Denon S Series vs. X Series - Do they really sound better?

K

KiterSuperFly

Audioholic Intern
I am looking at a minor receiver upgrade from my Denon AVR-S750H. It has been serving me well for my room size, but I am upgrading my main speakers and giving my older speakers to my daughter, along with the AVR-S750H. (I got it for a steal at $399CDN on Boxing Day almost three years ago, it owes me nothing. Still can't get them for that price now!)
Anyway, I am wondering what the advantage would be for upping to the X series from Denon. My 5.1.2 system may go to a 5.2.2 at most, if I ever stumble upon a bargain. My main consideration is sound quality. Do the X Series AVR's actually sound any better? If I have an S Series now and am satisfied, what would I gain? 50/50 Apple Music/Streaming video.
I know Audessey XT32 is one big upgrade. Independent subwoofer outputs is another, along with more wattage.
If I ever do add a second sub, it would be another SB-1000 Pro, so there would be the possibility of EQ'ing them separately with REW, then just plugging them both into an S Series AVR without independent subwoofer outputs, but that is less than ideal and I'd have to buy a UMIK or something.
As for more wattage, seems fine now, but is this all a case of I don't know what I am missing, or am I being up-sold, and won't notice a difference?
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
I wouldn't expect a sound quality difference particularly, just different features/options as you point out.
 
M

Mike Up

Audioholic
IMO, I don't think there's much difference except for 2nd Zone outputs with IR and 12V triggers. In fact I don't even think they do anything to upgrade the electronics as far as shielding or such as the receiver's weigh exactly the same.

For that $300 extra, you get extra Zone capability, a detachable cord, an extra year on the warranty, and Audyssey MultEQ XT (which sucks IMO) vs Audyssey MultEQ . You don't get XT 32 until you go up to the AVR-X3800h at $1700!

I don't even think there's a difference of 5 watts. I think they lowered the rating only on paper to give the X series an edge.

If it were me, I'd stick to the S750h, I wouldn't upgrade to the X1600h. Same receiver with only a few minor differences. If you do want to upgrade to full 8K compatibility, then going to the AVR-S760 or AVR-S970 would be in line. Do not get the AVR-S960 as that model had the 8K problem and it only has 1 8K input besides.

AVR-S960h and AVR-X2700h were released in 2020. The newer AVR-S760h and AVR-X1700h were released in 2021. The AVR-X970h and AVR-X2800h were just released here in late 2022.
 
K

KiterSuperFly

Audioholic Intern
Ok. This is good info. Thanks. So, assuming I have enough power, I mainly need to decide if XT32 is worth the extra money. I don’t foresee a need for 8k anytime soon, and if I had even one input, it would likely be enough to tide me over for a long time.
I appreciate the reply.
Thanks.
 
M

Mike Up

Audioholic
Ok. This is good info. Thanks. So, assuming I have enough power, I mainly need to decide if XT32 is worth the extra money. I don’t foresee a need for 8k anytime soon, and if I had even one input, it would likely be enough to tide me over for a long time.
I appreciate the reply.
Thanks.
Remember XT32 is only on the AVR-X3800h. The AVR-X2800h and AVR-X1700h only have XT, The AVR-S970h and AVR-S760h don't have XT.

Also the previous AVR-S960h and AVR-X2700h had 8K issues that didn't work with some game consoles. You had to get a converter box from Denon or be lucky enough to be shipped a model with the fix, that didn't require the converter box from Denon. Then again, those previous models only had one 8K input opposed to the newer S760h, 970h, x1700h and x2800h three 8k inputs.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Ok. This is good info. Thanks. So, assuming I have enough power, I mainly need to decide if XT32 is worth the extra money. I don’t foresee a need for 8k anytime soon, and if I had even one input, it would likely be enough to tide me over for a long time.
I appreciate the reply.
Thanks.
FWIW I got better results with XT32 over XT....but the Audyssey Editor App can help out a lot and depends somewhat on your sub setup.
 
M

Mike Up

Audioholic
I'm sure the XT32 is much better. However, I'm not the exception, in getting very poor results from Audyssey XT or other makers version of room compensation.

This was the Audyssey XT on my Denon AVR-2312ci. My EQ was jacked all over to make the sound harsh and bright, along with poor crossover settings and inaccurate speaker and subwoofer levels. I tried calibration several times before giving up on it and just using common sense for crossover settings and my Radio Shack SPL meter for speaker levels. I wasn't the first as this is widely complained about. My brother-in-law had the same happen to him with his Marantz receiver so he turned it off. I also heard Yamaha's YPAO and even Onkyo's ACCuEQ having the same issues.

None of the room compensation features seem to work good and often screw up the audio. Some "GOOD" reviewers make sure to turn this feature off when reviewing receivers and speakers.

If you actually think about it realistically, how can these be accurate? You're using a software feature that is a minor feature on an inexpensive receiver. You are using a cheap plastic microphone, not a microphone that costs several hundred dollars or more. When people invest in a good manual system to do this, it's big bucks for mics, adapters, software, and licensing. You honestly can't expect miracles out of a cheaply made, inexpensive feature.

IMO, it's best left off and not used. I hear people complain how a good sounding speaker, sounds bad. Then I find out they are using room compensation built into their receiver. It's not the speakers, it's their compensation!

Ok, end of rant.
 
M

Mike Up

Audioholic
Well I did some research and found that that the AVR-X*700H series and AVR-S960H, after May 2021 and over serial numbers over 7000,0 have new HDMI boards with a fix. Only models below that will need the separate HDMI box.

The AVR-X*00H models and the AVR-S960H models have went on sale and have huge discounts which makes them a great buy in comparison to the AVR-970H and AVR-X*800H models.

I did the research on the HDMI issue/fix mainly because of the huge discounts.

Given so I bought a AVR-S960H at $600 with the new fix and really like it. The only thing that the AVR-S970H (according to Denon) has over my AVR-S960H is the additional two 8K inputs and a new HD user guide interface. If the 8k input is still compatible with everything I have (New HDR formats, etc.) when I upgrade in the future, I'll just use a 8K HDMI switch if needed. Otherwise another receiver upgrade is needed or 8K devices will have direct connection to the TV using eARC.
 
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P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
I'm sure the XT32 is much better. However, I'm not the exception, in getting very poor results from Audyssey XT or other makers version of room compensation.

This was the Audyssey XT on my Denon AVR-2312ci. My EQ was jacked all over to make the sound harsh and bright, along with poor crossover settings and inaccurate speaker and subwoofer levels. I tried calibration several times before giving up on it and just using common sense for crossover settings and my Radio Shack SPL meter for speaker levels. I wasn't the first as this is widely complained about. My brother-in-law had the same happen to him with his Marantz receiver so he turned it off. I also heard Yamaha's YPAO and even Onkyo's ACCuEQ having the same issues.

None of the room compensation features seem to work good and often screw up the audio. Some "GOOD" reviewers make sure to turn this feature off when reviewing receivers and speakers.

If you actually think about it realistically, how can these be accurate? You're using a software feature that is a minor feature on an inexpensive receiver. You are using a cheap plastic microphone, not a microphone that costs several hundred dollars or more. When people invest in a good manual system to do this, it's big bucks for mics, adapters, software, and licensing. You honestly can't expect miracles out of a cheaply made, inexpensive feature.

IMO, it's best left off and not used. I hear people complain how a good sounding speaker, sounds bad. Then I find out they are using room compensation built into their receiver. It's not the speakers, it's their compensation!

Ok, end of rant.
Lots of valid points, including the fact that XT is not as effective as XT32. However, it is what it is, the Editor App can at least let the user limits the RC/EQ range to below 300 Hz so whatever made the sound harsh for you by Audyssey could be dealt with effectively using the $20 App to limit the affected frequency range. For the bass range there is no doubt even XT can do a very decent job.

Many users complained about bass disappearing because they might have been used to the booms/huge bumps/humps whatever, from their room gain, with the App, those people could put a tilt in the target curve and restore some of the room gain that Audyssey reference curve would brutally eliminated. Still, some bass heads just don't like a smoother bass curve post Audyssey, but then many people preferred distorted sound too as long as the harmonics are mainly the lower order ones such as the 2nd, 3rd and 4th.
 
M

Mike Up

Audioholic
All you really need to do is compare to some good headphones that have a known "good" frequency response by test measurement results.

If your system in stereo sounds very close to the headphones without Audyssey but sounds very different from the headphones in a negative way with Audyssey, for Gods sake, turn Audyssey OFF! There's something POSITIVE to be said about using the LEAST amount of sound processing and Equalizing.
 
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M

Mike Up

Audioholic
Lots of valid points, including the fact that XT is not as effective as XT32. However, it is what it is, the Editor App can at least let the user limits the RC/EQ range to below 300 Hz so whatever made the sound harsh for you by Audyssey could be dealt with effectively using the $20 App to limit the affected frequency range. For the bass range there is no doubt even XT can do a very decent job.

Many users complained about bass disappearing because they might have been used to the booms/huge bumps/humps whatever, from their room gain, with the App, those people could put a tilt in the target curve and restore some of the room gain that Audyssey reference curve would brutally eliminated. Still, some bass heads just don't like a smoother bass curve post Audyssey, but then many people preferred distorted sound too as long as the harmonics are mainly the lower order ones such as the 2nd, 3rd and 4th.
Sounds very detrimental to the sound quality where you have to keep making adjustments for it to sound good. Especially when it sounds very good without any adjustments when Audyssey is OFF! Just another type of DSP negatively altering sound, IMO.

I know people like it as people like different DSPs. I don't. I leave as much processing off in stereo, other than crossovers and subwoofer levels. Then again I do listen frequently to Pure Direct with my subwoofer off and the bookshelfs playing by themselves. They have a flat enough frequency response to sound good even without a subwoofer.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Sounds very detrimental to the sound quality where you have to keep making adjustments for it to sound good. Especially when it sounds very good without any adjustments when Audyssey is OFF! Just another type of DSP negatively altering sound, IMO.

I know people like it as people like different DSPs. I don't. I leave as much processing off in stereo, other than crossovers and subwoofer levels. Then again I do listen frequently to Pure Direct with my subwoofer off and the bookshelfs playing by themselves. They have a flat enough frequency response to sound good even without a subwoofer.
You don't have to keep making adjustments unless you wanted to try different things. With the app, it should take a couple extra minutes.
 
M

Mike Up

Audioholic
You don't have to keep making adjustments unless you wanted to try different things. With the app, it should take a couple extra minutes.
I realize once you make the adjustments, they are done and not needed again. However the point is that there are many adjustments that are needed. Going by my experiences with Audyssey and reading numerous other's experiences.

The whole point of Audyssey was to get those adjustments correct. That was suppose to be the advantage over more complicated hand calibrated levels, crossovers, and distances. If Audyssey can't get these correct, then there is no benefit. If anything just the opposite because when done by hand, they are correct and done the first time.

If you have a calibration system that can't calibrate, it's useless. I calibrate instrumentation for a living so this is a big deal IMO.

I can not trust a calibration when I know that the simple parameters are calibrated incorrectly. Yes, I can change those bad calibrations but what's the point then in using that calibration system. It's flawed, and can't be trusted to calibrate any of the parameters correctly.

When I tried numerous times, as did my brother-in-law on his Marantz, we got incorrect levels, distances, crossovers and overly aggressive EQ settings that made the music/soundtracks, sound terrible. That's why we both bypassed Audyssey and is echoed all over the internet.

I've experienced Audyssey and since my equipment has that feature, that where my most interest has been. However it's not just Audyssey, numerous posts and statements with other systems on Yamaha, Onkyo, Pioneer Eite, and Sony(ES) can be found describing the same problems I've sited.

I can't trust a calibration system that I know can't calibrate the settings correctly. I don't like the sound quality these incorrectly calibrated settings have produced. That is why I leave Audyssey bypassed.

If you like the sound and don't mind adjusting incorrect levels made by the system, that's fine as well. We have our likes and dislikes, just like with DSPs that various receivers offer.

My issue isn't whether someone likes the sound or not, it's saying that this Audyssey makes CORRECTIONS. It doesn't, it makes "CHANGES", not corrections, that some may like.
 
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