We tested the Denon AVR-S650H AV Receiver!

Denon-AVR-S650H 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.

Denon S650H front panel

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 was equipped with a 192 kHz / 32-bit DAC module.

S650H input

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.

Denon-S650 back panel

The back panel appears almost empty compared to the amount of army connectors and inputs of the previously tested amps. 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 on the device, 2 analog outputs for subwoofers, 5 HDMI inputs and 1 HDMI output, 2 composite video inputs and outputs, and speaker connectors.

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

S650H inside

The Denon Setup Assistant helps you set up the amplifier quickly and smoothly. The Audyssey MultiEQ room correction system measures its transmission parameters. Room correction programs do a very good job, but at the same time it is good to be aware that these software measures and adjusts sound pressure, more advanced DRC programs are already able to calibrate pulse transmission and phase. However, most problems are caused by reverberations, reflections, and interferences. Room correction programs also treat these errors as a sound pressure problem and try to compensate by reducing the sound pressure, resulting in a confusing, bad sound. DCR 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 program as the minimal correction further improves the sound.

Denon S650 remote control

Of course, a remote control is also included with the device, although unfortunately it has not been backlit.

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 emphasized enough! No matter how much money we spend on better-than-good audio devices when designing a home theater 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-themed film, „Valkyrie”, in Blu-Ray quality. The atmosphere of an exciting story starring Tom Cruise was effectively restored by the Denon amp. The dialogues were natural, understandable, and the sound effects seemed real and spatial. We did not experience any big problems even at higher volumes, we could hear a full-bodied, balanced sound. We were not completely satisfied with the transparency, who is too bothered by this, choose an amplifier in a more expensive price range.

The thriller entitled „Contagion” was introduced in 2011, the theme of which has unfortunately become very topical recently. Despite the smaller size of the Denon, we got percussive, wall-shattering bass and sharp, clear highs even without a subwoofer.

While listening to Depeche Mode: Spirits in the Forest, which was recorded in Berlin in 2019, we felt as if the band was facing us, the sounds were surrounded, the instruments and vocals stood out nicely, we had an understandable, realistic experience. The stage image made an even, pleasant impression. There is still room for improvement in transparency, but for an entry-level amplifier, this 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.

Conclusion

The AVR-S650H home cinema amplifier is arguably a podium among entry-level audio devices. Its affordable price seems even more promising given the plenty of features. It is characterized by a unified stage image, pleasant, spacious, airy sound. For those who like more intense bass and transparent, crystal-clear audio sounds, and can afford to choose from a more expensive category, don’t buy Denon’s smallest “brass”. The dynamics could also be a little better, and we miss the HDMI input on the front panel. Another disadvantage is that it is only available in black. We can safely say that this piece of the brand is not disappointing either, 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.