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