Denon AVR-X6200W AV Receiver Long Term Review
- Reviewed by:
- Michael S. Palmer
- Review Date:1
- July 20th, 2016
-Full 7.2.4 Dolby Atmos & DTS:X Processing
-AURO 3D Ready (requires an additional purchase)
-4K Ultra HD Blu-ray with HDR passthrough
-Powerful & clean sound
-Plays well with universal remotes
-Excellent Wireless Options (Airplay & Bluetooth)
-Need an additional amp to power 11-channels
-Dolby and DTS up-mixing temporarily brand-locked
-Imperfect calibration software
Home theatre has never been more exciting. Thanks to technologies like 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision and HDR10, Blu-ray 3D, and Dolby Atmos, movies and television look and sound better at home than in most commercial cinemas and TV broadcasts.
Think about that for a moment.
The AV Receiver is the central hub for many a modern home cinema. An all-in-one tool that sorts various video sources while decoding and processing the latest and greatest surround sound codecs. Calibration software helps correct for environmental imperfections. And, while higher-end models offer multi-zone audio and video for whole-home entertainment experiences, just about every AVR offers a quick way to stream audio from all your devices. Like I said, we live in good times.
When considering an AVR purchase, there are many fine options. Denon-Marantz is known for making high quality, yet reasonably priced audiophile-grade products. Having owned several Denon AV Receivers, I've come to expect ergonomically refined gear that provide distortion-free amplification.
MEET THE DENON AVR-X6200W
The AVR-X6200W is the Vice President of Denon's current AV Receiver line up. One step under the flagship -- the X7200WA, which has an audiophile amp design and better digital-analog converters -- but offers many of the same features. To start, we have 9.2 channels of amplification (140W per channel) and 11.2 channels of sound processing.
Meaning, right out of the box the X6200W can decode and amplify up to 5.2.4 or 7.2.2 Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Add an additional two-channel amp and you can run up to 7.2.4 or 9.2.2 configurations. It's also ready for AURO 3D, a competing surround sound format that, like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, includes height speakers.
Dolby Atmos is readily available across many brands and price points, but as I write this today, only Denon, Marantz, and Yamaha have pushed out DTS:X firmware updates, and only Denon and Marantz offer AURO 3D.
The AVR-X6200W is also fully capable of passing through 4K Ultra HD 60Hz video, 4:4:4 Pure Color sub-sampling, 21:9 content, 3D content, HDR, and the Rec. 2020 color space. Add to that support for Apple Airplay, Bluetooth, internet streaming audio, and AM/FM/HD radio. Then toss in D.D.S.C.-HD Digital and AL24 Processing Plus, 192kHz/24-bit D/A converters, and Audyssey's MultEQ XT32 calibration software.
In other words, the Denon AVR-X6200W is on an elite shortlist because not only does it do so many different things... but it does them all today... and it's pretty damned great at all of them.
For a complete feature list, click HERE or read the OWNER'S MANUAL, but highlights include:
INPUTS: 8 HDMI (7 rear; 1 front), 2 component video, 5 composite video (4 rear; 1 front), 7 analog audio (6 rear; 1 front), 1 Phono, 2 Optical & 2 Coaxial.
OUTPUTS: 3 HDCP 2.2 HDMI (1 ARC), Stereo Zone2/3 Preout, 1 Headphones, 13.2 ch Preout, 1 Component, 2 composite
AUDIO: HD Radio, AM/FM, WAV, DSD, FLAC, ALAC and AIFF High Resolution audio
streaming. AirPlay, Spotify Connect, Pandora, SiriusXM, Internet Radio
OTHER: 1 Ethernet, 1 USB Port, 1 RS-232C, 1 Remote Control IN & OUT, 2 Bluetooth / Wi-FI antennas, 2 trigger outs, FM & AM Tuner antennas.
CALIBRATION: Audyssey MultEQ XT32 (Pro ready), Sub EQ and LFC
FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 10Hz-100kHz
AMPS: 9 power amps, 250W max power per channel, 175W per channel (6 ohms, 1 kHz, THD 0.7%, 2ch driven), 140W per channel (8 Ohms, 20Hz-20kHz, Total Harmonic Distortion 0.05%, 2ch driven)
SPEAKER IMPEDANCE: 4-16 ohms
DIMENSIONS: 17.1" W x 6.6" T x 15.1" D
WEIGHT: 31.1 lbs
POWER CONSUMPTION: 730W (with sound), 65W (no sound ECO on), 110W (no sound ECO off), 0.1W standby)
DESIGN & BUILD
Outside ultra high-end gear like McIntosh, AV Receivers pretty much all look the same. A heavy black box with a couple nobs, an illuminated front panel, and a fold-down door hiding a few inputs and buttons. The Denon X6200W is no better or worse, really, though I've noticed Yamaha AVENTAGE and Pioneer Elite AVRs are heavier, with a more polished look. However, the X6200W's relative compactness worked well for my entertainment shelving.
Build quality is strong. I've been running the X6200W for over six months and there hasn't been a single physical hiccup (outside of an occasional HDMI handshake issue). No fan noise. No overheating. All the buttons and inputs and displays still work. And I have a baby girl (aka The Destroyer of iPhones) who has been unable to bend or break a single component. The rear layout is well put together and the (non-balanced) speaker binding posts are of good quality. That said, I prefer the way Yamaha lays out their connections.
At the end of the day, the AVR-X6200W isn't much to look at -- most aren't -- but it's well made.
SET UP & CALIBRATION
As a gear guy, I have no problem diving into archaic menu designs to set up and calibrate my home cinema, but in the There's An App For That age, it's wonderful when tech companies make the process simple enough for everyone. Denon's latest GUI is clean and Setup Assistant is a breeze, especially if you have experience with AVRs. Simply hook up speakers and a/v sources, set your speaker configuration, connect to the Internet, calibrate, and enjoy. It takes less than 20 minutes.
There are also instructions for adding the extra two-channel amp and setting overhead speaker locations for Dolby Atmos as well as DTS:X, which utilizes the same locations as Atmos. In my configuration, the X6200W powered a center channel, four ear-level surrounds, and four height speakers. A Marantz MM7025 stereo amp, which matches the X6200W's 140W per channel and is also Highly Recommended, powered the front channels, while various subwoofers used their internal amps.
The X6200W utilizes Audyssey MultEQ XT32 calibration software. Over the course of 10 to 15 minutes, Audyssey takes eight measurements and automatically sets speaker distance, delays, crossover frequencies, and relative volumes. Over my long term review, I ran this setup numerous times on Klipsch Reference Premiere with Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers, as well as the KEF Q Series and KEF R Series with in-ceiling speakers. For the most part, MultEQ XT32 produces a pleasing surround experience, but only after a little tweaking. I generally find its distance measurements are (slightly) incorrect, and Audyssey software often flags KEF's UniQ driver array as being out of phase when it is not.
The Denon AVR-X6200W is a breeze to setup and calibrate yourself -- the dual-subwoofer leveling feature is excellent -- but it's well worth taking out your own tape measure and level meter to dial things to your liking.
USABILITY: LIVING WITH THE X6200W
What makes a great AV Receiver? Two things come to mind. First, I want to forget it's there. And second, if I do need to make an adjustment, I want the process to be as effortless as possible.
The X6200W easily aces part one; as I mentioned earlier, I had no troubles with this loaner unit and even things like firmware updates can be done overnight when the AVR is in standby. It also effortlessly decoded every audio codec I threw at it, remembered specific processing settings for individual inputs and source material (for example, when watching Blu-rays it remembers to up-mix mutli-channel surround content, and play mono & stereo sources as stereo).
As for part two, adjusting on the fly, I'd say the X6200W is above average, but imperfect. The Denon menu system is easy to navigate, but outside of dialog, subwoofer, and a few simple settings, one must go a deeper into the menu to make adjustments.
The remote control is a button minefield, but the layout is nice and everything you need is right there. There's also a Denon AVR Remote app, for iOS and Android devices, which is smartly designed. And I found the X6200W plays well with universal remotes like the Logitech Harmony Elite (review forthcoming).
Overall, the Denon AVR-X6200W is equally perfect for those who want to forget it, and for those who love to constantly tinker and tweak.
SURROUND ELEVATED: DOLBY ATMOS & DTS:X
Ah, the good stuff.
While AV Receivers are much more than audio-only products, they live and die by their multi-channel capabilities. With a whopping 140W per channel rating, you can crank the X6200W all the way to eleven and you're much more likely to reveal flaws in your speakers than this piece of gear. I rarely go above -15dB (of Reference) at home, but it's nice to know the juice is there if I want to rattle the walls and shake the roof a bit.
AVRs shouldn't add tone to music or movies and, in that sense, the X6200W is invisible, performing consistently across several speaker systems that cost anywhere between two and sixteen thousand dollars -- this allows the speakers to reveal their own characteristics, and for audiences to hear sound mixes as they were originally recorded.
Not only is the AVR-X6200W loud and clean, but it's also among the first AV Receivers on the market capable of DECODING every single surround sound format currently available, from LPCM to various Dolby and DTS codecs.
Dolby Atmos blazed into home cinemas two years ago with 'Transformers: Age of Extinction' and is currently available via Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray discs as well as VUDU UHD streaming. Atmos trades a channel-based surround mix for individual sound objects, which can be placed anywhere around or over the audience. For home cinema enthusiasts, this means adding two to four OVERHEAD speakers to a traditional 5.1 or 7.1 ear-level surround system. If installing in-ceiling speakers is out of the question, you can also opt for Dolby Atmos enabled speakers, or add-on modules, to bounce sounds off your ceiling,tricking your ears into hearing overhead sound effects.
Dolby Atmos is, quite frankly, the single biggest cinema-sound advancement since the dawn of multi-channel audio, offering unparalleled immersion and specificity to complex aural environments.
During my review period, I enjoyed dozens of Atmos titles. 'The Fifth Element' and 'Bram Stoker's Dracula', as well as 'Game of Thrones', prove you can take 5.1 mixes and upgrade them into something more spectacular without ruining the original intent.
Newer titles impress even more. '10 Cloverfield Lane' is reserved at times but uses height speakers in extremely realistic and evocative ways. The recent music Blu-ray, 'Imagine Dragons: Smoke & Mirrors', is another fascinating listen, offering one of the most consistently aggressive Atmos mixes available. And 'Mad Max Fury Road' is pretty much the definition of a perfect sound mix.
There's also some terrific Dolby Atmos tracks on select VUDU UHD titles that are, as of right now, not available on any physical media. 'Pacific Rim' and 'Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow' utilize the Dolby Digital Plus version of Atmos and absolutely bring down the house with their sound effects panning and thumping LFE.
DTS:X is the new object-based surround format on the block (though there has some debate as to whether or not the home version is actually object-based or simply a 7.1.4 channel mix) and the X6200W is one of the few AVRs actually capable of decoding it. Available on Blu-rays and Ultra HD Blu-rays, DTS:X utilizes the same speaker layout as Dolby Atmos, and thus works in tandem with up-firing as well as in-ceiling speakers.
I've heard fewer DTS:X titles overally, but very much enjoyed the 'Crimson Peak' Blu-ray and the 'Independence Day' Ultra HD Blu-ray. [NOTE: Fox is only supporting Atmos and X on UHD titles -- their Blu-rays will all remain 5.1 or 7.1 DTS-HD MA.] 'Crimson Peak' is moody and elegant with chilling atmospherics, and some pouring rain, that envelope the listener, while 'ID4' is an aggressive powerhouse that will probably be one of the best home entertainment mixes of the year.
The AVR-X6200W is also AURO 3D ready, but that specific firmware update requires spending an additional $150. Because my living room is not conducive to AURO 3D's speaker layout which, unlike Dolby Atmos, places height speakers on walls directly above front and surround speakers (there is also an optional voice-of-god overhead), I have not reviewed this format. I know the german release of 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' Ultra HD Blu-ray has an AURO 3D track (and Dolby Atmos) and AURO 3D also acts as an up-mixer for two, five, and seven channel content. If you've upgraded to, and set up your home cinema, for AURO 3D, I'd love to hear about your experience in the forum comments for this review.
Taking a step back, Denon's greatest strength for 2016 isn't just that their AVRs are capable of decoding and processing new audio technologies, but that they're available now. Marantz and Yamaha are the only other options if you want to go out and hear DTS:X today, while other brands are still waiting for firmware updates. First on the scene doesn't always make you the best, but in terms of ease of use and everyday performance, the X6200W has you covered for several years. Dolby Atmos and DTS:X are both extremely effective for the home, rendering surround sound for dozens of titles each year that will make your system sound better than most commercial cinemas.
[An early draft of this section ultimately became its own article, which you can read HERE.]
In addition to DECODING sound mixes, the Denon AVR-X6200W offers audio post-processing from companies like Dolby, DTS, AURO, and Audyssey. These technologies take stereo, 5.1, and 7.1 soundtracks and UP-MIX them to sound like they are object-based -- think of it like Pro Logic or Neo:X for next generation sound formats -- and they do a fantastic job at it.
I focused mostly on Dolby Surround, which was a little more refined and accurate with vocal panning, as well as DTS:Neural:X, which was a little more aggressive with overhead sound volumes and action-oriented sound effects. Used on a daily basis for all TV and movie watching, they really add a nice sensation of overall immersion, even if it's not quite as good as a native Atmos or X mix.
That said, there there is a small bug. Currently, Dolby Surround is limited to PCM and Dolby codecs, while DTS:Neural:X is limited to PCM and DTS codecs. Denon is apparently working on a patch for this so you'll be able to choose either for any content. As of the most recent firmware upgrade (delivered last week), this bug has yet to be patched.
WHOLE HOME AUDIO
In addition to multi-channel film and television soundtracks, the AVR-X6200W is also a MUSIC HUB. Digital and analog inputs are a'plently, while built-in Bluetooth and AirPlay make streaming from smartphones and tablets and computers simple and easy. Both wireless technologies performed well and produced quality sound, though AirPlay has the benefit of working over WiFi so you don't have to be as close to the AVR, and Bluetooth was easier to use with laptops and other non-smartphone devices. Internet Streaming is also available, either directly on the AVR (Pandora) or in conjunction with a tablet or smartphone (Spotify). I only wish there was a more convenient way to power down the AVR after wireless music streaming.
Overall music sound quality is source-dependent. Lower res streaming and MP3s can be a little harsh, while high res and lossless digital files shine. Much like movies and TV, up-mixing is available from Dolby, DTS, Audyssey, and Denon, translating stereo music to full Atmos or Neural:X mixes. And there's an all-stereo mode that mimics the front channels in your side and rear surrounds (heights are not engaged). I've been a big fan of Pro Logic IIx Music for years, enjoying the extra immersion, but I'm less excited by 11-speaker music. Though some music genres sound okay -- anything with an orchestral element -- I think the processing is a little too apparent.
I also found the multi-zone music easy to setup and use, but you lose Atmos speakers whenever you add Zones, so I didn't spend too much time with it.
While the X6200W's bread and butter is audio, Denon has paid a lot of attention to video quality and functionality. Denon's DTS:X firmware upgrade arrived around the time Ultra HD Blu-ray was launching earlier this year. So, as I was reviewing the Samsung UBD-K8500, I confirmed that the X6200W effortlessly handles 4K HDCP 2.2 via its HDMI 2.0a ports. In these last six months, there have been no significant HDMI handshake issues, playback problems, or error messages playing back Ultra HD content with HDR10. It also has no troubles with 1080p content from Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D discs, or lower resolution content.
Video passthrough is another nice feature, allowing you to casually watch TV without having to power up the full system. This is great for kids or spouse who are less audio-focused, and you save some energy. However, if you turn on HDMI control (necessary for ARC), passthrough is ignored. The built-in up-scaler, which will scale your SD and HD content to 4K 60/50p, was good and error free, but I tend to leave that job to the UHD BD player or the display.
The only bug in the video department was an odd handshake issue with the VIZIO P-Series where the display had an odd habit of "finding and setting up" the Denon AVR, resulting in lost picture and sound. I don't know if it's a VIZIO issue or a Denon issue or a VIZIO/Denon issue, so no points lost for this, but it's worth noting for anyone with a similar setup.
The Denon AVR-X6200W (along with Yamaha's newer AVENTAGE models) has my vote for best AVR for 2016. Sure, there are a few bugs in need of a patch, and it's not cheap especially if you add an extra amp to the equation, but it is powerful and accurate and about as future proof as AV gear gets nowadays. Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, AURO 3D, Ultra HD, Blu-ray 3D, Airplay, Bluetooth, multi-room audio and video... The X6200W has it all -- today, no waiting involved -- and likely more tools than you'll ever need.
In fact, I liked the Denon AVR-X6200W so much I'm going to buy one (or its sister model, the Marantz SR7010, which I hope to review shortly). Highly Recommended.
Oh, if you don't need a full 11-channel Dolby Atmos & DTS:X configuration, consider the Denon AVR-X4200W -- available HERE -- which offers seven built-in amplifiers and processing for nine channels should you ever wish to add external amplification.
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