Sound United’s Denon and Marantz brands used CEDIA Expo to unveil the first audio video receivers and a new preamp processor that will carry IMAX Enhanced certification, assuring compatibility with and the ability to match the high-performance standards established for forthcoming IMAX Enhanced content from IMAX and DTS.

As previously reported here, IMAX Enhanced means that products licensed, tested and certified by IMAX and partner DTS will playback specially remastered IMAX video content coupled with a new uber variant of DTS:X 3D surround sound.

Two of Sound United’s biggest brands (Denon and Marantz) will be the first out with compatible IMAX Enhanced audio components while Sony will be first out with high-end 4K TVs and projectors carrying the IMAX Enhanced mode. On the content side, both Sony Pictures and Paramount have committed to producing IMAX Enhanced software shortly, in addition to IMAX itself, of course.

On the hardware side, IMAX Enhanced products will have an “IMAX Mode” that has been tweaked to produce very high levels of picture and sound performance, including sharper 4K HDR images and more powerful, immersive surround sound. This will be applied to movies and IMAX documentaries and features originally produced for giant IMAX theaters optimized for the ultimate in immersive viewing experiences. What’s perhaps most distinguishing about IMAX movies are their very tall picture with a more square-ish aspect ratio than typical widescreen movies.

The Denon line will apply these standards to the HEOS multi-room audio enhabled Denon AVR-X6500H ($2,199 suggested retail), which is an 11.2-channel receiver with 140 watts per channel of power (8 Ohms, 20Hz-20kHz, 0.05% THD) with the ability to drive a 7.2.4-channel surround sound setup with DTS:X (standard and IMAX Enhanced), Dobly ATMOS and Auro-3D enhanced surround sound.

IMAX Enhanced certification will also be found in the AVR-X4500H ($1,599) is a 9.2 channel HEOS-enabled network AVR with 125 watts per channel power (8 ohms, THD 0.05%, 20Hz-20kHz) driving up to 5.2.4 speaker configuration and supporting the same advanced 3D surround formats as the X6500H.

Like the (non IMAX Enhanced) AVR-X6400 before them, the two receivers will be able to support certain features that will be part of the forthcoming HDMI 2.1 specifications. These include enhanced-Audio Return Channel (eARC) with greater bandwidth to support uncompressed surround formats, and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) to reduce lag in Xbox One S/X video gaming.

The Marantz line will feature the AV7705 ($2,199) 11.2-channel pre-processor with the addition of professional-level balanced XLR preamp outputs, as well as most of the features found in the two Denon AVR models, including IMAX Enhanced certification and HEOS. All of the listed Sound United products will also work with Amazon Alexa voice control.


Yamaha, meanwhile, used the show to introduce a range of products including its $2,700 Yamaha XDA-QS5400RK MusicCast Multicast Streaming Amplifier that can be set up to serve as many as 32 zones.

The amp, which was designed for custom integration, features a quad-streaming (QS) design and integrates Ethernet-based and wireless networks to enable whole-house multi-room audio systems running the company’s MusicCast platform.

Yamaha ships the multiroom streaming device with removable rack-mount ears. Dual LAN ports allow daisy-chaining multiple units to serve up to 32 zones.

Yamaha also showed the XDA-QS5400RK ($2,699) multi-room amplifier supporting a range of popular streaming services including Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM Internet Radio, TIDAL, Deezer, SiriusXM for Business and Napster.

The product also plays high-resolution audio streaming sources up to 24-bit/192kHz, as well most source components from TVs and turntables. It is also compatible with the company’s MusicCast multi-room audio network, which is controlled using a free MusicCast app, and integrates into most major third-party control systems.

Voice control is enabled using Amazon Alexa devices, including smart speakers. The amp includes high-quality 32-bit/384kHz digital-to-analog converters (DACs) and ICEpower integrated amplification technologies to power its eight channels.

It also offers the ability to add a companion XDA-AMP5400RK ($1,699) Multi-Room Amplifier to boost speaker output or cover more rooms.

In speakers, GoldenEar Technology provided on-going demos of its forthcoming streaming-media-optimized DigitalAktive 3 (DA3) speaker ($2,000 suggested retail per pair). This is a compact bookshelf speaker equipped to receive and playback streaming audio files from the most popular streaming audio services channeled using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connections over Chromecast device connected to a smartphone or PC with the Chromecast module supporting 2.4GHz or 5.4GHZ bands.

For stereo content, either one speaker can be used or two DA3’s will link wirelessly via a low-latency WIA radio. The speaker also can be controlled by voice commands using any Google Home smart device. The speaker will also support network software updates.

The DigitalAktiv 3 is equipped with a six-inch bass/midrange driver designed based on a driver in the company’s Triton Reference speaker. It also includes the that larger speaker’s same HVFR tweeter, and two inertial-balanced eight-inch passive radiators.

This is all housed in an attractive piano-black monocoque cabinet.


By Greg Tarr


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