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Denon AVR-S730H review: The latest home audio tech at the lowest price

Denon AVR-S730H
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Sarah Tew/CNET

Connectivity is generous for the cash, with six 4K/HDR-compatible HDMI inputs and one out, plus Bluetooth, Wi-Fi (with AirPlay), USB and three digital inputs.

Other features include Audyssey Room Correction and compatibility with the Denon 2016 AVR Remote app (iOS, Android and Kindle Fire) which offers control of the receiver as well as network/streaming playback. If you're an audiophile it can also do hi-res music with support for 24-bit/192kHz as well as DSD over the network or via USB.

Setup

Starting the AVR-S730H's Audyssey MultEQ auto speaker setup program, onscreen prompts advised us to turn the subwoofer's volume control halfway up, and input the number of speakers we had hooked up to the receiver. Next, we plugged in the included calibration microphone, and continued to follow the prompts and moved the mic to six different locations in the CNET listening room for an extended series of automated test tones that sequenced one by one through the speakers and subwoofer. The whole operation took around 12 minutes to complete.

For this review we used a pair of ELAC Debut B6 bookshelf speakers in the front left and right positions, an ELAC Debut C5 center channel speaker, ELAC Debut B5s as surrounds, a pair of Klipsch RP-140SA height speakers up near the ceiling in the front of the room, and a Klipsch R-110SW subwoofer.

We were satisfied with the AVR-S730H's calibration results, and we were especially happy to note the subwoofer volume wasn't set too high, which is usually the case with auto setup systems.

Denon AVR-S730H
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Performance 

We put the Denon AVR-S730H through its paces with the "Jupiter Ascending" Blu-ray. It may be a campy action movie, but it sounded awfully good, from its jet-propelled boots to exploding skyscrapers and the gruesome creatures' voices. The AVR-S730H delivered the goods. We played the movie nice and loud and never felt the receiver was running out of juice.

Seeking something less bombastic we turned to "La La Land," the award-winning musical. The scene where Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone sing together in his apartment had terrific intimacy and naturalness. Later the lush production in the Justin Hurwitz score demonstrated the AVR-S730H's considerable music chops. At this point we replaced the AVR-S730H with a Sony STR DN1080 receiver and the sound grew clearer and more dynamic, and the front and surround speakers produced a more cohesive, room-filling soundstage. With the "Jupiter" Blu-ray, the action sequences packed a bigger wallop with the Sony.

Denon AVR-S730H
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Sarah Tew/CNET

With music from violinist Joshua Bell and bassist Edgar Meyer's "Short Trip Home" all-acoustic classical-cum-bluegrass album, the two receivers were equally accomplished performers. The music's flow, pace and uncompressed dynamics sounded great with both receivers.

We also watched some concert music Blu-rays, including Diana Krall's "Live in Rio" set and the White Stripes' "Under Blackpool Lights" with the AVR-S730H. The ELAC bookshelf speakers may be downright affordable, but they shined with Krall's big-band jazz, and the ELACs sounded like bigger speakers with the White Stripes' blistering rock, especially when Meg White's hard-hitting drums were given their full due.

Lastly we tested the receiver's multiroom capabilities with HEOS, and it works as well as previously. The app is a little hard to use compared to Yamaha's MusicCast or Sonos, as it doesn't always work how you expect it to. For instance, we had to consult the manual on how to group rooms (hold and drag) and we had to drill down into each device and set them to "High" quality to get hi-res music to play. After all this tweaking, though, we had the HEOS 1 ($199 at Amazon) and the AVR-S730H playing music in perfect sync.

Conclusion

The Denon AVR-S730H is the least expensive receiver we've tested with Dolby Atmos/DTS:X surround processing. For that price, its all-round performance makes it a real contender, worthy of consideration by discriminating home theater buyers. The multiroom music and 4K switching are icing on the cake. We still like the Sony better overall, but if you can't swing the price difference, the Denon is an excellent alternative.

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