Denon AVR-X4200W Review - WOW - 'Nuff Said
The Verdict:
The Denon AVR X4200W is a great receiver. If you're in the market for a new amp and don't want to pay the high price for Denon's top-of-the line 7200W, then the 4200 is a great compromise.

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Design9
Features9
Value8.5
Sound Quality9.5
The Good
  • The Denon AVR-X4200W has a tremendous dynamic sound quality. Its music reproduction is nearly equal to its cinematic performance.
The Bad
  • The receiver's transitions from front to rear speakers could be a tad bit smoother
9Overall Score

The Denon AVR-X4200W looks nearly identical to last years X4100 (and the X4000 before that). The front is clean and minimal with most of the button clutter hidden behind a trap-door panel. An HDMI hookup, USB port and headphone jack highlight the key features of the front.

Denon AVR-X4200W

The remote included with Denon AVR-X4200W is solid. If Denon crammed a few more buttons on the remote I would be inclined to call it over crowded. However, the remote comes one or two buttons shy of hitting that mark. If you prefer the feel of a smooth touch screen, Denon’s remote app that’s installable on both iOS and Android devices is a more flashy way to navigate and tweak the features of the amp. The app is actually pretty good. After living with the receiver for a while, you may find yourself preferring to use it over the rectangular remote like I did.

 

Connectivity

The 4200W  has no shortage of connection options. The amp has multiple analog inputs (including one phono), as well as component and digital optical/coaxial inputs. For home automation scenarios, the Denon 4200W includes IR and RS-232 ports as well as a 12V Trigger.

Denon AVR-X4200W

 

These inputs are just appetizers for the main course, which are the 4200s 8 HDMI 2.0a inputs. I already mentioned that one is located on the front, but the remaining seven are all lined up on the rear. Each and every input supports the new HDCP 2.2 copy protection protocol. In addition, 4K Ultra HD full 60 Hz frame-rate, Pure Color 4:4:4 color sub-sampling compatibility, HDR and BT.2020 are all listed among the 4200s capabilities. Since 4K media is a little scarce at this time, the amp is also capable of upscaling standard definition and high definition video to 4K quality. The 7.2 Channel AVR-X4200 is rated at 125 watts per channel at 8 ohms with 2 channels driven. Like all amps, if you’re pushing 5 or 7 channels then you can expect the power output to be a little lower, but for all intents and purposes you won’t notice a difference.

 

On the back of the Denon AVR-X4200W you’ll see dual WiFi/Bluetooth antennas. If you prefer a wired connection it also has an on-board ethernet input. When it comes to music streaming services, the 4200W has a pretty substantial list of supporters. SiriusXM, Spotify, Pandora, Deezer and QQ music are all streaming options. iOS owners can also use Apple’s AirPlay to zip music to the receiver. During my time with the 4200 it proved adept at all its streaming functions. Deciding to kick-it-up a notch I decided to send a few hi-res music files to the receiver via a USB drive and a NAD (network attached storage device). It turns out the Denon AVR-X4200W can decode most of the heavy hitters such as DSD,FLAC, ALAC and AIFF.

 

Since we’re talking about audio formats, we need to discuss the two new formats that have jumped on to the home theater scene – Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Like every modern av receiver, the Denon 4200W easily decodes Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, but Atmos and DTS:X are two completely different beasts. These object based formats can be used to create overhead sound effects via the use of additional sound channels. Dolby Atmos has been a part of Denon’s ecosystem for a while now. DTS:X is just now starting to be released in the wild. As of the writing of this review the update for DTS:X was available for the 4200W unfortunately I was unable to test DTS:X on this amp. Atmos, which has a bit of a head start over DTS:X, has started building a nice library of Atmos enabled movies so I had no problem testing out the new Atmos format. In addition to Atmos and DTS:X, Auro 3D is also available for the 4200, but to enable this feature Denon asks you to pony up $199.

 

Setup & Calibration

Denon has worked hard to make setting up their amps easier and faster. Every speaker terminal is color coded and labeled which makes connecting your speakers relatively easy. If you need help, the Denon 4200W is nice enough to give you step by step connection instructions. Calibrating the X4200W is simple albeit  a little laborious.  The 4200W includes Audyssey’s top-of-the-line Platinum Calibration System (MultEQ XT32) which requires you to place the included microphone at eight locations in your room. To help achieve accurate results, Denon includes a handy cardboard tri-pod to rest the mic on top of. The 4200 is also Audyssey Pro Installer ready. Basically this means you can hire a trained Audyssey registered installer to come in and customize the calibration for your room. Pro Installers can take measurements of 32 points in your room instead of 8 which should result in better acoustics.

 

As calibration begins, the Denon AVR-X4200W will ask you the type of speaker arrangement you have 5.1, 7.2, 5.1.2 (for atmos) etc. and then start shooting out a series of test tones. The 4200 can support up to 9.2 channels if you use an external 2-channel amp so it’s possible for it to support a 5.1.4 or 7.1.2 Atmos arrangement. The setup may sound complicated, but the onscreen prompts of the 4200 eases you thru the setup process. The whole shebang takes about 15 minutes give or take.

 

In comparison to Onkyo’s AccuEQ calibration system or Yamaha’s YPAO system, I can’t say Audyssey’s is better. Onkyo’s and Yamaha’s systems only require you to place the measurement microphone at one location while Audyssey requires eight. As far as accuracy, they all seem to perform equally well except for one thing. Per usual, Audyssey labeled my fronts and rears as large (which they’re not). As a result when I started testing the amp I heard noticeable bass distortion coming from the surrounds. Once I looked at Audyssey’s settings I noticed that it thought my speakers were full range and unfortunately the little guys were trying to produce way more bass than their little 5 1/4″ woofers could produce. As a result, I changed the crossover settings to a THX recommended 80 Hz which smoothed out the bass response in my system perfectly. The moral of the story, always go in and check your calibration settings.

 

Bluetooth and WiFi are easy to setup. With Bluetooth, you only have to put the amp in pairing mode and your device should be able to connect to it without any problems. One of my favorite features on the X4200W (and I know you’ll think I’m crazy) is the WiFi setup. If you have an iOS device you can copy the WiFi settings from that device over to the receiver in seconds.  My WiFi password is unnecessarily long (since I’m paranoid),  so typical WiFi setup for me could become an annoying 2-3 minute trial since I usually mistype the password several times.

 

 

Denon AVR-X4200W Sound Quality

Typically, when I review receivers I’ll sit down with several movies and watch a good 45 minutes to an hour of a movie. Sometimes, if a receiver really grabs me I’ll watch a little more. I plopped Mad Max: Fury Road in my blu-ray player and dammit if I didn’t watch the entire movie, from the opening title to the end credits.  That’s how impressed I was with the sound quality of the Denon AVR-X4200W.

 

The X4200W created a fast, dynamic and engaging sound field. To handle Fury Road’s violent sound track you need an amp with enough fortitude take on the challenge. The 4200W handled it with ease. Bass was thunderous and the 4200s mid-range was full and rich. With Atmos engaged, the additional height channels created a layered sound field that made the movie even more engaging. Re-watching the film with Atmos disengaged  the audio sounded less volumetric. It’s not that the 4200W didn’t sound good, it’s just that once your ears get used to hearing overhead sound effects, you miss them when they’re not present.

 

Another movie I always use for a reference is Edge of Tomorrow. There’s one scene in the movie where the drop ships are taking off and the audio sweeps from the front of the room to the back. Thus far in my listening tests, the Onkyo TX-NR646 which we reviewed last year had the smoothest transition from the front speakers to the rear. The Denon AVR-X4200W was a close second with only a slight gap in the transition

 

Years ago, if you were really into music, a dedicated 2-channel amp was the only way to go. It still is. However, home theater amps have begun closing the gap. The Denon AVR-X4200W was agile in its music performance. One listening session I had with the amp ballooned from 1 hour to 2 hours. Audio was fluid and dynamic. Vocals and Instruments were detailed and textured with each displaying there own character.

 

The Verdict

The Denon AVR-X4200W is an excellent av receiver with dynamic and warm sound. The 4200W is also relatively future proof with its ample list of features. From 4K video to hi-res music and next gen home theater formats, the 4200 is one of the better choices you’ll find on the store shelf. Its performance for home cinema and music catapults it near the top of the list of av receivers at this price point.

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