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Denon AVR-X3800H Review

Rate this AVR

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 75 20.7%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 194 53.4%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 78 21.5%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 16 4.4%

  • Total voters
    363

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Denon AVR-X3800H 9.4 Home Theater Audio/Video Receiver. It was kindly drop shipped to me by a member and costs US $1,699.
Denon AVR-3800H AVR Home Theater Dolby Atmos IMAX Audio Video Receiver Review.jpg

Not much to say about the look of the unit as it is pretty much similar/same as last generations. Here is the back panel:
Denon AVR-3800H AVR Home Theater Dolby Atmos IMAX Audio Video Receiver back panel Review.jpg


I had one operational problem with the unit where the Setup button would not bring up the menus anymore. A power cycle fixed it. I was happy to see solid extruded aluminum heatsink. Despite that, the top front of the of the unit (above the heatsink) got quite hot to the touch. I highly recommend ample airflow in that area. As usual, there is a fan there but it would not come on to cool the unit.

I grabbed a preliminary set of measurements from the DAC section of the 3800H and ran it by the company. Within typical margin of error, the measurements were the same as company's own.

Denon AVR-X3800H DAC Measurements
The DAC measurements and usage are made better by a global "preamplifier" mode which shuts down the amps and keeps them from overloading the unit during testing. I started my tests using Toslink optical to remove any possibility of ground loops:
Denon AVR-3800H AVR Toslink Input Pre-out Measurements.png


I was fair bit disappointed to see the high distortion spikes which caused the unit to underperform the AVR-X3700H by some 10 dB. This naturally knocks down the positioning of the unit by good bit in our SINAD ranking:
Best home theater AVR Review.png

The culprit seems to be the optimal output shifting fair bit lower in voltage:
Denon AVR-3800H AVR Toslink Input Pre-out THD+N vs Level Measurements.png


With amps shut off, the 3700H was happy to go 2.0 volts.
index.php

So fairly large degradation here. Company explanation was that this was good enough for "99%" of the external amps out there. Be that as it may, it still doesn't explain the drop in performance at the peak level (101 dB for 3700 vs 95 for 3800).

Connecting HDMI causes a rise in noise floor but SINAD didn't change since it is dominated by distortion:
Denon AVR-3800H AVR HDMI Pure Input Pre-out Measurements.png


Fortunately dynamic range is unchanged from last generation:
Denon AVR-3800H AVR Toslink Input Pre-out DNR Measurements.png


IMD is naturally worse due to earlier saturation:
Denon AVR-3800H AVR Toslink Input Pre-out IMD Measurements.png


Linearity has suffered a bit:

Denon AVR-3800H AVR Toslink Input Pre-out Linearity Measurements.png


Multitone shows the degradation we would expect:
Denon AVR-3800H AVR HDMI Pure Input Pre-out Multitone Measurements.png


Due to different DAC chip used (?), the filter performance is a bit worse as well:
Denon AVR-3800H AVR Toslink Input Pre-out Filter Measurements.png



Denon AVR-3800H AVR Toslink Input Pre-out Frequency Response Measurements.png


This naturally increases the noise+distortion in our wideband measurements:

Denon AVR-3800H AVR Toslink Input Pre-out THD vs frequency Measurements.png


Quite poor result.

Jitter is bad but so was the last generation:
Denon AVR-3800H AVR Toslink Input Pre-out Jitter Measurements.png


Denon AVR-X3800H Amplifier Measurements:
Let's start with analog input with and without pure mode:
Denon AVR-3800H AVR Aanalog Input Amplifier Ferquency Response Measurements.png

This is good results.

Crosstalk is very similar to last generation and in need of some improvement:
Denon AVR-3800H AVR Aanalog Input Amplifier Crosstalk Measurements.png


Dashboard performance is a bit worse than last generation but not as bad as the hit in the DAC section:
Denon AVR-3800H AVR Aanalog Input Amplifier Measurements.png


Best AVR Home Theater Amplifier Review.png

HDMI input raises the noise floor:
Denon AVR-3800H AVR Toslink Input Amplifier Measurements.png


Fortunately noise performance is the same as before:
Denon AVR-3800H AVR Aanalog Input Amplifier SNR Measurements.png

Multitone has power supply noise in lower frequencies and rising distortion in highs:
Denon AVR-3800H AVR Toslink Input Amplifier Multitone Measurements.png


Rest of the measurements are essentially identical to last generation AVR:
Denon AVR-3800H AVR Aanalog Input Amplifier Power 4 Measurements.png


Denon AVR-3800H AVR Aanalog Input Amplifier Power 8 Measurements.png


Denon AVR-3800H AVR Aanalog Input Amplifier Max and Peak Power 4 Measurements.png


Denon AVR-3800H AVR Aanalog Input Amplifier frequency vs distortion vs Power 4 Measurements.png


All in all, the amplifier is as performant as before.

Conclusions
I had high hopes going into this review thinking the company had seen the advantage its superior objective measurements in the past and would try to capitalize on them. Sadly, the reverse seems to be true with the DAC section taking a large step backward. Considering that the 3800 costs $500 more than 3700H, this is very surprising to me. Yes, inflation has a lot to do with that but surely the eye needed to be focused on making sure they at least met the same level of performance as last generation.

The good news is that the amplifier seems to be same design as last generation and has only taken a small hit.

Denon had been my "goto" recommendation for AVRs and even AVPs. When anyone asked me about either, I would just say "get a Denon AVR." While subjectively the performance of this new generation may be similar, I can't accept the regression in objective measured performance.

It is with much sadness that I cannot recommend the Denon AVR-X3800H.

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kaopad999

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And this got a 5 star review on What HiFi

They quote:

"Streaming SBTRKT’s Trials Of The Past, the AVC-X3800H delivers a surprisingly nuanced musical performance with an assured attack at the start of each synth note and the envelope of each reverb tail given space to breathe. The hefty bass is solidly controlled, while at the top end of the spectrum, the shakers are nicely defined and spread wide"

:facepalm:
 

JSmith

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Definitely a bit disappointing compared to previously measured models for sure.

Some pic's;


DC4A3EAF-592C-452C-A05D-859509622638.jpeg



denonavr-x3800hstudiocircuitboard.jpg


Unsure which TI DAC chip this uses;
AVR-X3800H features advanced TI (Texas Instruments) 32-bit/192kHz digital-to-analog converters
Very good of you @amirm to squeeze this review in while dealing with the house, cheers. :)


JSmith
 

AndreaT

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Great review! Thank you Amir.

AVRs are in need of extensive redesign of pre- and amplifier sections. Their performance it is still 1980’s consumer’s electronics (and their looks too). It is also truly indicative of poor product design to market a new AVR with worse performance than the one before.

$ 1,700 is a decent chunk of money to be careless about: it buys you a SOTA amp and DAC/Preamp with some cash left, albeit not a multichannel one. I soldier by with my 2.1 modest AV system as I rather wait for improved specs, review, aesthetic and price.
 

GXAlan

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@amirm
Just noticed that you have the broken X6700H shown in the chart. Could this be another crazy bad capacitor scenario?
 

mctron

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$ 1,700 is a decent chunk of money to be careless about: it buys you a SOTA amp and DAC/Preamp with some cash left, albeit not a multichannel one.
So it buys you something entirely different? Ok..

Wonder how we would all perceive this unit if not for the anchoring of the x3700 review
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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@amirm
Just noticed that you have the broken X6700H shown in the chart. Could this be another crazy bad capacitor scenario?
As I noted, I ran the measurements by Denon so no bad cap this time.
 

Beave

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Well, at least they finally removed the component video inputs and output.

I've written on this before, but these products are just too complex for a company to truly test and optimize the designs when they have nearly a dozen new models coming out each year. They have to be taking shortcuts in testing and optimizing design and layout.
 

DubbyMcDubs

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Damn! I was going to buy one of these to use the upcoming Dirac update. Oh well....
 

MarcT

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I ordered a 4700 just before seeing this. I'm not sure it measures much better, however. I hope so.
 
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