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Introduction
Denon receivers have maintained a respectable level of popularity among home theater enthusiasts with a reputation for good performance and up-to-date technology. The brand's updated lineup for 2014 aims to maintain reputation with an impressive collection of features to compliment their proven design. Two of the major talking points of late 2014 and early 2015 have been 3D/Immersive audio formats and automated room correction. The processing power required for both features pushes the limits of typical AV receivers up to this point. Rather than compromise, Denon is one of the few that has chosen to bump their hardware specs in order to support Dolby Atmos as well as one of the most in-depth room correction and EQ packages available for home theater. Although there's certainly more to good performance than a nice spec sheet, the AVR-X4100W appears at first glance to be a serious contender.

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Great review Peter. This unit's big brother (the 5200) and the Yammy 3040 are in serious contention for my upcoming Dolby Atmos installation. Though at this point (given pending news on DTS:X) it will probably be their successors in next year's lineup (hoping for 9.1.4 Atmos capability too). Regardless, nice to have additional confirmation that the Denon is a good choice.
 

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Great review Peter. This unit's big brother (the 5200) and the Yammy 3040 are in serious contention for my upcoming Dolby Atmos installation. Though at this point (given pending news on DTS:X) it will probably be their successors in next year's lineup (hoping for 9.1.4 Atmos capability too). Regardless, nice to have additional confirmation that the Denon is a good choice.
Both are excellent options. I'm with you regarding 9.1.4. Something I discovered with the X4100W was that I couldn't use the wides with Atmos, only DTS Neo:X. We should be seeing more DTS:X details any day now. I'll most likely wait until late 2015 or early 2016 to buy a receiver too.
 

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I thought you would have been able to do 7.1.2 with wides instead of surround backs (if you had two channels of external amplification). But perhaps I'm wrong on that.

I am near certain that the 5200 will allow 7.1.4 with wides instead of surround backs -- it was confirmed by owners on AVS. A guy over there was running 5.1.4 and wanted to investigate adding wides. He couldn't get speakers in the right spots for wides so he abandoned the idea. So I just assumed you could do 7.1.2 with wides as well. Perhaps not then.
 

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I had assumed the same, but wasn't able to get them to all play together (7.1.2 in the case of the X4100). Atmos can accommodate speakers in that position (though not called front wide), but I haven't seen it implemented in a home theater receiver yet.
 

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Well, we know for sure that 9.1.2 is possible. At least two users over at AVS are running the Marantz AV7702 that way. Obviously not possible with the 4100, but should be doable on the 5200.

DSU doesn't extrapolate to "wides", but objects in Atmos soundtracks can use them.
 

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Well, we know for sure that 9.1.2 is possible. At least two users over at AVS are running the Marantz AV7702 that way. Obviously not possible with the 4100, but should be doable on the 5200.

DSU doesn't extrapolate to "wides", but objects in Atmos soundtracks can use them.
Yes - which is exactly why I had expected the X4100 to be able to make use of them with DSU or Atmos. To clarify my earlier statement - I haven't seen them used in 7.1.2 or 7.1.4 in place of the rears yet. Looks like you must do 9.1.2 in order to make use of the wides.

edit: for now at least.
 

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Peter, thanks for this great review :)

I too have the Paradigm studio 100 v2 and I was eyeing the 4100 since my Onkyo 929 went dead on me af weeks ago (HDMI board issues...again). Still waiting to hear about DTS X to make the final decision.

Maybe you can help me to decide...I was asking myself if adding more speakers for Dolby Atmos or DTS X is that critical to me. I've attached picturs of my living room setup (sorry for the poor quality).

The living room is really cramped. I'm still in shock that I was able to find a place for all my speakers in a 150X120 inch room :D

So my surround spekears are already too close to my ears. Is it logical to add more speakers to an already small and cramped room?
is "Less is more" a good phrase for me to remember, or shoud I try and get the full potantial from the receiver even if the conditions are not ideal?
 

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Peter, thanks for this great review :)

I too have the Paradigm studio 100 v2 and I was eyeing the 4100 since my Onkyo 929 went dead on me af weeks ago (HDMI board issues...again). Still waiting to hear about DTS X to make the final decision.

Maybe you can help me to decide...I was asking myself if adding more speakers for Dolby Atmos or DTS X is that critical to me. I've attached picturs of my living room setup (sorry for the poor quality).

The living room is really cramped. I'm still in shock that I was able to find a place for all my speakers in a 150X120 inch room :D

So my surround spekears are already too close to my ears. Is it logical to add more speakers to an already small and cramped room?
is "Less is more" a good phrase for me to remember, or shoud I try and get the full potantial from the receiver even if the conditions are not ideal?
That's a major bummer about the NR929 :( I had my eye on that exact model before Atmos was introduced. Regarding your setup... Your surrounds are indeed very close, but not sure there's much you can do in your space, other than moving your couch away from the wall (which is recommended anyway). Having said that, adding a set of height speakers could still add some dimension to your sound field in the vertical direction. If you have all channel levels and distances properly calibrated, the surrounds and height channels should all be pretty well balanced. Others will tell you to skip Atmos, but IMO it's worth trying, even in a small room. Almost forgot to ask... what is the height of your ceiling?

One concern I do have with your setup is the position of your left main speaker. Being so close to the side wall, you are definitely getting some reflections that will cause distortion at your ears. Is acoustic treatment an option? You should really have some absorptive material next to that speaker.
 

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That's a major bummer about the NR929 :( I had my eye on that exact model before Atmos was introduced. Regarding your setup... Your surrounds are indeed very close, but not sure there's much you can do in your space, other than moving your couch away from the wall (which is recommended anyway). Having said that, adding a set of height speakers could still add some dimension to your sound field in the vertical direction. If you have all channel levels and distances properly calibrated, the surrounds and height channels should all be pretty well balanced. Others will tell you to skip Atmos, but IMO it's worth trying, even in a small room. Almost forgot to ask... what is the height of your ceiling?

One concern I do have with your setup is the position of your left main speaker. Being so close to the side wall, you are definitely getting some reflections that will cause distortion at your ears. Is acoustic treatment an option? You should really have some absorptive material next to that speaker.
The hight of my ceiling is approximately 9 feet.

Regarding the Left main speaker - yes, I know it's an acoustic mess. that's why I'll always go for a receiver with audyssey multeq xt32.
Do you have any ideas on which absorptive materials sould I use, and where to place them?
 

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I have to put a plug in for the x4000 as well - my brother uses it and I think it is an extremely great value especially with XT32. He would have preferred the X4100 b/c of all of the current options - bluetooth, airplay, wifi, etc. all in one but it wouldn't fit in his cabinet. I think XT32 is the way to go as far as room correction goes - I've tried almost all and this seems to work the best for me. Mileage may vary!
 

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Such a great write-up!

I'm often baffled by how much stuff they cram into one box these days, and with future models I'm sure that development will continue. I may not have a personal interest in immersive audio at this stage but it's nice to see Denon still holding strong! Denon have always been high up among my preferences for integrated units. I had their AVR-3808 for 4 years, longest ever for a receiver. It wasn't perfect by any means but very enjoyable performance.
 

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Most of the time I only look at equipment reviews if I am shopping or if they are done shoot out (direct comparison) style.
But this morning I went through the recent AVR reviews you have done.
Thanks for doing this.

One question I have is in regards to the baseline frequency response before EQ is applied.
There is a lot of difference in the baseline from one AVR to the next.
Is this variation attributable to varying mic placements, speakers being moved, or some other physical difference in the room ?
Are the AVRs in pure direct mode (or equivalent) for baseline measurements ?

Best regards,
Charlie
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Most of the time I only look at equipment reviews if I am shopping or if they are done shoot out (direct comparison) style.
But this morning I went through the recent AVR reviews you have done.
Thanks for doing this.

One question I have is in regards to the baseline frequency response before EQ is applied.
There is a lot of difference in the baseline from one AVR to the next.
Is this variation attributable to varying mic placements, speakers being moved, or some other physical difference in the room ?
Are the AVRs in pure direct mode (or equivalent) for baseline measurements ?

Best regards,
Charlie
Excellent questions Charlie. I do the measurements to try to add some transparency and consistency to my reviews, but the more I do them, the less confident I am that they are a truly good representation of the system's performance. I still think they're very informative, and that's why I'll continue to share them, but there are many factors that can effect the measured frequency response.

I do notice differences in the baseline measurements each time I put a new receiver in the system. Generally there have not been other changes made to the room, but I have been upgrading acoustic treatments, so that's certainly a factor in some cases. I try to be consistent with mic placement, but I would say my method leaves room for variation there too. i.e. I haven't pinpointed a standard "MLP" location with a tight tolerance on distance from front wall. It is generally "eyeballed" based on the sofa's position, which has not changed (other than shifted back and forth to vacuum or something). Same goes for speaker positions. They don't change unless they get bumped/accidentally shifted. I also have not yet achieved a Wayne Myers level of precision speaker placement. All those little things add up.

I had started an experiment in another space to explore some of your exact questions, and then add room correction into the mix to compare the big name room EQ packages. I did a few receivers, then kind of stalled due to lack of free time, and a bunch of other junk has been moved in and out of the room, so I don't feel any results beyond what I already have would be fair.

I have found that in most enclosed (or semi-enclosed) spaces, mic placement has as much of an effect on measured response as most anything else, including speaker/seating locations, room treatment, and equipment changes.

Since your question is specifically about the difference between receivers... Based on my experience, I do believe there can be differences from one receiver to the next when measuring in-room response at the listening position. Keep in mind though, that there is generally a good bit of time between the beginning of each AVR review I do, and even something like a footrest or pillow being in a different place can theoretically have an effect on response. The effects of the room, speaker/sub position, seating position, and acoustic treatments, and even the number of people in the room, will cumulatively have a much more significant impact on measured response than the receiver/amp. In terms of dynamics, performance with lower impedance speakers, etc. then the amp certainly comes into play during playback of actual music/movie content.

Regarding sound decoder/processing modes... I generally use the direct mode when taking REW measurements. I use an HDMI connection from my laptop and select individual channels using the ASIO4ALL driver. Combining sub and main response in a single curve can be tricky on some receivers though, depending on how they handle subs/crossovers.

I recently picked up an A/B amp/speaker switch than can be connected to two amps/receivers and 4 sets of speakers. I'm still hoping to do some direct comparisons (including measurements) of a bunch of stuff I have on hand, and share with the forum. Kids take up a lot of my time these days (and are a lot more fun than listening to frequency sweeps). It's still on my to-do list though.

I fear I may have just rambled and not completely answered your questions. If you would like more details, or if there are certain tests you'd like me to try, ask away. I have a half dozen receivers on hand and about the same number of speaker sets, so I can potentially collect a wide range of data.
 

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Thank you for the details.
Taking on equipment reviews is a huge effort, I appreciate the time you are putting into it.
 

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Eventually I went with Denon X2100 as a short time solution, until the 2016 models will arive with all the new improvements (DTS: X, HDCP 2.2, etc.).

It lacks the power to drive my Paradigm Studio speakers as well as I want to, but it will do for now.
 

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Re: Denon AVR-X4100W - ? on video capabilities

Does anyone know if the X4100W has the following video capabilities:
HDMI 2.0a, including HDR and BT.2020 pass-through capabilities,
HDCP 2.2 and total coverage of 4K video (4K, 60Hz, 4:4:4: color sub-sampling),
Can up-convert standard definition and high definition content to Ultra HD resolution?

Thanks,
XEagleDriver
 

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It does have HDMI 2.0, but not HDCP 2.2. I'm not sure on the HDR and BT.2020 specs though. It will pass 4k and also upconvert to 4k.
 
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