Sound United’s Denon brand introduced Thursday its 2020 X-Series AVR line supporting the latest HDMI 2.1 features designed to deliver superior overall video, sound and user experiences from today’s advanced movie, TV and video game content.

The four models in the 2020 X-Series lineup will hit stores in June, July and August and will include: the AVR-X6700H ($2,499 suggested retail, June), AVR-X4700H ($1,699, June), AVR-X3700H ($1,199, July) and AV-X2700H ($849, August).

Denon said all four models will support up to 8K/60p and 4K/120fps pass-through. They will also support 8K upscaling across all HDMI ports. All HDMI inputs and outputs will also support a package of HDMI 2.1 features.

For all four models, one of the HDMI inputs and at least one output will be equipped to handle up to 40 Gbps of bandwidth, which is sufficient for up to 4K/120fps video at 4:4:4 chroma subsampling and 10 bit color, or 8K/60fps at 4:2:0 chroma subsampling and 10-bit color.

With the lack of any consumer displays with 12-bit panels, Denon said it expects 40 Gbps to be the practical “speed limit” for most of the industry’s needs for a while to come. Denon receivers will be equipped to test connected products including new cables for up to 40 Gbps compatibility.

Meanwhile, the new HDMI connections will support new gaming features in the HDMI 2.1 spec. including Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), and Quick Frame Transport (QFT). These features are applicable to video gaming to prevent such issues as frame tearing and increased lag time. The ALLM feature automatically sets and optimizes for game mode all of the components in the gaming chain to reduce lag and present the most competitive experience when a gaming signal is detected.

The HDMI 2.1 inputs also pass dynamic metadata-based high dynamic range (HDR) to provide optimized frame-by-frame HDR color and brightness grading. Also supported is enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) affording greater bandwidth to send and receive multichannel 3D audio surround with lossless audio formats like Dolby Atmos with/without Dolby TrueHD and DTS:X with/without DTS HD Master Audio. This enables passing through these high-bandwidth audio formats from streaming services accessed by the TV’s internal smart platforms out to the AVR for the best possible sound.

HDMI 2.1 also provides more robust lip syncing between the various interconnected devices and content and better device interoperability. The Denon receivers also support over the HDMI ports Quick Media Switching (QMS) that gets rid of the blank screens that briefly pop up due to changing frame rates when switching, for example, from a 60fps menu system to a 30fps broadcast news program. (Most of these new HDMI features will only work when the connected source device and display also support the same features).

In addition, the 2020 models will continue to support many of the new features introduced last year including Dolby Atmos Height virtualization, Bluetooth transmission to headphones and AirPlay Display.

All four models will be offered Roon-tested out of the box, the company said, enabling streaming tunes from services like TIDAL in high resolution from one place, via AirPlay. All four models also offer built-in support for Sound United’s HEOS wireless multi-room audio system that will connect with an expanding list of Denon and Marantz HEOS-audio components, soundbars and wireless speakers.

The AVR-X3700H, AVR-X4700H and AVR-X6700H are IMAX Enhanced certified to conform to the IMAX/DTS home cinema standard and will support playback of IMAX Enhanced content. All four models also offer phono inputs for vinyl enthusiasts.

DTS:X Pro Arrives

In addition, the Denon high-end AVR-X6700H will be among the first products to support the new DTS:X Pro object-based surround sound format. This is described as a device-side decoder technology package for premium and ultra-premium AVRs and processors that delivers what DTS said is “the most immersive listening experience that we’ve provided to consumers to date.” The technology was developed to handle up to 30.2 channels from an AVR or processor, although the AVR-X6700H is a 13.2-channel product max. Nevertheless, DTS:X Pro can be scaled and optimized to any system configuration. In the case of the AVR-X6700H, it will bring to consumer homes a higher channel count and greater spatial resolutions at a very reasonable price point.

The DTS:X Pro package includes an updated object printer allowing any object that passes into the DTS:X decoder bitstream to be passed into the DTS:X Pro decoder package, which will render it with accuracy for up to 30 output channels, bringing greater spatial resolution and more pinpoint accuracy of object sound placement while moving between channels around the room.

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More value will also be possible on the up-mix side, with Neural X now supporting up to 30.2 channels. So what ever the channel number is, it can be up-mixed by Neural X to support the number of channels present in the home theater system. This will handle any PCM content. There will be no special DTS:X Pro content needed. It all works natively with today’s DTS:X content, or up-mixed with Neural X, and is not exclusive to DTS content.

When used with IMAX Enhanced components, like the Denon AVR-X6700H, the surround experience is closer than ever to the 12-channel IMAX Cinema mix for IMAX theaters. This is very similar to an 11.1-channel mix in consumers homes; There are four height channels and seven speakers on the floor. The 12th channel is a center height speaker. In an IMAX Theater, a low center and high center channel are used to lock in dialog for voice over narration from the massive screen. For the home, DTS extracts the LFE from the 12.0 mix and assigns the additional center height channel to an object, which is then positioned in virtual space above the listener’s television.

A typical 11.1-channel layout for the home doesn’t have a center height speaker. So DTS:X recognizes that there is an object in the bitstream and then renders it appropriately using the front height channels and the center channel to triangulate the position. But the AVR-X6700H can now add a dedicated center front height speaker for a more convincing experience.

DTS:X Pro also has the tolerances to be able to accommodate the various sound-to-speaker layouts designed for Dolby Atmos and Auro 3D. Consumers won’t need to decide; DTS:X Pro makes the adjustments automatically, as needed.

AVR-X Lineup

All of the new 2020 AVR-X models feature varying numbers of the aforementioned HDMI 2.1 in/out ports and features. All of the models will pass-through Dynamic HDR such as HDR10+ along with Variable Refresh Rate, Quick Media Switching (QMS) and Quick Frame Transport (QFT) in addition to upscaled 1080p, 4K and 8K signals.

The AVR-X6700H offers 140-watt per channel power output for 11.2-channels. The on-board amplification is sufficient for 11 channels, but this can be expanded by connecting to an external amp to drive up to 13.2-channels (7.1.6 or 7.2.6 depending on how the content is mixed). Users have the ability to set up speaker layouts for Dolby Atmos or Auro 3D/DTS:X Pro setups. Users will be able to switch in the menu between the different channel-processing channel setup options.

In addition to DTS:X Pro, the AVR supports Auro 3D surround and Dolby Atmos object-based surround sound.

The AVR-X6700H offers a large package of connections with 8 HDMI inputs (including 1 front mounted) and 3 HDMI outputs. Support for up to native 8K/60p/4:2:0/10-bit color is provided on one HDMI input and two outputs.

The AVR-X6700H also provides dual speaker presets using two sets of Audyssey (auto EQ optimization) room calibrations that can be switched back and forth when ever the characteristics of the room surroundings might change with furniture introduction, projection screen setups etc. This can also be applied to changing listening sweet spots, to accommodate one person sitting in the middle of the theater and then switching over to accommodate a large audience sitting around the room. It will also accommodate different music listening modes, to, for example, switch between stereo music listening and multi-channel surround sound.

The AVR-X6700, X4700 and X3700 models each feature a preamp mode enabling the receiver to be switched over to use as a preamp connected to external amplifiers (adding the benefit of separates). In this mode, the receiver’s internal amplification is disconnected to reduce heat and potential noise interference in the signal path.

The Denon AVR-X4700H outputs 125 watts per channel across 9 powered channels and can be used in an 11.2-channel setup with an external amp connection. It has 8 HDMI inputs and three outputs.

The AVR model supports Auro 3D, DTS:X (no DTS:X Pro on this unit) and Dolby Atmos and is IMAX Enhanced Certified.

The Denon AVR-X3700H outputs 105 watts per channel to 9 powered channels (with dual independent subwoofer output) and can be used in an 11.2-channel setup with an external amp connection. It has 7 HDMI inputs and three outputs.

The X3700H is Dolby Enhanced certified and supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

The Denon AVR-X2700H outputs 95 watts per channel to 7 powered channels (with dual parallel subwoofer output). It has 6 HDMI inputs, two HDMI outputs and supports 4K/120fps and 8K/60fps pass through.

The X2700H supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object based surround sound.

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By Greg Tarr

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