4K AVR-S940H Blog cord-cutting Denon HEOS MUSIC Smart Home

[Review] Upgrade your home theater (and make it smarter) with the Denon AVR-S940H |

Twine slicing continues to get increasingly widespread, and not all the time because it’s cheaper than staying tethered to your cable firm. There are tons of providers that deliver greater quality content material, including more decisions for 4K HDR content material and Dolby Atmos audio.

But in case you’re upgrading your content, you’ll in all probability have to upgrade your home theater elements, too. Newer gear can handle all of those newer codecs, and from a company like Denon, you’re getting some killer sensible features with the better video/sound quality. Learn on and we’ll speak about how you can make your front room just a little extra intelligent with Denon’s AVR-S940H.

We gained’t waste a ton of time speaking about the design of a receiver like this, since, properly, they’re pretty boring. It’s a black box that sits beneath your TV with a couple of knobs and buttons. There’s a knob for volume management and switching by way of sources on your receiver, plus some buttons to shortly bounce to favorited sources.

There’s an influence button in the backside left, a headphone jack for private listening, and a USB port and front-facing HDMI port for shortly utilizing units and media that you simply won’t want plugged in all the time. There are additionally a number of buttons for tuning radio stations, altering sound modes, and some more less-often used switches.

Personally I’d argue that bodily buttons for each of the receivers inputs would make a bit extra sense, and use knobs for issues like tuning the radio, but you’ll additionally almost definitely be using the distant or your telephone 99% of the time, anyway, in order that’s a really minor nitpick.

Denon makes use of a really brightly lit LCD panel to let you already know what enter you’re at present on and what audio is being passed via the receiver. Should you’re checking to see should you’re truly getting a Dolby Atmos sign, this display is what you’re in search of.

The on-screen display for navigating options and settings is fairly useful right here, although just a little lower-res than you’d wish to see on something marketed as dealing with 4K HDR sign. It’s another a type of minor nitpick issues, however you by no means absolutely get used to seeing a a blocky, barely HD wanting HUD over your crisp, extraordinarily high-resolution content material. It gets the job finished, although, and that’s in all probability what’s most essential.

The remote is comparatively nicely designed with the navigation buttons and quick choose buttons all in the direction of the bottom of the remote, however where I sometimes maintain the distant the quantity buttons are just barely out of reach. Shifting these down would’ve been a sensible move, for my part. The remote also feels slightly mild and plasticky, however a minimum of I never question its durability.

On the again of the receiver you’ll discover a whopping 7 HDMI inputs (and don’t overlook about that one on the entrance) plus a slew of connection choices for all of your speakers and other older units. There’s a second HDMI out for a second show, too, which might be good for a projector or other secondary gadget that you simply is perhaps using in your setup. Most people will in all probability simply be using these HDMI ports for his or her units and the speaker terminals, which help up to a 7.1 system. I had mine configured in 5.1.2 for Dolby Atmos for this evaluation going ahead.

Audio and video efficiency are going to be way more essential than the design of a box, nevertheless. If the slimmest, prettiest field in the world sounds horrible, you’re in all probability not going to hold on to it for very lengthy. Thankfully, for its unassuming design and modest worth point, the AVR-S940H holds up extremely properly.

The receiver pumps out 90 watts per channel, and that’s plenty of power for many dwelling rooms. You may wrestle to refill monumental rooms, but I tested every little thing in a very open front room with high ceilings and had no volume issues. While the receiver is a bit of vibrant sounding, it doesn’t have any drawback punching out low end and preserving action films and music from muddying collectively. The receiver does help High-Res audio, so should you’re planning on utilizing this to deal with your lossless assortment of music (or to stream from Tidal) it’s a reasonably nice choice.

An enormous advantage to audio high quality comes from Audyssey, the EQ and calibration software program Denon makes use of for their receivers. Throughout setup you’ll be prompted to use the included microphone to document frequencies in several totally different spots round your room, and Audyssey takes all of that knowledge and calibrates and ranges out your audio system to keep away from any echoes or simply dangerous sounding spots in your listening area. Coming from Onkyo’s admittedly mediocre AccuEQ software program, Audyssey makes a huge difference in sound high quality. It tipped the encompass sound performance from good to great, which is spectacular considering that is nearer to an entry-level receiver, not one thing crazy high-end.

But again, Audyssey does appear to prioritize readability which may result in some brighter sounding speakers. Be careful about pairing issues up with already vibrant sounding audio system.

The S940H can handle pretty much all present video requirements, too, including 4K at 60fps, plus HDR10, Dolby Imaginative and prescient, and HLG. There’s not much HLG content right now, but Dolby Imaginative and prescient is throughout Netflix. Zero issues enjoying any of that content material, both. Dolby Imaginative and prescient seems to be incredible if the whole lot in your setup supports it.

All of your normal high-end audio codecs are supported as nicely, including just about every part from Dolby. THX is absent right here, although that THX certification appears a little less coveted than it was. Regular Dolby Encompass is supported, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the receiver supports Dolby Atmos and DTS Neural:X. These are two formats that you simply’ll in all probability hear slightly more about as content becomes extra widespread, but we’ll clarify a bit of bit about how these work.

Dolby Atmos is something you’ve in all probability seen in advertising materials or on a retail showroom and basically modifications how audio system handle audio “channels” during films and TV exhibits. As an alternative of sounds being assigned to particular “channels” round the room, each sound is considered an “object” and may be placed round the room, and the receiver or decoder figures out where to put those sounds in a mixture. Atmos allows for placing these objects above you, too, so for those who set up some Atmos upward firing audio system (or set up them in your ceiling) you’ll have the ability to hear these helicopters flying overhead or rain on your roof. It’s actually cool.

DTS Neural:X is more or less the similar thing, however for non-Atmos content material. It takes present content and upmixes it to attempt to add that overhead sound. Typically it works, typically it doesn’t, and typically that does rely upon the high quality of the receiver handling the upmixing. Denon has carried out an okay job right here, and I feel the upmixing sounds alright, although I very not often specifically select to make use of it. For those who’re actually into having sound throughout you it’s great, however sound quality seems to be barely worse than just dealing with commonplace surround sound or stereo mixes.

But hey, it’s 2019, and when you can’t connect a tool to your WiFi community in the present day, it’s boring. Denon didn’t skimp on the essential elements of the receiver, so now it’s time to talk about how this thing can integrate into your home theater system and add some spice to your digital setup.

Probably the most exciting function, for my part, is voice assistant management. There are many soundbars and sensible packing containers and things in a home theater that can be managed by means of a voice assistant, however the higher-end elements (like receivers) have been late to the celebration. Denon’s whole lineup right here provides voice management by way of Amazon’s Alexa, so so long as you might have an Echo or your telephone somewhere nearby you possibly can just yell out instructions to regulate your setup. This consists of telling Alexa to stream music from Pandora or Spotify, or simply to vary the enter so you’ll be able to swap over to your Xbox after you’re accomplished watching TV. It finally ideas fanatic hardware into the similar ballpark as some cheaper stuff, and it’s great.

For those who arrange a wireless audio system utilizing Denon’s HEOS audio system, you should use Alexa to regulate audio all through your home, too. HEOS audio system are totally wireless and just use your receiver as a base, so in case you’re itching for something like Sonos but perhaps slightly higher sounding, Denon is delivering a aggressive various.

Google Assistant additionally works for controlling music, but not a lot else. More improvements are on the approach for 2019, though Denon wasn’t capable of share a precise timeline for that just yet.

For streaming music instantly you’ve obtained a ton of choices with the AVR-S940H. Like every part else on the market right now, it works with Spotify Join, so should you’re a Spotify subscriber every part is just about plug-and-play. The receiver features AirPlay 2 for anyone in Apple’s ecosystem, and Bluetooth is a fallback for the whole lot else. It does not function Google Forged help, which is admittedly disappointing considering there’s some real Google Assistant help, but I feel Denon is counting on HEOS to fill in that gap.

HEOS works sort of like Sonos, so you’ll be required to put in the app on your telephone and play and control your music from there. The app helps a superb chunk of in style music providers, together with Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, Amazon Music, and SiriusXM, plus smaller options from TuneIn, iHeartRadio, SoundCloud, Deezer, and Rhapsody. Google Play Music/YouTube Music and Apple Music are two notable exceptions right here, and there’s additionally no help for some other fanatic providers like Qobuz or Roon. You’ll be able to play your native music, though, in order that’s a plus.

In a gaggle setting, though, HEOS does supply a very cool get together combine setting where everybody on your community can add songs to a playlist and queue up jams. Combine that with a number of HEOS wireless speakers round your house and also you’ve acquired one thing really cool on your palms.

Should you’re in search of a golden commonplace in receivers with out spending a ton of cash, it’s onerous to argue that Denon didn’t accomplish this utterly. Most people don’t have big dwelling rooms, and extra individuals have an Alexa gadget than Google Home. Spotify’s extra in style than just about all the things else, and Denon has crammed all of these common options in here. Audyssey works extraordinarily properly and is extremely straightforward to arrange, and those things are going to hold the most weight for most people.

For those who’re nitpicking there are some issues that I feel could possibly be improved; I wish it was just a bit hotter sounding, I wish it had a built-in Google Forged choice, and I wish HEOS supported a couple of more music streaming providers, since I’m not closely invested into Spotify. But you shouldn’t let what one thing doesn’t do detract from what it does do, and Denon’s AVR-S940H does do rather a lot properly.

Whether or not you’re trying to step up your gear to start out benefiting from newer audio and video formats or you simply need to start build up a whole-home system with top quality audio and music throughout your house, you’d be onerous pressed to seek out extra bang for your buck anyplace else.

Buy it now: Denon, Amazon

Born in southern Alabama, Jared spends his working time selling phones and his spare time writing about them. The Android enthusiasm began with the unique Motorola Droid, however the tech enthusiasm presently covers nearly all the things. He likes PC gaming, Lenovo’s Moto Z line, and a great productiveness app.