If you never bought a home theater receiver before and have a pretty standard 5.1-channel home theater setup, spending $500 on any 2014 model made by a reputable brand is the safest bet. Not only do these receivers often come with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi but they also offer plenty of room for expansion while retaining newbie-friendliness with adequate amounts of modern ports and simple front panels. But the Denon AVR-S700W wants to turn that fact into a myth by cramming all the top essentials people look for in a basic receiver and slap a $449 price tag. But the reality is, people will still end up wondering if they should spend $50 more on a tried and tested receiver like the Denon AVR-X1100W or settle with whatever this intriguing receiver has to offer.
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If there was a perfectly designed $449 receiver, the AVR-S700W would have to be it. It weighs a good 19 pounds and the front panel is simple yet complete when it comes to the important stuff. It has two knobs to handle your source selecting and master volume controlling needs along with four key buttons known as Quick Select buttons positioned below the status display. The first three buttons share the same labels as the HDMI inputs on the back so they let you directly switch to that particular input. The neat thing is that you can give each button a special audio preset so you don’t have to manually change presets when changing sources. The last Quick Select can be linked to an online source. It is also quite unique to see dedicated buttons to change the sound mode right on the front panel. The best thing about the front of the Denon AVR-S700W is the presence of both a USB port and an HDMI port. The much cheaper Denon AVR-S500BT lacks the HDMI port and the inconvenience can quickly be realized once you have no choice but to hook up portable gadgets to the back of the receiver and possibly unplug a cable.
But unlike the AVR-S500BT, the AVR-S700W features 5 more HDMI ports for a comfortable total of 6 HDMI ports. Although the Denon AVR-S700W is technically the middle child of the S-series, it is still part of the entry-level class so don’t expect things like component inputs. There are a couple of AV composite inputs along with a pair of optical inputs and single coaxial. As a 7.2-channel receiver, there are two subwoofer ports and assignable surround back L and R channels.
Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.
It was amazing enough to see Denon’s entire 2014 lineup of AVR-X receivers all being equipped with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi but it is even more surprising for the AVR-S700W to get the same wireless treatment. The Denon AVR-S700W doesn’t come with any extra accessories or dongles since the antennas are part of the receiver. An Ethernet port can be found on the back too if you prefer the speedy wired approach. Wi-Fi is a great feature to have because the receiver can access streaming services like SiriusXM, Pandora and Spotify Connect on its own.
For local streaming, Wi-Fi is far superior than Bluetooth since you enjoy the greater range provided by your Wi-Fi router. You can have your Android phone, iPhone or just about any tablet stream music to the receiver from any spot as long as Wi-Fi signal is present. There is also the Denon Remote app for Android, iOS and Kindle which provides a nice GUI for the receiver on mobile devices where you can touch away to change settings and execute commands. Also like the X-series, AirPlay and DLNA support are thrown into the mix as well so PCs and Macs are invited to stream content to the receiver too. AirPlay is Apple’s proprietary streaming protocol that makes it very easy for iDevices to stream stuff. If that isn’t enough, there is still Bluetooth to cater to the devices that don’t have Wi-Fi but still have Bluetooth.
The fact that the AVR-S700W supports HDMI 2.0 also makes this receiver a great long-term investment on the cheap. You can upgrade your TV, Blu-ray player and future gaming consoles knowing that there are special HDMI 2.0 ports that can accommodate them. The Blu-ray and Game HDMI inputs support 4K resolution at 60 Hz frame rate as well as 4:4:4 Pure Color subsampling pass-through.
The cost cutting is more apparent when you start evaluating the performance of the Denon AVR-S700W. At 165 watts per channel at maximum power, the AVR-S700W is a bit more powerful than the very cheap AVR-S500BT but it slightly lags behind the cheapest X-series model. On the upside, this is the cheapest 2014 Denon receiver that has Audyssey’s technologies. The Denon AVR-S700W has the Bronze suite, which isn’t so inferior as it still has the Dynamic Volume and Dynamic EQ features that are found in the Silver suite. These features enhance the audio dialog and maintains an optimal listening level at lower volumes. The main star of the Audyssey Bronze package is the MultEQ, which is a popular calibration solution that utilizes DSP correction filters to determine the appropriate settings for just about any type of speaker connected. If you have an odd size room, your system might benefit more from the Audyssey Silver found in entry-level AVR-X models.
The Denon AVR-S700W is one of the cheapest 7.2-channel receivers that don’t have last generation’s specs and features. Consider it as a ‘lite’ version of the Denon AVR-X1100W since the wattage is lower and the Audyssey features are on the basic level. If you don’t plan to go past a 7.2-channel system and you are satisfied with the 6 HDMI ports, the AVR-S700W is worth the $50 savings. Otherwise, step up to the AVR-X1100W if you think you’ll need extra breathing room in the future.
Update: There is a newer model > Denon AVR-S720W