New receiver: Denon AVR-X3600H or X4500H ?

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Isak Öhrlund

Audioholic Intern
Hi,

I'm looking for a new receiver to power at least a 5.2.4 setup (7.2.4 if my wife accepts). With Black Friday approaching, I suspect that the Denon AVR-X3600H and the AVR-X4500H will be similarly priced where I live, so which one would you go with? The newer X3600H seems to have some features that the X4500H does not, such as Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization, HDCP 2.3 and Bluetooth 4.1. On the other hand, I'm not sure DHCP 2.3 matters (?) and I do not use Bluetooth with my AVR or own any Bluetooth headphones (yet). The X4500H supports Auro 3D (including the Auro-matic upmixer) which I've heard great things about, including some more advanced processing features like "AL32 processing", "Jitter reduction" and "Bass Sync" etc. which I have no idea whether they matter or not.

I don't think the difference in power output will matter. My ear-level speakers are the 6 Ohm Dali Zensor series (5, vokal and pico) , and I will use either the 6 Ohm Dali Zensor Pico, the 6 Ohm Dali Alteco-C1 or the 8 Ohm SVS Prime elevation speakers for the height channels (to be bought, so any input on that would be much appreciated!). So it is more about the features. Personally, I am leaning towards the X4500H, mostly for the Auro 3D (not much content to watch, but the up-mixer can be used), but the lack of Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization makes me a little hesitant. I mostly use my AVR for movies.

What do you guys think?

//Isak
 
William Lemmerhirt

William Lemmerhirt

Audioholic Ninja
If you’re going to use 5/7.1.4, you won’t need virtualization. If you’re interested in upmixing legacy tracks, DSU and dtsnx will take care of that. Not sure 2.3 will be a thing for quite awhile, but someone else might know more. I personally like the 4500 but not for Auro(no content here, and don’t care. Or virtualization) I believe they both have xt32 so if you like Audyssey you’re covered.
 
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Isak Öhrlund

Audioholic Intern
Oh, right. I thought the Dolby height virtualization was up-mixing for height effects with height speakers, but that is covered by the Dolby surround up-mixer. All these names are confusing. Then I can remove that from the equation, thanks!

Yeah, there's not much content for Auro 3D, but I'm curios about the Auro-matic up-mixer. In a recent Audioholics YouTube video (can't find the link now), there was an interview with a guy from Germany claiming that the Auro-matic upmixer is the best for 2 channel music, and that it even sounds better than (some?) original Dolby Atmos mixes. That might not be true, but it certainly makes me curious. Anyone who has some experience to share?
 
William Lemmerhirt

William Lemmerhirt

Audioholic Ninja
I’ve seen quite a few people say how good Auromatic is for music. The layout for Auro is different so if you use an Atmos spec installation(top speakers) I’m not sure how good it would work in that case. @VonMagnum has used it and also has some Auro content that was sourced from somewhere in the euros. His setup is unconventional, but he has a fair amount of seat time with Auro and can speak to its uses.
And yeah, there is a lot of mind numbing terms and specs and it can get confusing very quickly.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Overlord
At the same price point the X4500H is a better buy for sure unless the added "features" the X3600H is really important to you (I really can't think of anything of significance). The X3600H does seem like a great choice too.
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
William Lemmerhirt said:

I’ve seen quite a few people say how good Auromatic is for music. The layout for Auro is different so if you use an Atmos spec installation(top speakers) I’m not sure how good it would work in that case. @VonMagnum has used it and also has some Auro content that was sourced from somewhere in the euros. His setup is unconventional, but he has a fair amount of seat time with Auro and can speak to its uses.
I personally don't care for Auromatic that much for music. Some people love it. I kind of like stereo for stereo. ;) If I had to pick one surround format for music, it would probably be DSU. It's the most like PLIIx, IMO, which I thought was the best music surround mixer. Auromatic is kind of "meh". It's more like a Yamaha simulated concert hall DSP mode. DSU moves music to the surround speakers. Neural X is too aggressive with the heights for music, IMO (great for movies, though).

Isak Öhrlund said:
Oh, right. I thought the Dolby height virtualization was up-mixing for height effects with height speakers, but that is covered by the Dolby surround up-mixer.
Dolby Height Virtualization is not an upmixing format for height speakers. It's the Dolby equivalent of DTS Virtual X (i.e. it's if you don't have any height speakers; it tries to simulate them). It's so new that my 7012 doesn't have it (it does have Virtual X, but that sadly doesn't work with Dolby sources, probably due to them forbidding it early, but since that restriction has been removed, I wonder if a firmware update will one day make it work? I kind of doubt it, though. Companies usually don't want to add features to older models.
 
I

Isak Öhrlund

Audioholic Intern
Thank you all. Speaking of speaker layouts, Denon offers a "unified layout" that works (at least set-up-wise) with all formats. Is this the layout you have been using when comparing Auro-matic to the DSU VonMagnum?
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
Thank you all. Speaking of speaker layouts, Denon offers a "unified layout" that works (at least set-up-wise) with all formats. Is this the layout you have been using when comparing Auro-matic to the DSU VonMagnum?
I'm using a customized setup with "Scatmos" (pair of old Pro logic processors set to "Stereo 3" that extract a center channel between the front/rear height channels (one for each side), giving me a near-discrete "middle height" channel that I use at the Auro-3D "surround height" position (side height). This can also be used with all three formats (Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Auro-3D since they don't know it exists). The side height speakers are less than two feet out of line with the front/rear heights so the change is almost unnoticeable in a narrow room.

I've also added Matrixed (using powered mixers) front wide channels (combining L/R main with Side Surround) and surround #1 speakers (mixing side surround with rear surround). This gives me a total of 17.1 speakers or 11.1.6. (i.e. 11 bed channels and 6 overhead channels and currently one subwoofer, although I really could use a second one to even out the back two rows of seats a bit better, but they get little use so I haven't been in a hurry and they're not bad sounding or anything as is, just not as tight/accurate sounding as the front three seats).

I've also got a speaker switch that gives me 2-in, 2-out and lets me use three basic setups as well. It's connected such that it can switch rear height with those side heights. That gives me the option of PURE Auro-3D at a push of a button. Auro-3D on the 7012 doesn't use rear speakers and with rear heights swapped to side heights, I then have the exact correct Auro 9.1 setup. I can also leave the rear heights on (which are then copies of each other) and simulates the cinema setup which copies sides to rears for Auro 9.1 and 11.1. The switchbox drives them in parallel in that case. Or it can use the extracted channel between front and rear height instead which gives me "top middle" for Atmos/X and even works with Auro-3D (minus the rear speakers, although the surround #1 speakers stretch the sides back 2/3 the way to the rear). If I wanted to get even pickier, I could put in a second switchbox and copy the sides to the rears in that and copied mode and have all the speakers active like cinema Auro-3D, but given the lack of titles, it just hasn't seemed worth the bother.

Given how well the extracted "top middle" channels work (even with Auro-3D), I probably wouldn't have bothered with the switchbox if I had known now as I typically just leave it alone with extracted sound now, but it did let me do a lot of comparisons between 5.1.4 Atmos (just switch rear height with side height and tell the AVR I have 5.1 instead and I get Atmos 5.1.4 without any rewiring) and Auro-3D, which essentially in 9.1 is 5.1.4 and it's based on it (people say they're incompatible, but Auro-3D based the layout on 5.1. They simply have the rear heights over top the rear/side surrounds.) I can also use that as 5.1.4 plus front wides (and technically plus surround #1) as they can all be easily switched on/off, although Audyssey is only setup for 11.1.6/9.1.6

Here's a link to some photos of the system at AVS: (https://www.avsforum.com/forum/90-receivers-amps-processors/2321145-beyond-7-1-4-multi-avr-set-up-immersive-audio-54.html#post56799092)

They're not quite up to date for room decorations using movie props, etc., and I recently changed some chairs around a bit to try the massage chair in the main position, but you get the idea. I'll attach the two diagrams of the layout below to show the basic layout (don't want to post all those photos all over again). They're not precisely accurate (being hand laid out), but give a good idea. One shows the diagram of the room with the locations of all the PSB speakers and subwoofer relative to the chairs and other room items and the other shows the relative speaker angles from the MLP.

Home Theater Layout 11_1_6.jpg


MagnaTronSpeakerAngles2.jpg
 
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Isak Öhrlund

Audioholic Intern
Wow, that's quite a setup! Having tried all these configurations, how would you recommend setting up a 5.1.4 or 7.1.4 system when you can't mount in-ceiling speakers (only wall-mounted high)?
 
William Lemmerhirt

William Lemmerhirt

Audioholic Ninja
Wow, that's quite a setup! Having tried all these configurations, how would you recommend setting up a 5.1.4 or 7.1.4 system when you can't mount in-ceiling speakers (only wall-mounted high)?
Like this.

Or they do have brackets to mount on the ceiling.
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
I've updated all my home theater photos with brand new ones on that page (around 1PM or so) that have the latest prop decorations, etc. installed (figured I should do it sooner or later).
 
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Isak Öhrlund

Audioholic Intern
So side walls, not front and rear heights? Can't find your pictures VonMagnum.
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
I don't want to mess up the nice circle virtual slideshow, but this is the main seat row:

Theater Room Front Row s.jpg


Equipment Racks:

NewLeftRack.jpg NewRightRack.jpg
 
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Isak Öhrlund

Audioholic Intern
Great, thanks! And having tried different height speaker configurations, would you recommend 4 side wall mounted heights as suggested by William, or front wall + side/back wall (front and rear heights)?
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
Great, thanks! And having tried different height speaker configurations, would you recommend 4 side wall mounted heights as suggested by William, or front wall + side/back wall (front and rear heights)?
I'd probably go for front/rear heights as it's more compatible with Atmos/X and they have far more material, but either will work. The only real difference is how "wide" the overhead images will be. If they are closer together, more sounds will seem to be "on" the middle of your ceiling instead of towards the side walls (i.e. "in-phase" sounds image between the speakers, but many overhead Atmos sounds are played right "at" the speaker or even outside them so at the side walls you might hear less sounds closer to directly overhead, but I think that's a fault with the soundtracks. Directly overhead sounds should be in-phase, but clearly that explains the preference for some for in-ceiling overhead speakers as almost everything sounds like it comes from the middle 1/2 of the ceiling (all "on" the ceiling instead of off to the sides at that same height). At least that's my impression having the side heights off to the sides. I get "wider" overhead sounds in the middle with some sounds, but only in-phase (think center channel stuff in stereo) appears directly overhead or between the speakers on the ceiling.

In other words, by putting the front/rear height speakers in line with the front left/right speakers, more sounds will image more directly overhead than if you put them all high on the side walls.
 
NINaudio

NINaudio

Senior Audioholic
Damn Von Magnum, where in the Midwest are you? I'd love to come check out that setup. We need to do some member meetups where people can come here each other's setups!
 
I

Isak Öhrlund

Audioholic Intern
Thank you very much. I'll aim for front and rear heights. Now I just need my wife's approval :D
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
How tall is the ceiling? Are you sure you can’t mount them ON the ceiling?
No functional difference. An angle is an angle.

Also, I might have missed how wide the room is too. I like the high on the sides personally as for one thing, there closer to the LP, and I don’t think the height positions will allow phantom imaging into the room when the front
heights are behind the mains
.
I don't know what gives you that bizarre idea. My front heights are behind my mains. The heights have NOTHING to do with the mains when they're imaging on the ceiling 100%. They play on their own as they are discrete channels (yes they can mix too, but that's not the point here). They image at the height they're at and as long as the angle isn't too far to the rear speakers, they image across that height (typically x amount of inches below ceiling height, which is also true for ON CEILING as they are not IN the ceiling) and that's all there is to it. it's just stereo above your head. They image fine....

And they’re closer to the “tops” positions. Mine happen to be 4 tops and if you have the height, it’s the way to go IMO.
Based on what? Have you tried the heights position? Only the angle matters. If you sit under a speaker mounted on the front wall and the angle is 45 relative to your seating position (i.e. sit closer), it's on the ceiling. The Atmos helicopter demo flies around my room on the ceiling. Because of the side wall speakers, it flies towards the edge of the room ceiling (if they were mounted on the ceiling 3 feet inward, it'd fly along that part of the ceiling 3 feet inward instead of the edge), but it's not on the floor or something. If the sounds are in-phase (e.g. voices at the start of Flatliners, they image all over the ceiling between the speakers in every direction). In Overlord, when the kid drops the baseball, it hits midway across the center of my ceiling front 1/3 of room right in the middle. Your belief is that it doesn't work. My ears say otherwise.

If you have to fill a couple screw holes from mounting brackets if you move, drywall putty is like 5 bucks. Anyway, maybe you can experiment once you get them. I’d say congrats but...don’t wanna ruin it for you. Lol
I don't see the point in trying to talk him into what he does NOT want to do when it makes no difference whatsoever unless the distance is so far between front and rear heights that the imaging won't work overhead.
 
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Isak Öhrlund

Audioholic Intern
Ceiling height is 2,4 meters, room width is 5,35 meters. The MLP is 2,8 meters from the front wall and 2,65 meters from the side walls. It's plenty of space behind the MLP because the room is L-shaped.
 

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