PRICE DROP: WE'VE SPOTTED THIS ACROSS A NUMBER OF RETAILERS FOR £1499. SUPERB VALUE
Denon has always strived to produce a range of AV receivers and amplifiers that offer affordable pricing and comprehensive features. The new AVC-X4800H might well be the perfect example of this corporate ethos, combining the preceding X4700H’s value for money, with the X6700H’s extensive capabilities. Denon has even managed to add some new features for this generation.
The X4800H includes nine channels of built-in amplification, but is able to process up to an 11.4 speaker layout. It also supports all four immersive audio formats: Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Auro-3D, and IMAX Enhanced. Other benefits include Denon’s HEOS multiroom system, a full set of HDMI 2.1 connections, Audyssey room correction, and even the option to add Dirac Live for a fee.
Those nine channels of built-in amplification we mentioned mean that you can run a 5.4.4 or 7.4.2 speaker and subwoofer configuration right out of the box. The amp can actually process up to 11.4, but if you want to do this you’ll need to add two more channels of power. Having said that, nine channels and up to four subs should be more than enough for most people.
The X4800H can decode every object-based spatial audio format currently available, including Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, IMAX Enhanced, and Auro-3D. While the latter is nice to have, there really isn’t any content, but the other three are better supported. Dolby Atmos is the dominant format, and is used on Blu-rays, 4K discs, most streaming services, and even some music streamers.
If you have a large Blu-ray or 4K disc collection, there’s a good chance you have some DTS:X soundtracks you can enjoy, but this format has gained less traction compared to Atmos. IMAX Enhanced is delivered using DTS:X, but is intended to replicate the audio experience in an IMAX cinema. At present this format is only found on a few 4K discs, but there are rumours it will be offered on Disney+ in the near future.
The X4800 uses a mono power block amplifier construction, and can drive nine channels with a claimed 125W in 8ohms. While hardly a beast, the Denon delivered a powerful and controlled performance that could go loud without ever sounding strained or distorted, even when all the channels were being driven. There are more powerful options, but this amp is more than sufficient for most rooms… unless you want your neighbours to take out a restraining order.
The Denon produces a clean and neutral sound that makes it an ideal partner for more affordable speaker packages, and while the X4800 excels with movie soundtracks, it’s equally capable when it comes to music. The stereo imaging is excellent, with clearly defined vocals and instruments placed with precision across the soundstage, while the overall delivery is lively and fun.
when it comes to decoding and processing multichannel movie mixes, the X4800H is supremely confident, ensuring every audio effect is rendered with skill. Thanks to Audyssey room correction it’s also tonally balanced, ensuring sounds are seamlessly steered from speaker-to-speaker, and any subwoofers are perfectly integrated to produce bass that’s deep and tight.
Speaking of which, the ability to connect up to four subs is a welcome addition. If you’re wondering why that’s good news, it’s not just to generate more bass, but to smooth out the overall low frequency response and create a bass foundation with as few peaks and dips as possible. The room correction can help in this regard, but the more issues you can address through correct placement of multiple subs, the less the EQ has to do.
The result of all this is a wonderfully cohesive soundstage where dialogue, music, sound effects and bass are all reproduced with consummate skill. While any surround mix will sound fantastic, an immersive format like Dolby Atmos is stunning thanks to its object-based spatial delivery. The X4800H produces a three-dimensional hemisphere of sound that results in an amazingly visceral and realistic sonic experience. Audio effects seamlessly zoom around and above you, while the precisely integrated bass delivers impactful low-end hits.
The Denon AVC-X4800H sports the brand’s usual design layout, 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, which keeps things tidy, the build quality is excellent, and there’s a choice of black or premium silver finishes.
The X4800H might be an incredibly sophisticated piece of equipment, but it’s a breeze to setup thanks to Denon’s highly intuitive wizard, which takes you through the entire process. Colour-coded connections at the rear help differentiate the various inputs and outputs, while the speaker terminals are in a line, making them easier to identify and access when peering down the back.
The user interface is essentially the same but has been given a makeover, with a cleaner look and more explanatory text. There are also some added options when setting up your speaker layout and allocating frequency crossovers for any attached subs. Denon has always offered an excellent remote app, but now adds a web-based interface that makes tweaking easier.
The X4800 comes with Audyssey room correction built-in, and uses an included microphone to balance out the speakers, smoothly integrating the subwoofers, and eliminating the less desirable acoustic qualities of your environment. For a fee you can add Dirac Live via a download over the internet, and despite its sophistication this room correction software is incredibly easy to use.
The remote control is sensibly laid out but lacks a backlight, making it difficult to use in the dark. This feels like a bit of an own goal, especially consider how well thought-out the rest of the user interface is on the X4800H. Thankfully, Denon’s remote apps remain excellent, with two distinct but interlinked alternatives: one for controlling the amplifier; and the other for the HEOS system.
Denon’s HEOS system is excellent, and connects any number of supporting HEOS devices into a single seamless multiroom network. If you’re a music lover, the X4800 not only decodes high-resolution audio formats, but also adds support for MPEG-H and 360 Reality Audio, which means this amplifier literally supports every Hi-Fi and immersive audio format currently available.
The extensive connectivity includes seven HDMI inputs and three outputs, all of which support 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz, along with every version of HDR, including HLG, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision. In terms of other connectivity, there’s built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and AirPlay 2, plus the X4800H also works the Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant – thus adding limited voice control.
Gamers are equally well-served, with the Denon not only supporting high frame-rate 120Hz gaming on both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5, but also other next-gen features like Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR). In fact, about the only feature missing is a built-in tuner, which is why the X4800H is an AV amplifier rather than a receiver.
The Denon AVC-X4800H is an exceptional midrange AV amplifier that delivers nine channels of solid grunt and class-leading immersive audio processing in a compact and well-thought-out package. The design and build quality are both excellent, the connectivity and features are comprehensive, and setup couldn’t be easier.
The audio performance is fantastic and highly immersive, with nicely integrated bass plus the ability to support up to four subs. The HDMI support for 8K video and every next-gen gaming feature provides some welcome future-proofing, and you simply won’t find another option at this price point offering as much and doing it so well.
Top Gun: Maverick (4K Blu-ray)
While the done-for-real visuals might wow, it’s the Dolby Atmos soundtrack that really puts you in that cockpit. The X4800H’s peerless processing creates a bubble of sound around which it seamlessly steers the audio objects. The climatic mission is a tour-de-force, with jets roaring overhead, missiles wizzing past, and explosions peppering the sky.
Godzilla vs Kong (4K Blu-ray)
One of the new features on the X4800H is the ability to connect up to four subwoofers, and the Audyssey room correction (or Dirac Live if you have it) does a superb job of integrating and smoothing out the bass. This is best demonstrated by the climatic punch-up in Hong Kong, where these two titans go at it like a pair of punch-drunk pugilists on steroids.
Elvis (4K Blu-ray)
The X4800H sounds amazing with object-based spatial audio, but is equally adept when it comes to music. All the songs sound fantastic in this flashy biopic, but it’s Elvis’s heartfelt rendition of If I Can Dream during the ’68 Comeback Special that really hits home. If you’re not misty-eyed by the end of it, you’ve got no soul (in both senses of the word).
While Denon offers an extensive line-up of AV receivers and amplifiers, the AVC-X4800H is definitely the sweet spot. It includes features found further up the range, but without the price premium, and it benefits from the brand’s undeniable prowess when it comes to immersive audio.