$500 is a great price point, and if this receiver isn't on your shopping list this Christmas, well, then you probably already have a receiver. But if you don't, then check out this one.
Buy the Denon AVR-X1100W
If you’re at all familiar with the AVR-X1000, then the Denon AVR-X1100W receiver will be very familiar to you. I’m just hoping you didn’t actually buy the X1000, because this one…we’ll it adds quite a bit. And it cost about the same as last year’s model. The first thing you’ll notice is that this is now a 7.2-channel receiver. Denon added two full additional amplifier channels. You know, I lied, the first thing you’ll notice might be this new gold bling. Yes, it’s got gold accents instead of silver. Somewhere in the family tree there was an affair involving a Marantz…it’s a long story.
The AVR-X1100W AV receiver also brings support for the new HDMI 2.0 format and full 4K Ultra HD pass-through. It won’t do upconversion, but it will support anything you feed into it.
Streaming the Kitchen Sink
The Denon AVR-X1100W receiver will stream everything the X1000 could, but since it also supports WiFi connectivity, you get more ways to get your music into the system. The dual antennas on the back connect to your local wireless network, and Bluetooth and AirPlay support take care of the rest. Seriously, if you can’t get any type of music you want into this receiver you’re missing something. If you have a tablet, smart phone, or connected mp3 player you’re going to be able to pull all of your music as well as tap into the embedded Spotify, SiriusXM, and Pandora services. On the front, there’s also a USB port so you can connect, charge, and stream content from your iOS devices there as well.
Video Killed the Radio Star
In terms of video, you’ve got 6 HDMI inputs—one’s on the front—and one output with Audio Return Channel (ARC). A second zone preamp output is on the back, plus you can redirect two of the amplifiers to that Zone if you want to run 5.1 or 5.2 in your main room instead of connecting Surround Back speakers. You’ve got dual subwoofer outputs, which means you can run two gut-busters without having to use a Y-cable. There are no component video inputs or outputs on this receiver. I think that’s fine since you can’t really use those anymore with HD content on Blu-ray and it just clutters up the back anyway. If you use either of those two little yellow composite video inputs I’m gonna slap you. I mean it. Stick to HDMI.
Custom Installation Options
While the AVR-X1100W isn’t primarily a custom install product, it does integrate with many system via IP control—that RJ45 connection on the back. There’s just no RS-232C serial connection or even a 12V trigger output, though it does have a remote control loop. That IP control is pretty cool, though. You can access and control this Denon AV receiver using a web browser or Denon’s iOS or Android Remote Apps.
Power is Your Friend
I know this receiver only has 80 watts per channel, but it uses high current discrete power output devices. It’s no slouch. Denon also built the AVR-X1100W to be able to drive 4-ohm loads without shutting down. Denon also made its Eco amplifier mode available on this receiver. This automatically adjusts power output based on volume level. You can even access an on-screen Eco meter so you can see the power consumption savings in real time. Let me make this perfectly clear: If you do this, you’re a dork. Kill this mode as all it does is artificially lower your amplifier power, and you want that power when it’s needed. If you want to run it at night when the kids are in bed…have at it. Other than that, turn it off.
Audyssey’s Silver suite gives you MultEQ XT room correction as well as Dynamic Volume and EQ so you get a better mix at lower volumes that sounds as balanced as it does when you listen at reference levels. MultEQ XT gives you 8 points in the room from which you can calibrate and measure.
For Your Consideration
I like a lot of what Denon includes in the AVR-X1100W to make it easier to configure and use. Denon has a saying: With great power comes great confusion…or something like that—I can’t remember how it goes. But Denon bypasses all that with an on-screen Setup Assistant. It walks you through everything and gets you up and running quickly.
Now let me tell you something really cool about the Denon AVR-X1100W surround receiver. There are four Quick Select Function buttons on the front panel and on the remote control. Basically Denon saw Yamaha’s Scene buttons and thought “Hey, that’s a great idea—let’s steal it!” They’re like macro commands that change source, remember your volume and surround mode settings, and can generally make your system operate in the way you want very easily. They’re very convenient, and yet I don’t know a single person who uses them. It’s probably because they don’t know how. They’re incredibly difficult to store (Not!), but I’m going to help you out here. Here’s how you do it.
How to Use Quick Select Function
- You get everything the way you want it for a particular activity.
- Press and hold the Quick Select button until you see it register on the main screen of the receiver.
Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Simple right? Now onto the the listening tests….
We did listen to some things. We played back several feature films, including Divergent, where the enveloping surround was really pronounced in the early first jump scene. Later, the atmosphere in the gaining area as well as the simulations were very pronounced and the Denon AVR-X1100W conveyed a well-balanced surround field. It felt as if you were truly in the environment with the action. Point source effects, like punches and gunfire were also clean and the RBH Sound Reference Series speakers we were using faithfully reproduced the excellent fidelity and control coming from the Denon’s amplifiers. I swapped the Denon back and forth with a legacy Denon AVR-5308CI(A) and, while there was a bit more detail and control in the lower midrange at equal playback levels, I felt as if the AVR-X1100W was accomplishing quite a bit at a much lower price point. Additional listening tests included Bourne Legacy and Wreck It Ralph, which both were as immensely enjoyable to listen to as they were to watch with this AV receiver.
The Denon AVR-X1100W is an incredibly powerful, feature-filled AV receiver. For under $500 you get to stream, send, or otherwise play back any form of audio or music you can imagine. It sounds great. It supports 4K, and it has plenty of power for all but the biggest rooms and the most power hungry speakers. It lacks some serial control options, preamp outputs and inputs, and it won’t play your LP collection without an external preamp (go ask your parents what that means). Do I recommend it? Absolutely. Even compared to last year’s model it’s a steal, and Denon has once again placed a value hog right smack in the middle of the AV receiver market that is going to be tough to beat.