Denon AVR-X3000 Home Theatre Receiver

The Denon AVR-X3000 is a solidly performing seven channel receiver with strong video performance and network features, lacking only an AM tuner.


8.9
CNET Rating


The Denon AVR-X3000 is a seven channel, network capable home theatre receiver with a clear preference for HDMI connections.

Each of the amps is rated at 105 watts continuous power (two channels driven) into eight ohms. Disappointingly, the unit is rated to support only loudspeakers with an impedance of six or more ohms, which rules out quite a few high quality models. If you want to go for more difficult loudspeakers at some point in the future, you can make use of the preamplifier outputs for all seven channels to add higher spec amplifiers.

There are plenty of inputs: seven HDMI, plus component and composite video, analogue audio and digital audio in both optical and coaxial varieties, and of course Ethernet and USB (the latter on the front panel). Missing are any analogue video outputs. If you do want to use an old analogue video source, then you will need to rely on this receiver converting the video into HDMI format. Which it can do. It can also upscale all video inputs — HDMI as well as analogue — up to your choice of resolution, including 1080p and 4K (if you have a 4K display).

The unit also supports a second zone, with a dedicated HDMI output for that purpose, plus stereo analogue audio and the ability to redirect the surround back amplifiers to driving second zone speakers.

AM/FM tuners are so ubiquitous in home theatre receivers that I rarely even mention them in reviews. But this receiver is FM only. If you want to receive one of the AM-only stations in your area, you will have to hope that's it's available video the vTuner Internet radio facility provided by the receiver.

Setup

The receiver starts up the first time with a wizard that guides you through the full setup, including connecting speakers, source devices and your network.

Even though quite a few models use the same Audyssey MultEQ XT for auto calibration, this receiver was one of the extremely rare number that actually got my speaker setup more or less right. It declared the front stereo pair to be Large and the centre and surround speakers to be Small. It allows different crossover frequencies (below which the bass is redirected to the subwoofer) to be set for each position. So you can have the front speakers as Small, but with a crossover of 40 hertz so that the really deep stuff, which your front speakers probably won't handle well, still gets delivered by the subwoofer. It chose 150 hertz for my surround speakers, and 60 hertz for the centre channel. Since all three are identical, that shows the effect of room acoustics. I lowered the surround speakers to 80 hertz crossovers because I know my subwoofer isn't good for anything much above 100 hertz.

At the end it enabled two Audyssey audio processes: Dynamic EQ and Dynamic Volume. These adjust the sound according the volume level. The first adjusts the frequency balance, and the second the dynamic range, if it judges that you're playing the content at below optimal levels. I detest these processors. They are poorly founded in my view in the psychology of sound reproduction. I'd strongly suggest that you try the system with them both on and off and see which you prefer. To me, having them on makes the sound feel quite unnatural.

(Credit: Denon)

Sound and Picture Performance

Having switched off those functions (go to Setup/Audio/Audyssey), but leaving on the Audyssey room equalisation (which is also switched on by default), the receiver did what I always expect of a Denon receiver: it gave a first class audio performance, delivering movies and music, stereo and surround, with great authority. It imposed no character of its own over the signal, but allowed it to appear in my office just as the sound engineers who originally mastered the signal last year, or thirty years ago depending on the disc, intended.

The video processing worked smoothly. I'd strongly recommend that you set your DVR to 576i output for SDTV and 1080i for HDTV and let the receiver upscale it to 1080p. The results were almost always optimal, even on my test signals which I've specifically chosen for the ability to trip up such processing. The receiver supports 3D of course, in addition to passing through 4K signals. It displays on-screen information translucently over all signal standards, even 3D and 4K.

The receiver also has InstaPrevue, a feature which will show four of the connected HDMI devices in little windows over the top of the main screen, allowing you to work out which input you want to change to.

Smart Stuff

Denon offers a number of solid Internet functions: Last.FM, vTuner Internet radio, Flickr and Spotify. For the latter you will need a premium (i.e. paid) subscription. A future firmware update will allow the unit to work with Spotify Connect by which the massive music library available on Spotify can be accessed from your iOS or Android device, and then kind of handed over to the receiver. When you do that it isn't the portable device streaming the music, but instead the Denon connects directly to the Spotify servers to stream from them.

The unit also supports Apple Airplay, and the DLNA equivalent for streaming, respectively, from your iOS or Android device. Or you can just use its media server function to access music on your network. WMA, MP3, WAV, AAC, FLAC and ALAC are all supported (two channels only). As are still photos (poorly, with the wrong aspect ratio). Navigation through long lists is good using the remote.

Or better using the iOS or Android app. These connect over the network to the receiver and while most of their functions are fairly basic, they come to life with long media lists from USB or the network, allowing you swipe up through long lists, or jump almost instantly to any point in the list alphabetically. Using this receiver with network attached storage and a smart device was a pleasure.

Conclusion

The Denon AVR-X3000 is a very solid mid-priced home theatre receiver with fine audio performance and fine video performance and very good network extras. However, if you rely on AM radio, then you may want to look elsewhere.

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