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Denon has a long history of producing reference-grade AV receivers and amplifiers, with each one often pushing the technological envelope, while also offering unparalleled levels of multi-channel magic. These sonic beasts had one other thing in common: the model number ‘A1’. All this makes the brand’s latest flagship AV amplifier a real blast from the past, but how does the AVC-A1H measure up to its legendary predecessors?

Denon has taken a ‘kitchen sink’ approach to the A1H, and includes every AV feature imaginable from support for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X Pro, Auro-3D, and IMAX Enhanced, to future-proofed HDMI 2.1 connections for next-gen gamers. There’s also Denon’s HEOS multi-room system, Audyssey room correction, and 15 channels of built-in amplification – allowing this behemoth to run a fully immersive 9.4.6-channel system on its own.


The Denon AVC-A1H lives up to its impressive pedigree, making use of a massive transformer and large capacitors to generate prodigous amounts of grunt. Denon’s claims of 150W into 8ohm may not apply when driving all 15 channels simultaneously, but this heavyweight of an AV amplifier certainly has enough juice to power the largest of systems, while ensuring plenty of headroom.

The A1H not only includes 15 channels of amplification but has the processing to match, with the ability to decode up to 15.4 channels. So assuming you have the space for all those speakers you could run a full 9.4.6-channel system with nine speakers at ear level, six speakers overhead, and four subwoofers. The latter is a welcome addition, allowing for more balanced bass performance.

Of course if you can’t accommodate that many speakers in your room, and few probably can, you have the option to run any other channel combination you like up to 15.4. Whichever layout you ultimately choose, you’ll be rewarded with a suitably cinematic soundstage that’s big, engaging and powerful. The sound is also clean and neutral, making it an ideal partner for most speakers.

As is often the case with Denon’s high-end models, the A1H is able to decode just about every audio format ever developed, including object-based spatial variants like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X (with support for the Pro iteration), along with less common formats like Auro-3D and IMAX Enhanced. The bottom line is that whatever you throw at the A1H, it has you covered sonically.

While Denon’s amplifiers and receivers are best known for their prowess with movies, the A1H is equally adept with music. There’s some excellent stereo imaging, resulting in the vocals and instruments being placed across the front of the room with precision. This detailed delivery also applies to multi-channel music, while the new Atmos mix of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side is beguiling.

Of course, it’s with film soundtracks that the A1H really flexes its muscles, producing the kind of epic soundscapes that’ll put most AV receivers to shame. There’s breathtaking levels of detail and clarity as sounds are seamlessly steered around the room, and thanks to Audyssey the system is wonderfully balanced, with all the bass perfectly integrated (especially if you’re rocking four subs).

Dialogue, music, sound effects and bass are all reproduced with incredible resolution, allowing you to pick out individual planes during the battle sequences in Midway. The A1H is able to energise all 15 channels simultaneously without distorting, even at serious volumes, and the sound never feels hard or compressed. It’s a dynamic Atmos performance that’s sure to please.

The ability to hit hard is matched by a nimbleness that few would expect from an amplifier with this power, and the A1H enjoys transients that turn on a dime. The result is a wildly entertaining Atmos experience with M:I Dead Reckoning, especially during the Rome car chase, where sound effects spin around you, and the bass digs deep as an armoured truck smashes through traffic.


The Denon AVC-A1H is one of the most sophisticated AV receivers you’re likely to encounter, but despite being packed with state-of-the-art features it’s remarkably easy to install. This is primarily thanks to a clever Setup Wizard combined with colour-coded connections and an intuitive menu system that’s received a long-overdue facelift. As a result, you’ll be up and running in no time.

The Audyssey room correction is equally user-friendly, employing the included microphone to balance out the speakers, better integrate all those the subwoofers, and eliminate the more egregious acoustic qualities of your room. There’s also the option to add even more sophisticated room correction with Dirac Live (basic or full bandwidth) – although this requires an additional fee.

The A1H is business-as-usual in terms of design, with an easy-to-read and informative display sandwiched between large dials for selecting the inputs and adjusting the volume. A drop-down flap hides all the controls and front inputs, helping to keep things tidy, and there’s a choice of black or premium silver finishes. It’s also worth pointing out this monster weighs in at 32kg.

There’s an excellent remote control that includes a handy backlight, an equally impressive remote app, and support for Denon’s proprietary HEOS multi-room system, allowing you to seamlessly connect with other HEOS speakers in the house. Music lovers will benefit from high-resolution audio support, and if you can find supporting content you can even benefit from IMAX Enhanced.

The A1H includes seven HDMI 2.1 inputs and three HDMI 2.1 outputs, which means this amplifier doesn’t just pass 4K and HDR (including HDR10+ and Dolby Vision), but can also handle 8K video at 60Hz and 4K at 120Hz for high-frame-rate gaming. In terms of other connectivity, there’s built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and AirPlay 2, plus it also works the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

The A1H is so feature-packed that it’s hard to find fault, and in fact the only thing that appears to be missing is a tuner, which is why this is technically an AV amplifier rather than a receiver. But semantics aside, you won’t find a better made, better specified or better performing model on the market, all of which makes Denon’s A1 headliner an absolute delight to setup, use and live with.


If you’re looking for a single-box solution to quickly and easily build an immersive audio system, this is the AV amplifier for you. Everything you need can be found inside its massive chassis, including 15 channels of powerful amplification, processing for every audio format under the sun, and a host of features. A classic design and solid construction round out a near-perfect package, while HDMI support for 8K and next-gen gaming features ensures a pleasing degree of future-proofing. It’s not cheap, or small, but the Denon AVC-A1H is all the amplifier you’ll ever need.


Midway 4K Disc

This surprisingly faithful recreation of the titular battle that turned the course of the Second World War in the Pacific boasts an incredibly dynamic Dolby Atmos soundtrack that delivers a visceral and highly immersive sonic experience, with every single channel used to send planes zooming over your head, bullets strafing the sofa, and flak peppering the entire room.

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One 4K Disc

This enjoyable if rather confusing spy caper boasts a full-bodied Dolby Atmos soundtrack that really puts you in the action. Whether it’s a car chase through the streets of Rome, a motorbike flying off a mountain, or a train carriage hanging from a destroyed bridge, you’ll feel like you’re risking your life along with Tom Cruise.

The Dark Side of the Moon Blu-ray

Pink Floyd celebrated the 50th anniversary of their seminal classic with a new Dolby Atmos mix that uses today’s object-based audio technology to deliver an incredibly immersive sonic experience. The music and lyrics remain as beautiful as ever, but as footsteps and clocks swirl around your head it’s like hearing this masterpiece for the first time.

What the press say

Why you should buy it

This feature-packed and muscular 15-channel AV amplifier is as perceptive with music as it is with movies; delivering controlled and precise steering of effects around the soundstage, while also producing a commanding sonic presence that is totally compelling. It’s not cheap, but this beast of an amp has everything you’ll ever need in one box, making it another A1 winner from Denon.

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