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Denon AVR-X8500H AVR Review

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Denon AVR-X8500H Flagship 13.2 Audio/Video Receiver (AVR). It is kindly loaned to me by a member and costs US $3999.

The 8500H is a beast: it is both deep and heavy. Thankfully the transformer is centrally located so as manageable as 51 pounds can be:
Denon AVR-X8500H Surround Sound AVR Audio Video Review Home Theater.jpg


If RCA connectors were Christmas lights, you would have the best one in the entire neighborhood with this AVR:

Denon AVR-X8500H Surround Sound AVR Back Panel Inputs HDMI  Audio Video Review Home Theater.jpg


In use, the AVR-X8500H ran a bit cooler than its lower end siblings. I think I measured a post-testing temperature of 45 degrees C. Still, I highly recommend ample cooling as once again, there is a fan under the heatsinks but it does not turn on in normal usage (ECO mode off).

If you have read my previous reviews of AVRs, you know that I test the pre-amp output with and without amplifiers active (if there is such an option). I tried to do this with the 8500H but at first failed miserably. I set the amplifier config to "pre" which I thought would shut down all the amps. Performance was poor indicating the amps were probably still on. Discussing it with the owner, he suggested that I turn off the individual channels and set the Amp config to Custom. Doing that indeed turned off the amps resulting in much better DAC performance. I asked Denon about it but their engineering team is on holiday. The suggestion was that perhaps this is something that is fixed in later firmware revisions? I did not try to test that.

As with other Denon and Marantz measurements of late, I sent my results to them for review. Per above, engineering team was on vacation but US contacts felt good about the data and so we are running with them.

AVR DAC Pre-out HDMI Measurements
Per my standard testing protocol, I feed the AVR stereo 1 kHz PCM digital signal and adjust the volume to produce 2 volts nominal. Like all the other Denon & Marantz AVRs, this meant volume level of 82.5. Pure Direct mode was used for all testing. And per introduction above, the front L&R amps are shut off:

Denon AVR-X8500H Surround Sound AVR HDMI DAC Audio Measurements.png


Aha! We have set a record folks. An AVR that produces a SINAD (sum of distortion and noise) that exceeds 100 dB! Hooray!!!

Best Home Theater AVR DAC Review.png


Whoever said AVRs are too complicated to ever have good SINAD needs to eat their hat, shorts, or whatever they put forward if shown wrong. :) It is very nice to see at least some scaling of SINAD with respect to price.

Sweeping the digital level to see the performance at different output levels we get:
Denon AVR-X8500H Surround Sound AVR THD+N vs Output Level Audio Measurements.png


Since you can turn all the amplifiers on and off per channel, you don't have to worry about the second graph but I post it for consistency with other AVRs that can't do this. It does nicely show the peak performance though which is at 104 dB SINAD and 1.45 volts. But you don't lose hardly any performance at 2 volts (with amp shut off of course).

Dynamic range is nearly good enough to keep up with the SINAD:

Denon AVR-X8500H Surround Sound AVR Dynamic Range Audio Measurements.png


Intermodulation distortion is fine for an AVR:
Denon AVR-X8500H Surround Sound AVR HDMI DAC IMD Audio Measurements.png


As is 32-tone test masquerading as music:

Denon AVR-X8500H Surround Sound AVR HDMI DAC Multitone Audio Measurements.png


Filter has good attenuation:

Denon AVR-X8500H Surround Sound AVR Filter Audio Measurements.png


Which helps when we see distortion versus frequency:

Denon AVR-X8500H Surround Sound AVR HDMI DAC THD+N vs Frequency Audio Measurements.png


Jitter and spurious tone and noise is not pretty but not an audible concern:
Denon AVR-X8500H Surround Sound AVR HDMI DAC JItter Audio Measurements.png


Our hearing threshold is way too high for the low frequency spray to be audible. Still, I like to see Denon clean this up. A dirty spoon doesn't change the flavor of your soup but I rather have a clean one still!

Linearity was excellent in channel but degraded a bit in the other:
Denon AVR-X8500H Surround Sound AVR HDMI DAC Linearity Audio Measurements.png


Zone 2 DAC Audio Performance
The owner asked for the Zone 2 performance. I fumbled through the menus and found an option to send all output to zones 2 and 3 and got this out of Zone 2 pre out:

Denon AVR-X8500H Surround Sound AVR HDMI DAC Zone 2 Audio Measurements.png


Output was capped at half a volt which hurt noise performance resulting in a SINAD of nearly 98 dB. If volume could go higher, it seems it would reach the same performance as the mains as distortion is very low at -104 dB or so. If you are going to use an external amp for these zones, better get one with high sensitivity.

AVR Amplifier Performance
I started the testing here by using HDMI as the input as that is likely how all of you will be using the AVR:

Denon AVR-X8500H Surround Sound AVR HDMI Amplifier Audio Measurements.png


For comparison to other amplifiers though, analog testing is more convenient so I tested the CD input:

Denon AVR-X8500H Surround Sound AVR CD Input Amplifier Audio Measurements.png


We see that performance is essentially the same. The DAC in the AVR is way better than the amplifier so it doesn't impact performance when we use HDMI.

I wish one channel wasn't much worse than the other as otherwise, the overall ranking would be good. As it is, it is a bit worse than the cheaper Denons:

Best AVR Amplifier Review 2020.png


Among all amplifiers of all types, performance is above average:
Best stereo or multichannel Amplifier Review 2020.png


Not state of the art though. So external amplification should improve overall performance given how good the DAC is.

CD frequency response in pure direct mode is nice and wide:
Denon AVR-X8500H Surround Sound AVR CD Input Frequency Response Amplifier Audio Measurements.png


Signal to noise ratio could be a bit better at 5 watts but good enough at full power:
Denon AVR-X8500H Surround Sound AVR CD Input Amplifier SNR Audio Measurements.png


Crosstalk is like other Denon AVRs which once again is good enough:

Denon AVR-X8500H Surround Sound AVR CD Input Amplifier Crosstalk Audio Measurements.png


AVR Power Measurements
Let's start with 4 ohm load and see what that gets us:

Denon AVR-X8500H Surround Sound AVR CD Input Amplifier Power into 4 ohm Audio Measurements.png


I like to see that graph sloping down until clipping sets in. As it is, it indicates that distortion becomes dominant quite early. Good amount of power is available which increases yet again if we allow 1% THD+N and use burst measurements:

Denon AVR-X8500H Surround Sound AVR CD Input Amplifier Peak and Max Power into 4 ohm Audio Mea...png


Amplifier performance is very predictable in a good way:
Denon AVR-X8500H Surround Sound AVR CD Input Amplifier Power into 4 ohm THD vs Frequency Audio...png


Switching to 8 ohm we essentially get the same power as Denon specifiies:

Denon AVR-X8500H Surround Sound AVR CD Input Amplifier Power into 8 ohm Audio Measurements.png


All of these tests are in 2-channel mode but the AVR power supply is designed to power more channels. As a result, we are getting the best case performance numbers. Let's see the impact of each channel as we go from one to five channels:

Denon AVR-X8500H Dolby Atmos AVR Power Per Channel Measurements.png


So there is no cliff there. We still get a respectable 131 watts per channel with all five channels driven continuously (1% distortion+noise)

Conclusions
Testing AVRs and even expensive processors has been a depressing trip. A highlight however has been Denon AVRs which generally outperform their competition. So it is with great pleasure to see their flagship AVR bettering the performance of all home theater products tested so far. Yes, it is a more expensive product but at least you get more when you pay more. Features like ability to turn off any amplification channel is super important for a high-end theater where you want to have some external amplification.

Needless to say, I am happy to recommend the Denon AVR-X8500H.

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

I had to test this AVR twice: once with the broken Pre mode and then with the amp turned off. Considering how much work they are to measure as is, this was a ton of work. I hope that makes you feel sorry for me by donating what you can using : https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #4

North_Sky

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#6
Thank you for the hard work and great write up. Can you do an Anthem avm 60 now pretty please ?
That's what you should get to send it to Amir...best way to buy a new toy...get it measured and you have 30 days to see if the measurements are to your taste. :)
 

Dj7675

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#7
This is my X8500 and happy to see how it measured. Thanks to @amirm for his time and work on reviews like this. Congratulations to Denon for topping the chart with theIr flagship AVR. I have really enjoyed using it it our theater.
I now have the distinction of sending in the highest and lowest measuring AVR on the SINAD chart.
 

da Choge

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#8
I used to have the Onkyo 805, same exact weight...51 pounds.
My Onkyo TX-NR905 (silver, my favorite) was a beast also (weight and power) -- Onkyo doesn't make them like that anymore! Replaced it in the living room with a Marantz SR7012, transferred the Onkyo to my bedroom, then replaced it again in the bedroom with a Marantz SR6014. A little regretful I didn't go the Denon route. Know I'm in the minority, but I like the esthetics of the Marantz units -- however, as Amir says, they are definitely "form over function". I have had my suspicions for a long time regarding Marantz's highly-touted HDAM modules, but chose not to heed them, and now those suspicions have been fairly well confirmed.

For the most part, this is the kind of ASR review I was hoping to see for the Denon X8500H. May just decide another change is in order once the Denon X8500HA (8K model) comes out in 2021. Then I'll need to open a second-hand AV shop :oops:;) (got a few more older units in storage).

Still have the Onkyo and it still performs very well - don't quite know what to do with it. People are talking about the heat of the X4700H, but the Onkyo was a real frying pan as well (it was the HDMI video processors that made it so hot, though).

Great review, Amir, and I know these are very time consuming, Thanks !!!
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #10
Thanks for the review and measurements! @amirm could you measure the output impedance on the headphone out?
Please no. I am going to pack and send this back to its owner. It is no longer on the bench and too darn heavy to keep moving around. I can measure that on some other Denon later.
 

bobbooo

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#11
Please no. I am going to pack and send this back to its owner. It is no longer on the bench and too darn heavy to keep moving around. I can measure that on some other Denon later.
Ok sure :) Any Denon AVR will do really, I suspect they'll be similar.
 

RayDunzl

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#12
It says it has 13 amplifiers, but there are 15 speaker terminal pairs.

?
 

ririt

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#13
Thanks Amir. Again a nice review! looking at the entire Deon AVR range, the 6700h is clearly an outlier in term of performances! Does that reinforce the explanation given by their engineering team about the use of bad capacitors in the unit tested?
 
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#15
What is puzzling is that it has 13 channels, but 15 preouts (not counting subwoofer outputs), so those are pobably disconnected somehow. Couldn't they somehow enabled all 15 channels at the same time? Probably chip limitation inside.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #16
Thanks Amir. Again a nice review! looking at the entire Deon AVR range, the 6700h is clearly an outlier in term of performances! Does that reinforce the explanation given by their engineering team about the use of bad capacitors in the unit tested?
Probably so.
 

North_Sky

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#19
It says it has 13 amplifiers, but there are 15 speaker terminal pairs.

?

Ray, you asked the right question ...
https://usa.denon.com/en-us/data/bl...non-13-channel-receiver-has-15-speaker-inputs

Bonus (be ready to buy a lot of speaker wire rolls) ...
http://manuals.denon.com/AVRX8500H/NA/EN/DRDZSYhiettsoj.php

* I remember when I first bought my first stereo receiver back in the 50s, I mean 60s.
It had four speaker connector pairs (stereo A, B).

Now it's ABCDEFG and half of H. Plus the subwoofers of course.
We are in 2020...sixty years later. Stereo is for . . . Audiophiles.
Multichannel is for MultiStereo men.
 
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