The Denon AVR-X2100W is all about doing things right. Fully aware that this price is bound to attract its share of first timers, as well as more seasoned users, Denon’s put a lot of thought into making sure the X2100 is easy to set up.
Set-up is an in-depth, but easy-to-follow affair. The amp takes you through every step on screen, even down to speaker placement and wiring, complete with animations where necessary.
Denon has kept Audyssey for its auto calibration, but what is new here is something we’re lovingly dubbing ‘The Rocket’ – a cardboard tripod included with every X2100W to ensure you get the most accurate readings.
Put it together, plug in the Audyssey mic and slot it into the top, and you are prompted to place the tripod in eight different places around your listening position while test tones are emitted.
It takes around 15 minutes to complete, but for something you do once, it’s not much to ask.
Most importantly, results are accurate – but do check that things like dynamic range control are turned off. Sometimes these are turned on as standard.
The X2100 is a 7.2 channel amp with 150W per channel into 6ohms.
It’s a clean-looking unit that bears more than a passing resemblance to last year’s model – in fact, you will find the most changes on the back panel.
This year there are eight HDMI 2.0 inputs (one on the front panel), all capable of 4K upscaling and pass-through with full colour resolution (30 frames-per-second and 60fps respectively), as well as two HDMI outs and two subwoofer outs.
These are all one up on last year’s model, so all systems should be catered for here.
Two more new, and very welcome, additions are the built-in dual antenna wi-fi (for a more stable connection) and Bluetooth (AirPlay and DLNA support have been carried over as well).
Getting the receiver onto the network can be done via on-screen menus, but iOS users have a quicker way: using the wireless accessory configuration built into iOS7.
The receiver appears as an accessory under the wi-fi settings page, and you simply select it to share your network settings – we were up and running in under a minute.
We play a Blu-ray of Total Recall and flick to the hover-car chase between Doug and the police.
It’s immediately clear this is a precise and revealing amp, picking out fine detail and doing a good job at placing sounds around us in the room.
It’s well balanced too, with bass, midrange and treble all holding a consistent, refined character.
But while we applaud the detail and agility in the X2100’s low end, we do wish for more weight and punch. More expressive dynamics wouldn't go amiss either.
We’d stop short of calling the Denon lightweight – there’s plenty of power there – but it certainly doesn’t have the same impact or muscle as some of the latest competition.
The detail and zing in the treble is one of the strong points, however, sounding clear and controlled even at volume – something last year’s model wasn’t always capable of.
Switching to music, the X2100 has a lovely, expressive tone with lots of detail.
It’s balanced and perfectly enjoyable, although we feel it could do with a touch more rhythmic drive.
It’s far from lackadaisical, but a bit more attack wouldn’t go amiss either.
We play music over Bluetooth, AirPlay and via Spotify Connect, all without issue, and of course there is the front-facing USB input should you want to hardwire an iOS device too.
Internet radio stations are found quickly and play back clearly over the stable wi-fi connection, though we’d still opt for hardwiring for outright reliability if you can.
Denon’s Remote App is in its third iteration for iOS, and this year Android users get their own official app too.
They look largely similar, though previous iOS users will notice some changes to the graphics and user interface.
It’s largely made up of two screens – the homepage, with a list of eight customisable shortcuts to inputs and settings, and a ‘player view’ that changes its look and use depending on the input selection.
There’s also multi-zone control, but in-depth EQ tweaking is nowhere to be found – you’ll have to make do with the list of pre-programmed sound modes for that.
Easy to use, if not the most extensive app, it can be dogged by slow response times.
Denon’s AVR-X2100W is a beautifully made amp with plenty of reasons to like it – not least for its great user experience and well-balanced, detailed character across the frequency range.
However, its relative dynamic hesitance when things get exciting and its lack of the sofa-shaking bass that some of its competitors offer means it’s a solid four for this Denon.