We tested the Denon AVR-S650H AV Receiver!
The Denon brand is already familiar to us, and the popularity of their audio devices is due to their high quality. The AVR-S650H is the smallest (7.8 kg) entry-level, cheapest member of the AVR S-Series.
Key Features of the Denon AVR-S650H
The exterior of the 5.2-channel device features a minimalist, sleek style with straight edges.
The front panel has the usual volume and input selector buttons, headphone, USB and measuring microphone connectors.The display is quite large, the subtitles can be read from a distance. The front panel HDMI connector is missing, which was a bit disappointing. The amplifier is equipped with a 192 kHz / 32-bit DAC module.
It also has Bluetooth connectivity, headphone / earphone, Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC), HDCP 2.3 copy protection, Auto Delay Mode (ALLM) 4K Ultra HD / 60Hz signal transmission and 4K video upscaling functions. Thanks to the USB port on the front panel, the 24 BIT / 192 Khz and PCM DSD can also process 2.8 MHz and 5.6 MHz signals. A multi-channel stereo function and a digital converter (32-bit AKM DAC) are also included in the amplifier; 75 watts of output power for 2 channels.
The back panel looks almost empty compared to the armada of connectors and inputs of the previously tested amplifiers. 2 analog RCA, 1 Phono MM, 2 optical digital inputs are located on the rear panel. Bluetooth, Wifi and AirPlay2 wireless connections are also available. In addition, you can discover a LAN Ethernet connection, 2 analog outputs for subwoofers, 5 HDMI inputs and 1 HDMI output, 2 composite video inputs and outputs, and speaker connectors on the device.
Other useful information:
-HDR10, Dolby Vision Hybrid Log Gamma, HEOS multiroom, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google voice assistant support
-Streaming platforms: Amazon prime, Spotify, TIDAL, Tuneln, Deezer, Napster, Internet radio
The Denon Setup Assistant helps you set up the amplifier quickly and smoothly. The Audyssey MultiEQ room correction system measures transmission parameters. Room acoustic optimisation programs do a very good job, nevertheless, bear in mind that the software measures and adjusts sound pressure only. More advanced DRC programs are already able to calibrate also pulse transmission and phase. However, most acoustic issues are caused by reverberations, reflections, and interferences. Room acoustic optimisation programs also treat these errors as sound pressure issues and try to compensate by reducing the sound pressure, resulting in a confusing, distorted sound. DRC software improves sound clarity and dynamics by calibrating phase and pulse transmission. In a poor acoustic environment, EQ software cannot correct problems due to reverberation time or sound reflections. In acoustically well-treated rooms, however, it is recommended to use the EQ programs as fine tuning further improves the sound.
Of course, a remote control is also included with the device, but unfortunately it has no backlight.
Film and music
We tested the amplifier in an apartment in the 6th district of Budapest. The roughly 15 square meter cinema room had very good acoustics, the owner had an acoustic measurement done earlier and ordered the acoustic panels needed for the room based on the results of the measurements. The walls have modern style decorative diffusers and sound-absorbing panels. It is good to know about diffuser elements that only the reflection points need to be covered with them. These points can also be determined by on-site or online acoustic measurements. In a relatively small room, close walls and corners are the biggest problem from an acoustic point of view, so corner bass trap elements have been placed in two corners. For acoustic treatment of the floor, the traditional carpet was replaced with a soundproof carpet. The importance of acoustics cannot be emphasised enough! No matter how much money we spend on better-than-good audio devices when designing a home theatre system, if we don’t pay attention to the acoustic handling of the room, we won’t be happy with the sound. We paired the test subject with Dali Epicon 8 speakers.
The test was launched with the 2008 war movie Valkyrie in Blu-Ray quality. The atmosphere of the exciting story starring Tom Cruise was effectively rendered by the Denon amplifier. The dialogues were natural and clear, and the sound effects seemed real not lacking of spaciousness. We did not experience any big issues even at higher volumes, we could hear a full-bodied, balanced sound. We were not completely satisfied with the transparency, but he who is bothered by this, shall choose an amplifier in a more expensive price range.
Bass acoustic wall panels with double leather membrane83 € – 260 € +Vat
3D acoustic diffuser 70x70x10cm122 € – 139 € +Vat
We also screened the 2011 movie Contagion, staging a subject, which has unfortunately become very topical recently. Despite the smaller size of the Denon, we noted percussive, wall-shattering basses and sharp, clear highs even without a subwoofer.
While listening to Depeche Mode Spirits in the Forest, recorded in Berlin in 2019, we felt as if the band was right in front of us, the sounds surrounded us, the instruments and vocals stood out nicely; we had lifelike, realistic sensations. The stage image made an even, pleasant impression. There is still room for improvement in transparency, but for an entry-level amplifier, this flaw is hardly worth mentioning in this price range. The lowest bass ranges seemed a little weaker than in the movies. We were not impressed by the dynamics either.
The AVR-S650H home cinema amplifier arguably deserves a medal among entry-level audio devices. Its affordable price seems even more promising given the plenty of features and the unified stage image, pleasant, spacious, airy sound. For those who like more intense basses and transparent, crystal-clear sounds, and can afford to select from a more expensive category, don’t buy Denon’s smallest “brat”. The dynamics could have also been a little bit better, and we missed the HDMI input from the front panel. Another disadvantage of the device is that it is only available in black. We can safely say that this piece of the Denon brand is not disappointing at all, whether we use it to watch movies or listen to music. The latest video techniques and lots of features at this price are really compelling.