Denon AVR-X3700HReviewed at $1,299.00
Inputs / Ports9.0/10
OS, Apps and Features9.4/10
Price / Quality9.5/10
- Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and IMAX Enhanced
- Huge list of features and streaming services
- Excellent performance
- Inclusion of a HDMI 2.1 input
- No front HDMI input this year
- HDMI 2.1 has problems with 4K@120Hz
- Audyssey MultEQ Editor app not free
- No backlight on remote
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Today we will continue our review marathon of Denon’s 2020 AV receivers releases with another stellar unit in their portfolio. The AV receivers market may not have as many players as there are in the speakers market for example but if there is one name that surely take one of the top spots, if not the first place, that is no other than Denon. And for another year they have released a total of 4 new units in their more premium X series in order to complement their behemoth AVR-X8500H. Recently we had the pleasure of testing their lowest unit in the series, the AVR-X2700H so in today’s Denon AVR-X3700H review we will take a step up and see what new tech this 9.2 channels receiver brings to the table.
As we always say in these AV receivers that are updated regularly year after year, the changes and additions are minimal and usually do not warrant an upgrade. But with the arrival of HDMI 2.1 the 2020 releases marked for the first time a bigger leap as the new port brought with it a few very interesting game centric features like 8K resolution pass-through, 4K@120fps, HDR10+, ALLM, VRR, QMS and QFT. But as with anything so new it was not without a few hiccups that we will talk about shortly.
As for the AVR-X3700H this is the most basic of the X series AV receivers that come with 9.2 channels of built-in amplification and 105 watts of power which are more than enough for any small or medium sized room. Add to this the huge list of features and functions it includes like Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and IMAX Enhanced along with the usual virtual and up-mixing tech like Dolby Surround, DTS Neural:X, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization and DTS Virtual:X, the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 auto calibration system, High Resolution Audio, HEOS technology, AirPlay 2, voice control, custom integration as well as bi-amp capabilities, multi-room zones, Bluetooth Audio Transmission, Pre-Amplifier Mode and HDMI upscaling and you understand that there is huge value in this small black box.
The AVR-X3700H is basically a beefier AVR-X2700H as it has more power, adds two more channels of built-in amplification, IMAX Ehnanced and a few lesser features. All sound good on paper but does it perform accordingly? Keep reading to find out…
With these yearly releases you shouldn’t have a lot of expectations in terms of their design and general layout as manufacturers tend to use the same shells over and over from previous years. And the 2020 AVR-X3700H is no different as it is exactly the same as the 2019 AVR-X3600H with only one minor difference that seems to be common in all Sound United brands and that is no other than…you guess right, the missing front HDMI input. Everything else is the same and the shell being used is also awfully similar to the lower tier AVR-X2700H with some added depth only.
As such dimensions seems to be the same as the X3600H meaning that what we have here is a medium sized AV receiver measuring 17.1″ x 15.3″ x 9.3″ (434 x 389 x 236 mm) but as always the height can be lowered to just 6.6″ (167 mm) if you turn the antennas horizontally which doesn’t have any noteworthy effect on the AV receiver’s signal quality.
In terms of actual looks being a Denon receiver will definitely not get it any awards for design. Featuring straight lines and sharp corners this is your typical black box receiver that sounds much better than it looks. The front, as in most Denon receivers, features a brushed metal texture with an exact shame layout as their 2019 release.
The front display sits prominently at the top center of the front face with two big circular knobs at each side for volume on the right and source selection on the left. Under the source selection knob we find the power button with a tiny LED light above it while a thin line under the central display houses 10 function buttons that include tuner and zone 2 controls, Dimmer, Status and four quick selection buttons. Everything seems to be the standard here.
Under these buttons we find some front ports with the headphones jack and setup microphone port on the left and a single USB port on the right that can be used to stream audio from a USB based external storage like a flash drive. And here we see the only difference compared to other years. Next to the USB was used to be the front HDMI port but the arrival of HDMI 2.1 seems to be the reason for taking this out. Having a front input was a huge practical feature and we do hope that manufacturers will bring it back sooner than later.
But the outer shell is not the only part where we find similarities compared to previous years as most of the internal components seem to be more of the same. The receiver features discrete high-current amplifiers on all channels with low-impedance drive capability while it’s AKM AK4458 32-bit D/A converters allow for high resolution audio decoding while providing low distortion and the widest possible dynamic range. The AVR-X3700H come with two sets of powerful DSP (Digital Sound Processor) chips for decoding and sound processing.
The remote we find with this unit is the 2020 RC-1239 which looks very similar to other Denon remotes design wise and is exactly the same as the one we used in our AVR-X2700H review but comes with a single change from the previous years in the buttons layout and that is instead of the AUX2, that was available before, we find the 8K input button. The remote comes with all the input buttons at the top along with the HEOS and Bluetooth functions, navigation buttons in the middle along with channel and volume controls while playback, quick selection and sound mode buttons are being placed at the bottom.
The remote in general is a big one while the buttons have a relatively small size and we would like them a little bigger to be easier to the touch. At least the long distance between them minimizes the risk of a wrong command which can be a regular phenomenon in a dark environment since the remote lacks any kind of backlight functionality. It’s construction is good and feels pretty solid with a nice texture on top to make it look a little more premium.
No surprises in terms of design, general layout and build quality as the AVR-X3700H keeps the same standards we are used to by Denon over the years. The receiver will not win any beauty rewards but in terms of quality and internal components we get the standard Denon treatment. We do hope to get an upgraded design at some point as Yamaha decided to do so as the outer shells Denon have been using the last few years haven’t changed a bit and they start to slowly show their age.
The receiver supports the usual Dolby Atmos and DTS:X object oriented audio tracks but along with these we get support for up-mixing and virtual technology features in order to cover all needs and specific room configurations.
When it comes to up-mixing tech we find the usual Dolby Surround and DTS Neural:X. What these up-mixing tech are doing is to up-convert stereo and legacy mixes in order to make use of all the speakers you have in your setup. As for virtual tech the Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization and DTS Virtual:X are capable of creating sounds that originate from virtual created speakers around your room where there are no physical speakers present.
This virtual tech obviously is not as good and accurate as having real physical speakers and are very much room dependent. Also the sound many times can be heard very over-processed something we were never very fond of. If there is anything missing here that would be Auro-3D as this is kept for the higher tier releases. The only addition compared to the X2700H is that the X3700H has IMAX Enhanced support but material for this is not very widespread yet.
The X3700H comes with 9 channels of built-in amplification and each channel can pump 105 watts of power (8 ohm, 20 Hz – 20 kHz, 0.08% 2ch drive). Keep in mind that this is only for 2 channels driven meaning that when all 9 channels are active this number goes down considerably. You have the ability to go all the way to 11 channels but for that you will need an external amp to drive the last two channels.
With the built-in amplifiers you can go all the way for a 5.2.4 channels audio setup with four dedicated overhead speakers for maximum immersion. For our test we went for a 5.1.4 setup using a single subwoofer and 4 height speakers placed at the front and back of our viewing area.
For today’s test we decided to go with Rampage on 4K UHD format that features an explosive Dolby Atmos track which was exactly what we needed in order to check the receiver’s surround and overhead capabilities. The film may not win any awards for its story and overall quality but its technical merits in the visual and audio departments are unquestionable.
We evaluated the receiver on different scenes, both in more calm moments and obviously in scenes filled with chaos and destruction like the final sequence and what we got was the usual Denon treatment you should expect. The front soundstage was expansive and came to life as all elements were rendered faithfully and with high resolution. During the more calm moments the dialogue was very nicely isolated in the middle with good clarity and depth. The main channels never interfered or overlapped and everything was kept separated depending on the action on screen.
Obviously surround activity was kicking in mostly during the more action oriented scenes and the last act of the film is a real visual and audio spectacle in terms of surround immersion, panning effects, overhead activity and low end prowess. As the army was throwing everything they had on the monsters trying to contain them the receiver was very capable at rendering all ballistics with pinpoint precision from the front to the rear and vise versa throwing us completely in the middle of the action. There was no audible delay during the transitions and everything felt extremely accurate and precise.
As with the surround activity the overhead layer was very satisfying in giving more extension above us and although there were more than a few moments of very distinct Atmos effects the top layer was very seamlessly integrated to the rest of the soundstage giving a nice expansion that certainly upped the immersion even further.
The film is no shy of low end activity and the final showdown gave us plenty of shaking as the receiver had no problem feeding our subwoofer with all the low end information it needed to faithfully reproduce the mayhem on screen. From cannon fire, explosions, building crumbling under the sheer strength of these huge monsters everything had the necessary weight and sonic prowess needed to give you the full extend of the destruction happening.
We tried upping the volume to see how much we could get out of the X3700H and we can say that it can go pretty high without stumbling on its own feet. It is obviously not meant for very large home theaters but for all kind of small or medium sided areas it will do just fine and can go high enough to disturb most of your neighbors.
High Resolution Audio has become the standard in these receivers so except from the usual low quality MP3, WMA and AAC the unit can also playback FLAC, ALAC and WAV files up to 192 kHz / 24-bit as well as DSD for both 2.8 and 5.6 MHz. In our case as we always do in our reviews we selected a few music tracks in FLAC format that we streamed through the USB port of the receiver for the best possible quality.
Last part of our tests is music so we switched to a 2 channels setup and got some tunes to see what the X3700H can do with something more delicate. As we always say it is not only a matter of how good the AV receiver is but also with what kind of speakers you are going to pair it with in order to get the best results and the same applies to the X3700H.
But as always the unit did not disappoint us as we got exactly what we were expecting out of it. An expansive soundstage with nice resolution and details bringing the whole performance to life. Good extension at the front and impressive sound imaging as every sound source and every musical instrument was precisely rendered in space. Stereo panning effects were to the point and accurate with the unit keeping the tempo at all moments.
We always try different types of music in order to get an idea of how the AV receiver can handle them and we got very nice results overall. We couldn’t hear any particular problems with specific genres as the X3700H handled everything with care and with extraordinary balance. Vocals had so much emotion in them and bonded nicely with the mid-range that was the main attraction without overshadowing the rest of the frequency spectrum. The lower registers provided a nice bass and even during more demanding bass sections the receiver had no problems coordinating with our subwoofer and delivering both the tempo and the oomph that each performance asked for.
In general we can say that the X3700H did magnificently during our time with it. We understand that most music fans prefer to go for separates and this is totally fine but if you want to combine movies and music and you ask for something more than just the basics then the X3700H can cover you both in terms of power and quality.
Ports and Connectivity
In terms of connectivity options the AVR-X3700H gives you plenty of choices as you would expect from a mid-range AV receiver like this but this year we have the arrival of HDMI 2.1 so this brings a few changes compared to previous releases.
First of all we already mentioned above about the frontal ports that include the Headphones jack, the setup microphone port and the USB port. The front HDMI input is missing in action this year so this is the first big change we find compared to the X3600H.
At the back the first thing we notice are the 11 speaker terminals that are placed in a straight line at the bottom which helps a lot with cable management. The terminals are the usual quality we have seen from Denon so all is good here with good quality plastic caps but if you want to use the full 11 channels you will need an external amplifier for the last two channels.
At the top we find, as usual, the second most important connections with 7 HDMI inputs and 3 HDMI outputs. Here the only change we find compared to its predecessor is that the 7th input has been switched to the new HDMI 2.1. Unfortunately we get only one new port along with loosing the front one but at least we don’t see a reduction at the back as we saw in the AVR-X2700H. Basically we see the same design decisions as we saw in the 2020 Marantz releases but as Sound United owns both brands this shouldn’t come as a surprise.
As for everything else we get 3 component video inputs and 1 output, 2 composite video inputs and 1 output, 1 Ethernet port, 2 coaxial and 2 optical digital audio inputs, 11.2 channels pre-outs, 5 analogue audio inputs and one more dedicated for phono, a remote control input and one more output, an RS-232C port for control, a single 12 volts trigger output and the usual FM/AM antenna inputs along with the WiFi/Bluetooth connectors.
What is new in the 2020 X3700H seems to be the addition of a single composite video output which was missing the previous year. Everything else, with the exception of the new HDMI 2.1, seems to be exactly the same.
As for the new HDMI 2.1 this supports all the old along with a few new exciting technologies including 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz video pass-through, 4:4:4 Pure Color sub sampling, HDR10, Dolby Vision, Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG), Dynamic HDR, 3D, BT.2020 pass-through, ALLM, VRR, QMS, QFT, ARC, eARC, Auto LipSync and HDMI-CEC.
Something we do note in all our recent AV receivers reviews is the HDMI 2.1 problems that plague all 2020 AV receivers that support HDMI 2.1. We have already mentioned this problem in our recent Marantz reviews so we will just repeat here what we mentioned in our previous articles.
It seems that the Panasonic chip that handles the HDMI 2.1 connection cannot process the signal of specific sources that output at 4K/120Hz RGB signal (8-bit, 10-bit, 12-bit) like the Xbox Series X and this results in a black screen. Now there are not many sources that currently support 4K@120Hz with this exact configuration but this is probably a hardware issue and cannot be solved by a simple firmware update.
Now if you are wondering, the X3700H has no problem whatsoever if you are watching movies or playing games at 4K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz YCbCr 4:2:2 signals (32Gbps) or anything below that so in most cases you are going to be absolutely fine. This means that the PS5 will work without any problems. In the rare case where the receiver accepts a 4K/120Hz RGB signal (8-bit, 10-bit, 12-bit), like from the Xbox Series X for example, this is when this problem will appear and the only current workaround is to connect your source device directly to your TV and from the eARC connection to the receiver.
Right now this problem seems to affect all new AV receivers in 2020 including Denon, Marantz and Yamaha. All manufacturers have acknowledged the problem but as far as a solution is concerned we wouldn’t get our hopes up at least for the 2020 releases. And it still remains to be seen if the new ones that are expected in the summer of 2021 will have addressed this or not. If you absolutely want to get the full 4K@120Hz support in case you are mostly interested in gaming then our advice is to wait and see what manufacturers will come up during the summer otherwise the 2020 model have no problems whatsoever.
Lastly the unit comes with the standard set of wireless capabilities. With it’s built-in WiFi it can connect both in 2.4GHz and 5 GHz networks while it also supports Bluetooth streaming. The X3700H supports Bluetooth 4.2 which is not as efficient as the newer v5 but at least during our testing we didn’t notice any lagging or connection problems.
Not many changes this year for the X3700H. The HDMI 2.1 is obviously the highlight of all 2020 models but we miss the front HDMI input that was such a useful one. At least Denon added a composite video output that was missing while everything else seems to be the same.
OS, Apps and Features
The latest 2020 releases haven’t seen major changes, as was expected, in terms of extra features and functionality but we have observed that manufacturers, at least Marantz and Denon, have managed to include a couple of new features that we will talk about shortly. As for everything else the AVR-X3700H brings everything we saw in the X3600H. As such this section of our review will be similar to our previous articles but as always we will make changes and additions wherever we deem necessary.
First of all we will talk about the audio calibration system. Denon is using the Audyssey system and as with all manufacturers they scale it accordingly to meet the price and performance standards of each of their models. For the X3700H we get the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 version which is their best and most feature complete suite. In comparison this one features the highest resolution filters which can result in higher accuracy during calibration.
The Audyssey MultEQ XT32 also comes with Dynamic Volume, Dynamic EQ, Audyssey LFC and Audyssey sub EQ HT. This version of Audyssey has the ability to analyze up to 8 different listening positions with the help of the included microphone and creates precise digital filters in order to offer the best audio result for your particular space.
But except from the core system we also get Dynamic EQ which is a feature that is responsible for keeping the clarity and dynamic levels of audio even when you like to watch at low volume, like for night viewings for example. Dynamic Volume on the other hand is capable of balancing sudden changes and spikes in volume that could appear when there are sudden changes from TV broadcasting to commercials.
There is also Audyssey LFC that uses advanced psychoacoustic algorithms to deliver more full-range balance, including deep bass, without disturbing neighbors or people in other rooms of your home and lastly Audyssey Sub EQ HT that provides individual DSP tailoring of each subwoofer in a dual subwoofer setup for deeper bass with improved definition.
Going through the Audyssey calibration can be done either through the built-in wizard or if you want to dive deeper into calibrating your system then you can download the Audyssey MultEQ Editor app that is available for Android or iOS and do a more thorough setup with the help of your mobile device. Only keep in mind that this app has a one time fee which is a shame to be honest when you already pay such a high price for the receiver. As for the built-in system this is more than enough for most casual users as it offers almost everything you need to make very good and precise adjustments to your system.
But Denon provides another app for this AV receiver and this one comes completely free. The Denon 2016 AVR Remote app as it is called lets you control the unit with your mobile device through a nice visual interface. If you are tired of the included remote this is a nice and most important free alternative. The app is available for both Android and iOS devices so we suggest you give it a try to see if you like it.
The menu and settings layout are pretty simple and straightforward and similar to what we had seen in other Denon receivers so no surprise here either. Although it doesn’t have the visual impact of some other UIs we have seen being used in TVs for example it’s layout is very nicely done and you can find all the settings you will need without much effort.
The receiver comes with the usual streaming as well as multi-zone capabilities that Denon includes in almost all their units. As it supports both HEOS and Airplay 2 you can either stream music online from one of the available online streaming services that include TuneIn Internet Radio, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Music HD, TIDAL, SiriusXM and Deezer among others or create your own multi-room environment with the use of appropriate wireless speakers that support either HEOS or Airplay 2. Both the HEOS and Airplay 2 apps are available for downloading from their appropriate stores for use with your mobile device. But if you prefer a wired connection the X3700H also supports Zone 2 for your convenience.
But as is the norm nowadays you get far more options when it comes to streaming other than just the available online platforms. You can also stream audio from a network drive or NAS server if it happens you to have one connected to your local network. Also with the included USB port you can stream music through some connected external storage or flash drive. Lastly if you prefer a more wireless way of streaming your music there is Bluetooth available for connecting with your mobile device. If you use Apple devices then Airplay 2 can also be used to stream music wireless through it.
And since we mentioned Bluetooth there is a new addition in the X3700H as far as audio output as it seems that the receiver can output audio in two different ways using its Bluetooth transmitter. The X3700H is capable at streaming audio to Bluetooth enabled headphones for a completely silent house experience or it can also output sound from both its speaker terminals and to a Bluetooth headset. This can be particularly practical in case there is a member in the family that is hearing impaired. We had seen this new feature in our recently reviewed AVR-X2700H and it seems that Denon has included it in all their 2020 releases.
Denon is known for including all known voice control platforms to most of their models and the X3700H is not any different in this regard. As such there is support for both most known ones with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant but there is also support for Apple’s Siri through the Airplay 2 app and the advanced automation system Josh.ai making this receiver feature complete in this regard.
Another handy feature that we do find is HDMI-CEC and this one lets you use the TV remote to control the AV receiver if the TV also supports this. You can understand the practicality of this as this way you can reduce the amount of remotes you will need to have in your home theater. Obviously this feature lets you use only the most basic functions of the receiver but for everyday use it can be a very time saving one. This is an old feature that we see being included for the last few years now.
But there are many more features included in the X3700H so we will try to name as much of them as we can. The receiver supports video upscaling to 8K resolution but the limitation compared to the more premium offerings is that the X3700H can do that only through its HDMI ports. No analogue to HDMI upscaling unfortunately.
We also get bi-amp capabilities which is a favorite among home theater fans, an ECO mode that can regulate the receiver’s power usage for a more environmental friendly power consumption, custom integration for Domotz Pro, OvrC and Control4 SDPP as well as being “Roon Tested” certified.
For this last one there seems to be a bit of confusion as there are two types of certifications so let’s try to make things a bit more clear. The two certifications are Roon Ready and Roon Tested. The X3700H, as with many other similar receivers from Denon and Marantz, is Roon Tested which means while Roon will work on this unit you will not get the highest quality possible. So for example if you use Airplay, audio quality is limited to 16 Bit/44.1kHz. If Roon functionality is specifically important to you and you also want your files to be streamed in their original quality then you will most certainly have to find a unit that bears the Roon Ready certification.
Except from the Bluetooth Audio Transmission the other most noteworthy addition this year is the Pre-Amplifier Mode with which your Denon AV receiver works as a perfect AV pre-processor with the latest HDMI connectivity. Pre-Amplifier Mode provides a cleaner signal path and more tolerance in clipping level by disconnecting internal amplifiers. We have talked about this recently in one of our Marantz reviews and while it may have its uses we don’t see this being widely used as most that go the separates way will prefer to buy a processor plus amplifier for that job. The main strength of an AV receiver is that it combines everything in one package so this feature slightly nullifies this advantage it has.
The Denon AVR-X3700H is the receiver class that many users prefer and we understand why. It offers a great balance between power, features and price and with its 9.2 channels of built-in amplification it’s the perfect match for anyone that want to create a serious home theater system without having to go overboard with their budget.
The X3700H brings everything its predecessor had and spices things up with a few new additions this year. As such except from its very good build quality, great surround performance and a huge lists of features we also get the new HDMI 2.1 that allows not only 8K resolution and 4K@120Hz pass-through but also bring an impressive list of mostly game centric technologies including VRR, ALLM, QMS and QFT along with all the rest of the HDMI features that were already available. Along with the new HDMI in 2020 we also get the Bluetooth Audio Transmission feature and the Pre-Amplifier Mode so more value to an already fully featured package.
It seems that for most of Denon, and Marantz for that matter, AV receivers the main problem is centered around the new HDMI 2.1 port. As good as it is to have this along with all its new tech there are certain problems that need to be addressed. First of all the known HDMI 2.1 bug as these receivers are incapable at receiving certain 4K@120Hz signals and the second is the omission of the front HDMI input which is a huge minus in our books. We would also like to see the Audyssey MultEQ Editor app being offered for free, at least for the more expensive models and lastly a backlight remote should be a given for such high profile units and it’s unacceptable that Denon is still not using one here.
Denon has remained one of the most high profile players in the home theater market for many years now and with their latest release they upped their game once more. It’s not without some missteps but the Denon AVR-X3700H is an amazing AV receiver and one that deserves to be on the top of the list of anyone looking to either upgrade or create a new home theater system.