Denon AVR-X8500H 13.2CH IMAX Enhanced AV Receiver Review

TheoN

TheoN

Audioholics Contributing Writer
Denon’s AVR-X8500H is the most technologically advanced receiver the venerable company has ever built. It is arguably the most advanced AVR available today. It’s the best AVR I’ve ever reviewed. It's the most audiophile-worthy AVR since Denon’s legendary AVR-5308CI and AVR-5805. The X8500H just won our 2018 AVR of the year award. And that’s just the opening salvo! The X8500H can flex its ample amp muscles—all 13 of them—with ease. This monstrous AVR will put competitors to shame with its robust, modern feature-set and can serve as the command center of a Heos-centric whole home, multi-room streaming system.The Denon supports every major immersive audio format (Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Auro-3D, and the new IMAX Enhanced); it will play them to the maximum supported configurations available today—out of the box—without any outboard amplifiers needed. Audiophiles take note: The X8500H sports a serious audiophile design highlighted by independent ICs for volume, input, and output. On the video front, the X8500H will pass through all 4K/UHD specs that matter, including BT.2020 deep color, HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Vision HDR. ISF controls are there too for full calibration control. Even at $3,999 MSRP, the X8500H is a home theater value. The cost of 13 outboard amps alone easily makes Denon’s X8500H a truly remarkable Hi-Fi bargain. And to boot, the sound of the system is so good its the first AVR I’ve tested that I’d put up against some separates. And speaking of separates, if you feel the on-board amplification isn't enough for you, take advantage of the Denon's superb preamp section and simply mate your favorite multichannel amp or monoblocks to any of the Denon's pre-outs and drive any speaker you want.

Perhaps best of all, the X8500H has an announced upgrade path to the HDMI 2.1 spec. Reference performance, incredible flexibility, rich features, high value, and future-proof(ish) in a single package? That’s Denon’s AVR-X8500H in a nutshell which earns it a flagship status.

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Read: Denon AVR-X8500H 13.2CH Imax-Enhanced AV Receiver Review
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Nice review. Makes me want to put speakers in my ceiling right now and get one.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Really? Or are you just saying that? :D
That it makes me want to put speakers in my ceiling, sure but even your glowing descriptions about Atmos make me want to do that. Whether I'm going to actually do that....we'll see after my new roof this week :) Can I write it off as home improvements?
 
D

Danzilla31

Audioholic Samurai
That it makes me want to put speakers in my ceiling, sure but even your glowing descriptions about Atmos make me want to do that. Whether I'm going to actually do that....we'll see after my new roof this week :) Can I write it off as home improvements?
Hey we might just get you to join the atmos club!!!!
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
That it makes me want to put speakers in my ceiling, sure but even your glowing descriptions about Atmos make me want to do that. Whether I'm going to actually do that....we'll see after my new roof this week :) Can I write it off as home improvements?
That’s a good idea.

It does add warmth in the winter (especially in addition to the Denon’s 13Ch amp) :D and makes you feel really cool in the summer. :cool:

All these things (4K, Atmos, DTSX, etc.) can help make it a little more fun in life.
 
M

mlknez

Enthusiast
Good review. Just to let you know, this unit does NOT support multi-channel streaming, so you still need to use an external DAC and player to make use of hi-res surround music files like those found on SACD and DVD-A. This is a big oversight. Also, they missed the boat by not supporting USB-B connections to a HTPC to directly use the native DACs.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Good review. Just to let you know, this unit does NOT support multi-channel streaming, so you still need to use an external DAC and player to make use of hi-res surround music files like those found on SACD and DVD-A. This is a big oversight. Also, they missed the boat by not supporting USB-B connections to a HTPC to directly use the native DACs.
Seems to support 2 to 5.1 dsd up to 2.8MHz per the manual pg 322.....
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Overlord
So D&M has upgraded the preamp/vol control ICs since 2016, that's 3 years after that hometheaterhifi.com article was published and appeared to have standardized them across the whole line, I wonder if Yamaha has done the same. From what I could find out so far, they had not done so to their 2016 models, but might have done something after, not really sure. On the DAC chip side, D&M has finally upgraded to the AKM chips that have comparable specs to the ESS Sabre chips Yamaha has standardized on in their recent models.

Thanks to standardization, one can now feel free to buy the entry models if the feature set and power output is adequate for the job, without worrying too much about poorer sound quality.
 
slipperybidness

slipperybidness

Audioholic Spartan
So D&M has upgraded the preamp/vol control ICs since 2016, that's 3 years after that hometheaterhifi.com article was published and appeared to have standardized them across the whole line, I wonder if Yamaha has done the same. From what I could find out so far, they had not done so to their 2016 models, but might have done something after, not really sure. On the DAC chip side, D&M has finally upgraded to the AKM chips that have comparable specs to the ESS Sabre chips Yamaha has standardized on in their recent models.

Thanks to standardization, one can now feel free to buy the entry models if the feature set and power output is adequate for the job, without worrying too much about poorer sound quality.
Back to economies of scale. It is much easier and cheaper to get a single high quality design and trickle it down the hierarchy, vs. multiple designs to try to save a few cents on the front end.

Hey, A4L has this unit available in SILVER!

https://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/denavrx8500hsp/denon-avr-x8500h-13.2-ch-x-150-watts-a/v-receiver-w/heos-silver/1.html
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Overlord
Back to economies of scale. It is much easier and cheaper to get a single high quality design and trickle it down the hierarchy, vs. multiple designs to try to save a few cents on the front end.

Hey, A4L has this unit available in SILVER!

https://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/denavrx8500hsp/denon-avr-x8500h-13.2-ch-x-150-watts-a/v-receiver-w/heos-silver/1.html
Agreed, and that wasn't the case until 2016/2017 (e.g. lower grade DAC chips were used in the lower models prior),so I think we can give credit to D&M for having make such a move. It probably also explains why (at least partially) I found the cheap AVR-X3400H sounded just like my separates, as it benefits from having the same preamp and switcher chips, and with a 2nd tier AK4458 DAC chip that is probably practically as good as AK4490 and is the same one used in the Marantz flag ship SR8012. Obviously the X8500H and SR8012 have the additional benefits of much better quality power supply and circuit layout such as the monoblock/so called monolithic design amps, copper shielding etc etc..that should contribute to sound quality when used in more demanding situations.

The ACFL discount is not that much for a refurbished unit, but I bet a good proportions of those were returns from people who just didn't find them user friendly enough or buyer remorse on such a costly item, not that there were anything wrong that actually need to be repaired. That's just my wild guess.
 
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lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Not through the ethernet interface, only via HDMI (hence why i said streaming above)
Well, conceivably you could stream thru hdmi....but curious, what multi-ch streaming is there?
 
M Code

M Code

Audioholic General
Great detailed review!!! The mentioned Denon engineer from Japan I met many, many years ago he was @ the Ranch(SunnyVale) getting THX Ultra certification for Denon and I was there representing a competing brand for getting THX Ultra certification.... I have to agree that early Denon AVRs 5800 series were the go-to reference models, advanced DSPs, jumbo power supplies, bulletproof amplifiers and built in Japan quality....
IMHO...
Back about 5/6 years Denon seem to have lost their way... :rolleyes:
But now under new ownership and revised marketing/distribution strategies they seem to have it dialed it in to challenge Yamaha for the top spot. Their Sr.VP product development is from Harman and is very capable...

Just my $0.02... ;)
 
U

unrealii

Enthusiast
Thanks for this!
I ended up turning on Eco Auto on my marantz sr7012.
 
A

AHRAK

Audiophyte
Excellent review. This review gave me more reasons to get this wonderful component. Plus I like how you included some of the detailed information as well. I have never owned a Denon receiver but I have heard nothing but wonderful things about them.
 
TheoN

TheoN

Audioholics Contributing Writer
Excellent review. This review gave me more reasons to get this wonderful component. Plus I like how you included some of the detailed information as well. I have never owned a Denon receiver but I have heard nothing but wonderful things about them.
Glad the review was helpful!
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Overlord
Since AH did not do the measurements, those by Audiovision.de will have to make do. You have to click accept cookies in order to see the tabulated and graphed results.

The second one from the right on the bar graph is for the 7 channel driven into 4 ohm test. I am sure they use regulated power supply to take those measurements.

http://audiovision.de/denon-avc-8500h-test/

for an apples to apples comparison with the Marantz:

http://audiovision.de/marantz-sr8012-test/

In case you cannot see the numbers clearly enough (depending on your PC I guess),it was 140 W for the X8500H vs 113 W for the SR8012. The SR8012 did 3 W better in the 5 channel driven test, for whatever reason.
 

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