Denon AVC-X3800H

Denon AVC-X3800H

The latest AV receivers are so jam-packed with features that it’s sometimes hard to conceive of a single user who might make use of them all. But the impressive specs of really excellent AVRs are designed not only to adapt to the changing technology of a myriad of potential source devices but also to owners who might decide to modify and expand their home cinema in the future.

With its new mid-range home cinema amp, the Denon AVC-X3800H, Denon has crammed in several hardware and software upgrades, no doubt intended to prolong its lifespan and make it appealing to a host of different buyers. The result is a highly flexible, well-rounded amp that owners can expect to keep for a long time and that will adapt to suit their evolving systems.

Launching at £1499 / $1700 / AU$2999, the AVC-X3800H supersedes the two-time What Hi-Fi? award-winning AVC-X3700H, which was released in 2020 priced at £999 / $1199 / AU$2699. That’s quite a significant difference and it puts the formally budget-friendly mid-range AVR in competition with several higher-end models.

But it’s not an entirely unexpected hike. The cost of the AVC-X3700H hasn’t dropped since its launch during the pandemic as markets and supply chains have undergone massive changes. Despite now being discontinued, retailers that still have remaining stock are listing it at ‎£1049 / $1599 /‎ AU$2690.

Denon’s six-strong premium X range is amidst something of an overhaul, with a number of new models due over the coming months and into next year. Somewhat disappointingly, they all retain the same utilitarian design as the last few generations.

The AVC-X3800H is right in the middle of the series, just below the similarly specced but soon-to-be discontinued AVC-X4700H, which launched at £1550 / $1700 / AU$3500. It sits above the new AVR-X2800H, priced at £869 / $1200 / AU$2199 and offering seven channels of amplification and 7.1ch of processing, but with less advanced processing, a smaller power transformer, lower-current power transistors, and less sturdy construction.

The most notable upgrade to the AVC-3800H compared to the company’s previous models is an increase in its processing from 9.2 to 11.4 channels, which is handled by a new Griffin Lit XP processor. With nine channels of amplification as a single unit, it’s suitable for configurations up to 5.4.4 out of the box but can be expanded to 7.4.4 with the addition of an external stereo amp.

Of course, you might not have four subwoofers when you purchase the AVC-X3800H, but if somewhere down the line you decide that more bass is what you need in your life, then this is an AVR that can oblige.

Similarly, users can also take advantage of a new selective pre-amplifier mode that allows each speaker pair to be assigned to ‘Pre-out only’ for use with an external power amp. Previously this option could only be activated for all or none of the outputs. But now if you decide to upgrade the amplification of your front pair, for example, you can do so.

Touches such as this indicate that the AVC-X3800H has been built with longevity in mind, and its connectivity spec seems to echo that. There’s almost certainly no one eyeing up this amp who has six 8K sources right now, but when the next resolution revolution happens, the AVC-X3800H is ready.

All of its six HDMI inputs and three outputs are now HDMI 2.1 ports rated to 40gbps and capable of 8K@60Hz or 4K@120Hz video pass-through. They boast compatibility with every major HDR format (HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, and Hybrid Log Gamma) and there’s a raft of gamer-friendly technology supported too, with VRR, QFT, ALLM, and FRL (Frame Rate Link) all on board.

Denon says that as has updated its specifications for QMS (Quick Media Switching), the AVC-X38000H can handle the old standard (as the AVC-X3700H did), but not the latest changes. We can’t imagine that being a major issue for anyone though.

Elsewhere there’s also 8K upscaling offered on all HDMI inputs, plus eARC on one of the outputs so that advanced audio formats such as Dolby Atmos can be received by the AVR via the same HDMI through which it sends video signals to the connected display.

There are plenty of ways to wirelessly connect to the AVC-X38000H too, with support for Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Roon, and HEOS, Denon’s multi-room software that integrates streaming services including Tidal and Deezer and lets users stream to compatible products.

The front panel of the AVC-X38000H includes a USB port for a mass storage device, with playback support for high-resolution formats, including FLAC, ALAC, and WAV files, and DSD 2.8/5.6MHz, and at the rear, there’s also a phono input for vinyl playback.

The AVC-X3800H is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri voice assistants, and it can also be controlled via the Denon AVR Remote app and the included remote, which has had a new shortcut button added to it for quick switching between HDMI outputs.

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