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Denon DNP-720AE review

A bargain for features, but spend a bit more and you'll get better sound Tested at £250

Our Verdict

A bargain for features, but those who spend a bit more will get better sound

For

  • Affordable
  • fluid, weighty sound
  • great features, including Last.fm, Napster and AirPlay

Against

  • Clearly lacks the detail, dynamics and timing of top rivals

This unit launched at £430, but now it is widely available for just £250 - an astonishing price for a music streamer with 'proper' hi-fi credentials.

It's nicely built, and the large display and simple menu structure mean you'll quickly be connected to your network via either wi-fi or ethernet.

Select an uncompressed FLAC, and initially there's nothing to complain about with Wild Beasts' Deeper flowing nicely. This is a weighty, smooth, refined and deep delivery, lending a suitably sultry dimension to the track.

There is, however, a nagging sensation that there might be a little more drama lurking somewhere.

And a switch to the Cambridge Audio NP30 proves it, bringing the track to life with more precision, clarity, detail and dynamics.

It's like switching from a pair of slippers to some trainers - there are times you'll prefer the slippers, but the trainers are more exciting, and far better all-rounders.

A smooth operator
Other than the faintest smidge of hardness (not brightness) to the treble, the Denon is a smooth deliverer of tracks, even heavily compressed or badly recorded ones.

That makes it a fine foil for MP3s and streamed content from Last.fm and Napster. You also get AirPlay, and its inclusion at £250 could seal the deal.

Compared with the direct digital USB connection on the front, AirPlay sounds a tad hard, but it's not worlds apart, and given the convenience of the streaming solution we can see lots of people going for it.

This Denon is cheap, has loads of features, and is a fluid deliverer of music. It can't match rivals such as the Marantz NA7004 for sound quality, but it's a compelling budget option.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.


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