Sony TA-AN1000 vs Denon AVC-X3800H: which AV amplifier should you get?

Sony's latest AV amp, the TA-AN1000, has already gone head to head with the Denon AVR-X2800H, coming out victorious thanks to its excellent sound performance. Beating an Award-winning AVR is an impressive feat in its own right, but what about the more expensive Denon AVC-X3800H?

The Denon is more powerful and features more channels of amplification, which means it should be better right? Well, it's not as straightforward as that, as we found in our review, so how do these AV amplifiers actually compare to one another?

Sony TA-AN1000 vs Denon AVC-X3800H: Price

Sony TA-AN1000 vs Denon AVC-X3800H

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Sony's first new AV Amp in nearly seven years (for the UK and European markets at least) is unfortunately double the price of its previous model, the STR-DN1080. It will retail £999 / €999 when it launches in June, which comes out to roughly $1250 in the States and AU$1885 in Australia. There is a similar model in the States called the STR-AN1000 which costs $800; however, we cannot confirm if its performance matches that of the European variant.

The Denon is available to buy right now, so unlike the Sony, you won't have to wait around if you need an AV amp right now. It launched roughly six months ago for £1499 / $1700 / AU$2550; however, it has since been subject to price reductions and sales, so it can now be found for closer to £1200 in the UK.

That being said, even with its price reductions, the Denon is still more expensive than the Sony, so if you're on a budget, the Sony is the better choice.

**Winner: Sony TA-AN1000**

Sony TA-AN1000 vs Denon AVC-X3800H: build

Home cinema amplifier: Sony TA-AN1000

(Image credit: Sony)

As to which of these amplifiers looks better is down to personal taste, as neither are the most eye-catching pieces of equipment that we've ever seen. These monochromatic metal boxes are both rehashes of previous designs, with the Sony using an almost identical design to the STR-DN1080, while the Denon is eerily similar to its AVC-X3700H predecessor in looks.

Both are sturdy and well-made, with a good amount of functionality without looking cluttered. You'll find shortcut buttons to enable stereo mode, switch inputs and navigate menus on the front facias of both AV amps, as well as a port to connect the included microphones for automatic calibration. It's worth noting here that both offer intuitive set-up processes, with the Sony arguably being the more involved of the two thanks to its additional measurements – you'll need a tape measure on hand for set-up.

Neither of these AV amps are the pinnacle of design; however, if we have to pick one, it would have to be the TA-AN1000. We feel that Sony's slightly edgier aesthetics give it a bit more personality, with its split-level aesthetic and asymmetrical dials – but your opinion may differ.

**Winner Sony TA-AN1000**

Sony TA-AN1000 vs Denon AVC-X3800H: features

Turntable: Denon AVC-X3800H

(Image credit: Denon)

While the Sony is no slouch in the features department, its clear that the Denon costs more for a reason, as it includes more of practically everything. The Sony TA-AN1000 features seven channels of amplification which can be configured up to a 5.1.2 or 7.1 arrangement. The Denon AVC-X3800H, on the other hand, ups this to 11 channels of amplification, with a maximum configuration of 7.1.4. This makes it a no-brainer for those who don't want to choose between rear surrounds or the additional height channels. 

The Denon also has the Sony beat when it comes to HDMI 2.1 connectivity, with the Denon possessing three HDMI-in connections and seven HDMI out, all of which support 4K/120Hz or 8K/60Hz. The Sony, in comparison, has two in and six out, with only two of the HDMI 2.1 outputs supporting 4K/120Hz or 8K/60Hz. 

HDR and audio support are much of the same, with the Denon just edging out the Sony with its feature set. Both AV amplifiers support HDR10, Dolby Vision and HLG, however, the Denon throws HDR10+ into the mix, which should please Samsung TV owners. Both AV amps also support Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, although the TA-AN1000 gets Sony's 360 Spatial Sound Mapping feature, which uses phantom pseudo-speakers in order to enhance verticality and create a pleasing bubble of sound around the user. 

Wireless connectivity on both amps is excellent, with the Sony offering Apple AirPlay, Chromecast Built-in, Spotify Connect and Works with Sonos – which allows you to integrate your home cinema set-up into a Sonos multiroom set-up if you have one. The Denon drops the Sonos compatibility, but it does have HEOS, Denon's streaming platform that allows you to directly link music streaming services, including Tidal and Deezer – which the Sony is missing.

The AN1000 also features an intuitive and brisk automated set-up process using the included microphone. It does ask you to take some additional measurements before you can start this process, which is much more involved than other AVR set-ups we've done before; this includes measuring the height of your ceiling, the distance between your seating position and the TV and the height of the TV, so be prepared for that.

The Denon uses an Audyssey-backed automated system which can take up to eight different measurements based on microphone positioning. This does require you to move the microphone around the room, but it doesn't ask you to measure your space beforehand. Both systems have their quirks, but they're both useful in their own rights and didn't require much manual tweaking. 

It's safe to say that the Denon wins the features battle, however, this is to be expected with the higher price tag. The Sony is still a well-kitted-out AV amp with plenty of functionality, but it can't quite compete with the Denon.

**Winner: Denon AVC-X3800H**

Sony TA-AN1000 vs Denon AVC-X3800H: sound

Home cinema amplifier: Sony TA-AN1000

(Image credit: Sony)

Here's where things get interesting. At the end of the day, sound performance is the be-all and end-all of these devices, and luckily they're both excellent-sounding amps. One is a 2022 Award-winner, the other a successor to a Hall of Fame entry, so there are certainly high expectations, and they both deliver. That being said, they go for two different approaches, and when comparing them side-by-side, we felt there was a clear winner.

Starting with the Denon, its muscular, powerful and smooth sound ticks many boxes when we consider cinematic sound. Bass in particular is powerful, although not overdone, and there is a nice spacious feel to the sound overall. There isn't much to particularly criticise about the Denon's warm and refined sound; it's rich, muscular when it needs to be, and an overall crowd-pleaser.

The Sony, however, pushes the boat out with every aspect of its sound presentation. It features a detailed, precise and articulate sound that is both insightful and engaging. The real highlight of the Sony its expressive dynamics, which add a splendid sense of weight and punch to car crashes and explosions. Bass is taut and snappy, which can be attributed to the Sony's precise nature, and everything from vocals to instrumental arrangements is beautifully textured and emotive. 

Both AV amps offer a spacious arrangement of sound, but it's the Sony that feels slightly more enveloping. This is heightened (quite literally) with the 360 Spatial Sound Mapping feature turned on. However, this does result in a slightly less precise sound – although it certainly elevates moments of big-scale action.

Put simply, the Sony demands attention with its truly engaging and energetic performance. In contrast, comparisons prove that the AVC-X3800H can't hold the room in the same way. The likelihood is you won't be listening to these amplifiers side by side, so if you already have the Denon, you shouldn't feel pressured to upgrade, as it's still an Award-winning AV amp.

That being said, the Sony is the clear winner when it comes down to sound performance, with its meaty and textured performance that is the definition of cinematic.

** Winner: Sony TA-AN1000 **

Sony TA-AN1000 vs Denon AVC-X3800H: verdict

Home cinema amplifier: Sony TA-AN1000

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

With its outstanding sound and cheaper price, the Sony is the obvious choice here. Despite the Denon taking the edge in the features department with its additional channels of amplification and 4K/120Hz HDMI connections, it's the Sony's powerful, dynamic and balanced sound that had us entranced during our testing. 

The caveat, of course, is that the Sony isn't commercially available quite yet, so if patience isn't your forte, then the Denon can be yours much quicker. However, we certainly feel like the Sony is worth the wait. 


Read our full Sony TA-AN1000 review

As well as our full Denon AVC-X3800H review

And check out our full list of the best AV receivers

Lewis Empson
Staff Writer

Lewis Empson is a Staff Writer on What Hi-Fi?. He was previously Gaming and Digital editor for Cardiff University's 'Quench Magazine', Lewis graduated in 2021 and has since worked on a selection of lifestyle magazines and regional newspapers. Outside of work, he enjoys gaming, gigs and regular cinema trips.

  • SeanST150
    When will you be able to comment on the stability and use of the wireless rears? That is the stand out feature for me.
  • J__K
    I'm really curious about the surround performance - Sony 5.1.2 vs Devon (or other) 5.1.4...
  • Sir42
    I choose the Sony ta-N7b😅