Denon’s 2018 AV amps feature AirPlay 2, HEOS streaming, phono inputs

Denon launched its £3499 AVC-X8500H 13.2-channel flagship AV amp at CES earlier this year, and now we finally have details about the brand’s complete home cinema amplifier line-up for 2018.

Below the AVC-X8500H there are six new models, ranging from the £229 AVR-X250BT to the £2349 AVC-X6500H. The 2018 range will replace last year’s models, which include the Award-winning AVR-X6400H and which won Denon several more five-star reviews.

Indeed, the 2018 range has big shoes to fill.

The line-up begins modestly with the AVR-X250BT and AVR-X550BT (£299), as you’d expect for one that starts at such a price point.

The former features 5.1 channels, delivering 130 watts into each of them, and five HDMI inputs, three of which have full HDCP 2.2 support for 4K HDR passthrough.

Bluetooth is onboard for offline music streaming, and there’s decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio formats.

The AVR-X550BT shares its sibling’s specs, expanding them with a second subwoofer channel and a USB input.

Support for Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and DTS Virtual:X starts with the next model up, the 7.1-channel AVR-X1500H (£449), which delivers 145 watts per channel.

It’s also the starting point for Amazon Alexa voice control (users can, for example, ask Alexa to stream music, switch inputs or change volume); the inclusion of a phono input; and HEOS network streaming, which opens doors to streaming services (including Spotify and Amazon Music) and multi-room functionality.

The AVR-X1500H and every model above will also be among the first AV amps (along with Marantz’s 2018 models) to get Apple's AirPlay 2 in August.

All eight of its HDMI inputs have full HDCP 2.2 support, and there are two HDMI outputs for simultaneously connecting two displays.

The AVR-X2500H (£549) adds two more HDMI inputs and an extra 5 watts per channel. Denon has kept the same DAC that featured in last year’s AVR-X2400H but has worked to improve USB performance.

The AVR-X3500H (£899), meanwhile, introduces HDMI eARC (enhanced audio return channel) to the line-up and is due to arrive via an update in August.

The 200 watts-per-channel AVR-X4500H (£1499) is the only 9-channel AV amp in Denon’s armoury this year, with 11-channel processing and support for DTS:X 3.1.2, DTS Virtual:X and Auro 3D. It has eight HDMI inputs and three HDMI outputs.

Last but far from least, and sitting directly below the flagship AVC-X8500H, is the 11-channel, 205wpc AVC-X6500H (£2349), which further builds on the features mentioned above with a tuner input.

The AVR-X250BT and AVR-X550BT are available now, with the AVR-X1500H and AVR-X2500H coming to a store near you this month. The AVR-X3500H is due in August, while the AVR-X4500H and AVC-X6500H will follow in September.


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Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10 years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.