The AVR: Denon X3400H

The choice of AVRs used to be a difficult one to make when support for different HD audio formats was not widespread. Now, the requirements boil down to the AVR being able to support the latest HD audio formats (Dolby Atmos and DTS-X), while matching the capabilities of the display in the chain. The additional features may help sway the purchase decision for consumers.

Budget considerations dictate the number of channels and display zones. We had to migrate from the 7.1 channel Pioneer Elite VSX-32 to a newer receiver capable of handling multiple HDMI 2.0 / HDCP 2.2 inputs with passthrough capabilities for various HDR formats. Based on my budget, I narrowed down the options to one of the models from Denon, Onkyo, Pioneer, and Yamaha. They are all in the same ball park in terms of pricing for a given feature set. We deferred to our friends at Wirecutter, who recommended the Denon AVR S730H.

I had been in touch with Denon regarding HEOS (their whole home audio solution) when the decision to go with a Denon AVR for our HTPC testing setup was taken. Upon discussing our project with them, Denon graciously agreed to sponsor the more advanced AVR X3400H for use in our testing.

The AVR X3400H targets the custom integrator channel. It has a number of additional features such as support for high end DSD audio, 4Kp60 upconversion for analog sources, multi-zone video outputs, higher power output, and support for eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) to justify its higher price over the S730H. The presence of eARC makes it a bit more future-proof, as it allows for HD audio (including the new ones like Dolby Atmos and DTS-X) from the display sink to be returned to the AVR for decode and playback.

In the course of our testing, we found that the AVR received frequent firmware updates to add new features such as HLG passthrough. These point to a well-supported product. Even though the web control feature present in the previous generation Denon AVRs was missed, the Denon AVR Android app made up for it to some extent. None of the issues encountered in the course of the evaluation presented in this piece could be attributed to the Denon AVR X3400H.

If we had to give some suggestions to Denon for the improvement of the AVR X3400H, it would be to bring back the web control feature and shorten the time taken for firmware updates (though there is a facility to enable auto-updates that tries to install the new firmware when the AVR is not being used).


Most readers upgrading their HTPC can opt to retain their existing speakers. In fact, I had the Boston Acoustics Horizon Series MCS100MDNT 5.1-channel speaker system from a 2008 purchase, along with a Jamo A306 HCS 5.1 speaker system from my 2011 home theater components upgrade. However, due to the remodel, I had to go in for in-ceiling speakers. I opted for a couple of the Polk Audio RC80i in-ceiling pairs for the rear and surround channel speakers. I bundled them along with ceiling speaker protective covers. The choice of speakers depends on the home theater size and other requirements. Currently, I am using the Jamo A306 speakers for the front, center, and subwoofer, with the Polk Audio RC80i for the other channels.

The Display: TCL 55P607 Evaluating Display Sources: HTPCs & CE Devices
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  • ebilg - Tuesday, December 26, 2017 - link

    To avoid all the headaches with UHD Bly-rays you could just get an Xbox instead. The studios don't seem to care about 4K Blu-ray on PCs. Plus the Xbox also does Hulu in 4K.
  • ddrіver - Tuesday, December 26, 2017 - link

    It's obvious the "budget setup" isn't actually a budget setup because the guy just accepts to be "sponsored" with equipment that blows any budget: it goes from ~$470 to ~$1000. That's over $500 extra. On a budget! So who cares about the BR player? It can just be sponsored by somebody.

    @GaneshTS & AT what other budget builds can you do with expensive sponsored stuff? I was thinking on an article on how to get free gaming builds... from your parents.
  • ganeshts - Tuesday, December 26, 2017 - link

    Dude, seriously? The only equipment that was sponsored was the Denon AVR, and it was clearly specified. Everything else was out of my own pocket (other than the PCs that come in for review on a revolving basis)
  • ddrіver - Tuesday, December 26, 2017 - link

    That wasn't about getting hidden stuff or anything like that. It was about adding $500 and still calling it a budget build. A $1000 receiver isn't part of any budget build. It doesn't make sense.
  • Gasaraki88 - Wednesday, December 27, 2017 - link

    So you want a home theater system but don't want to get an AV receiver? You complaining about a $500 receiver? That's the cheapest you can get that supports DV passthrough and all the other new tech. If you don't want good sound you don't need a receiver so you can subtract that out but then it not a "Home Theater" then.
  • Icehawk - Wednesday, December 27, 2017 - link

    Not even remotely true, plenty of recievers in the ~$400 range offer the sams functions. After my last two $800+ recievers crapped out after two years I will no longer put my money in them.
  • Crazyeyeskillah - Thursday, December 28, 2017 - link

    You are completely out of touch with your readers. There are plenty of options on the market that will deliver a great experience without dumping $500 into a receiver. While it's fun to piss away money on a home theater system, you don't have to blow all your money on something that won't give a perceivable benefit whatsoever to the average consumer. The extra $500 could make up the difference towards a 55" OLED display, or an entry level projector. Your priorities are clearly bias and deserve to be in question. Most of your articles are fair but this is really a preposterous entry without question.

    I would have honestly love to seen a review of some entry level projectors. Virtually everyone wants to know more about the bulbs, longevity, brightness, clarity, and other factors. Speakers are pretty much the no brainer of tech, they either work or they don't. If you want more channels just increase the blank.1 you have setup.

    Even just building a really versatile box for future proof playback would have been sufficient. People tend to geek out on their displays in their own way.
  • FreckledTrout - Sunday, December 31, 2017 - link

    @Crazyeyeskillah, I disagree. Any adults here who can afford an OLED TV would love a decent quality home theater which will cost at minimum $2000 but many people just don't know it. My nephew who is 28 has a good soundbar system and really didn't understand why I spend $2.5K on speakers and a receiver so we watched a movie, pearl harbor. When your company leans to duck the plane dropping bombs, priceless. Good home theater isn't something most people understand but once they have heard it they know what they are missing.
  • SunnyHours - Wednesday, July 11, 2018 - link

    There are other ways of having a decent speaker system without dishing out 500$US on a "home theater" receiver...especially if you don't plan on getting a decent set of Surround Sound speakers, which are not cheap...we are talking at least another 500$ up to 2000$ or more...and just for speakers.

    Instead, why not get a nice set of powered Bookshelf speakers like AudioEngine, Swan, HiVi, M-Audio, Kanto, Edifier and even Klipsch have good speakers that don't need a Receiver/Amplifier and generally have a 3.5mm cable so it's compatible with most anything, there are also some who do have RCA input(s). In this list you'll find all kinds of prices and whether you want a 2.0 speaker system or a 7.2 speaker system.

    Also, another nice option if you have many things to connect, you can always just get a nice and simple 2.1 Sound System with a receiver (NAD, Yamaha, Denon, Harmon Kardon and others that don't come to mind should serve you well) and a pair of regular Bookshelf Speakers (Same brands mentioned before plus a couple others...just go to your biggest audio dealer close by and try them out before you buy them...if you can try both the receiver and speakers all the better!)

    The 3rd option would be to go with Headphones!
    If you want to head to head, speaker system vs Headphone system...of the same price, you'll always get way more sound for your money out of a simple headphone DAC/Amplifier combo and some Headphones or a DAC, headphone Amplifier and Headphones.
    Whatever you do, please, do NOT encourage Bose. They sell overpriced stuff and it's just a really bad deal all around.
    If you want more information and to ask questions to people who really know their stuff, head over to the Head-Fi Forums. They really specialize in headphones, but being Audiophiles usually means you'll also want good sounding speakers to be able to share it with others, and also to mix it up a little.
  • prerich - Friday, July 27, 2018 - link


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