crossover mod done, which kinda smooths out the mids so they transition better instead of standing out so starkly in each frequency. Well worth the additional $30 (you send Ed your crossovers and a check for $30, you get them back modified a few weeks later. Don’t know if he still does it).

Next up is my yuge center speaker. Probably about 2 feet wide and 9 inches tall. It’s the ELAC Debut 2.0 C6.2. I was shopping a couple years ago for a replacement to my then dinky and underwheleming center. And for some reason, Amazon had this beastly beast for only $140 new. I jumped at that chance. It is now at about $290.

Last but not least are the satellites, a respectable pair of Boston HD5s, which I think make excellent satellite speakers for their tone and sound quality.

This is my lovely 7.0 system, which came together bit by bit over the years, and I am quite proud of. It isn’t the greatest in the world, but it is far from the worst.

So, back to musical suffering. After I just flat out couldn’t take it anymore, I stopped playing music altogether on it, sticking to my IEMs, I finally forced a decision, with the 30 day mark approaching soon anyway, and decided to keep them. The only question then was, how should I drive the speakers? What amplifier?

I did a lot of research, and quickly found out just how much money one can pay for good stereo amplification. I knew that in the audiophile world, with maybe willing to spend $400 at most, I was dealing with a barebones budget. On top of that, in order to truly get the most out of my DX212s and their 12” subs, I needed a lot of power, which limited a lot of my options. Furthermore, I decided that I shouldn’t just limit myself to only improving the amplification of the KX212s, but rather concluded that because of the placement of the front highs, they too are producing a lot of the music I’m hearing (I like mult. ch. stereo much more than plain stereo), and I wouldn’t get the improvement I wanted just by beefing up the fronts alone. So they were coming along for the journey too, and thus I needed 4 channels for my amp, further limiting my options.

So to sum it up, I need a lot of wattage, 4 channels, at least a decent sound, and all at a pretty low price. In otherwords, I was pretty limited and might have been completely fudgeed at that budget. But I did have something in my favor. Because the output is line level, I don’t need any actual preamplification, just the power amplifier, which was my saving grace in this search. But it was still a narrow field of candidates nonetheless. And considering that the KX212s aren’t the greatest speakers ever, I considered dumping these speakers altogether, getting some better ones that didn’t need as much juice, and a decent sub. But all that was gonna force me to spend $800 or more altogether, with the amplification, so I decided against it.

Searching through Amazon I noticed a relatively new brand called Sound Town that had seemed to have a good product at a fair price. The NIX-6000X4. 375W RMS at 8 Ohms? Not bad at all I thought, more than enough for my fronts…The reviews on Amazon itself are good, but there aren’t a lot of them, and they could easily be gamed. I searched far and wide for reviews of any of their products, and found only one mention of them altogether that was on an actual forum, asking about one of their products, with no response. Much less any actual professional reviews or anyone looking at any of their products with professional equipment to check for things like noise.

But I said fudge it, I’ll be the guinea pig, and here I am. It was $300 on Amazon, and it came in the mail a couple days later. I’ve listened to a number of vinyls* on it so far, no digital yet, and I am impressed, but not floored. Now, as I said, I play my music almost always on mult ch. stereo, and my center and satellites are still powered by the x3500h. But they produce a fraction of the sound as the fronts and the front highs.

The sound overall is far more robust than the absolutely terrible x3500h, and I am not suffering anymore. It really drives the KX212s like I expected, but unfortunately when maximizing bass output for those, the KX212s would overemphasize the kick drum over other low frequencies, causing me to be distracted listening, as I just couldn’t stop putting my attention on every single blast from the kick drum, so I had to lower the bass a bit. I’m gonna get an active sub to help augment the bass.

Overall the sound is very solid, with no gaps in quality in any frequency band. It’s an overall hearty sound that is good at lows, mid, and highs, with perhaps a slight overemphasis on the mids. But here’s the problem, it doesn’t particular stand out at at any particular frequency either. No amazing highs, no wonderfully full mids that help transition you beautifully through the song, and no deep and amazing bass. So it’s good at all levels, but not great at any level.

And that’s where I am so far. All of the above is in very sweeping and generic terms, but I’ll admit my listening hasn’t been super active, and I haven’t tried digital yet. I will continue to update this thread as I explore this product, and give far more specific detail as I do some real active listening, but overall it’s pretty good and I probably can’t ask for much more having this kind of wattage at only $300. Overall I give it a 7.8/10, leaving me satisfied, yet not thrilled. Nonetheless, I have returned to listening to music in my living room instead of just through my IEMs, as the x3500h forced me to do, and will be keeping my new Sound Town power amplifier. And last but not least, as a warning, the fans on this thing can be relatively noisy, and if at some point you need your living room to be very quiet, this might not be the best option, unless you don’t mind just turning them off from time to time, the power switch being conveniently placed on the front instead of the back.

In the end, the moral of the story is that if you consider yourself to be any sort of audiophile, never Ever EVER buy a Denon receiver if you plan to put music through it unless it has passive outs. Ever. EVER. It was just that bad.

The end…until I update at least.

---

*My vinyl setup is a Pioneer PL-518 TT with a Denon DL-110 Cart, a Schiit Mani phono stage, and the preamp described here between the Mani and the Receiver. Yes I know that sounds dumb, but it isn’t, read the thread.
 
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gibbsy

Moderator
I'm afraid your summing up the Denon for stereo music doesn't come as news to many members on here. The same can be said of the vast majority of receivers unless you look at the high end models from the likes of Arcam or NAD. Denons are poor there's no getting away from that and I include the higher end models in that as well.

I run a Rega Elicit-R stereo amp with HT by-pass connected to the pre-outs of my X6500.
 

bruny

Active Member
Don’t know if this applies but take a look at this.

 

Alter3go

Member
I'm afraid your summing up the Denon for stereo music doesn't come as news to many members on here. The same can be said of the vast majority of receivers unless you look at the high end models from the likes of Arcam or NAD. Denons are poor there's no getting away from that and I include the higher end models in that as well.

I run a Rega Elicit-R stereo amp with HT by-pass connected to the pre-outs of my X6500.

It's one thing to be a receiver amp in the first place, it's another thing all together to be soooo bad that it's a huge step down from even standard receiver quality, in this case the Sony I picked up for $80. I've run through a number of receivers, including some Yamahas, and never have I heard anything so miserable. Gives new meaning to 'sh*t tier', at least where music is concerned.
 

Apollo83

Active Member
Thats some journey...

I sometimes wonder if a simple 2.x set-up can more easily give a satisfying sound than a 7.x at the same price?

2.0 for me :)
 

Alter3go

Member
Thats some journey...

I sometimes wonder if a simple 2.x set-up can more easily give a satisfying sound than a 7.x at the same price?

2.0 for me :)

I mean, I could do that by simply setting it to stereo. But I always get something more out of mult ch stereo every time I've made the comparison. First of all, each speaker has it's own tone, and ups and downs. My seven speakers all contributing at once each add something to what I am hearing, that my 2 fronts alone could not do. Second, because of the rears, you definitely have this "feel like I'm there" sensation that you wouldn't get with plain stereo. My two cents.
 

Alter3go

Member
So I started listening to digital and I would say that this amp, or perhaps the receiver (and its DAC) + amp combo I have, is digitally biased. As in, it does cleaner job amplifying the digital signal I send from my phone to HEOS than it does the analog signal from my TT setup. It actually shines in a few areas, where when I was listening to just vinyl, I said that it's good at everything but not great at anything. It might actually be great at a few points here and there. But that might also be because this upgraded equipment is showing the weakness of my relatively mid-range stylus on my TT (the Denon DL-110), which is also aging and needs to be replaced anyway. I'll get into the specifics as I listen more.
 

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