JBL's superb Synthesis AVR storms to success at the What Hi-Fi? Awards 2021

JBL Synthesis SDR-35
(Image credit: Future)

There’s a new kid on the block joining the best home cinema amplifier winners at the What Hi-Fi? Awards this year. In a category historically dominated by the likes of Denon, the JBL Synthesis SDR-35 has stormed straight to success at the top end of it. A clear cut above any AV amplifier we’ve tested in recent years, the SDR-35 has an immaculate, clear sound and a thrilling mix of subtlety and scale, backed up by an abundance of format support. 

At first glance, its spec sheet may lack a little in terms of amplified channels and HDMI 2.1, but in terms of sheer sound quality, the SDR-35 is in its own league, delivering music and movies with a truly rare sophistication.

It should come as no surprise that joining the SDR-35 on the podium are two Denon AVRs, which retain their titles from last year.

Denon’s home cinema amplifiers are synonymous with high-quality home cinema; the regularly refreshed line-up combines exhaustive feature lists with equally compelling performance and options to suit every budget and set-up. This is why they tend to appear in our What Hi-Fi? Award winner lists every year, typically only to be displaced by the brand’s latest models.

In the under £1500 category, the Denon AVC-X3700H remains the benchmark at the more modest end of the price spectrum. As well as solid dynamic expression, punch and clarity, the X3700H has future-proofed features, including three full HDMI 2.1 outputs with support for 8K@60Hz and 4K@120Hz, meaning it promises to provide many years of futureproofed AV pleasure.

While in recent years the Sony STR-DN1080 has held a spot below this not-insignificant price level, it has now been discontinued – and we simply don't believe there's another model on the market that makes a good enough case to take its place, below the X3700H. Maybe next year...

Another comeback kid for Denon, this time in the £1500-£3000 price bracket, is the stunning Denon AVC-X6700H. In terms of video format support, sound processing and HDMI 2.1, the 67000H offers many of the same features as Denon’s pricier models but is intended for slightly smaller systems. With a presentation that is even more powerful, expressive and engaging than its forebear, the 67000H remains an ideal choice for those seeking a mature and refined AVR.

Don’t forget to tune in to the What Hi-Fi? Awards 2021 on Wednesday 3rd November, when we’ll be announcing which of these three stellar Best Buy AVRs will win the coveted Product of the Year gong in this category – not to mention Product of the Year winners in other hi-fi and AV categories, plus a few more special Awards.

MORE: See all 109 What Hi-Fi? 2021 Best Buy Awards winners

Mary is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi? and has over a decade of experience working as a sound engineer mixing live events, music and theatre. Her mixing credits include productions at The National Theatre and in the West End, as well as original musicals composed by Mark Knopfler, Tori Amos, Guy Chambers, Howard Goodall and Dan Gillespie Sells. 

  • toymotor
    At £6,000 it should be good. I'm always looking for the under dog. The receiver that delivers far more for less. I'll never have the resources to spend 6k on one piece of tech. I doubt I would spend that even if I had the funds. A receiver that is well specified, currently future proof, reasonably priced and has all the current decoding. One that looks nice and the one I bought was the Marantz SR7015. For some reason never tested by what h-fi, perhaps you should give that a whirl.