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Denon AVR-X4800H AVR Review

Rate this AVR

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 10 3.0%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 72 21.9%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 178 54.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 69 21.0%

  • Total voters
    329

anarchist

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I would love to start hearing how 4800 owners are liking the sound quality numbers and measurements aside. Does it sound detailed, clarity in 2ch or separation and timing for moveis 7.2.4. Do you have great speakers to listen to. Does the 4800 make the speakers come alive. How does it compare to your last unit?
I have 4800h for a test drive currently - so far I'm dissapointed, compared to my Rx-A3080 it sounds muffled, almost like missing details, weak bass and on some recordings feels like vocals are recessed, like I can barely hear them (older Simply Red albums as example).
My Jamos are not high end speakers, but they sound wonderful with Yamaha, with Denon they sound like crap.
I will try to do more rounds of AB comparison with SPL level matching on different type of music, so far I just don't understand why there's so much difference in sound quality, both units are in direct pure mode.
 

soerenssen

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I have 4800h for a test drive currently - so far I'm dissapointed, compared to my Rx-A3080 it sounds muffled, almost like missing details, weak bass and on some recordings feels like vocals are recessed, like I can barely hear them (older Simply Red albums as example).
My Jamos are not high end speakers, but they sound wonderful with Yamaha, with Denon they sound like crap.
I will try to do more rounds of AB comparison with SPL level matching on different type of music, so far I just don't understand why there's so much difference in sound quality, both units are in direct pure mode.

This is interesting. I cannot compare mine to other receivers on the same set of speakers but I can still send it back if I find a better alternative. In my case, I noticed the weak bass when I used the internal amps of the Denon, but I use an external amp for LR and no problems. The Pioneer for twice as much would probably struggle too. My plan is to have a dedicated second system in parallel, used only for stereo, so the Denon won't heat up my apartment while listening to background music. It gets ridiculously hot..
 

peng

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I was thinking in the direction of replacing the NCx500 with an 1ET7040SA (for more current and better 2ohm performance), just to make sure that it's not the amp / op-amp and it's not a single PSU limitation, causing the harshness.. plus the promise of a better, more controlled bass?

Based in this post:
I have given my opinions on what all I could so far, those amps should be transparent but if you can't resist chasing electronics then I guess you just will have to keep going lol.., I do wish you success in finding the best sounding pieces you can happily settle on eventually. Back to opinion, it seems to me the only way you might stop second guessing/wondering about your hifi devices is to take the time to properly set up a blind comparison listening tests so you can finally accept the fact that what you read about other people's subjective comparisons are not reliable as there are too many variables. I can't prove it obviously but I would bet in pure direct mode (that you seem to be fond of using), when no dsp functions are involved, your 4800 won't sound different than a Yamaha (as reported by others it did) to you in a controlled blind comparison listening session, everything else has to be the same obviously. Specs and measurements indicates that should be the case, and so will subjective listening tests, when done in tightly controlled blind sessions. In sighted test, you can't control your brain, and that will let you hear differences there aren't really there. It was funny that just yesterday, when we stepped on first two steps of the escalator in the shopping mail entrance that we are very familiar with, we both felt it moved "differently", kind of weird feeling, then we realized it wasn't moving at all, and there was a notice that says use the elevator. That reminded me instantly about how on a weekly basis we read members subjective reviews on different devices sounding so different to them (of course I experienced that in the past too), when there might not be any real audible differences.

When dsp is in use, such as room correction, DD, DTS, Atmos processing etc., then of course there will be audible differences, how obvious the differences may be, would vary among people but it would be obvious enough that most would be able to tell.
 

Everett T

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I've just found out that the speakers' impedance was set to 8ohm. Changed it to 4ohm, I'll test again to see how hot it gets.
If you're talking about the setting the impendence to 4ohm in the AVR, don't. It will ultimately hurt performance by limiting voltage as a means of protection.
 

soerenssen

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I have given my opinions on what all I could so far, those amps should be transparent but if you can't resist chasing electronics then I guess you just will have to keep going lol.., I do wish you success in finding the best sounding pieces you can happily settle on eventually. Back to opinion, it seems to me the only way you might stop second guessing/wondering about your hifi devices is to take the time to properly set up a blind comparison listening tests so you can finally accept the fact that what you read about other people's subjective comparisons are not reliable as there are too many variables. I can't prove it obviously but I would bet in pure direct mode (that you seem to be fond of using), when no dsp functions are involved, your 4800 won't sound different than a Yamaha (as reported by others it did) to you in a controlled blind comparison listening session, everything else has to be the same obviously. Specs and measurements indicates that should be the case, and so will subjective listening tests, when done in tightly controlled blind sessions. In sighted test, you can't control your brain, and that will let you hear differences there aren't really there. It was funny that just yesterday, when we stepped on first two steps of the escalator in the shopping mail entrance that we are very familiar with, we both felt it moved "differently", kind of weird feeling, then we realized it wasn't moving at all, and there was a notice that says use the elevator. That reminded me instantly about how on a weekly basis we read members subjective reviews on different devices sounding so different to them (of course I experienced that in the past too), when there might not be any real audible differences.

When dsp is in use, such as room correction, DD, DTS, Atmos processing etc., then of course there will be audible differences, how obvious the differences may be, would vary among people but it would be obvious enough that most would be able to tell.
And I really appreciate it! I'm not the expert, I can only rely on my untrained ears and things that even a kids know, e.g. touching hot surfaces. :)
It is already fascinating, how much of an impact simply moving the speakers or my couch can have on the listening experience, or switching back and forth between Audyssey and Dirac and direct/pure direct. Adding Dirac was worth it imo, because it will open a new, relatively cheap pathway to experiement with different target curves and cut-off frequencies. REW is another thing that is completely new to me, so way to go. I can also detect the difference between driving the FR/FL via the internal amps of the Denon vs. the external amp. I cannot do much about the length (5m) of my current room, so as long as we don't move, I can fill in that gap with my sub, end of story.
It's mind-blowing how many variables there are that can be fine-tuned with my current system. I haven't even started and I guess the "easy" way would be to just to send everything back and start again with a new set of pre-amps/amps. But - and I fully agree with you - that won't take me any closer to figuring out what is wrong with my room or what curves I prefer in this room with these speakers, etc. That's work and time to put in. I'm sure that the majority of the people are not willing to go through the full learning curve (of a new profession, in this case). There is a good chance that if I hire a professional to tune my system, it would have a much better end result compared to buying new equipment and I guess that's your point. I should learn my system, spend time tuning it, while enjoying the journey. I was rushing things in the first weeks because I thought that it will be a quick decision and I can return the stuff if I don't like it. But two weeks is simply not enough for this (unless you know what you're doing - and I don't).

So, I'll just focus on the practical things/steps for now:
(1) Figure out why the Denon heats up and whether extra active cooling is sufficient or not.
(2) Figure out how to connect and set up REW with the Denon, to back up any of my statements with actual measurements. Play with placement, distances, crossover settings, target curves and curtains.
(3) Check what my options are to treat the existing room and if it's worth it before moving to a new place (hopefully these panels can be reused in a different room).

It probably makes more sense to wait until next year for more upgrade options and more competition to come: AVR with Dirac DLBC/ART and XLR pre-outs + dual mono power amp (1ET7040 or 1ET9040). My current AVR+amp combo cost me 3300 EUR incl. Dirac. Replacing it with an Onkyo/Pioneer for the exact same price here in the EU, especially before any measurements published, might be an immature upgrade step. I can rely only on personal opinions from others at the moment and it might still need an external power amp at least for the FR/FL, since it'll be a mixed-usage system and 2.0/2.1 is important. It will be a tight fit in my current cabinet (1cm headroom), so if it gets hot driving the full KEF system I won't have any options for active cooling, unlike with the Denon (unless I replace the cabinet). It would be nice to have an all-in-one solution.
 

soerenssen

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If you're talking about the setting the impendence to 4ohm in the AVR, don't. It will ultimately hurt performance by limiting voltage as a means of protection.
I'm stress-testing the AVR now and it's still far from getting hot. How much voltage limitation are we talking about?
I'm driving a KEF R6 Meta (center) and 2x KEF Q350 with the internal amps. External amp for FR/FL via pre-outs with 25dB gain (2.67V required for the amp for full power).
What I immediately noticed is that it has lower volume, currently watching a live concert at -60dB and it's almost background music level.
 

peng

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If you're talking about the setting the impendence to 4ohm in the AVR, don't. It will ultimately hurt performance by limiting voltage as a means of protection.

I remember reading a post by someone on AH (iirc) who insisted he heard "better sound" when he switched to 4 ohm and we couldn't convince him otherwise. The mind is so powerful, it is near impossible to make someone change their mind as it is easier to believe utimately we must trust our ears, regardless of what specs and measurements may indicate.:D
 

Everett T

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I'm stress-testing the AVR now and it's still far from getting hot. How much voltage limitation are we talking about?
I'm driving a KEF R6 Meta (center) and 2x KEF Q350 with the internal amps. External amp for FR/FL via pre-outs with 25dB gain (2.67V required for the amp for full power).
What I immediately noticed is that it has lower volume, currently watching a live concert at -60dB and it's almost background music level.
I'm not sure of the math they use to determine the exact number, but here is an article that goes into why the have the switch and why it's almost always better to leave it at the highest setting available.

 

soerenssen

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I remember reading a post by someone on AH (iirc) who insisted he heard "better sound" when he switched to 4 ohm and we couldn't convince him otherwise. The mind is so powerful, it is near impossible to make someone change their mind as it is easier to believe utimately we must trust our ears, regardless of what specs and measurements may indicate.:D
I didn't notice any difference in sound, it's now all about reducing the temperature of the chassis. Yesterday it became too hot.
 

soerenssen

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What would be the best setting for Netflix?
By default it shows "Multi Ch In", but there is an option "Multi In + DSurr" (and many others).
Using "Multi Ch In", I can hear the same sound coming from all the speakers.
 

soerenssen

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I'm not sure of the math they use to determine the exact number, but here is an article that goes into why the have the switch and why it's almost always better to leave it at the highest setting available.

I cannot do that, it will fry the amps..

Based on the article, I should look at the impedance at 400Hz if I understand correctly. It's 4ohm in my case.
Screenshot 2023-08-25 at 13.34.42.png
 

soerenssen

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I remember reading a post by someone on AH (iirc) who insisted he heard "better sound" when he switched to 4 ohm and we couldn't convince him otherwise. The mind is so powerful, it is near impossible to make someone change their mind as it is easier to believe utimately we must trust our ears, regardless of what specs and measurements may indicate.:D
What is the expected impact: less power to the center/surrounds or less output voltage for the pre-amp?
 

peng

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REW is another thing that is completely new to me, so way to go. I can also detect the difference between driving the FR/FL via the internal amps of the Denon vs. the external amp.
Since you seem interested in using REW to tell you a story or two, let me show you the following graphs I used to compare my Denon AVRs and one of my separate preamp/power amp pairs, but two different power amps were used, the Parasound A21 and the Marantz SM7:

Note that spl was rather low, average less than 75 dB average, so most of the time the 250/400 W rated A21 would have been running in class A. The one comparing with the AVR-X3400H that should be more similar to your AVR-X4800H than the much older AVR-3805, the frequency response, as heard by the mic, was practically identical, with 1/12 smoothing, from 25 to 20,000 Hz. I am 100% sure my ears are not as good as the mic. I won't draw any conclusions from just the frequency response curve, but I think most people would agree that, given distortions of modern AVRs, preamp, power amps are generally below the threshold of audibility, frequency response differences are the easiest to detect.

1692961931339.jpeg
1692962010722.jpeg


If you really want to play with REW, I posted the following links before, so just to save you time I included them below:


The software is very easy to use, and if you need help setting it up, there are no shortages of tutorial on forums and YT videos.


Matthew, ASR member did one also:


I have not watched any of those YT videos as they did not exist years ago.

There is a good chance that if I hire a professional to tune my system, it would have a much better end result compared to buying new equipment and I guess that's your point. I should learn my system, spend time tuning it, while enjoying the journey.

I doubt that, if the "professional" happens to be among the best out there, chance is good that you could be right, but it doesn't mean you will like the results. The issue too is, the person won't be coming every day, so once he's gone, if you wanted to tweak further, you are on your own again. So if you are so serious about the minor details, I would suggest you do it yourself. Bite the bullet and learn it, you may enjoy the process.

I was rushing things in the first weeks because I thought that it will be a quick decision and I can return the stuff if I don't like it. But two weeks is simply not enough for this (unless you know what you're doing - and I don't).

I think you are right on, that's why I think you did the right thing spending less, by just going with an AVR, and if in doubt, return the 4800 and grab a 3800 to further reduce your initial investment. Then use the 3800 as your learning tool, along with REW and the mic. Once you got yourself sufficient measurements for your analysis and assessments, you can demote the 3800 to a secondary system and pick your desired system. Or if you are convince the 3800 is doing a good enough job for that particular setup, then keep it.

So, I'll just focus on the practical things/steps for now:
(1) Figure out why the Denon heats up and whether extra active cooling is sufficient or not.

That's very easy to do. If you are ocd on measurements then get yourself the following gadgets:



(2) Figure out how to connect and set up REW with the Denon, to back up any of my statements with actual measurements. Play with placement, distances, crossover settings, target curves and curtains.
(3) Check what my options are to treat the existing room and if it's worth it before moving to a new place (hopefully these panels can be reused in a different room).

See links above for REW download and purchase an Umik mic.

It probably makes more sense to wait until next year for more upgrade options and more competition to come: AVR with Dirac DLBC/ART and XLR pre-outs + dual mono power amp (1ET7040 or 1ET9040). My current AVR+amp combo cost me 3300 EUR incl. Dirac. Replacing it with an Onkyo/Pioneer for the exact same price here in the EU, especially before any measurements published, might be an immature upgrade step. I can rely only on personal opinions from others at the moment and it might still need an external power amp at least for the FR/FL, since it'll be a mixed-usage system and 2.0/2.1 is important. It will be a tight fit in my current cabinet (1cm headroom), so if it gets hot driving the full KEF system I won't have any options for active cooling, unlike with the Denon (unless I replace the cabinet). It would be nice to have an all-in-one solution.

I think it is a waste of time to swapping AVRs at this point. Some people will tell you the Denon AVRs sound better than Onkyo, or Yamaha, others will tell you the opposite is true. Just ignore subjective measurements for now. Wait until next year is a good strategy for you as you are so unsure about your choices, and are interested in using REW to investigate the potential differences that could be audible to you.

Lastly, I don't expect those KEF speakers are bass champions, they are not but there is no reason for them to be so lack of bass. I have no idea why you don't have the lack of bass issue when using an external amp, because for the spl you listened to, and the distance, as evidence by the volume setting you reported, the AVR should have no trouble delivering the required current. I am listening to my tiny KEF LS50 on my desktop, driven by a 50 W 4 ohm rated integrated amp and there is no issue with bass at all. With Dirac Live off, I do feel like using a subwoofer, but with Dirac Live on, I am completely happy with the bass. You can see why if I show you the REW curves, would like to see them?
 

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peng

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What is the expected impact: less power to the center/surrounds or less output voltage for the pre-amp?
It won't affect the preamp, but the power amp. There are different schemes so we can't generalize. Based on the Audioholics articles, Denon likely just lower the voltage so that will limit the maximum power output because power output is proportional to the square of the output voltage.

As for "impact", it depends, if based on your listening habits you won't exceed the output voltage limited by the 4 ohm setting then there is no impact at all. If it does, then the impact will be on the dynamics, that is, during some peaks of the contents you listen to, the power amp may "clip", or it may shutdown to protect the amp from damage. Manufactures tell you do use the setting, probably because of certain regulatory requirements, and/or to reduce potential warranty repairs.
 

Everett T

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I cannot do that, it will fry the amps..

Based on the article, I should look at the impedance at 400Hz if I understand correctly. It's 4ohm in my case.
View attachment 307773
I'd have to read the article again but IIRC 400hz is where the ratings came from originally. Since you are only driving 1 speaker, the center speaker, that requires any real power, I'd definitely not set the AVR for 4 ohm. Your surrounds just won't be that demanding of a draw.
 

soerenssen

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I have no idea why you don't have the lack of bass issue when using an external amp, because for the spl you listened to, and the distance, as evidence by the volume setting you reported, the AVR should have no trouble delivering the required current.
It takes a minute or two to swap speaker cables, but standing at 1m distance from the front speaker, I heard more punch in the lower frequencies. At my listening position none of the setups are ideal, so I have to use the subwoofer and engage Dirac, like you do.
 

soerenssen

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I think it is a waste of time to swapping AVRs at this point.
The goal of the sidegrade would be two-fold: simplicity and (potentially) less heat. I don't expect better sound. They cost exactly the same (Denon+NCx500 = Pioneer), but if I use crossovers (e.g. 80Hz) for all the speakers because the sub is there to fill in, I might not need the NCx500 at all. Andrew Robinson's review of the Pioneer is turning me down a bit though.
- Denon+NCx500: The Denon definitely gets too hot, to the point that I don't know if active cooling could help much. It never clips at 4 or 8 ohm impedance setting, it's really just the heat. Keeps the HT costs down in case I add a dedicated stereo DAC/pre-amp for music.
- Pioneer: Advantage of having a single unit for all and higher output voltage via XLR if I add a power amp later on. Based on feedback from @ban25 it can alone drive the full KEF system when combined with a subwoofer and stays warm. Currently no space for active cooling, so it would be crucial to know if there is any heat issues reported when using the internal amps for 5.1.
 

peng

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It takes a minute or two to swap speaker cables, but standing at 1m distance from the front speaker, I heard more punch in the lower frequencies. At my listening position none of the setups are ideal, so I have to use the subwoofer and engage Dirac, like you do.
That's not a good way. A selector switch can be used to do it quickly (but carefully..):

Such as this:


 
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peng

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The goal of the sidegrade would be two-fold: simplicity and (potentially) less heat. I don't expect better sound. They cost exactly the same (Denon+NCx500 = Pioneer), but if I use crossovers (e.g. 80Hz) for all the speakers because the sub is there to fill in, I might not need the NCx500 at all. Andrew Robinson's review of the Pioneer is turning me down a bit though.
- Denon+NCx500: The Denon definitely gets too hot, to the point that I don't know if active cooling could help much. It never clips at 4 or 8 ohm impedance setting, it's really just the heat. Keeps the HT costs down in case I add a dedicated stereo DAC/pre-amp for music.
- Pioneer: Advantage of having a single unit for all and higher output voltage via XLR if I add a power amp later on. Based on feedback from @ban25 it can alone drive the full KEF system when combined with a subwoofer and stays warm. Currently no space for active cooling, so it would be crucial to know if there is any heat issues reported when using the internal amps for 5.1.

I don't know why people would believe in subjective reviews, Robinson or not. Robinson's are at least entertaining though, an excellent speaker, but other than that....;)
Onkyo's are reportedly cooler, but I read those who reported that also mentioned the fans would kick in and out, so that's not much different than using an ext. fan on the Denon's. There is no magic in this, they are all class AB amps, Denon/Marantz may be warmer because they use higher bias current, that is not always a bad thing, high bia may reduce crossover distortions that are perceived "harsh". I had used my Denon AVR-X4400H for almost 4 years, no issue whatsoever but I have used an ext fan since day 1, because I had only 2 inches clearance on top. Higher output voltage is an advantage if you need the higher voltage for the Hypex amps, otherwise that may or may not help, could also hurt, depending on your opeating range on the curve.

For example:

On this curve, voltage higher than 2 V = lower SINAD, and why would you need more than 2 V if you don't listen at reference level?
2 V pre out will drive those Hypex amp with 26 dB gain to 400 W for your KEF speakers, that's not what you need right? There is a good reason why Amir don't typically measured rca pre outs higher than 2 V, one being most people won't ever get close to such high level.

Another angle to look at this, for XLR, as you know the voltage will double so back to the curve and you will see that in your case you will be operating in the range (that is from below 1 V down) where SINAD is again, lower.

You seem to have some misconception on things about pre out voltage, gain, and power amp gain, power output requirements etc, until you are clear on those concepts, you may want to avoid "rushing" into something again.

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