If I'm not wrong the price of a AKM4458 chip is less than $4 if you buy a stock of 500 units (https://www.digikey.it/product-deta...K4458VN/974-1082-1-ND/5287011?cur=USD&lang=en), while the PCM5100A sells for less than $2 (https://eu.mouser.com/Texas-Instrum...s/PCM5100A-Series/_/N-4gxke?P=1yye73wZ1z0zls6).
I guess that using a more complex DAC like the AKM4458 has also an impact on the layout (and the cost) of the PCB. Anyway, to save a few Dollars Denon has decided to provide a lower quality audio output to ZONE2. At the end this is also resulting in a really bad advertisement for the DRA-800H considering that Amir in his review could only evaluate the PCM5100A output.
This is an important piece of information, at least for me. I was considering to buy a Class D amplifier based on Hypex NC252MP or NC502MP and to connect it to the ZONE 2 output but at this point it would be a complete wast of money.
Denon, I'm really disappointed...
If you look at the photos of the equally ugly power supply transformers for the DRA-800H and the NR1200, you probably would be turned right off and those very nice AK4458 implemented in differential connections with the also very nice NE5532 (typically not found in AVRs) wouldn't matter any more.
I would stick with an AVR regardless of the nice function over form thing. AVR-X3700H+NC502MP seems like a great value based on $, W and SINAD, just grab the best RCA to XLR, such as those by March Audio, Benchmark, but the Monolith ones look very good, and cheap.