• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Denon DRA-800H Review (Stereo Receiver)

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
35,354
Likes
135,565
Location
Seattle Area
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Denon DRA-800H Stereo AV Receiver. It was kindly purchased used by a member and drop shipped to me. It costs new US $599 from Amazon including Prime shipping.

The front looks like any multi-channel receiver:

Denon DRA-800 Review stereo reciever HDMI.jpg


Then you look in the back and realize it is just stereo:

Denon DRA-800 Review back panel stereo reciever HDMI.jpg


There is significant weight saving here. I had no trouble picking up the unit and carrying it around.

Note that unlike stereo integrated amplifiers here you have HDMI input and DSP for bass management and such. You are basically saving money and space if you just need stereo output for your TV setup.

During use, I was surprised how hot the unit got. I was hoping that in two channel form factor it would run a lot cooler but it did not. I could literally smell the hot metal due to cheap thin heatsinks that are so common in these AVRs/Receivers.

Denon DRA-800H DAC Measurements
I always try to separate the DAC from the rest of AVR to see how well it performs. It was kind of hard here since there is no traditional pre-amp out. Rather, there is Zone 2 which can program to mirror the main zone output so that is what I did. I then fed the unit over HDMI and got our dashboard:

Denon DRA-800 Measurements DAC.png


SINAD which is a combined measure of noise and distortion is dominated by the latter, placing the DRA-800H in our "poor" category:

best stereo AVR review.png


Noise is not great either:

Denon DRA-800 Measurements Dynamic Range Zone 2 DAC Stereo Amplifier.png


We can't even convey CD's 16 bit noise floor without adding to it.

Output goes much higher than nominal 2 volt I measure so let's see the impact of that:
Denon DRA-800 Measurements DAC THD+N vs level.png


Sadly, you can't get anything better. If you turn up the volume, you loose performance right away. The gain staging here is pretty low quality.

Despite high noise floor which should hide a ton of sins, we still see some jitter spikes:
Denon DRA-800 Measurements Jitter Zone 2 DAC Stereo Amplifier.png


Intermodulation test shows really poor performance, matching that of a throw-away phone headphone dongle:

Denon DRA-800 Measurements IMD Zone 2 DAC Stereo Amplifier.png


Linearity is some of the worst I have measured:
Denon DRA-800 Measurements Linearity Zone 2 DAC Stereo Amplifier.png


DAC filter response is typical as far as cut off frequency (slightly too wide) but doesn't attenuation nearly as much as it should:
Denon DRA-800 Measurements Filter  Zone 2 DAC Stereo Amplifier.png


This causes severe penalty when we measure many frequencies with wide, 90 kHz bandwidth:

Denon DRA-800 Measurements THD+N vs freq Zone 2 DAC Stereo Amplifier.png


Upping the sample rate to 192 kHz eliminates the impact of the filter but we are still in the dog house as far as performance.

Finally, here is our multitone:

Denon DRA-800 Measurements Multitone Zone 2 DAC Stereo Amplifier.png


Denon DRA-800H Amplifier Measurements
AVRs are a pain to evaluate since they usually act different depending on whether you enable digital processing on analog input or not. This was no exception. Let's first start with analog in but in Pure Direct mode which should eliminate all processing:
Denon DRA-800 Measurements Amplifier SNR RCA Pure Direct Stereo Amplifier.png


This is about average for all amplifiers measured to date and below that of competing AVRs:
best avr amplifier review.png


Let's put the unit in "Stereo" mode whereby DSP capabilities are available:

Denon DRA-800 Measurements Amplifier RCA Stereo Amplifier.png


So you lose about 5 dB of performance.

Let's feed the unit digital data over HDMI and see how it does:

Denon DRA-800 Measurements Amplifier Coax digital Stereo Amplifier.png


After this measurement, I went back to analog input and was shocked to see performance remain just as bad as digital!
Denon DRA-800 Measurements Amplifier RCA run 2Stereo Amplifier.png


I power cycled it and problem went away.

Here is our signal to noise ratio with analog input and Pure Direct:

Denon DRA-800 Measurements Amplifier SNR Pure Direct RCA Stereo Amplifier.png


Not bad. Here it is if you allow signal processing and hence digitization:
Denon DRA-800 Measurements Amplifier SNR RCA Stereo Amplifier.png


Seeing how this is common mode of operation, performance here is quite poor.

Frequency response test shows the effect of input digitization:

Denon DRA-800 Measurements Amplifier RCA Frequency Response Stereo Amplifier.png


Anyway, let's see how much power we have:

Denon DRA-800 Measurements Amplifier Power into 8 ohm RCA Stereo Amplifier.png


Denon DRA-800 Measurements Amplifier Power into 4 ohm RCA Stereo Amplifier.png


Unhappy about the rise of distortion there. Fortunately there is some good news in the form of good headroom:

Denon DRA-800 Measurements Amplifier Max and Peak Power into 4 ohm RCA Stereo Amplifier.png


Finally, the amplifier is well behaved albeit, with high noise floor:

Denon DRA-800 Measurements Amplifier Power into 4 ohm vs frequency RCA Stereo Amplifier.png


Conclusions
From form factor point of view, I wish this was a slim unit as the size is my biggest issue in deploying AVRs in the living room for two channel music and TV playback. Heat is the other which sadly this unit generates fair bit of it.

Objective performance ranges from poor to unremarkable. If you need it just TV sound, it is probably fine but you won't be able to show it off to your audiophile friends saying such a great product it is. Because it isn't. :)

I can't recommend the Denon DRA-800H. Company can and should do better than this. Build an audiophile class 2-channel integrated amplifier with DSP and HDMI input and you will have a very unique and desirable product.

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

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Doodski

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 9, 2019
Messages
8,485
Likes
7,920
Location
Canada
Hmmz... 4-16 Ohm rated. It appears they mounted the small bridge/D5701 on the heatsink with the measly 4 output transistors. That might explain the odor of the hot'n smelly cheap heatsink. Or is that small transformer burning off varnish/oil? This unit is CDN $800.00 That's a whole lot of moola for this level of poor performance. Denon dropped the ball on this play for sure.
91R91ocVyKL._AC_SL1500_.jpg
 

beeface

Active Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2017
Messages
142
Likes
274
All Denon did was take one of their entry level 5.1 AVRs and then remove three channels of amplifiers, and then sell it as a stereo AVR - at a higher price than the entry level AVR it's based on.
the Stereo Tax is real. the HT segment seems more value-driven that the stereo segment, and I guess manufacturers have cottoned onto the fact that stereo consumers are willing to pay more for less
 

Doodski

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Dec 9, 2019
Messages
8,485
Likes
7,920
Location
Canada
When I serviced Sony and Denon in-warranty @ the same service depot I was able to see the parts that each used and the construction. The same output transistors and peripheral circuitry where used in both, the service manuals where spitting images of each other like they came from the same drafting department, the physical construction of the chassis and heatsinks and the PCBs seemed to be from the same cloth too. Nothing much looks to have changed since then. I have always suspected that they come from the same factory.
 

phoenixdogfan

Major Contributor
Joined
Nov 6, 2018
Messages
1,694
Likes
1,697
Location
Nashville
These AVRs are marketed to a different segment than High end audio enthusiasts. Most home theater owners just want something that can drive all their 7.1 speakers loudly enough so they can enjoy the full impact when stuff blows up onscreen, and this receiver can probably deliver the goods to that less selective market.
 

Gatordaddy

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Apr 1, 2020
Messages
86
Likes
116
Dang, this seems like quite a dog. I'd be surprised if it performs better (besides for power) than the s-930H I bought for 150 dollars off craigslist which still has room correction. At least it comes with subwoofer outs.
 

Beave

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
May 10, 2020
Messages
504
Likes
900
These AVRs are marketed to a different segment than High end audio enthusiasts. Most home theater owners just want something that can drive all their 7.1 speakers loudly enough so they can enjoy the full impact when stuff blows up onscreen, and this receiver can probably deliver the goods to that less selective market.

Errr, ummm, did you read the review? It's not going to drive 7.1 speakers loudly, or at all. It only does two channels, L & R stereo.
 

respice finem

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 1, 2021
Messages
1,001
Likes
1,388
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Denon DRA-800H Stereo AV Receiver. It was kindly purchased used by a member and drop shipped to me. It costs new US $599 from Amazon including Prime shipping.

The front looks like any multi-channel receiver:

View attachment 154490

Then you look in the back and realize it is just stereo:

View attachment 154491

There is significant weight saving here. I had no trouble picking up the unit and carrying it around.

Note that unlike stereo integrated amplifiers here you have HDMI input and DSP for bass management and such. You are basically saving money and space if you just need stereo output for your TV setup.

During use, I was surprised how hot the unit got. I was hoping that in two channel form factor it would run a lot cooler but it did not. I could literally smell the hot metal due to cheap thin heatsinks that are so common in these AVRs/Receivers.

Denon DRA-800H DAC Measurements
I always try to separate the DAC from the rest of AVR to see how well it performs. It was kind of hard here since there is no traditional pre-amp out. Rather, there is Zone 2 which can program to mirror the main zone output so that is what I did. I then fed the unit over HDMI and got our dashboard:

View attachment 154492

SINAD which is a combined measure of noise and distortion is dominated by the latter, placing the DRA-800H in our "poor" category:

View attachment 154493

Noise is not great either:

View attachment 154494

We can't even convey CD's 16 bit noise floor without adding to it.

Output goes much higher than nominal 2 volt I measure so let's see the impact of that:
View attachment 154495

Sadly, you can't get anything better. If you turn up the volume, you loose performance right away. The gain staging here is pretty low quality.

Despite high noise floor which should hide a ton of sins, we still see some jitter spikes:
View attachment 154496

Intermodulation test shows really poor performance, matching that of a throw-away phone headphone dongle:

View attachment 154497

Linearity is some of the worst I have measured:
View attachment 154498

DAC filter response is typical as far as cut off frequency (slightly too wide) but doesn't attenuation nearly as much as it should:
View attachment 154499

This causes severe penalty when we measure many frequencies with wide, 90 kHz bandwidth:

View attachment 154500

Upping the sample rate to 192 kHz eliminates the impact of the filter but we are still in the dog house as far as performance.

Finally, here is our multitone:

View attachment 154501

Denon DRA-800H Amplifier Measurements
AVRs are a pain to evaluate since they usually act different depending on whether you enable digital processing on analog input or not. This was no exception. Let's first start with analog in but in Pure Direct mode which should eliminate all processing:
View attachment 154502

This is about average for all amplifiers measured to date and below that of competing AVRs:
View attachment 154503

Let's put the unit in "Stereo" mode whereby DSP capabilities are available:

View attachment 154506

So you lose about 5 dB of performance.

Let's feed the unit digital data over HDMI and see how it does:

View attachment 154508

After this measurement, I went back to analog input and was shocked to see performance remain just as bad as digital!
View attachment 154507

I power cycled it and problem went away.

Here is our signal to noise ratio with analog input and Pure Direct:

View attachment 154511

Not bad. Here it is if you allow signal processing and hence digitization:
View attachment 154512

Seeing how this is common mode of operation, performance here is quite poor.

Frequency response test shows the effect of input digitization:

View attachment 154513

Anyway, let's see how much power we have:

View attachment 154514

View attachment 154515

Unhappy about the rise of distortion there. Fortunately there is some good news in the form of good headroom:

View attachment 154516

Finally, the amplifier is well behaved albeit, with high noise floor:

View attachment 154517

Conclusions
From form factor point of view, I wish this was a slim unit as the size is my biggest issue in deploying AVRs in the living room for two channel music and TV playback. Heat is the other which sadly this unit generates fair bit of it.

Objective performance ranges from poor to unremarkable. If you need it just TV sound, it is probably fine but you won't be able to show it off to your audiophile friends saying such a great product it is. Because it isn't. :)

I can't recommend the Denon DRA-800H. Company can and should do better than this. Build an audiophile class 2-channel integrated amplifier with DSP and HDMI input and you will have a very unique and desirable product.

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

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/

Oh well... Confirms my attitude "don't trust any manufacturer blindly".
To save money and space, for stereo @the TV, one might be tempted to get this instead
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/loxjie-a30-amplifier-review.17547/
connect with the TV's toslink out, and that's it, 433€ cheaper, smaller, and with better performance (just less power).
 

Tks

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 1, 2019
Messages
2,904
Likes
4,575
During use, I was surprised how hot the unit got. I was hoping that in two channel form factor it would run a lot cooler but it did not. I could literally smell the hot metal due to cheap thin heatsinks that are so common in these AVRs/Receivers.

Honestly, do I even need to bother after reading something like this?
 

respice finem

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 1, 2021
Messages
1,001
Likes
1,388
My AVR had a bit of such smell when it was new, now no more. The same heatsink manages to cool 5 or 7 and not just 2 channels, so nothing will burn or melt. Which doesn't question the overall cheapness of this thing... The price is simply... brazen, sorry.
 

VintageFlanker

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 20, 2018
Messages
2,535
Likes
6,583
Location
Paris
Thanks!

Interesting... Audio Poland measured it (and its twin, Marantz NR1200) to be clipping at half the power under 4Ω.
58913-laboratorium-denon-dra-800h-audiocompl-fot3.jpg

That's why I was surprised to see this:
Denon DRA-800 Measurements Amplifier Max and Peak Power into 4 ohm RCA Stereo Amplifier.png


Same with the NR1200:
58923-laboratorium-marantz-nr1200-audiocompl-fot3.jpg


I don't know what the heck happened with either their bench or units, but repeatability with two amps still sounds like a warning.
 
Last edited:

Thomas_A

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 20, 2019
Messages
1,324
Likes
869
Location
Sweden
I wonder how the Marantz NR slim line amps compare. Those are at least priced as a premium product.

Some simple measurements of the NR1710 here.

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...tz-nr1710-slim-line-av-amp.19997/#post-664783

According to spec the slim-line Marantz models lack both HDAM and jitter-reducing curcuits. Apparently they seem to suffer from PSU-related jitter. Otherwise I think they are ok. Better than nothing since it is the only AVR that fits my space and with good features
 

Koeitje

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 10, 2019
Messages
1,585
Likes
2,374
Top Bottom