Despite the protestations of those who take them, a gap year rarely results in any kind of self-improvement. That’s where the Denon AVC-X6700H differs: it has been away for a year and come back more interesting than it was before.
The 6000 lineage was one of those Denon decided not to upgrade in 2019, waiting until this year to double down on those usually annual improvements. Returning, it has managed to eke out yet more performance and reassess – if not exactly redefine – what is achievable with a two-grand home cinema amp.
The release of these new models is rooted more in the adoption of new technologies than any attempt to dramatically improve an already class-leading audio performance. And the AVC-X6700H has certainly stocked up on those.
The headline is the new HDMI section, with one of the AVC-X6700H’s eight inputs and two of its three outputs being HDMI 2.1-certified and therefore enabling full support for 8K at up to 60Hz and 4K at 120Hz. While the other seven HDMI inputs are 'only' 2.0-certified, they do still support 2.1 features such as VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode), QMS (Quick Media Switching) and QFT (Quick Frame Transport). All inputs also support HDR10+ as well as HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision, and one of the outputs features eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel).
As well as its 11 channels of power amplification (at a claimed 205W per channel) – and processing for 13, which means you can extend your speaker package with an outboard power amplifier – the AVC-X6700H affords 13 channels of DTS:X decoding, with DTS:X Pro technology coming at a later date via a firmware update. It shores up an audio arsenal that already supported most 3D formats, including Dolby Atmos, Atmos Height Virtualization, DTS:X, DTS Virtual:X, IMAX Enhanced and Auro-3D. There is also a new Pre-Amplifier mode that clears the signal path when using outside amplification.
In terms of music playback, Denon has kept Bluetooth and Apple AirPlay 2 connectivity, and multi-room is made easy within the company’s HEOS eco-system. The AVC-X6700H is also Roon Tested, and sports a USB port on its front panel that allows physical playback of hi-res music files.
It’s worth noting we tested the AVC-X6700H, rather than the AVR-X6700H that is available in the US; the difference is the addition of an FM tuner in the States, with all other features remaining the same.
But if bringing the AVC-X6700H’s feature set up to date is a safe and easy win for Denon, it seemingly has more to lose than gain by tweaking an already Award-winning sound. At some point, it might all go wrong, but that point certainly hasn’t arrived yet.
With our test sample already run-in, it is out of the box and set up within 15 minutes, using the in-box microphone and Audyssey software, which can now accommodate two separate speaker set-ups. Immediately, we are left in no doubt as to the scale and authority of this 2020 Denon amplifier.
It is certainly a more powerful presentation than two years ago – not by a huge amount, but enough to notice when you’ve used the AVC-X6500H as much as we have – and this Denon wields that power with great verve and precision.
The balance is more bass-heavy than in previous generations too, and some might want to dial a little of that out from time to time, but any extra weight does not slow the AVC-X6700H down. It just makes this feel like a more controlled and grown-up performance, with that extra low end working to deliver full and realistic voices as much as it is able to box you around the room when allowed.
But most impressive is how Denon has been able to make this a more expressive and engaging version of a 6000-series amplifier. While the power and punch will grab your attention, it is the detail and dynamic expression that will lock it in for hours at a time. Dialogue is delivered with intensity and emotion at times when necessary and allowed to lilt lyrically at others.
As ever, this is most easily appreciated using Denon’s Pure Direct mode, but not all is lost when using those 3D audio virtualisation modes. They are integrated well, adding some height to the sound field and wrapping effects well around the listening position; if you are happy trading in a little clarity and low-level dynamics, it can be wonderfully fun with certain flicks.
The AVC-X6700H’s musical delivery also translates well to stereo music performance. Don’t expect anywhere near the level of playback available from a stereo integrated at this price, but considering everything on board the Denon, it is an interesting enough recital.
Once again, this is a step forward rather than any great leap for Denon’s 6000-series amp, so we wouldn’t expect many to be trading in their AVC-X6500H model, even with the extra year between releases. But it does cement the company’s position at the top of the class for home cinema amps at this price, as far as we’ve heard.
With big wins for gamers, and those wanting to future-proof their set-ups for the 8K content due to arrive within the five- or ten-year lifespan of your next amp, Denon was onto a winner even if it could only keep audio quality around the level of its last effort. That it has continued to improve is a welcome bonus to anyone currently in the market for one.
- Sound 5
- Features 5
- Build 5
Read our Denon AVC-X6500H review
Read our Denon AVC-X8500H review