OUR FULL REVIEW IS BELOW, BUT CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO THE RIGHT FOR THE ORIGINAL MAGAZINE PAGES
How far do you want to go with your home theatre? If you want to answer that question not as a matter of compromise between competing priorities (among which the dollar cost inevitably has a big part) but to answer it: ‘all the way!’... well, then, the Denon AVR-X6300H home theatre receiver is going to take you a very long way towards ‘all the way!’
The Denon AVR-X6300H is an 11.2 channel-capable AV receiver, packing nine actual amplifier channels. And, oh, what amplifiers they are! Each is rated at 150W output (full audio bandwidth, eight ohms, 0.05% THD, two channels running). Unlike some brands, all channels support four-ohm loads (with a protective system switch, so no increase in power output). And some of the amplifier channels can be redirected to the usual other functions — driving additional zones, bi-amping the front speakers and so on.
The 11.2 thing means that the receiver supports full Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. That is with three front speakers, two surrounds, two rear surrounds and four height speakers, or Dolby Atmos-enabled ones. Or, perhaps, we should say it achieves full “mainstream” Dolby Atmos, since Atmos can support many other channels, and there are some very exotic high-end devices which do provide more channels. However, that is a matter of diminishing returns. It’s difficult to exceed the effectiveness of the 11.2 model in anything short of a massive theatre room. The receiver supports a wide range of height speaker placements, including some on the front or rear walls, or all on the ceilings. You will need to add two more channels of amplification for a full 11.2-channel system deployment.
One of the markers of a premium AV receiver is the retention of a lot of legacy connections. Yes, this receiver has all the good stuff you’d expect, with eight HDMI inputs and two HDMI outputs, all rated to full Ultra HD specifications with wide colour and 10 bits of resolution, and the latest HDCP copy protection. And, yes, it has a phono input (for a turntable with moving magnet cartridges). And the usual optical and coaxial digital inputs.
There’s also a bunch of surprising analogue video inputs. In lower-cost models these have been mostly shed to shave a few cents here and there from manufacturing costs. You might get one composite video input, or one component video input, but maybe none at all. Pretty much all video sources nowadays have HDMI outputs, so those old analogue inputs aren’t really needed. But part of the package on a premium model is support for older equipment which the discerning user may still love.
Denon has made some interesting choices on this front. First a surprising set of inputs has been eliminated: there are no multichannel analogue audio inputs. We’re not complaining. We don’t know why anyone would still want to connect some old device in such a manner when, chances are, this receiver is going to do a far better job of decoding any digital audio than said old device. But 7.1 analogue inputs are something to which manufacturers have clung for the premium models. Not Denon.
On the other hand, there are no less than five composite video inputs, and one of those is labelled Blu-ray! Now the Blu-ray Forum’s licensing controls have prohibited the release of new Blu-ray player models capable of composite video output for quite a few years now, so having such an input does seem to be overkill. Still, no harm, and all those composite video inputs (and the two component video ones) are assignable. Or perhaps people just want to use them to pass video through to the Zone 2 composite video output. The component video output can also be assigned to Zone 2, and there’s a dedicated Zone 2 HDMI output. Plus analogue audio line levels for both Zone 2 and Zone 3, and assignable amplifiers.
There’s also a single RCA socket labelled ‘Denon Link HD’. This is a kind of legacy connection too, but a proprietary one. It dates from before HDMI took off — HDMI with its strong HDCP protection system — and it was Denon’s way of getting uncompressed multichannel digital audio from player to receiver while complying with copy protection requirements. And while it’s kind of legacy for that reason, Denon’s latest high quality Blu-ray player still sports a matching output, so it’s also current.
The receiver can convert and upscale composite and component video to HDMI output, something again often missing from lower-priced receivers.
Being a modern receiver, it provides full network connectivity, with Ethernet and dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi. And there’s a USB socket on the front (normally under the fold-up front panel that hides much of the fiddly stuff) and Bluetooth (SBC codec only).
And since the Denon AVR-X6300H is going all the way, rather than compromising, among its network functions it provides support for fitting into the HEOS multiroom audio system. This is part of the extension of HEOS from a typical multiroom ecosystem of wireless speakers and soundbars into more serious and traditional components such as amplifiers and receivers. It’s quite the bonus, as we’ll see shortly.
This receiver’s set-up system is close to that of the Denon AVR-X2300W; you can read the details there. The calibration and signal processing is performed by Audyssey MultEQ 32, so it’s all very high quality. But there are, as is often the case, a couple of things you should watch out for. When we started playing network music — using losslessly compressed FLAC files — the system initially sounded a little harsh and bitey. Exploring things, it turned out that an audio ‘Restorer’ circuit was switched on. That’s the kind of thing that purports to correct for the losses in lossily compressed audio, such as MP3. It’s ineffective for that purpose, and positively damaging for FLAC. So switch it off.
One other thing worth looking into is much more positive. Denon receivers have an optional separate setting for two-channel playback. That means you can have the bass redirected to the subwoofer for surround material from your movies, but then have quite different settings for your two-channel music. Just go into the speakers set-up, choose ‘Manual’ and consider switching off the subwoofer if your speakers have been identified as ‘Small’ but you know them to be bass competent.
And then select ‘Direct’ as the playback mode to eliminate EQ, and you’re getting something close to a pure, unprocessed signal path. We listened to a lot of music in this mode, mostly network audio and vinyl, and in both cases it was delightful. The performance brought to mind that delivered by an old-fashioned but high quality analogue system. Control over the loudspeakers was excellent, including with a large four-ohm pair we sometimes use at the front.
And the result was equally impressive with 5.1.4 sound during movies. We didn’t add an extra pair of amplifier channels for surround rear. We put on the Ultra HD Blu-ray version of Mad Max: Fury Road just to make sure that the Atmos was working as expected, and ended up spending the whole two hours re-watching the movie. The transmission of the wide colour gamut, high dynamic range video was perfect, while the Dolby Atmos sound was delivered to spectacular effect. This is a movie which must be watched loudly, and this receiver permits that, in full.
The network audio functionality worked perfectly, even over Wi-Fi. We enjoyed double-speed Direct Stream Digital, and our collection of remastered 192kHz, 24-bit FLAC renditions of the Blue Note Records back catalogue. All the playback was delivered gaplessly of course.
HEOS MULTIROOM INSIDE
Amid such a wealth of features and raw performance, the HEOS multiroom functionality might seem like a small thing. But it was actually a real icing, because it opens up your whole home to this receiver. Using the HEOS app we could not only easily access online music services, we could digitally pipe music from any input on the AVR-X6300H (the ‘H’ marks the HEOS compatibility) to either of the two HEOS 5 speakers we had available.
That included music from the turntable we connected to the receiver. And from the DAB+ tuner also plugged into it. Of course, while the standalone HEOS speakers are rather fine within their category, they can’t measure up in audiophile terms to a proper speaker system driven by the Denon receiver. But, then, they can return the favour to the receiver. It can in turn playback source devices plugged into HEOS units. And as the HEOS platform spreads into more products, including those from sister brand Marantz, its potential power for sharing audio around the home only increases.
If you’re in the market for a networked AV receiver, you aren’t really looking to do much
compromising. And that’s something you won’t have to worry about with the Denon AVR-X6300W. Its connectivity and performance are excellent, and HEOS brings the potential to expand beyond your AV system and use this receiver as a hub for the whole home.
Denon AVR-X6300H networked AV receiver
+ No compromise performance
+ Two-channel mode
+ HEOS compatibility
- No AAC or aptX for Bluetooth
Tested with firmware: 0330-4936-2341-6404
Power: 9 x 140W (into 8 ohms, 20-20,000kHz, 0.05% THD, two channels driven)
Inputs: 8 x HDMI, 2 x component video, 5 x composite video, 7 x analogue stereo,
1 x phono, 0 x 7.1 analogue, 2 x optical digital, 2 x coaxial digital, 1 x Denon Link, 1 x USB,
1 x Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AM/FM antenna
Outputs: 2 x HDMI, 1 x component video (assignable), 1 x composite video, 1 x 11.2 pre-out, 11 pairs speaker binding posts, 1 x 6.5mm headphone
Zone: 1 x HDMI, 1 x component video (assignable), 1 x composite video, 2 x analogue stereo, assignable amplifiers
Other: 1 x set-up mic, R/C I/O, 2 x 12V DC out, RS-232C
Dimensions: 434 x 167 x 393mm