Denon is very much considered a leader in the home theater receiver space. It doesn’t rule uncontested though as there are a handful of other popular brands that a lot of people continue to stick to. This is why companies make sure that they refresh their models every year even if only minor improvements to an already excellent product need to be made. Some buyers will simply consider another brand regardless of how good the reputation is if the receiver is advertised as newer. So back in May 2016, Denon dropped the bomb with refreshes to two of its finest members in the X-series family – the Denon AVR-X1300W and the Denon AVR-X2300W with the AVR-X1300W serving is a value-focused premium pick.
About the Denon AVR-X1300W
The release of the Denon AVR-X1300W makes this particular receiver a 4th generation citizen of Denon’s high-end receiver lineup and currently the cheapest in the 2016 X-series or “IN Command” family. It is seated above the upper entry-level AVR-S920W and costs $599 (just $20 above the AVR-S920W). Although both of these models look similar, they still belong in different product categories so it is important to know what makes the Denon AVR-X1300W unique and what advantages the AVR-S920W has over the other.
One of the defining features of any X-series product including the AVR-X1300W is the discrete amp design. Rather than using integrated circuitry, this design approach can better drive all connected speakers and make the overall audio sound even better with improved dynamic range. So even though each of the 7 channels have up to 80 watts at 8 Ohms (the AVR-S920W boasts 90 watts), the Denon AVR-X1300W is still the better performer and that explains the slightly higher price. On a slight downside, you only get 6 HDMI ports and a single HDMI out while the AVR-S920W has 8 HDMI inputs and 2 outputs. Deciding between the AVR-X1300W and AVR-S920W is like choosing between connectivity and overall performance. But if you are after 4K upscaling, you will either have to step down to the AVR-S920W or step up to the AVR-X2300W.
Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.
Comparison with the Denon AVR-X1200W
The Denon AVR-S920W won’t be your only worry though as you may spot a similarly looking Denon AVR-X1200W. This receiver is the third generation model and surprisingly it shares a lot of the same features found in the Denon AVR-X1300W. One of the big improvements that the AVR-X1300W has over the older model is dual-band Wi-Fi which will allow the receiver to tap into the more stable 5 GHz frequently for streaming.
The rest of the improvements are pretty minor. For the Auto Lip sync delay option, you can now set it to 500ms. In the previous model, that only maxes out to 200ms. It is also now possible to change the HDMI source while the receiver is in standby mode. Finally, the high res audio files up to 5.6 Mhz (DSD) can be played back via USB and network.
Features in Detail
The Denon AVR-X1300W is jam packed with goodies including Dolby Atmos technology ready to use if you have Dolby Atmos-certified speakers or any form of overhead speakers to add an impressive three-dimensional space. DTS:X is scheduled to come in the future too in the form of a firmware update. This technology has a similar goal to Atmos but has better scaling and flexibility. Dolby Atmos should still be worth considering though since more Blu-ray movies are supporting it. Thanks to the latest HDMI specifications, you also get 4K 60 Hz support and HDR for improved picture quality.
The built-in Wi-Fi continues to play a role in the connected home with Apple Airplay support for easy streaming if you have iOS devices as well as DLNA support for all sorts of other things and Bluetooth for the legacy stuff. The new Denon 2016 AVR Remote App also utilizes the Wi-Fi so you can conveniently use your iOS or Android device to remotely control or configure the receiver. Another nice feature exclusive to the X-series is the Audyssey multipoint sound optimization which provides a bit more advanced calibration than the cheaper models. It also has a very friendly graphical user interface for easy setup.
Performance-wise, the AVR-X1300W isn’t really a serious upgrade but the audio performance is just about what you would expect from a $599 receiver. It handles all sorts of music great and if you need extra power, you have no choice but to step up to one of the several other models in the X-series and pay the extra premiums. Wi-Fi is a lot more stable thanks to the dual-band improvement.
• Wi-Fi performance is better.
• Dolby Atmos built-in with DTS:X support around the corner.
• Discrete amp design results to fuller audio quality.
• Fewer HDMI ports than the cheaper AVR-S920W
• No video upscaling.
• Not much improvements over the previous model.
The Denon AVR-X1300W isn’t a very exciting product if you already own any of Denon’s products released last year. But those that decided to wait will be rewarded with a better wireless experience and other minor improvements. It’s a great performer with plenty of power with connectivity being the main sacrifice. But if you have your dream home theater in mind and it doesn’t exceed 7 channels and 6 HDMI-enabled components, the AVR-X1300W may very well be the choice that can last several years until you need to expand to something bigger.
Update: There is a newer model > Denon AVR-X1400H