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Denon AVR S700W review

I’ve been using an older Panasonic SA HE70 receiver for a while now. It was a piece of crap, but then it was given to me so I guess I got what I paid for 🙂 So when I went looking for a new one I started out with a list of features I was looking for. I am looking for an HDMI 5.1 receiver with lots of network connectivity. WIFI is fine but I would prefer wired. Bluetooth would be nice. DLNA and Airplay would be awesome. iPhone support is a must.

So I found this device and it seemed to hit on all my needs.
The front panel is a fairly generic receiver with a nice bright easy to read display. There are convenient front panel HDMI connectors as well as USB for iPhone/iPod/USB flash drives.
AVR-S700W
The back panel reveals the flexible input and output of this receiver.
denon-avr-s700w-back-panel
The unit comes with a basic remote. It does not have any learning capabilities.
EL_avrs700w_e3_bk_rt
Denon have created a Android and iOS app to act as a remote control that is a nice touch. Not perfect but given it’s a free app it’s a nice to have.
denon

For a complete list of specs check out the Denon web site.

Setup of all of the features can be done on the small screen of the receiver or it can output to the HDMI port which works very well and makes it easy.

A receiver is dominated by the inputs and outs and I will start with that as a focus.

Speaker wise the unit supports everything from stereo setups to 5.1 to 7.2, so it can grow with you as you add more speakers. The unit comes with a microphone you move around the round to calibrate the unit to your room. Well done, and simple to use. It was so well done it detected I reversed the polarity on one of the speakers. Wow.

Let’s start with the AM/FM receiver. This is very basic. It doesn’t even support RDS which is a disappointment. It does have presets which you can manually name (since there is no RDS support).

HDMI is the center of this receiver’s universe. And from this point of view this one is pretty basic. It supports 5 inputs and 1 one output. Don’t look for anything fancy, no picture in picture etc. And only one output. All in all it works and simply switches from numerous HDMI sources. But I ran into the first issue. My Ubuntu-Kodi system had issues with the Denon, the playback kept loosing sync. After a bunch of trouble shooting I found I needed to change the refresh rate to 60 from 30 and the issue was solved. And then I bumped into issue number two. Very poor power management. You would think that if the input source went to sleep that the receiver would also go to sleep. Well not only does the receiver not go into sleep, but even once the source goes to sleep it keeps the TV from going to sleep indefinitely. Pooh. The only solution I have found is to turn the receiver off manually. I eventually discovered that this was the default and you could change it so that it went to sleep automatically in the Settings, general, eco auto standby. Sweet problem solved.

They have cleverly put the receiver into pass through mode when you turn it off passing through whatever was the last input. At last a positive in this space.

When the receiver is on audio to the TV is turned off. They also designed in a TV input so you can take the sound from the TV into the receiver. This can be either SPDIF optical or coax. Perfect and exactly what I wanted.

Network wise the receiver can be connected by either WIFI or wired. Setup was easy. Once setup the receiver can update it’s firmware from the internet. Once connected to the network you now have a couple of additional input options including Airplay (for iPad/iPods) and DLNA for Android. Both only work for audio. But you do get a nice album cover showing you what is playing. There is no support for Airplay or DLNA video. Airplay/DLNA is initiated from the Phone and the receiver switches over automatically once the connection is started.

The receiver also supports Bluetooth and can remember numerous Bluetooth devices. Upon selecting Bluetooth from the remote the receiver will attempt to connect to the last device that connected. Initial pairing is done by putting the receiver in pairing mode. Once paired and playing you get a description of what is playing but no cover art. The receivers remote can be used to control the Bluetooth connected device for play/pause (enter button) and forward/reverse (up and down arrow). Control can also be done on the phone. Manually connecting the phone to the receiver from the Bluetooth menu then switches the receiver over to Bluetooth and away you go. It’s actually well done. I can’t think of how it could have been done better (other than cover art missing).

There is a front panel USB for connecting your iPhone or iPod. The playback can then be controlled by either the receiver or the iPhone/iPod. On screen you get a nice menu showing you what’s playing along with cover art. The port can put out 1A so should also be able to charge your iPad/iPhone.

There is also a front panel jack for HDMI input. Handy for occasional use.

When playing music the sound comes out only from the front speakers and subwoofer just the way it should. You can control special effects which then start using the other speakers to create the effect but frankly these always seem hokey to me.

Missing from the back panel of the unit is any form of switched or unswitched AC receptacles. In the old days we would use this to turn the cassette deck on and off when the receiver turned off (no I won’t mentioned 8 tracks or vinyl which is making a come back).

The unit also includes built in the ability to do online music from internet radio, Pandora, flickr, Sirius XM, etc.

So all in all some disappointments, but overall it does what I need it to do and given the cost is worth the money. And a huge step forward from the Panasonic.

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February 14, 2016 - Posted by | Android, iPhone Stuff, Uncategorized

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