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Denon DRA-800H Review (Stereo Receiver)

GiBo61

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Hello from Finland!

Interesting results... Are you sure that this particular unit was not somehow faulty? You mentioned that the unit gets very hot. This sounds a bit strange to me, because I've used this receiver for about a year now and it really does not get hot at normal living room use. Warm, yes, but never hot. I have disabled all eco functions, of course, so they do not explain my receivers "coolness".

Good job with measurements anyway. Very interesting to read!

(Sorry for my poor English.)
Also my unit gets warm with constant use (volume between 40-50) but not so hot as mentioned by Amir. It does not have so much space to breath (see picture below, I know it's ugly but you know the importance of the WAF...) but it seems more than enough for daily usage.


201464813_10159404529504413_7573727004525753437_n.jpg
 

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Head_Unit

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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.
That's great, it means the power supply won't be strained by driving those extra channels. :p
 

GiBo61

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I was a happy owner of the Denon DRA-800H until I read Amir’s review. As a scientist I believe in numbers and those I've seen on ASR are pretty bad.
Now that I’m aware that I have audiophile grade speakers (Elac Vela BS 403) driven by a modest Stereo Receiver I feel the need to sell the Denon tu buy something better.
The problem is: will I ever appreciate the better sound quality after spending hundreds of $ to buy a decent streamer and amplifier?
Here is the whole story: I had a passion for HiFi devices when I was in my twenties but in recent years I have been content to listen to music with a Sony 100+100 W RMS receiver from the 90s connected to a pair of Advent 4002 (and, more recently, to B&W 685S2). About a year ago I decided to move on and buy a network streamer (Marantz, Denon or Yamaha). When the seller suggested the DRA-800H as an integrated amplifier/network streamer solution I immediately liked the idea of a device that, on paper, had almost everything I needed. I asked to listen to the Denon and the shop owner hooked it up to a pair of Elac FS 407s. Well, I was afraid I would start crying in the listening room out of emotion. I did not remember hearing anything more magical since the days when I used to attend HiFI shows. So I came home with my brand new DRA-800H and after connecting it to the B & W685S2 I realized that the sound hadn't improved significantly compared to my dear old Sony receiver. But at the same time I had confirmation that the Denon had exactly everything I needed: DAB + and internet radio, numerous analog and digital inputs, the ability to connect to my DLNA server. I wasn't interested in AV capabilities but I appreciated being able to use a common Chromecast Video connected to an HDMI input to stream audio from my smartphone. It works like a charm with my MacBook Pro through AirPlay2, takes voice commands from Alexa , the Heos App is not exciting but reliable, the device is stably connected to the wifi home network and there is no problem in playing FLAC files from the DLNA server.
Of course I immediately realized that the next step would be to change the speakers. I could not immediately afford the amazing Elac FS 407 (and I do not have place for them in my apartment), so I focused on the Elac Carina and Vela BS 403 bookshelf. After listening a couple of times to the little Velas connected to a Luxman l-505uxii (that costs 8 times more than my Denon...) I decided I was happy with them. I took them home, connected to the Denon and I was satisfied with the sound, a definite improvement over the B&W, even if their position in the room is the worst ever: they are in fact placed in a bookcase, 4.5 meters away and I'm listening only 2.5 meters from the bookrack. Fortunately the downfiring port of the Velas is quite forgiving and the addition of a MartinLogan Dynamo 700W subwoofer further improved the sound.
Back to the DRA-800H, I listen mostly Jazz and Baroque music but also Rock and Pop mostly from Internet radios and Tidal (HiFi subscription). The Denon is in “Direct" mode (tone control excluded and no other sound processing) and when the volume is low the sound is not particularly engaging (this is also due to the fact that there is no “loudness” control and that a "real audiophile" does not use tone controls, but this is a different story). Everything starts to shine after rising the volume to >50 and the power of the Denon is more than enough (I believe never went more than 80 out of 99 with any audio source). I ear no background noise, I’m not aware of any distortion but I can ear a difference between “Direct" and “Normal” (also called “Stereo") mode. I’m pretty sure I cannot reliably discriminate between a 320 kbit/s MP3 and a FLAC file. The Denon does not get particularly hot and I have never perceived any smell from the inside. But now that I know it’s a lemon I cannot enjoy my system anymore, at least not as before.
Probably many other DRA-800H happy owners are now in the same situation as me. I read mostly very positive user comments (more than 90%) from Amazon (4.4 out of 5), Crutchfield, Best Buy, Richersounds (4.6 out of 5). I guess that most of them, like me, are not able to discriminate the sound of a mediocre consumer amplifier from the sound of a good one, even if connected with quality speakers (Focals, LS50s, etc.)

There are also very positive (almost all 5 stars) reviews on specialized sites:
https://www.soundandvision.com/content/denon-dra-800h-stereo-network-receiver-review
https://blog.son-video.com/en/2019/08/review-denon-dra-800h/
https://www.digitalvideoht.it/prove/audio/sorgenti-ht/sintoamplificatori/denon-dra-800h.html
https://www.hifi-regler.de/testberichte/test_denon_dra-800h_stereo-netzwerk-receiver.php
https://www.lowbeats.de/test-denon-dra-800h-stereo-receiver-mit-heos-streaming-multiroom/
https://tiny-reviews.com/reviews/2826-review-on-av-receiver-denon-dra-800h
https://www.hifitest.de/test/hifi_sonstiges/denon-dra-800h_20410#bewertung
https://www.hifisound.de/out/media/pdf.php?r=uIyATeDQyHD3GFuWVu7AyrxdiCOCK0st8PvEqgxuL7X2qMlY%2FsKjDx%2BQXF460h6pPrOuDbYjZo7tuza7tl1MFQ%3D%3D.pdf

I wonder if they are paid by Denon, if they are mediocre reviewers or if they know this is a good product for the average user that is hardly discriminating in terms of sound quality.

Now what? My big fear now is to save and then spend $2000 tu buy something definitely better than the DRA-800H only to realize that the listening experience is the same or only marginally better (unfortunately I don't have audiophile friends with expensive amplifiers to lend me).
I guess I would have to go to a HiFi store with my Denon DRA-800H receiver to be tested in parallel with other products even if this is somehow limiting (I was considering among the others a Hypex NC250MP Class D power amplifier from Audiophonics or other brands but I guess they are not easy to be auditioned in a physical store).

Any suggestions?
 
Last edited:

peng

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I was a happy owner of the Denon DRA-800H until I read Amir’s review. As a scientist I believe in numbers and those I've seen on ASR are pretty bad.
Now that I’m aware that I have audiophile grade speakers (Elac Vela BS 403) driven by a modest Stereo Receiver I feel the need to sell the Denon tu buy something better.
The problem is: will I ever appreciate the better sound quality after spending hundreds of $ to buy a decent streamer and amplifier?
Here is the whole story: I had a passion for HiFi devices when I was in my twenties but in recent years I have been content to listen to music with a Sony 100+100 W RMS receiver from the 90s connected to a pair of Advent 4002 (and, more recently, to B&W 685S2). About a year ago I decided to move on and buy a network streamer (Marantz, Denon or Yamaha). When the seller suggested the DRA-800H as an integrated amplifier/network streamer solution I immediately liked the idea of a device that, on paper, had almost everything I needed. I asked to listen to the Denon and the shop owner hooked it up to a pair of Elac FS 407s. Well, I was afraid I would start crying in the listening room out of emotion. I did not remember hearing anything more magical since the days when I used to attend HiFI shows. So I came home with my brand new DRA-800H and after connecting it to the B & W685S2 I realized that the sound hadn't improved significantly compared to my dear old Sony receiver. But at the same time I had confirmation that the Denon had exactly everything I needed: DAB + and internet radio, numerous analog and digital inputs, the ability to connect to my DLNA server. I wasn't interested in AV capabilities but I appreciated being able to use a common Chromecast Video connected to an HDMI input to stream audio from my smartphone. It works like a charm with my MacBook Pro through AirPlay2, takes voice commands from Alexa , the Heos App is not exciting but reliable, the device is stably connected to the wifi home network and there is no problem in playing FLAC files from the DLNA server.
Of course I immediately realized that the next step would be to change the speakers. I could not immediately afford the amazing Elac FS 407 (and I do not have place for them in my apartment), so I focused on the Elac Carina and Vela BS 403 bookshelf. After listening a couple of times to the little Velas connected to a Luxman l-505uxii (that costs 8 times more than my Denon...) I decided I was happy with them. I took them home, connected to the Denon and I was satisfied with the sound, a definite improvement over the B&W, even if their position in the room is the worst ever: they are in fact placed in a bookcase, 4.5 meters away and I'm listening only 2.5 meters from the bookrack. Fortunately the downfiring port of the Velas is quite forgiving and the addition of a MartinLogan Dynamo 700W subwoofer further improved the sound.
Back to the DRA-800H, I listen mostly Jazz and Baroque music but also Rock and Pop mostly from Internet radios and Tidal (HiFi subscription). The Denon is in “Direct" mode (tone control excluded and no other sound processing) and when the volume is low the sound is not particularly engaging (this is also due to the fact that there is no “loudness” control and that a "real audiophile" does not use tone controls, but this is a different story). Everything starts to shine after rising the volume to >50 and the power of the Denon is more than enough (I believe never went more than 80 out of 99 with any audio source). I ear no background noise, I’m not aware of any distortion but I can ear a difference between “Direct" and “Normal” (also called “Stereo") mode. I’m pretty sure I cannot reliably discriminate between a 320 kbit/s MP3 and a FLAC file. The Denon does not get particularly hot and I have never perceived any smell from the inside. But now that I know it’s a lemon I cannot enjoy my system anymore, at least not as before.
Probably many other DRA-800H happy owners are now in the same situation as me. I read mostly very positive user comments (more than 90%) from Amazon (4.4 out of 5), Crutchfield, Best Buy, Richersounds (4.6 out of 5). I guess that most of them, like me, are not able to discriminate the sound of a mediocre consumer amplifier from the sound of a good one, even if connected with quality speakers (Focals, LS50s, etc.)

There are also very positive (almost all 5 stars) reviews on specialized sites:
https://www.soundandvision.com/content/denon-dra-800h-stereo-network-receiver-review
https://blog.son-video.com/en/2019/08/review-denon-dra-800h/
https://www.digitalvideoht.it/prove/audio/sorgenti-ht/sintoamplificatori/denon-dra-800h.html
https://www.hifi-regler.de/testberichte/test_denon_dra-800h_stereo-netzwerk-receiver.php
https://www.lowbeats.de/test-denon-dra-800h-stereo-receiver-mit-heos-streaming-multiroom/
https://tiny-reviews.com/reviews/2826-review-on-av-receiver-denon-dra-800h
https://www.hifitest.de/test/hifi_sonstiges/denon-dra-800h_20410#bewertung
https://www.hifisound.de/out/media/pdf.php?r=uIyATeDQyHD3GFuWVu7AyrxdiCOCK0st8PvEqgxuL7X2qMlY%2FsKjDx%2BQXF460h6pPrOuDbYjZo7tuza7tl1MFQ%3D%3D.pdf

I wonder if they are paid by Denon, if they are mediocre reviewers or if they know this is a good product for the average user that is hardly discriminating in terms of sound quality.

Now what? My big fear now is to save and then spend $2000 tu buy something definitely better than the DRA-800H only to realize that the listening experience is the same or only marginally better (unfortunately I don't have audiophile friends with expensive amplifiers to lend me).
I guess I would have to go to a HiFi store with my Denon DRA-800H receiver to be tested in parallel with other products even if this is somehow limiting (I was considering among the others a Hypex NC250MP Class D power amplifier from Audiophonics or other brands but I guess they are not easy to be auditioned in a physical store).

Any suggestions?

When you were in the demo room listening to the FS407, how far were you from the speakers? The FS407 should be a little easier to drive than your BS 403 but I would imagine the demo room may be larger and you likely sat a little further than you did at home, but just guessing. So if it sounded so good to you, then your current combo should be able to sound good to you at home too, unless your room acoustics messed things up, or the dealer did something else..

I always suggest the first step is to figure out your estimated power requirements. You can get an idea by using an online calculator such as this one:


distance is in feet so remember to convert from meters that you are used to, and the sensitivity is based x dB/w/1m, so for the BS 403, instead of entering 86 dB/2.83v/1m for sensitivity, you should enter 83.

Your Denon receiver is not very powerful, but again, you seemed to be impressed with it in the demo room driving the slightly easier to drive FS 407. So there is hope that it may be just powerful enough for you. It is impossible to tell for sure because it depends mostly on your listening habits, such as how loud you listen to and the distance. By the way, you mentioned 4.5 m away from the book case but you listened from only 2.5 m from the book rack. I am not really sure which one is you true distance (from speaker to ear).

Once you know your estimated power requirements (perhaps one for your normal listening level and another on for the loudest level you would listen to, such as when one else is in the house), then the second step should be more straightforward.

If you are keen on the "loudness" thing because you don't typically crank the volume high enough, then you may want to consider the unthinkable, that is, get an AVR such as the AVR-X3600H if you can find one, new or refurbished (as long as it comes with a good warranty and/or a good return window).
 

GiBo61

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Thank you Peng for your feedback. The Denon DRA-800H definitely has more than enough power to drive my Elac Vela BS 403 to insanely high levels in my room. And I also like what I ear, at least at medium-high volumes.
The problem is that now that I know that the Denon DRA-800H, besides power, has modest performance in terms of SINAD, noise, distortion, etc. I'm not sure I can live with it (I guess I need more a "shrink" than a HiFi expert). The additional problem is: if I buy something much better (and much more expensive) than the Denon, my ears will be able to appreciate it?
 
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ah-ra

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Thank you Peng for your feedback. The Denon DRA-800H definitely has more than enough power to drive my Elac Vela BS 403 to insanely high levels in my room. And I also like what I ear, at least at medium-high volumes.
The problem is that now that I know that the Denon DRA-800H, besides power, has modest performance in terms of SINAD, noise, distortion, etc. I'm not sure I can live with it (I guess I need more a "shrink" than a HiFi expert). The additional problem is: if I buy something much better (and much more expensive) than the Denon, my ears will be able to appreciate it?
I know exactly what you mean... , You're not sure if you're missing out on sound quality... Maybe do the following. Go to your local hifi-shop and borrow a really good and expensive amp (like the Luxman you mentioned) over the weekend. If you can hear a major improvement in your system (incl. your room), then you might think of an upgrade, but I think there is a good chance you won't hear a big difference, if any....
Even if other components measure better, it will not necessarily result in worse SQ given the non ideal environment in a normal living room.
 

peng

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Thank you Peng for your feedback. The Denon DRA-800H definitely has more than enough power to drive my Elac Vela BS 403 to insanely high levels in my room. And I also like what I ear, at least at medium-high volumes.
The problem is that now that I know that the Denon DRA-800H, besides power, has modest performance in terms of SINAD, noise, distortion, etc. I'm not sure I can live with it (I guess I need more a "shrink" than a HiFi expert). The additional problem is: if I buy something much better (and much more expensive) than the Denon, my ears will be able to appreciate it?

Just because it can sound loud and good to you subjectively doesn't mean it has enough power for your speakers to perform their best in your application. If you are willing to go by that then you can just sit back and enjoy the music and stop worrying about the measurements.

The thing is, distortion levels as high as even 0.1 to 1% could still sound good to a lot of people, but if the amp is driven passed its clipping point, distortion would increase rapidly if pushed further. Your Denon could be clipping during the peaks of the music you listen to and you may not realize it's happening. Again, that's fine for those who don't get bothered by the objective specs and measurements. Your post gave me the impression that you are bothered by the less than stellar measurements.

In general, I would guess that if you buy something that measure better and have enough power such that the amp will not clip under the worst condition in your application, then yes your ears (assuming no hearing loss obviously)
would likely be able to appreciate the difference. That is assuming your current receiver does not have enough power for it to operate well below its clipping point under even the worst condition.
 

GiBo61

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Just because it can sound loud and good to you subjectively doesn't mean it has enough power for your speakers to perform their best in your application. If you are willing to go by that then you can just sit back and enjoy the music and stop worrying about the measurements.

The thing is, distortion levels as high as even 0.1 to 1% could still sound good to a lot of people, but if the amp is driven passed its clipping point, distortion would increase rapidly if pushed further. Your Denon could be clipping during the peaks of the music you listen to and you may not realize it's happening. Again, that's fine for those who don't get bothered by the objective specs and measurements. Your post gave me the impression that you are bothered by the less than stellar measurements.

In general, I would guess that if you buy something that measure better and have enough power such that the amp will not clip under the worst condition in your application, then yes your ears (assuming no hearing loss obviously)
would likely be able to appreciate the difference. That is assuming your current receiver does not have enough power for it to operate well below its clipping point under even the worst condition.
Again, I'm pretty sure I'm not stressing the amplifier section even when I play the music loud, I really doubt I use more than 40-50 of the 145W available at 4 Ohm (that's the nominal charge of my speakers). I'm more worried by the modest measurements of the DAC section.
 

mike7877

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I was a happy owner of the Denon DRA-800H until I read Amir’s review. As a scientist I believe in numbers and those I've seen on ASR are pretty bad.
Now that I’m aware that I have audiophile grade speakers (Elac Vela BS 403) driven by a modest Stereo Receiver I feel the need to sell the Denon tu buy something better.
The problem is: will I ever appreciate the better sound quality after spending hundreds of $ to buy a decent streamer and amplifier?
Here is the whole story: I had a passion for HiFi devices when I was in my twenties but in recent years I have been content to listen to music with a Sony 100+100 W RMS receiver from the 90s connected to a pair of Advent 4002 (and, more recently, to B&W 685S2). About a year ago I decided to move on and buy a network streamer (Marantz, Denon or Yamaha). When the seller suggested the DRA-800H as an integrated amplifier/network streamer solution I immediately liked the idea of a device that, on paper, had almost everything I needed. I asked to listen to the Denon and the shop owner hooked it up to a pair of Elac FS 407s. Well, I was afraid I would start crying in the listening room out of emotion. I did not remember hearing anything more magical since the days when I used to attend HiFI shows. So I came home with my brand new DRA-800H and after connecting it to the B & W685S2 I realized that the sound hadn't improved significantly compared to my dear old Sony receiver. But at the same time I had confirmation that the Denon had exactly everything I needed: DAB + and internet radio, numerous analog and digital inputs, the ability to connect to my DLNA server. I wasn't interested in AV capabilities but I appreciated being able to use a common Chromecast Video connected to an HDMI input to stream audio from my smartphone. It works like a charm with my MacBook Pro through AirPlay2, takes voice commands from Alexa , the Heos App is not exciting but reliable, the device is stably connected to the wifi home network and there is no problem in playing FLAC files from the DLNA server.
Of course I immediately realized that the next step would be to change the speakers. I could not immediately afford the amazing Elac FS 407 (and I do not have place for them in my apartment), so I focused on the Elac Carina and Vela BS 403 bookshelf. After listening a couple of times to the little Velas connected to a Luxman l-505uxii (that costs 8 times more than my Denon...) I decided I was happy with them. I took them home, connected to the Denon and I was satisfied with the sound, a definite improvement over the B&W, even if their position in the room is the worst ever: they are in fact placed in a bookcase, 4.5 meters away and I'm listening only 2.5 meters from the bookrack. Fortunately the downfiring port of the Velas is quite forgiving and the addition of a MartinLogan Dynamo 700W subwoofer further improved the sound.
Back to the DRA-800H, I listen mostly Jazz and Baroque music but also Rock and Pop mostly from Internet radios and Tidal (HiFi subscription). The Denon is in “Direct" mode (tone control excluded and no other sound processing) and when the volume is low the sound is not particularly engaging (this is also due to the fact that there is no “loudness” control and that a "real audiophile" does not use tone controls, but this is a different story). Everything starts to shine after rising the volume to >50 and the power of the Denon is more than enough (I believe never went more than 80 out of 99 with any audio source). I ear no background noise, I’m not aware of any distortion but I can ear a difference between “Direct" and “Normal” (also called “Stereo") mode. I’m pretty sure I cannot reliably discriminate between a 320 kbit/s MP3 and a FLAC file. The Denon does not get particularly hot and I have never perceived any smell from the inside. But now that I know it’s a lemon I cannot enjoy my system anymore, at least not as before.
Probably many other DRA-800H happy owners are now in the same situation as me. I read mostly very positive user comments (more than 90%) from Amazon (4.4 out of 5), Crutchfield, Best Buy, Richersounds (4.6 out of 5). I guess that most of them, like me, are not able to discriminate the sound of a mediocre consumer amplifier from the sound of a good one, even if connected with quality speakers (Focals, LS50s, etc.)

There are also very positive (almost all 5 stars) reviews on specialized sites:
https://www.soundandvision.com/content/denon-dra-800h-stereo-network-receiver-review
https://blog.son-video.com/en/2019/08/review-denon-dra-800h/
https://www.digitalvideoht.it/prove/audio/sorgenti-ht/sintoamplificatori/denon-dra-800h.html
https://www.hifi-regler.de/testberichte/test_denon_dra-800h_stereo-netzwerk-receiver.php
https://www.lowbeats.de/test-denon-dra-800h-stereo-receiver-mit-heos-streaming-multiroom/
https://tiny-reviews.com/reviews/2826-review-on-av-receiver-denon-dra-800h
https://www.hifitest.de/test/hifi_sonstiges/denon-dra-800h_20410#bewertung
https://www.hifisound.de/out/media/pdf.php?r=uIyATeDQyHD3GFuWVu7AyrxdiCOCK0st8PvEqgxuL7X2qMlY%2FsKjDx%2BQXF460h6pPrOuDbYjZo7tuza7tl1MFQ%3D%3D.pdf

I wonder if they are paid by Denon, if they are mediocre reviewers or if they know this is a good product for the average user that is hardly discriminating in terms of sound quality.

Now what? My big fear now is to save and then spend $2000 tu buy something definitely better than the DRA-800H only to realize that the listening experience is the same or only marginally better (unfortunately I don't have audiophile friends with expensive amplifiers to lend me).
I guess I would have to go to a HiFi store with my Denon DRA-800H receiver to be tested in parallel with other products even if this is somehow limiting (I was considering among the others a Hypex NC250MP Class D power amplifier from Audiophonics or other brands but I guess they are not easy to be auditioned in a physical store).

Any suggestions?

I owned this amp for a bit - returned it because it didn't quite sound good enough to me. I had it hooked up to some nice ATC monitors with the same tweeters used in their range topping models (s-spec), so they're quite revealing and don't add anything extra in the top end like some audiophile speakers do.

The 800 had good bass, and clarity was there at high levels, but like you said, it's not so engaging at low levels. The amp is designed properly though, I had a 750h beside it at the time, which when fed from the same DAC had PC power supply noise come through the speakers, the 800h did not.

My advice for you: if you mostly listen loud and use a decent external DAC (proper grounding and thd+n of -102 or better), keep it. If you need quiet more often than loud, get yourself the Denon pma-800ne. I've auditioned one and it's a gem compared to everything else I've heard in the price range. It goes decently loud too, ~3db shy of the 800h. It's very clear at all levels, and its DAC is good. Quality wise, its slightly better than the 3700 v1 reviewed on this site (I had one of them, got a v2, the substituted DAC sounds better to me - clearer midrange and more neutral top octave).

I would have bought a pma800ne, but needed a 5.2.4 channel receiver more immediately. I'm buying a pma800ne soon though.

If you can use your TV to switch HDMI, I say you should do so and get one. Feeding it with a well reviewed DAC with a THD+n of -106 or better will improve its great sound even further.

Edit: about clipping, you're probably not clipping your 800 if your ears aren't in pain. I had a scope hooked up to mine into 85db/w speakers in a 20x14 foot room and most songs I was at a painful level before clipping. My speakers are 8 ohms too, not 4 like yours, so you have even more power and efficiency available. The 800ne is rated for 70 watts into 4 ohms. All the denons seem to be conservatively rated so it's probably actually 85 or more, which is more than enough (adding this in case people in this thread try to tell you it's not powerful enough and I'm not around to refute). Very lightly clipping your amp on occasion isn't the end of the world. Nothing will break. Serious clipping is audible as distortion, before serious clipping you'll notice the stereo image and clarity is affected. If you can't tell if you're near clipping and you want to know, as long as your woofer isn't near xmax, just turn up your amp 5-6db for a second or two (no, nothing will break). The sound will probably be a bit distorted. Quickly turn it down until there isn't audible distortion, then take off another 1-1.5db. You will quickly find out the limits of your amp and will not have to do this anymore
 
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Dogen

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Is it HDMI licensing costs that keep smaller companies from implementing it on their products? If so, HDMI has been very effective in shutting out competition in the AV market. I’d love to see some of the Toppings and SMSLs of the world try a product like this. If this one has a waiting list, certainly there’s a market for something better.
 

mike7877

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Is it HDMI licensing costs that keep smaller companies from implementing it on their products? If so, HDMI has been very effective in shutting out competition in the AV market. I’d love to see some of the Toppings and SMSLs of the world try a product like this. If this one has a waiting list, certainly there’s a market for something better.

I was thinking of getting into the market. I have bad luck so probably won't. But someone should.

An amp is just a few components placed the right way on a board.
It takes no more parts to make an amp that sounds good. It blows my mind that amps which perform as bad as the ones in most receivers are allowed to exist
 

Head_Unit

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An amp is just a few components placed the right way on a board.
It takes no more parts to make an amp that sounds good. It blows my mind that amps which perform as bad as the ones in most receivers are allowed to exist
Well, there's obviously a LOT more stuff packed into an AVR, so while you can see amazing small DACs, and really clean amps, I doubt it is trivial to keep 7-11 channels of amp AND their DACs really clean while packed together and coexisting with HDMI etc etc etc. My brother does advanced PCB design for GPS applications and it becomes hell when stuff is really packed together.

Does that mean it's impossible? No, but my long experience in consumer electronics says projects are generally about FASTER FASTER NOW NOW NOW YESTERDAY which is not leading to the best implementations. Better implementations would happen at smaller, more idiosyncratic "we shall release no audio product before its time" boutique labels, which don't have the financial horsepower to develop something as massive as an AVR and have a hope of making a profit.
 

mike7877

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Well, there's obviously a LOT more stuff packed into an AVR, so while you can see amazing small DACs, and really clean amps, I doubt it is trivial to keep 7-11 channels of amp AND their DACs really clean while packed together and coexisting with HDMI etc etc etc. My brother does advanced PCB design for GPS applications and it becomes hell when stuff is really packed together.

Does that mean it's impossible? No, but my long experience in consumer electronics says projects are generally about FASTER FASTER NOW NOW NOW YESTERDAY which is not leading to the best implementations. Better implementations would happen at smaller, more idiosyncratic "we shall release no audio product before its time" boutique labels, which don't have the financial horsepower to develop something as massive as an AVR and have a hope of making a profit.

Noise (hiss, like a tape) and power supply whine (different high pitch sounds depending on load) are the problems you'd get from improperly cramming a bunch of things into a small space. But they aren't the problems affecting AVRs, because grounding and circuit isolation, including metal covers on noisy (RF) boards, is generally done properly in receivers.

It's harmonic distortion (mostly odd order) which leads to unpleasant sound which can even be painful at higher levels. This is from bad design and can be fixed by arranging components properly and giving sufficient power. Weak bass is another common problem - it's from undersized transformers, thin traces on PCBs, and low power transistors with bad feedback circuits.

People seem to think because their ears hurt, their system must be loud. But clear loud sound doesn't hurt at all until well into hearing damage territory. So many consumer AVRs are just putting out medium levels of crap noise, hurting people's ears. Power ratings don't matter when your ears are bleeding at 10 watts. It would suck to have an unclear system which when you turn up the volume, clarity goes down. Unfortunately that's most people's systems. Educate, inform. Like Mike holmes on homes lol.
 
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Onlythesound

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From a purely listening point of view, I do not recognise what the science is revealing. I am not a Denon employee and bought my unit from Richer Sounds in the UK back in November 2019 and use it to drive a pair of Q Acoustics Concept 20 and a pair of B& W 606 speakers. The sound, whether from cd, streaming, Blu-ray or tv, is exceptional at this price point.
 

mike7877

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From a purely listening point of view, I do not recognise what the science is revealing. I am not a Denon employee and bought my unit from Richer Sounds in the UK back in November 2019 and use it to drive a pair of Q Acoustics Concept 20 and a pair of B& W 606 speakers. The sound, whether from cd, streaming, Blu-ray or tv, is exceptional at this price point.

The 800h is probably a good match for your speakers. They seem to be brighter than neutral which would work synergistically with the sonic character of the amp. If you want to noticably improve your sound, a good external DAC in the $200 price range would do it. I wouldn't spend more than that though, it's near the beginning of diminishing returns.
 

GiBo61

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I owned this amp for a bit - returned it because it didn't quite sound good enough to me. I had it hooked up to some nice ATC monitors with the same tweeters used in their range topping models (s-spec), so they're quite revealing and don't add anything extra in the top end like some audiophile speakers do.

The 800 had good bass, and clarity was there at high levels, but like you said, it's not so engaging at low levels. The amp is designed properly though, I had a 750h beside it at the time, which when fed from the same DAC had PC power supply noise come through the speakers, the 800h did not.

My advice for you: if you mostly listen loud and use a decent external DAC (proper grounding and thd+n of -102 or better), keep it. If you need quiet more often than loud, get yourself the Denon pma-800ne. I've auditioned one and it's a gem compared to everything else I've heard in the price range. It goes decently loud too, ~3db shy of the 800h. It's very clear at all levels, and its DAC is good. Quality wise, its slightly better than the 3700 v1 reviewed on this site (I had one of them, got a v2, the substituted DAC sounds better to me - clearer midrange and more neutral top octave).

I would have bought a pma800ne, but needed a 5.2.4 channel receiver more immediately. I'm buying a pma800ne soon though.

If you can use your TV to switch HDMI, I say you should do so and get one. Feeding it with a well reviewed DAC with a THD+n of -106 or better will improve its great sound even further.

Edit: about clipping, you're probably not clipping your 800 if your ears aren't in pain. I had a scope hooked up to mine into 85db/w speakers in a 20x14 foot room and most songs I was at a painful level before clipping. My speakers are 8 ohms too, not 4 like yours, so you have even more power and efficiency available. The 800ne is rated for 70 watts into 4 ohms. All the denons seem to be conservatively rated so it's probably actually 85 or more, which is more than enough (adding this in case people in this thread try to tell you it's not powerful enough and I'm not around to refute). Very lightly clipping your amp on occasion isn't the end of the world. Nothing will break. Serious clipping is audible as distortion, before serious clipping you'll notice the stereo image and clarity is affected. If you can't tell if you're near clipping and you want to know, as long as your woofer isn't near xmax, just turn up your amp 5-6db for a second or two (no, nothing will break). The sound will probably be a bit distorted. Quickly turn it down until there isn't audible distortion, then take off another 1-1.5db. You will quickly find out the limits of your amp and will not have to do this anymore
I never reached clipping with my Denon DRA 800H even when listening to very high volume, so, again, the power is more than enough in my settings. Even the sound quality is more than satisfying, it's probably me (and 90% of the Denon DRA 800H owners that write top score reviews on Amazon, Crutchfield, Richersounds etc.) that I'm not able to discriminate the sound of an audiophile amplifier from that od a consumer grade receiver.
 
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mike7877

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I never reached clipping with my Denon PMA 800H even when listening to very high volume, so, again, the power is more than enough in my settings. Even the sound quality is more than satisfying, it's probably me (and 90% of the Denon PMA 800H owners that write top score reviews on Amazon, Crutchfield, Richersounds etc.) that I'm not able to discriminate the sound of an audiophile amplifier from that od a consumer grade receiver.

I'm not saying it's underpowered for your use case, the opposite actually. Denon's dedicated amplifier with 800 in the name (rated for 70 watts into 4 ohms but could probably be rated at 85) is the same price and sounds a lot better. A lot. So if you don't need HDMI switching done at the receiver (if your TV can do it) and you're within your exchange period, I highly recommend the 800ne. If you give it a week, you'll notice the difference. Once a certain level of fidelity is achieved, differences aren't immediately apparent. For example, listening fatigue could take longer to set in. It's kind of like you don't know what you're missing til it's gone, but in reverse
 

GiBo61

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I'm not saying it's underpowered for your use case, the opposite actually. Denon's dedicated amplifier with 800 in the name (rated for 70 watts into 4 ohms but could probably be rated at 85) is the same price and sounds a lot better. A lot. So if you don't need HDMI switching done at the receiver (if your TV can do it) and you're within your exchange period, I highly recommend the 800ne. If you give it a week, you'll notice the difference. Once a certain level of fidelity is achieved, differences aren't immediately apparent. For example, listening fatigue could take longer to set in. It's kind of like you don't know what you're missing til it's gone, but in reverse
Mine is 10 months old. I'm sure that the Denon PMA-800NE is a better sounding product, it will be in my candidates shopping list when I decide to change my Denon DRE-800H.
 
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