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Denon DRA-800H Review (Stereo Receiver)

JSmith

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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.
True, but then there is no excuse for bad design either. There is no reason why this couldn't have had a sinad of 90+ if done properly. I don't see the point in releasing sub-standard audio products... however this is fairly "standard" for many AVR's unfortunately. They would have a bigger market for AVR's if most AVR's were able to reach the heights of an NCore or Purifi based poweramp for example, alas.

We have seen Denon do quite well measurements wise for some of their AVR's... seems this one missed the boat.

This is a complete mess tbh;

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JSmith
 

Thomas_A

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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.

Not making a 2-channel AV-reciever a slim unit is a real mistake, IMO.
 

PeteL

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Note that unlike stereo integrated amplifiers here you have HDMI input and DSP for bass management and such.
What kind of Bass management?
Looking at the specs I see no mention of that
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respice finem

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I got the slim-line Marantz NR1608 (7.1) no issues, and was 100€ cheaper than this one. And last not least, it has Audyssey.
 

KxDx

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I owned the DRA-800h (not this one)... I sold it and bought the Marantz NR1200 because I wanted preamp out jacks. Here's some additional tidbits from personal experience:

  • The Denon does run warmer than the Marantz, even though the latter is thinner. I had, for a brief spell, used the 800H with a pair of PSB Stratus Goldi's, which are notorious amp punishers. I should be thankful the thing didn't catch on fire. It was too hot to touch after watching an action movie at a generous volume.

  • Supposedly the Denon and Marantz both use the AK4458 DAC. With the difference in power rating, I'll assume the Marantz has different circuitry elsewhere. Whether it will measure better is anyone's guess.

  • Some places have the Denon falsely advertised as having a preamp out. It doesn't. Zone 2 is NOT a preamp output. Its volume is controlled separately (which can drive you crazy if you accidentally press the Zone 2 button on the remote and don't realize it). The NR1200 does have a dedicated pre out. That is the one and only functional difference between the two units. Even their remotes are identical.

  • There is NO room correction* and NO bass management. The speakers always play full-range no matter what. You can set a low pass filter for the sub output in the menu, but it doesn't implement high pass on the mains. That doesn't affect me, since I just use 2.0, but it's a consideration.

Honestly, one is better served buying a normal AVR and running it in 2 channel mode. I bought these because of the simplicity (had a Yamaha 5.1 that seemed to want to change modes whenever it felt like it, so I got fed up). Economies of scale make these two models cost more than they are worth, vs multichannel with the same or more features.

*edited to say "room correction" instead of "DSP"
 
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Helicopter

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Honestly, do I even need to bother after reading something like this?
Yup. This thing has a certain bundle of features that is going to be perfect for some consumers, but it completely fails on implementation here. Doesn't even matter if the unimpressive specs still get reasonably acceptable sound. It really should be super cool class D and about half as tall. Better just to get a TV with enough HDMI inputs and run the optical into something way cheaper like Loxjie A30 or one of the low end Yamaha stereo network receivers.

I laughed about not wanting to end up in the dog house due to poor performance. Made me think of something other than stereo AVRs. :facepalm:
 
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Koeitje

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eddantes

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Well this is a dispointment.... I use one for my stereo TV setup (I got mine as a BNIB 2nd hand for around $400CAD, so I dont feel hard-done-by) and it sure is a convenient device. I expected it to be unremarkable, but "poor" was a let down... Even a 10-15db SINAD improvement would make this a terrific device, based on the convenience it brings. Back to the drawing board Denon...
 
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PeteL

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Well this is a dispointment.... I use one for my stereo TV setup (I got mine as a BNIB 2nd hand for around $400CAD, so I dont feel hard-done-by) and it sure is a convenient device. I expected it to be unremarkable, but "poor" was a let down... Even a 10-15db SINAD improvement would make this a terrific device, based on the convenience it brings. Back to the drawing board Denon...
How does it sound in your setup? SINAD is poor, but hey for 400$ that's a lot of features and quite decent power. An amp with sufficient power will always be better than an amp with great SINAD but with limited power.
 

eddantes

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How does it sound in your setup? SINAD is poor, but hey for 400$ that's a lot of features and quite decent power. An amp with sufficient power will always be better than an amp with great SINAD but with limited power.
It sounds fine. Again - it's used to watch tv/stream/movies/games - perfectly accptable for that purpose. I don't need to wory about anything - all the device are connected to the DRA and it HDMI switches to the TV as an AVR would. I only have 2 bookshelves and a sub - so a modern AVR seemed like an overkill, hence the stereo DRA800. Again - it's a very convenient device. Like I said - bump SINAD 10db and add room correction - this thing becomes a real winner. Push SINAD to 95+ and it's near ideal for those of use with 2.1 or 2.2 setups that crave a simple, convenient, TV setup. (YES, I know MINIDSP + Hypex ... yadda, yadda, yadda - call me when you can do that for under a grand.)
 

PeteL

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Yup. This thing has a certain bundle of features that is going to be perfect for some consumers, but it completely fails on implementation here. Doesn't even matter if the unimpressive specs still get reasonably acceptable sound. It really should be super cool class D and about half as tall. Better just to get a TV with enough HDMI inputs and run the optical into something way cheaper like Loxjie A30 or one of the low end Yamaha stereo network receivers.

I laughed about being in the dog house due to poor performance. Made me think of something other than stereo AVRs. :facepalm:
I don't think that the Loxjie A30 has enough power for anything but really nearfield desktop/computer setup. Unless your TV room is extremely tiny and your speakers Ultra efficient. Different tools for different use case.
 

peng

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Honestly, one is better served buying a normal AVR and running it in 2 channel mode. I bought these because of the simplicity (had a Yamaha 5.1 that seemed to want to change modes whenever it felt like it, so I got fed up). Economies of scale make these two models cost more than they are worth, vs multichannel with the same or more features.

Sadly, I think you are right about better served buying a normal AVR.... Just look at that poor little ugly power transformer (both D and M's), and compared that to the much better looking copper shielded ones in the AVRs.
 

eddantes

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What kind of Bass management?
Looking at the specs I see no mention of that
View attachment 154546
You can set the SUB distance (delay?), volume (+/- 12db), and crossover (no HiPass though, at least I don't think). You can also set the speaker distances, not sure how that's different than "balance" but I assume that is also delay related. It does work and creates an easily audible improvement in imaging .
 

Moravid

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Build an audiophile class 2-channel integrated amplifier with DSP and HDMI input and you will have a very unique and desirable product.

Are there any that are recomended? You'd think pre/pro and stereo receivers would measure better than (multichannel) AVR but it's not the case
 

Thomas_A

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Agreed too, and without HDAM, I bet the 1710 measured about the same as Denon's equivalent. Have you measured a Denon, to compare?

Well, there is no "slim line" Denon to compare with only large AVRs. My simple measurements of the Marantz indicate that there is some PSU jitter of the digital domain. I don't know the actual levels however since I need set those to a reference output level. Analogue in and pre-out seems to be fine though (in direct mode), but then it is the power amp section left to measure.
 

PeteL

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Are there any that are recomended? You'd think pre/pro and stereo receivers would measure better than (multichannel) AVR but it's not the case
NAD M10 and M33 has HDMI input, but no output, so it kind of limited for home theater duties, but has DSP and measure better than this.
 
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