Back in May 2014, Denon launched the first 3 members of the 2014 AVR-X family of home theater receivers. The most striking thing about the trio was the things that they had in common. Full 4K support, 7.2 channels and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are the major highlights and they are a pretty big deal considering the $500 to $1,000 price range. But Denon didn’t stop there as the Japan-based company followed up with two additional receivers at the higher-end – the Denon AVR-X4100W and the AVR-X5200W. It is quite obvious that the AVR-X5200W is the powerhouse flagship but the AVR-X4100W deserves some attention too as it is a huge leap from the AVR-X3100W in many ways. One of these leaps is the price as it is $500 more than the AVR-X3100W or about twice as much as the entry-level AVR-X1100W. The rest is quite noticeable from the design to the specs.
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It is quite easy to tell if a home theater receiver is high-end; just check if the front panel has a drop-down door which hides all the front connection ports and buttons. Many home theater manufacturers do it and the Denon AVR-X4100W has that style as well. With the panel open, it doesn’t look very intimidating either as each of the circular buttons have labels and are not so difficult to spot compared to the thin buttons found in entry-level models. There are still 4 Quick Select buttons to for easy source selection and audio preset application. You also get a front HDMI port and set of AUX ports along with the usual USB port and phones jack.
The back of the AVR-X4100W is where things get exciting as it is filled with ports. The 7 HDMI inputs shouldn’t be much of a surprise since cheaper Denon models have them but the 3 HDMI outs give a pretty clear idea on what this receiver should be used for. Of course not all may be interested with that, but the presence of the Front Wide L and R and Height L and R channels should sum up the rest. There are also plenty of assignable audio inputs and preouts. Each of the speaker terminal groups are color-coded to make it easy to setup a sophisticated home theater system or two.
Below is the back panel layout. Click on image to enlarge for a clearer view.
The Denon AVR-X4100W is all about bringing the Dolby Atmos surround sound technology to the home. This is the same technology used in popular cinemas and now home theater receiver manufacturers are on the hunt in incorporating them to their receivers. The AVR-X4100W serves as the cheapest entry point to this technology and it is only a big deal if you are willing to invest a bit more in attaining a suitable speaker setup. The main attraction of Dolby Atmos is its way of making the sound come from every direction possible. The best way to experience it is to add overhead speakers and a 2-channel power amplifier so you end up with setups such as 5.1.4 or 7.1.2. There are also Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers that can produce a similar effect because of their upward firing drivers.
Because the AVR-X4100W opens up all sorts of speaker setup possibilities, it is only practical for the Audyssey technologies to adapt accordingly and that’s why Denon incorporated the Audyssey Platinum suite of DSP technologies to this receiver. All the features found in the Audyssey Silver and Gold suites are present including MultEQ XT32 which provides automatic room acoustic measurement for all satellites and subwoofers at up to 8 locations. Then there is the Dynamic Volume which eliminates that annoying situation where TV commercials suddenly go so loud. Audyssey Dynamic EQ also provides full range clarity at loud and low volume levels. It is enhanced further by a Platinum-exclusive technology called Low Frequency Containment which somehow adds deep bass effects without disturbing neighboring rooms. Those that have dual subwoofer setups will also be impressed with the Sub EQ HT technology as it deepens the bass even further.
4K Ultra HD 60 Hz pass-through is a common feature amongst the 2014 Denon receivers but it is still a key feature that is worth knowing for any forward-thinking individual. With 4:4:4 Pure Color Sub-sampling pass-through and HDMI 2.0 support, you shouldn’t have to worry about future 4K TVs and 4K content as the AVR-X4100W is ready to go the distance.
Multi-room capabilities is another specialty of the Denon AVR-X4100W. The second HDMI output is capable of mirroring the first while the third can have its own source as a second zone. The component video output can be assigned to a second zone as well. Having two surround sound rooms with this receiver alone is possible.
The built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi features are the same as the rest of the AVR-X Denon models and they are just as easy to operate as it relies on the same Denon Remote app for iOS and Android. Virtually any Android smartphone and recent iDevice can remotely issue commands to the receiver or change options. The wireless LAN also enables direct access to the Internet allowing the AVR-X4100W to stream right from popular subscription services like Spotify, Pandora and SiriusXM. Apple devices can also recognize it as an AirPlay device making it easy to stream iTunes music while the rest of the devices can take advantage of the DLNA compatibility for equally easy local streaming.
With a power output of 235 watts, the Denon AVR-X4100W easily handles large home theater setups and it works very well with 4K TVs whether the source material is 4K or even 1080p or DVD quality because the receiver comes with upscaling capabilities. As for the Dolby Atmos support, the results were spectacular after playing Transformers: Age of Extinction. Sadly, studios are rolling out new Dolby Atmos at a pretty sluggish rate so it remains to be seen how other movies fare with this receiver.
The AVR-X4100W left nothing but good impressions with so many connection ports available for adventurous movie enthusiasts to play with. Dolby Atmos is the spotlight though and having it in the home brings the home cinema a step closer to emulating that true cinema experience. The Denon AVR-X4100W is a $1,500 ticket and it comes with the necessary power to handle next-generation speaker setups.
Update: There is a newer model > Denon AVR-X4400H