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Denon DRA-800H Review (Stereo Receiver)

peng

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Hi @peng, Thanks for taking a look.
Referring to the DRA-800H block diagram supplied by @bloodshoteyed.
The AKM4458 analog out L & R goes to the InA/B6 of the 7in/3out matrix switch. The Zone2 would correspond to the OUTA3 and OUTB3 for L and R respectively on the output side of the same matrix switch. For there to be a connection, the user would have to somehow set a connection between InA/B6 and OUT3. My hypothesis is that this connection is set with "All Zone Stereo" but I do not know for sure that this is how to establish the connection. In any case, "All Zone Stereo" means that Zone 2 plays the same source as Main Zone.
That block diagram only shows the analog part, and I did look and it and concluded that if you use analog input, in direct mode, the zone2 pre out can be expected to have SINAD in the high 90s, even 100 because the PCM5100 will not be in the path.

I looked again and saw no evidence of the main zone DAC, the AK4458 would be used for Zone2. Take a look of page 18 of the SM and you will see 6 channel outputs of the 8 channel AK4458 are used for the left, right and subwoofer channels, it took 6 instead of 3 due to the differential connections, and the remaining 2 channels (if single ended are used) are not connected. I supposed that could have been used for the Zone2 pre out, but they are not used.

The other way for Zone 2 to play the same source as Main Zone is to use the "Zone 2 SOURCE" button on the front panel (button second from left). This button allows cycling though the various sources such as CD, blu-ray, etc. But if you select "Source" this causes Zone 2 to play the same music as Main Zone. Based on the service manual for AVR-S950H/X2600H (similar to DRA-800H with same PLD, DAC stack etc), when set in this way, digital signal goes through the "Downmix DAC PCM5100A" and the resulting analog is routed to Zone 2 via a 7in/3out switch. It is possible that this was the setting for the original measurement which no one was excited about.

Yes, that part seems obvious.
 

SoundsGood64

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Hi @peng and other readers,

Yes, I completely agree that only 6 of 8 analog outs of the AK4458 are used (L, R, sub), with 2 unused. Yet, I have never proposed that those 2 unused analog outs are a way to connect AKM4458 with Zone 2.

Rather, for the potential connection between AK4458 and Zone 2, please refer to the DRA-800 analog block diagram (showing as p32 from bloodshoteyes post of 2 pages from the DRA-800H service manual). In the lower left corner of the page are the 3 (6 outs down to 3 for dual differential) analog outputs from the AK4458 (DAC_FL, DAC_FR, DAC_SW). They are subtle and easily missed, but they are there in the analog block diagram. DAC_FL and DAC_FR go into InA/B6 (Look at the matrix switch, see InA/B6 and then trace its input origin back to AK4458 on the digital audio block on next page, p33) of the 7in/3out matrix switch. One of 3 possible outputs of that switch is Zone 2. This is the potential connection I write about, the question is how the user can cause that matrix switch to connect between InA/B6 (analog L and R out from AK4458) and OUT3 (Zone 2). You see what I'm writing about here, right?

Another possibility at this matrix switch would be analog CD in through InA/B4 connected to OUT3, thereby directing analog CD in to Zone 2, which I believe is one specific example of what you are referring to in post 141 as a direct analog input to Zone 2. Is it unreasonable to think that the very same switch can instead route InA/B6 (AK4458 origin) to OUT3 (Zone2)? Very best and sincere regards--and thanks again!
 

GiBo61

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In his review of the Denon AVR-X3700H AVR Amir states "Denon engineering was kind enough to review these measurements and confirm that they match their expectations" (see screenshot below) meaning that the company carefully follows this forum. Apparently after this controversial review of DRA-800H Denon has nothing to say and we are left with a string of hypothesis and unanswered questions.
If Denon had anything substantial to communicate about this review which will hurt the sales of this model (ex: the sample tested is probably faulty or the measurements were not done correctly) I imagine that directly or indirectly (by contacting Amir) they would have let us know something. I guess that their silence speaks loud...
 

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peng

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Hi @peng and other readers,

Yes, I completely agree that only 6 of 8 analog outs of the AK4458 are used (L, R, sub), with 2 unused. Yet, I have never proposed that those 2 unused analog outs are a way to connect AKM4458 with Zone 2.

Rather, for the potential connection between AK4458 and Zone 2, please refer to the DRA-800 analog block diagram (showing as p32 from bloodshoteyes post of 2 pages from the DRA-800H service manual). In the lower left corner of the page are the 3 (6 outs down to 3 for dual differential) analog outputs from the AK4458 (DAC_FL, DAC_FR, DAC_SW). They are subtle and easily missed, but they are there in the analog block diagram. DAC_FL and DAC_FR go into InA/B6 (Look at the matrix switch, see InA/B6 and then trace its input origin back to AK4458 on the digital audio block on next page, p33) of the 7in/3out matrix switch. One of 3 possible outputs of that switch is Zone 2. This is the potential connection I write about, the question is how the user can cause that matrix switch to connect between InA/B6 (analog L and R out from AK4458) and OUT3 (Zone 2). You see what I'm writing about here, right?

Another possibility at this matrix switch would be analog CD in through InA/B4 connected to OUT3, thereby directing analog CD in to Zone 2, which I believe is one specific example of what you are referring to in post 141 as a direct analog input to Zone 2. Is it unreasonable to think that the very same switch can instead route InA/B6 (AK4458 origin) to OUT3 (Zone2)? Very best and sincere regards--and thanks again!

Yes I see it now, don't know how I missed it. Sorry, and thank you for your patience. So it is possible that the AK4458 was used under some conditions. Coming to think of it, since this is a stereo receiver, it may be possible that the PC5100s are for "Network Z2" and "Downmix Z2" only. Now you got me curious enough to take a more detailed look, time permitting..

Thanks again for your patience explaining and highlighted the part I missed.
 

SoundsGood64

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Hi!

I posed three questions for us to consider in post 134 above 4 days ago. Having done some reading and thinking, I can take a try at answering these questions here together, at least for the DRA-800H. To answer these questions I relied on three source docs: the DRA-800H user manual, the analog and digital block diagram for DRA-800H from post 117, and the service manual for AVR-S950H/X2600H. The full DRA-800H service manual isn’t readily available to me, however comparison of the AVR-X2600H block diagram with that of the DRA-800H indicates that both share the exact same three DAC stack, Audio PLD, and ADC + DIR, so it is very reasonable to make inferences for DRA-800H using the X2600H service manual. Further, the X2600H block diagram gives much more detail of the PLD, showing key digital connections. Below I will also review and then extend in further detail on my previous posts in this thread. The key motivations here are to understand the workings of the DRA-800H to interpret the DAC measurements in Post #1, remaining questions, and how possibly to move forward to answer those questions.

The analog and block diagram for DRA-800H indicates there are three DAC chips, “DAC AK4458”, “Network DAC (Z2) PCM5100A”, and “Downmix DAC PCM5100A”. So two of the DACs are the same model PCM5100A chip. The PCM5100A (Dynamic Range 100dB, SNR 100dB, and THD -90db) is a lower spec DAC chip compared to the AK4458 (Dynamic Range 115 dB, SNR 115 dB, THD -107 dB).

The “Network DAC (Z2) PCM5100A” does network only—with no other possible digital source-- based on the internal connection map of the Audio PLD. This DAC can provide analog output to Zone 2 pre-out via the 7in/3out matrix switch, as shown on the DRA-800H analog audio block diagram.

The “Downmix DAC PCM5100A” receives digital input from the Digital Signal Processing (DSP) chip by a 2ch-only connection that is distinct from the separate DSP to AK4458 connection. The “Downmix DAC PCM5100A” is used for audio signal destined to Zone 2, as shown in X2600H service manual. Unlike the “Network DAC”, the “Downmix DAC PCM5100A” can receive many different digital inputs. Its analog output goes to the 7in/3out switch and can then proceed to Zone 2 pre-out. When using “Downmix DAC PCM5100A”, the Zone 2 audio can be from the same or a different source from what is being played in Main Zone but even if they’re the same digital source, each zone uses its own distinct DAC.

A bit a trivia, but I believe use of the term ‘downmix’ for one of the PCM5100A dacs is a holdover term from surround AVRs, such as AVR-X2600H, that share the same electronics. For DRA-800H ‘downmix’ doesn’t make sense since the HDMI in this model can only accept 2ch PCM and not other formats such as DSD, Dolby True HD, and DTS Master Audio. There isn’t anything to “downmix” to for the DRA-800H but Denon retains the term to be consistent with identical electronics in the surround AVRs.

The DRA-800H digital block diagram shows the AK4458 receiving digital audio from the PLD, and outputting analog for L, R, and sub. The AK4458 is implemented in dual differential mode, so utilizing 6 of the 8 available channel outs (There are 2 unused channels), and then getting reduced back to the 3 channels, L, R, and sub. The analog L and R from AK4458 (but not the sub) splits into two paths (this split is not a switch), one path going to Main Zone amp plus speakers, with the other path going to the 7in/3out switch. At this switch there is a POSSIBLE connection of the analog out of AK4458 to Zone 2 pre-out. Hence, the split and switch together make possible simultaneous playback in Main Zone and Zone 2, downstream from a single DAC, the AK4458.

Interestingly, for network digital (HEOS) there is a pathway from the LEGO network module to the “Network DAC (Z2) PCM5100A” as described above for Zone 2, but also a pathway to the Main Zone via DSP and AK4458. So it’s pretty likely HEOS network in the Main Zone goes via AK4458.

ANALOG signals can enter the 7in/3out matrix switch (all connections are physically possible in 7 by 3 matrix but perhaps not all are implemented) from 1 of 7 possible ANALOG inputs including:

1) Phono
2) Tuner
3) CBL/SAT
4) CD
5) “Downmix DAC PCM5100A”
6) L and R only from AK4458
7) “Network DAC (Z2) PCM5100A”

The 7in/3out switch has 3 possible outputs to:
1) Either: a) L and R amp & speaker OR b) Analog-to-Digital Converter AK5358 →DSP
2) ADC for LEGO network (probably bluetooth headphones etc)
3) Zone2 pre-out

OUT1 can be used to take :
a) any analog input 1-4 and direct it to L & R amp + speakers for ‘direct mode’. OR
b) Alternatively any analog input 1-4 can be routed to the ADC → DSP → AK4458 → L, R, sub main zone speakers for ‘stereo mode’. I believe it’s a situation of Direct mode vs Stereo mode: ‘a or b’, NOT ‘a and b’ . I cannot understand the purpose of an ‘a and b’ configuration.

OUT2 is about bluetooth.

OUT3 can be used to take:
a) any external analog input 1-4 (such as CD player, input 4) and direct to Zone 2 pre-out. OR
b) any analog input 5-7 from one of the DACs and direct that to Zone 2 pre-out. In other words, the matrix switch allows Zone 2 to receive analog output from any one of the three DACs: “Downmix DAC PCM5100A”, L&R AK4458, and “Network DAC (Z2) PCM5100A”.

A KEY QUESTION FOR THIS DRA-800H REVIEW THREAD IS THIS:

WHICH OF THE THREE DACS WAS IN USE WHEN AMIRM MEASURED FROM THE ZONE 2 PREOUT?

In the measurements amirm did, Zone2 was definitely not getting its analog signal from the “Network DAC (Z2) PCM5100A” because he did not use network (HEOS) as the digital source (he used HDMI), and network (HEOS) is the only possible digital source for this DAC. Therefore, amirm was taking measurements from Zone2 preout based on either the lower spec “Downmix DAC PCM5100A” or the higher spec AK4458 in dual differential mode.

I believe amirm was most likely taking his measurement from the “Downmix DAC PCM5100A” and not the AK4458. I provide three (interconnected) reasons for this. None of these is proof in of itself, but rather when taken together point toward “Downmix DAC PCM5100A” as the most likely DAC feeding Zone 2 during the measurements.

1) amirm stated in his initial setup “there is Zone 2 which can program to mirror the main zone output so that is what I did.” The instruction manual for DRA-800H on page 106 states “Setting the input source of ZONE2 as the “Source” allows you to play the same content in MAIN ZONE and in ZONE2, regardless of the type of input signal.” The input source of Zone 2 can be set using the second button from the left on the front panel which in this case can be set to “Source”. It’s weird that the word ‘source’ is both in the name of the button itself, and also the name of one of the selections the button cycles through. Based on what he wrote above, perhaps after reading the manual, amirm probably used the second button from the left on the front panel and selected “Source”. It would be great if @amirm can definitively confirm or refute this.

In any case, choosing “Source” as the input source of Zone 2 would cause digital signal coming from the DSP to go to the “Downmix DAC PCM5100A”. This assertion is based on pages 140, 152, and 153 of the service manual (See Figures 7a and 7b showing signal path and p140 showing user controlled settings to make path happen that way) for AVR-X2600H which shares the same basic electronics as the DRA-800H including exactly all three DACS, the Audio PLD, etc. Those pages show the signal path going to Zone2 pre-out via “Downmix DAC PCM5100A” when “Source” is the chosen as the input source of Zone 2.

2) There is another user operation than in #1 above in which Zone 2 and Main Zone can play the same music source. And that is to press the “Option” button on the remote control, and select “All Zone Stereo” while listening to the desired music source. I am proposing that when the user invokes “All Zone Stereo”, this causes the 7in/3out matrix switch to direct the analog output from the AK4458 L&R to Zone 2. Main Zone is already getting the same L & R analog output from AK4458, as it always does. The DRA-800H block diagram is consistent with this scenario with the L&R analog output from the AK4458 taking two paths all the time: i) Main Zone L&R amp + speakers and ii) the number 6 input (InA/B6) for the 7in/3out matrix switch. So in this proposal, “All Zone Stereo” allows both the Main Zone and Zone 2 to play analog signal from a single DAC source, the AK4458. This #2 path is what one would want to ensure that both Zone 2 and Main Zone are playing the music synchronized, ie not with a relative delay between the two zones. In contrast, by going with #1 you’re using two different DACs to play the same digital source, so treating the digital source differently, and so apt to be different, including a possible relative delay.

For playback of the same digital source in both Main Zone and Zone 2, there are two physically different paths shown in the block diagrams (corresponding to #1 above and this one #2), AND there are two methods given in the manual to accomplish those two distinct paths. Therefore it makes sense that each path corresponds to a given method. The service manual reveals that “Source” as Zone 2 Input Source as going through “Downmix DAC PCM5100A” (#1) leaves us to assign path here in #2 to “All Zone Stereo” by the process of elimination.

3) The SINAD and other measurements taken from the Zone 2 pre-out were much more consistent with a lower spec PCM5100A compared with the higher spec AK4458 which is implemented in the DRA-800H in dual differential mode.

In summary, the overall hypothesis here is that amirm did his measurements using #1 above, ie by choosing “Source” as the Zone 2 input source. This choice ensured the Zone2 preout received analog signal from the lower spec “Downstream DAC PCM5100A”. Further, this hypothesis points to a real world next step, which is to re-test the DRA-800H from the Zone 2 preout.

If amirm still has access to the DRA-800H, I would propose he compare measurements from the two different methods for dual zone playback of the same source: “Source as Zone2 input” or “All Zone Stereo”, to invoke respectively either PCM5100A or AK4458 as the DAC upstream of the Zone2 preout. Under this hypothesis, we would predict that “All Zone Stereo” (AK4458) would produce better DAC measurements compared to “Source” as Zone 2 input (PCM5100A), which would be reproduced from the measurements amirm reported in post #1 of this thread on Sept 19, 2021. There are other hypotheses that could be ruled out by this type of testing, including the alternative hypothesis that “Source as Zone 2 input” and “All Zone Stereo” are physically the exact same thing and utilize the “Downmix DAC PCM5100A”. This alternative hypothesis can be readily falsified if the two methods result in different measurements. Perhaps amirm, a Denon expert as suggested by @GiBo61, or anyone else could comment on these various hypotheses or propose new ones, with respect to further testing. In addition, any factual corrections with rationale would be very welcome, to bolster the discussion.
 

GiBo61

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What is the logic for setting the speaker impedance in the DRA-800H setup menu? Apparently, when you select "4 ohm" you get much less power from the amplifier (57W x 2) than the 8 ohm configuration (141W x 2, see: https://audio.com.pl/testy/stereo/amplitunery-stereo/3184-dra-800h). Should the 4 ohm power limitation avoid damaging the final stages, as speculated by the Polish magazine?
With my DRA-800H I drive the Elac Vela BS403 (4 ohm speakers) and have always used the 8 ohm settings with no obvious signs of stress (no distortion or overheating). I guess that the power mesurements shown by Amir (as expected more power at 4 than 8 ohm) have been obtained with the 8 ohm configuration. Similar power values have been obtained also by an Italian HiFi magazine (https://www.digitalvideoht.it/prove/audio/sorgenti-ht/sintoamplificatori/denon-dra-800h.html).
 

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peng

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What is the logic for setting the speaker impedance in the DRA-800H setup menu? Apparently, when you select "4 ohm" you get much less power from the amplifier (57W x 2) than the 8 ohm configuration (141W x 2, see: https://audio.com.pl/testy/stereo/amplitunery-stereo/3184-dra-800h). Should the 4 ohm power limitation avoid damaging the final stages, as speculated by the Polish magazine?
With my DRA-800H I drive the Elac Vela BS403 (4 ohm speakers) and have always used the 8 ohm settings with no obvious signs of stress (no distortion or overheating). I guess that the power mesurements shown by Amir (as expected more power at 4 than 8 ohm) have been obtained with the 8 ohm configuration. Similar power values have been obtained also by an Italian HiFi magazine (https://www.digitalvideoht.it/prove/audio/sorgenti-ht/sintoamplificatori/denon-dra-800h.html).

The logic may be simple, yet could also be complicated.. The thing is, if they rate the amp 100 W X2 8 ohms, then theory dictates that it should be simply rated 50 W X2 4 ohms based on the same rated output current. So yes it has something to do with trying to avoid damaging the final stages, all else being equal (but in practice all else are not always equal). So in reality you would rarely see any 100 W/50 W 8/4 ohm rated amplifiers. The opposite is also true, you rarely see amps rated 100 W/200 W 8/4 ohm rated amps, even those that do, they don't usually specify the details such as at what THD, durations etc.

For real world use, it is definitely not that simple, but the manufacturer has to try and do something to protect themselves and the users. Providing a "4 ohm" setting that lowers the "rail" voltage seems like a popular way many have chosen to do.

The current demand on the power supply and final stage output devices would depend on at least the following, but not limited to the following factors.

- impedance and phase angle vs frequency characteristics of your speakers.
- sensitivity, dB/2.83V/m of the speakers.
- the average and peak spl you listen to under the worse condition.
- the media contents, such as jazz, classical, rock, heavy metal etc...etc.
- distance between the mlp and the speakers.

So impedance is just one factor, and whether the 4 ohm setting is required in practice would depend on the other factors. Amir's measurements will typically show more "power" output into a 4 ohm load than an 8 ohm load because power is proportional to the square of current (current doubles when impedance is halved) and for his power output test, the test load would be a resistor, and duration would be relatively short, especially for the peak power (CEA2006/490A) test. So in his tests, "heat" may not be a huge factor but it could be for real world use when again, it depends on at least the factors listed above.

Now consider your Elac speaker's specs:
Sensitivity: 86 dB at 2.83 V, at 1 meter
Nominal/Peak power handling: 70 W/100 W
Nominal/Minimum Impedance: 4 Ω | 3,2 Ω at 260 Hz
Phase angle: N/A

You know your spl requirement and seating distance, so if you are interested you can estimate how much "power" you need. For argument sake, if you actually need less 50 W X2 4 ohm under the most demanding condition, and I would guess that's very likely based on the info you provided, then of course there would be no issue whether you set the unit to 4 ohm or not. Though if you set it to 8 ohm you would not be following the manufacturer's instructions obviously.

If you are interested in estimating your power need quickly, there are many online calculators such as the following:

https://www.crownaudio.com/how-much-amplifier-power
 

rlwings

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Denon and Marantz products are always discounted by 40+% at model year's end. (Best Buy Canada) This is the time to buy them. It's the only time that the price reflects their acceptable value.... But the last couple of years this didn't happen. Covid has become the big 'excuse' - In reality, most electronics have a real cost of pennies on the dollar. Don't be fooled by common thought. They're laughing, and we're paying.
 

peng

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Denon and Marantz products are always discounted by 40+% at model year's end. (Best Buy Canada) This is the time to buy them. It's the only time that the price reflects their acceptable value.... But the last couple of years this didn't happen. Covid has become the big 'excuse' - In reality, most electronics have a real cost of pennies on the dollar. Don't be fooled by common thought. They're laughing, and we're paying.

Agreed, the funny/weird thing too is the fact that during the year before Covid, the Marantz SR7013 had dropped below US discount prices. If I remember right it fell to below USD1,000 based on the exch rate at the time of the sales. It happened at least on two occasions, on both BB and Amazon Canada. Those were the only times I remember one could pick up the SR7012 and 7013 for a couple hundred dollars less than the AVR-X4500H, any other time the opposite would be the norm.

BB is now listing the SR7015 for a whopping C$3,799.99, and C$2,699.99 for the AVR-X4700H that's ridiculous!!

So as you say, it used be the time to buy, yet not this time. Who is buying right now is beyond me.. I could may be understand someone who can't wait may be forced to bite the bullet and grab the much better measured 4700, but what kind of sucker would buy the SR7015 in Canada??:p
 

TRA

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Hi! First post here, and a somewhat sheepish one... I signed up just to comment on this thread. I just purchased one of these Denon DRA-800H receivers yesterday, before reading this.

Thing is, I walked into a retailer with a specific want list. Some kind of hub that I connect to my TV for TV sound, Movies and Music. I wanted HDMI arc so I could do the basic controls with the TV remote - volume/on/off etc. and some streaming built in would be nice. The Denon is one of the few products that fulfils this wish list.

I tested it connected to my speakers, some Monitor Audio Bronze 50. It sounded remarkably (subjectively) good. A touch bloaty in the bass and a hint of treble harshness, but otherwise smooth, and nice imaging. Perfect! I did compare it to a Cambridge Audio AXR100 that had similar power but less functionality. The Cambridge sounded better, more refined, tighter bass and nicely rendered image. BUT it had none of the convenience.

For context I have two young kids so the less remotes the better.

My question is, even taking into account the terrible measurements, what is out there that can satisfy my requirements at the $1000 AUD mark?

Should I ditch the denon ( haven't picked up yet). Buy a Yamaha WXA-50 with less functions but cleaner measurements and pocket $500? A NAD 3045? Bluesound PowerNode N330 that has many reported issues but all the features?

It's an absolute minefield out there.

BTW, love the site, I barely understand half of what I read, but the ratio will change the more I read.
 

SoundsGood64

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@TRA perhaps you've already partly answered your question. You preferred the sound of the AXR100 and yet you still chose the DRA-800H because you enjoyed the combination of its sound and needed features such as HDMI with arc. Consider that amirm used the Zone 2 pre-out to do the DAC measurements, and so may have been testing the lower spec PCM5100 DAC rather than the 'main zone' higher spec AK4458 (see post 146 above). If true, this would explain the relatively poor DAC performance in comparison to other Denon AVRs which were tested using a main zone pre-out.

Amp measurements were also taken using analog direct, so not involving the DAC. Here's a question for someone with sound engineering expertise, perhaps @amirm or others here--Would the below average amp measurements for analog direct result in anything audible that would lessen listening enjoyment? (And TRA has little ones around so probably unlike a quiet recording studio at home!) For example, the SINAD of 78 dB (equivalent to 0.01% THD+N) for the amp using direct analog was documented as below that of many other AVRs, including Denon AVRs. [edit: Using a stereo mode (not direct) digital input (HDMI or coax?)--the stated use case--the amp SINAD declined to 62dB (0.07%).] Noting post 1 in the "What matters about SINAD measurements" thread, @RCAguy wrote "if SINAD is <0.05%, the amplifier is not perceived to be adding bogus colorations to the sound." That said, I appreciate very much that all the measurements together provide an assessment of engineering excellence, or lack thereof, which can be taken into account when comparing devices even in the case where there are no audible differences to be heard.

Also, for the little ones, consider 'music together' an audio program to introduce young kids to music. Your family will likely enjoy that regardless of what device you end up with!
 
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peng

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@TRA perhaps you've already partly answered your question. You preferred the sound of the AXR100 and yet you still chose the DRA-800H because you enjoyed the combination of its sound and needed features such as HDMI with arc. Consider that amirm used the Zone 2 pre-out to do the DAC measurements, and so may have been testing the lower spec PCM5100 DAC rather than the 'main zone' higher spec AK4458 (see post 146 above). If true, this would explain the relatively poor DAC performance in comparison to other Denon AVRs which were tested using a main zone pre-out.

Amp measurements were also taken using analog direct, so not involving the DAC. Here's a question for someone with sound engineering expertise, perhaps @amirm or others here--Would the below average amp measurements for analog direct result in anything audible that would lessen listening enjoyment? (And TRA has little ones around so probably unlike a quiet recording studio at home!) For example, the SINAD of 78 dB (equivalent to 0.01% THD+N) for the amp using direct analog was documented as below that of many other AVRs, including Denon AVRs. [edit: Using a stereo mode (not direct) digital input (HDMI or coax?)--the stated use case--the amp SINAD declined to 62dB (0.07%).] Noting post 1 in the "What matters about SINAD measurements" thread, @RCAguy wrote "if SINAD is <0.05%, the amplifier is not perceived to be adding bogus colorations to the sound." That said, I appreciate very much that all the measurements together provide an assessment of engineering excellence, or lack thereof, which can be taken into account when comparing devices even in the case where there are no audible differences to be heard.

Also, for the little ones, consider 'music together' an audio program to introduce young kids to music. Your family will likely enjoy that regardless of what device you end up with!

I just thought of one other possible scenario that could explain the poorer SINAD for the DRA receiver. That is, the dut might have the same capacitors that caused the poorer performance of the first AVR-X6700H Amir measured. The issue was reported to Denon, they replaced those caps, the second sample was measured by Amir. SINAD went right up, rank 2nd of the chart right behind the AVR-X8500H.


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TRA

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@TRA perhaps you've already partly answered your question. You preferred the sound of the AXR100 and yet you still chose the DRA-800H because you enjoyed the combination of its sound and needed features such as HDMI with arc. Consider that amirm used the Zone 2 pre-out to do the DAC measurements, and so may have been testing the lower spec PCM5100 DAC rather than the 'main zone' higher spec AK4458 (see post 146 above). If true, this would explain the relatively poor DAC performance in comparison to other Denon AVRs which were tested using a main zone pre-out.

Amp measurements were also taken using analog direct, so not involving the DAC. Here's a question for someone with sound engineering expertise, perhaps @amirm or others here--Would the below average amp measurements for analog direct result in anything audible that would lessen listening enjoyment? (And TRA has little ones around so probably unlike a quiet recording studio at home!) For example, the SINAD of 78 dB (equivalent to 0.01% THD+N) for the amp using direct analog was documented as below that of many other AVRs, including Denon AVRs. [edit: Using a stereo mode (not direct) digital input (HDMI or coax?)--the stated use case--the amp SINAD declined to 62dB (0.07%).] Noting post 1 in the "What matters about SINAD measurements" thread, @RCAguy wrote "if SINAD is <0.05%, the amplifier is not perceived to be adding bogus colorations to the sound." That said, I appreciate very much that all the measurements together provide an assessment of engineering excellence, or lack thereof, which can be taken into account when comparing devices even in the case where there are no audible differences to be heard.

Also, for the little ones, consider 'music together' an audio program to introduce young kids to music. Your family will likely enjoy that regardless of what device you end up with!
Correct, I have really answered my own question. And yes, my home is no hushed recording studio. Room treatment consists of toy cars and barbie dolls strewn all over the floor (minutes after tidying).

I'd be quite interested in analysing the Denon once I get it in my home and setup. And test the relevant connections and sources. Which would be an optical, a HDMI and streaming connection.

The other thing which is likely going to impact the quality rating of the amp is the HEOS software. I'm bracing myself for a horror show. Regardless of SQ, bad software will ruin anyones day.
 

GiBo61

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Hi! First post here, and a somewhat sheepish one... I signed up just to comment on this thread. I just purchased one of these Denon DRA-800H receivers yesterday, before reading this.

Thing is, I walked into a retailer with a specific want list. Some kind of hub that I connect to my TV for TV sound, Movies and Music. I wanted HDMI arc so I could do the basic controls with the TV remote - volume/on/off etc. and some streaming built in would be nice. The Denon is one of the few products that fulfils this wish list.

I tested it connected to my speakers, some Monitor Audio Bronze 50. It sounded remarkably (subjectively) good. A touch bloaty in the bass and a hint of treble harshness, but otherwise smooth, and nice imaging. Perfect! I did compare it to a Cambridge Audio AXR100 that had similar power but less functionality. The Cambridge sounded better, more refined, tighter bass and nicely rendered image. BUT it had none of the convenience.

For context I have two young kids so the less remotes the better.

My question is, even taking into account the terrible measurements, what is out there that can satisfy my requirements at the $1000 AUD mark?

Should I ditch the denon ( haven't picked up yet). Buy a Yamaha WXA-50 with less functions but cleaner measurements and pocket $500? A NAD 3045? Bluesound PowerNode N330 that has many reported issues but all the features?

It's an absolute minefield out there.

BTW, love the site, I barely understand half of what I read, but the ratio will change the more I read.
Maybe you can consider the Marantz NR1200, it's very similar to the Denon DRA-800H (I guess more than 95% of the internal components are the same) however the output stages must be different considering that it has lower output per channel (75W at 8-ohm, 20Hz – 20kHz, 0.08% THD vs 100W for the Denon). Considering that the Marantz costs about 15% more maybe they use higher quality power amp circuits with better performance aside from power. Another option would be the Onkyo TX-8270 if you can find one. Based on the specs and price I do not expect much better measurements than the Denon DRA-800H.
 
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GiBo61

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Correct, I have really answered my own question. And yes, my home is no hushed recording studio. Room treatment consists of toy cars and barbie dolls strewn all over the floor (minutes after tidying).

I'd be quite interested in analysing the Denon once I get it in my home and setup. And test the relevant connections and sources. Which would be an optical, a HDMI and streaming connection.

The other thing which is likely going to impact the quality rating of the amp is the HEOS software. I'm bracing myself for a horror show. Regardless of SQ, bad software will ruin anyones day.
I bought the Denon DRA-800H last Christmas and before Amir's review was published I was a very happy owner of this receiver. I found it very complete and it does everithing well. The HEOS software probably will not win any design award, however it works reliably in my setup. I have no problems in streaming music from my NAS, I listen to my favorite internet radios from the TuneIn directory, I play my Apple Music songs from my MacBookPro using AirPlay2, I enjoy my TIDAL playlists directely from my smartphone. The Denon DRA-800H delivers plenty of power to my Elac Velas BS403 in my 25 square meter room. I ear no distortion and no background noise and the sound quality is more than good to my ears but the major limitation here is the placement of the speakers INSIDE the bookcase. I'm about to buy a new apartment and there is no way for me to change the DRA-800H soon with something significantly better (a Cambridge EVO150 ?). It wont be easy but I will try to enjoy the music I love the same way I was able to enjoy it until two months ago.
 

SoundsGood64

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It is good to have alternatives @GiBo61 mentioned in Post 155. All 3 seem to have HDMI so good for the work case TRA mentioned of TV audio. The HEOS app works on tablets and works well with my NAS too. One great thing about the HEOS is that it does gapless playback for flac and dsd (and I assume other formats but haven't tested); this can't be taken for granted. I find the interface intuitive enough and also efficient to browse. However, the DRA-800H (and as far as I know all HEOS devices) doesn't do direct DSD (it does DSD-to-PCM transcoding--note DSD is digital mode of Super Audio CD), and the DRA-800H cannot receive DSD via HDMI. In contrast, the Onkyo can do DSD via HDMI. My suggestion for TRA is to consider the 3 possibilities and try the one with the most desired features, including available analog and digital inputs (they each differ slightly). If you want DSD or play SACD over HDMI, probably should at least consider the Onkyo based on the spec, but I don't have any experience with the Onkyo. If you like having a main zone pre-out, consider the Marantz.

Although the measurements of the DRA-800H were subpar, does that translate into anything audible that would then lessen the enjoyment of listening to music? I'm not so sure and still hope someone with sound engineering expertise could weigh in per my posts 146 and 152. I also find the sound quality excellent. Maybe what we really need is a psychologist to help us deal with those lousy numbers! Of course just kidding, but recognizing that our enjoyment of music involves first what is audible, and then also the appreciation of engineering excellence.
 

ttt

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@SoundsGood64 there are High-End full negative-loopback less amplifiers with 0.1-0.3% THD. Like the brand Etalon. They sound perfect on several tests. Everyone is different, but generally the distortions below 1% is hard to recognise. There are several other factors not only the THD and SINAD. So, in that case, the 0.01% of this Denon is good, the main important factor is that many of us and testers hear it above average, good and excellent. It makes sense.
(remember of the Quad405 close 0, unmeasurable THD, but musically jist an average or below amplifier)
 

peng

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Maybe you can consider the Marantz NR1200, it's very similar to the Denon DRA-800H (I guess more than 95% of the internal components are the same) however the output stages must be different considering that it has lower output per channel (75W at 8-ohm, 20Hz – 20kHz, 0.08% THD vs 100W for the Denon). Considering that the Marantz costs about 15% more maybe they use higher quality power amp circuits with better performance aside from power. Another option would be the Onkyo TX-8270 if you can find one. Based on the specs and price I do not expect much better measurements than the Denon DRA-800H.

If I remember right, based on the Polish site's measurements the NR1200 did do a little better than the Denon in THD+N. Not much better though. That further reinforce my current thinking (I mean, guessing:)) that perhaps those receivers got the bad caps that the original AVR-X6700H got. If that's the case, then the units produced later may have the proper caps. Again, that's just my wild guess, would be great if Amir could measure another sample that is produced most recently though.
 
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