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Denon AVR-X4800H AVR Review

Rate this AVR

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 10 3.2%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 71 22.5%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 170 54.0%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 64 20.3%

  • Total voters
    315

soerenssen

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It is very very likely that the separate chain will not improve sound in its own as speakers, room and room corrections affect sound by orders of magnitude more than all the electronics together.
Plus “better” is very undefined and in your case (and many others) it is simply what you like most.
To get there simply use one of the recommended room correction system and spend some time with it. There is no silver bullet system chain , which ensures that you like the result. And you actually adjusting the room correction system until you like the result is by far more effective, than (randomly) changing electronic components, which are measurably different but audibly are not distinguishable.
Power amps: Start with the X4800 and if you find that (by measuring) you want to listen very loud and have problems with your speaker impedance you can add a power amp later (I have two mono blocks hooked up to my AVR, driving my KEF Reference 3, but believe me, I am very very hard pressed to hear a difference).
Music and HT: I use two settings, in the room correction system (in my case Audyssey with MultiEQX) one for Music and one for HT. All one needs. (Yes I do have a second system in my office. But that can come later).
As soon as I have the electronics, I will focus on the room. I will have to buy something anyway, before I fry my speakers with my old Yamaha RXV-440RDS AVR (way below 60% of the KEF's power rating: https://ca.kef.com/blogs/news/recommended-amplifier-power), since I like to crank it up quite a lot during action movies.

I'm just curious if - during critical music listening - I can hear any audible improvements with a better quality multichannel DAC like the Okto DAC8 Pro or the DM7 plus Dirac without downsampling, compared to the x4800h. The problem is that I look at the signature (list of devices) of other members too often and I can see many people running a Mac or PC based 2.2 system (in their living room!). That's how I figured that there must be a reason behind. I have this idea that if I can squeeze better performance/quality from the KEFs, why not. I've also made the mistake of reading the KEF Ref3 review on soundnews and it mentions that this speaker can scale with more powerful amps and better quality components.

As mentioned, HT is secondary for me, I just want a nice immersive experience during the occasional movie evenings, with plenty of grunt. This is why I'll add my old ported sub as a third one to the 2 sealed that I will use for music. For this secondary purpose the x4800h is very good and comes with a very good price as well here in Europe, recently below 1200EUR. Even an x3800h would probably do the job since it has all the features that I need. The output voltage is a bit low for the NCx500 (it would have to be used with the highest gain setting), but the Purifi 1ET7040 seems to be a good pairing.

Between a properly set up Audyssey MultEQ-X and DLBC system I don't expect much difference either. Especially if I set the curtain to 500Hz or lower. But I don't have the option to use Audyssey on the 2.2 chain, it requires an AVR that must be bought in advance, even before you buy the MultEQ-X licence.
I think you have most of the pros and cons. And after all. Your money, your decision. And maybe you have to go down the separate chain rabbit hole to find out yourself. I have been there (Dedicated Auralic DAC) and I built it back. Have fun. :)
No audible difference on an Auralic DAC? May I ask what is your current setup / how you drive the KEFs?

I am starting from scratch (I have only the speakers, plus the trial DLBC licence), so it's not too late, I just need a push to the right direction. I'm a perfectionist and it makes it extremely hard to make the right decision in an area where I'm not yet knowledgable and you're surrounded with subjective opinions.

Anyways, I appreciate all of your advice!
 

peng

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Thanks! And I've subscribed to the Dirac Live Standalone thread, so I'll keep the updates over there.
As I mentioned, DL has been 100% stable and no more no signal message, for at least a month, probable longer. I checked the version number and the are:

Dirac Live: 3.4.4
Processor: 1.7.15

I just updated them to the latest ver.:

Dirac Live: 3.7.3
Processor : 1.7.18

So far so good but too early to tell.
 

HarmonicTHD

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As soon as I have the electronics, I will focus on the room. I will have to buy something anyway, before I fry my speakers with my old Yamaha RXV-440RDS AVR (way below 60% of the KEF's power rating: https://ca.kef.com/blogs/news/recommended-amplifier-power), since I like to crank it up quite a lot during action movies.

I'm just curious if - during critical music listening - I can hear any audible improvements with a better quality multichannel DAC like the Okto DAC8 Pro or the DM7 plus Dirac without downsampling, compared to the x4800h. The problem is that I look at the signature (list of devices) of other members too often and I can see many people running a Mac or PC based 2.2 system (in their living room!). That's how I figured that there must be a reason behind. I have this idea that if I can squeeze better performance/quality from the KEFs, why not. I've also made the mistake of reading the KEF Ref3 review on soundnews and it mentions that this speaker can scale with more powerful amps and better quality components.

As mentioned, HT is secondary for me, I just want a nice immersive experience during the occasional movie evenings, with plenty of grunt. This is why I'll add my old ported sub as a third one to the 2 sealed that I will use for music. For this secondary purpose the x4800h is very good and comes with a very good price as well here in Europe, recently below 1200EUR. Even an x3800h would probably do the job since it has all the features that I need. The output voltage is a bit low for the NCx500 (it would have to be used with the highest gain setting), but the Purifi 1ET7040 seems to be a good pairing.

Between a properly set up Audyssey MultEQ-X and DLBC system I don't expect much difference either. Especially if I set the curtain to 500Hz or lower. But I don't have the option to use Audyssey on the 2.2 chain, it requires an AVR that must be bought in advance, even before you buy the MultEQ-X licence.

No audible difference on an Auralic DAC? May I ask what is your current setup / how you drive the KEFs?

I am starting from scratch (I have only the speakers, plus the trial DLBC licence), so it's not too late, I just need a push to the right direction. I'm a perfectionist and it makes it extremely hard to make the right decision in an area where I'm not yet knowledgable and you're surrounded with subjective opinions.

Anyways, I appreciate all of your advice!
My current setup is

Living Room: Denon X3700 Gen 1 (with MultiEqX) into Poweramps (Monoblocks 380W RMS into 4ohms, SINAD >110dB) into KEF Reference 3 for LR and KEF R3 for Surround and two KEF KF92 subs for my living room.

Office: PC into Focusrite 4i4 3rd Gen into Neumann KH80 and KH750 sub for my office with MA1 room correction.

DAC Sound difference: there is an endless thread and debate on this. In my case: The Auralic Altair Gen1 is perfectly linear with SiNAD >110dB (I don’t remember the exact number). I tested it against the Denon and the Focusrite with the above setup. No audible difference. Why? Because both the Denon and even the Focusrite are also linear and their SINAD is with about 95dB already well below the audibility threshold. After that I sold the quite expensive Auralic.

And that’s the reason why I am sceptical you will hear a difference. The reason why many have higher SINAD systems is most likely, because they can and it is nowadays very affordable.
 
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peng

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ban25, here's another case Flavio had to fix something so if you can't solve it yourself, contact him.


 

soerenssen

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I'm VERY guilty of chasing the dragon myself and mean no disrespect at all but saying "I liked Audyssey. Dirac not so much" then choosing a Dirac-based room correction system over the option you favored is a bit confusing. I get it though, and do believe you will have better mains/sub integration with DLBC.
Please ignore the "I liked Audyssey, Dirac not so much" bit. I was referring to the full range correction of both Audyssey and Dirac (Dirac sounded more flat and I was probably not used to it yet, I found pure direct mode to be the best subjectively), I don't have any measurements to back that up, my room is not treated and initially I will focus on bass integration anyway, so I'll use a curtain.
I don't expect a significantly better sub integration with DLBC. To the best of my knowledge Audyssey is not available on Mac/PC and for the 2.2 chain DLBC seemed to be a good option. I've also read a lot of good feedback/reviews about it, so it was the sensible choice. For music, I was trying to decide between an AVR with DLBC support or a Mac/PC with DLBC desktop, I opted for the latter mainly because of the 192KHz sampling rate (my cat has extremely good ears) and better selection of DACs available.
"I opted for the desktop version for full flexibility when choosing components" except for a computer being your source for 98% of applications. Unless loopback is used or something that allows an audio input to be fed to the pc/mac and then output via USB. (I've never done this before and it's a bit over my head but I know the Dac8 and Motu MK 5 can do this).
They can do that via AES/EBU but streaming directly from the PC/Mac without the extra SPDIF/Coax to XLR conversion is even better.
I'll be updating my system very soon and I'm trying to make the same tough decision you are when it comes to multi-channel dacs. I'll make sure to post when I do so in the Dirac thread. Dirac Live standalone for PC and Mac
Good idea to continue the discussion over there, sorry for being off-topic!
 

HarmonicTHD

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BTW: the power rating of a speaker says nothing about its power requirement and is (almost) useless for selecting an amp.

The power rating is simply the max power the manufacturer garanties which will not break the speaker.

For the requirement see the post from Peng (SPL, Listening distance, sensitivity and impedance curve of speaker).
 

soerenssen

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I think you have most of the pros and cons. And after all. Your money, your decision. And maybe you have to go down the separate chain rabbit hole to find out yourself. I have been there (Dedicated Auralic DAC) and I built it back. Have fun. :)
There are certain components that I have to buy in any case: sealed subs and power amps. The variable parts are the source and the DAC. I have a Macbook that I can use temporarily as a source for streaming and DLBC (before investing in a Mac Mini or Melee Quieter). I can order the AVR and a DM7 at the same time so I'll have two weeks to compare the DAC with the Denon in pure direct mode (without engaging Dirac/Audyssey). The Okto might need more lead time, so it's not a good candidate for this comparison. I don't know if it makes much sense to do an Audyssey vs DLBC comparison - like I said, DLBC has been chosen because it has a desktop version and it's considered very good for sub/mains integration. DLBC licence can be sold at the BF price later without any problems.

This is for the piece of mind, without actually going down too much into the rabbit hole, which I really appreciate you trying to save me from. ;)
 

EWL5

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I had the full-clip Audyssey solution on my old Denon X3700H: MultEQ-X and calibrated mic. It's not worth buying the calibrated mic. At that point you are already paying what, maybe $220 for Audyssey? Might as well just buy the Dirac license instead.
DL requires a $79 UMIK-1 at minimum, no? The BF pricing for the full range DL allowed me to basically get the UMIK-1 for "free".
 

Steve Dallas

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There are certain components that I have to buy in any case: sealed subs and power amps. The variable parts are the source and the DAC. I have a Macbook that I can use temporarily as a source for streaming and DLBC (before investing in a Mac Mini or Melee Quieter). I can order the AVR and a DM7 at the same time so I'll have two weeks to compare the DAC with the Denon in pure direct mode (without engaging Dirac/Audyssey). The Okto might need more lead time, so it's not a good candidate for this comparison. I don't know if it makes much sense to do an Audyssey vs DLBC comparison - like I said, DLBC has been chosen because it has a desktop version and it's considered very good for sub/mains integration. DLBC licence can be sold at the BF price later without any problems.

This is for the piece of mind, without actually going down too much into the rabbit hole, which I really appreciate you trying to save me from. ;)

The DAC in the 4800 is fully transparent. I can tell zero difference between the 4800's DAC and my outboard Schiit Modius, which has a SINAD of around 115.

This is my current system, BTW:

Media Room Pathways.png


I purchased a DL license for the 4800 to use in 2 channel mode, but I have not calibrated it yet. It sounds great with Audyssey.
 
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soerenssen

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The DAC in the 4800 is fully transparent. I can tell zero difference between the 4800's DAC and my outboard Schiit Modius, which has a SINAD of around 115.

This is my current system, BTW:

View attachment 329832

I purchased a DL license for it to use in 2 channel mode, but I have not calibrated it yet. It sounds great with Audyssey.
The Peachtree has an ESS Sabre DAC. It cannot be connected directly to the PC via USB?
Very similar to my high SINAD DAC vs AVR dilemma though, you could just use the AVR as a DAC for your R3, so thank you for the good example!
 

Steve Dallas

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The Peachtree has an ESS Sabre DAC. It cannot be connected directly to the PC via USB?
Very similar to my high SINAD DAC vs AVR dilemma though, you could just use the AVR as a DAC for your R3, so thank you for the good example!

Well, I got caught up in the SINAD wars for a little while and chased it for a bit. (The Peachtree's DAC SINAD is ~85dB.) I could certainly take the Modius out of the chain in both rooms as I hear no difference. I just use them because I have them.

Honestly, in the home theater, when listening to music in stereo, I mostly use Heos as the source and keep everything in the AVR. It sounds great.
 
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SCG

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Between a properly set up Audyssey MultEQ-X and DLBC system I don't expect much difference either. Especially if I set the curtain to 500Hz or lower. But I don't have the option to use Audyssey on the 2.2 chain, it requires an AVR that must be bought in advance, even before you buy the MultEQ-X licence

Not sure exactly what you mean here, but for clarity sake, you can buy the MultEQ-X license before deciding/buying the AVR and then connect the license to the AVR once purchased/setup, as long as it's compatible with MultEQ-X .
 

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peng

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Well, I got caught up in the SINAD wars for a little while and chased it for a bit. (The Peachtree's DAC SINAD is ~85dB.) I could certainly take the Modius out of the chain in both rooms as I hear no difference. I just use them because I have them.

Honestly, in the home theater, when listening to music in stereo, I mostly use Heos as the source and keep everything in the AVR. It sounds great.
SINAD war has been ongoing since time begin, only that most use the term THD+N, and often skipped the "N" just for convenience.
The trouble is, subjectivists, that include reviewers, even the highly technical ones such as JA, don't seem to be able to trust their own measurements and still wonder about the perceived sound quality that only certain gear process and if the measured results are pristine, they will simplify say there are things that are not measured. Such an argument, or belief are typically baseless, even illogical, but it is what it is. We all know that lots of people don't believe in know science that are totally verifiable, let alone science that are still evolving, e.g. some (not all, as some are proven) Covid related, or climate change stuff..:p

Baseless, illogical, because they have been unable to even proposed what gives their beloved amps (just one example) sound quality signature, that defy the typically very low THD+N < 0.01%, IMD <0.05%, crosss talk >60 dB, FR flat 20-20,000 Hz, SNR/DR >100 dB, DF >100 from 20-20,000 Hz and more..

Why would the AVM90 sounds so much better, light head and shoulder, night and day kind of better? They will point to the "upgraded audio circuitry" and better components/parts, that's the same kind of claims by other manufacturers who claimed using expensive OPAs, tubes, DAC chips, HDAMs etc..

I believe manufacturers know if they publish enough blurbs on the so called upgraded audio circuit and use better parts, people will pay a lot more for the claimed better sound signature because they have given them the reasons for the better signatures.
 
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peng

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The Peachtree has an ESS Sabre DAC. It cannot be connected directly to the PC via USB?
Very similar to my high SINAD DAC vs AVR dilemma though, you could just use the AVR as a DAC for your R3, so thank you for the good example!
ESS dac means little unless you know which one. Like TI and CirrusLigic/Wolfson they make many different models with SINAD specs ranging from the soso low 90's to SOTA class of over 120. Peachtree's, being quite expensive, likely have the better ones and ahould work with Async USB too.
 

Steve Dallas

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ESS dac means little unless you know which one. Like TI and CirrusLigic/Wolfson they make many different models with SINAD specs ranging from the soso low 90's to SOTA class of over 120. Peachtree's, being quite expensive, likely have the better ones and ahould work with Async USB too.

As luck would have it, I sent one of my Nova 300s to Amir for measurement. Very disappointing DAC implementation:


Which is why I use a Schiit Modius outboard DAC with each of them (whether I actually benefit or not):

 
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peng

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As luck would have it, I sent one of my Nova 300s to Amir for measurement. Very disappointing DAC implementation:


Which is why I use a Schiit Modius outboard DAC with each of them (whether I actually benefit or not):

Mid range, even some high range integrated amps would cheapen out on dac chips because they know anything that can do SINAD >95 dB will be audibly good enough. The Nova 300 is among the exceptions, that it does use an ESS reference class DAC chip, the ES9018K2M (unless they didn't actually use that one in their production units), same one used in the Denon AVC-A1H and Marantz AV10, yet the AV10 managed >105 dB SINAD, so yes somehow Nova 300 did not do good in implementation. I wonder why, it is not rocket science, ESS would even tell them how to do it if they asked lol..
 

Steve Dallas

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Mid range, even some high range integrated amps would cheapen out on dac chips because they know anything that can do SINAD >95 dB will be audibly good enough. The Nova 300 is among the exceptions, that it does use an ESS reference class DAC chip, the ES9018K2M (unless they didn't actually use that one in their production units), same one used in the Denon AVC-A1H and Marantz AV10, yet the AV10 managed >105 dB SINAD, so yes somehow Nova 300 did not do good in implementation. I wonder why, it is not rocket science, ESS would even tell them how to do it if they asked lol..

I don't want to derail the thread much more, but for all we know, Peachtree is one of those companies that builds in some distortion for extra "euphonics" or some such. While disappointed with measured DAC performance, I can't really hear any issues with it, and I dig the amount of power the amp has and its other features. When I purchased mine, Peachtree would occasionally sell cosmetic blems for as little as $1,000 each, which is the sales channel I used.
 

peng

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This is for the piece of mind, without actually going down too much into the rabbit hole, which I really appreciate you trying to save me from. ;)
I would suggest that for the peace of mind, it may be better for you to grab the Umik-1 and do some measurements to see how your Reference 3 are doing in your room and placement. If you have a not too good one such as my 2ch setup that shares the HT room, then DL is going to make a lot more audible improvements than a better DAC or AVR/AVP.

See that nasty suck out in the 45 to 60 Hz range, DL has done its best, I could tweak for hours and improve it by may be 2 dB, that won't really help. At least the right channel looks much better. To deal with this issue, I would need to add one or two subs and then see how well DLBC can do some wonder.

So, as others have suggested, I wouldn't worry much about dacs, just use DL, or Audyssey and see what happens.

1701200384444.png
 

soerenssen

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I would suggest that for the peace of mind, it may be better for you to grab the Umik-1 and do some measurements to see how your Reference 3 are doing in your room and placement. If you have a not too good one such as my 2ch setup that shares the HT room, then DL is going to make a lot more audible improvements than a better DAC or AVR/AVP.

See that nasty suck out in the 45 to 60 Hz range, DL has done its best, I could tweak for hours and improve it by may be 2 dB, that won't really help. At least the right channel looks much better. To deal with this issue, I would need to add one or two subs and then see how well DLBC can do some wonder.

So, as others have suggested, I wouldn't worry much about dacs, just use DL, or Audyssey and see what happens.

View attachment 330110
Solid advice, thank you! You already identified the issue in your room and made the necessary steps to remediate it.

I know (I can hear) that I have an issue with bass in my room but I am currently missing basic components, that I would buy regardless of the room. I cannot wait to get started with room correction / passive room treatment, but we are moving in 3 months so I wouldn't spend on room treatment in the current room. On the other hand, identifying the exact issue in the response will be a fun exercise as part of getting familiar with REW for sure, so I'll do it and come back with the results in another topic. Speaking of measurements, tomorrow morning I'll have an audiogram too!

These are the things I'm planning to buy in any case:
- two subs to complement the mains and for more even bass across 3 seats (3 sealed to complement my ported sub for HT, because I am reading everywhere that for music sealed subs are better, however, once DLBC is engaged, I don't know how much it actually matters. When I had basic Dirac on the x4800h, I was shocked how much better my old ported sub sounds, before that it was always boomy, I never liked it regardless of placement)
- AVR for 5.3 and later on 5.3.2, with 2.1 HDMI eARC, so I can connect everything to my AVR instead of the TV
- power amp(s) at least for the mains or ideally for LCR, so the AVR would drive only the 2 surrounds (longevity, less heat)
- active heating for the x4800h because it can get hot even with the external amp

In parallel, now that I have the desktop version of stereo Dirac with DLBC, I would add an external DAC with SOTA performance, to experiment with a 2.2 system (subs and mains shared with the x4800h) with a clean, fully balanced pipeline and no Dirac downsampling. I won't attach the Wiim Pro either, to avoid the conversion from coax to balanced. This system (with a 5V DM7 for example) could also fully power an NCx500 at mid gain (requires 2.67V, so Audyssey should adjust the levels accordingly on the Denon for HT because of the lower voltage pre-outs). The bigger Purifi would be no problem for the Denon though.

Maybe I won't hear a difference between the Denon (with Audyssey) and the DM7 (with DLBC). I think everyone is different and our ears are sensitive to different noises and frequencies. My PS5 with its Ufo sound coming from its NIDAC fan drives me crazy, even after I added O-rings under the fan screws. My wife has no problem with it. Others might be totally fine with it too.
 
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