Set-up is a simple affair. Denon has gone to a lot of trouble in recent years to simplify its AV amps without compromising features, and it deserves to be applauded. This experience is quite the opposite of the intimidating, complex affair that setting up some multichannel amplifiers can be.
The amp’s Setup Assistant takes you by the hand and guides you through every stage of the process. From stripping your speaker cable (complete with small animation) to setting up your speakers for Atmos, the Denon has your back.
The only thing that takes up an ounce of your brainpower is assembling the flat-packed, cardboard microphone stand - and even then its use isn’t compulsory.
We weren’t too sure about Denon’s 2016 AVR Remote for Android and iOS when we reviewed the AVR-X2300W, but the iOS app at least proves much more stable this time round.
Using the app on an iPhone 6S Plus, it is reasonably responsive, allowing you to control everything from source selection and sound processing modes to speaker set-up.
On paper, the Denon AVR-X3300W’s power is up 20 per cent compared with the AVR-X3200W (180W next to 150), so you could be forgiven for not expecting a huge step in performance. But you’d be wrong. Very wrong.
It shares similar character traits, for sure. Punch and poise are still high on the agenda, but you immediately get a sense that there’s more waiting in the wings. This particular Denon has a couple of extra gears.
Sure, it’s able to blow your socks off with the help of a punishing, bruising soundtrack, but really this is the very least we’d expect when moving up from a budget to mid-range AV receiver.
Some amps have no trouble sounding ballsy and gung ho, but it’s often done at the expense of subtlety. The AVR-X3300W has loads of power at its disposal but still manages to sound sophisticated with it.
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Avengers: Age of Ultron isn’t just a superhero showcase, it’s a fine test disc. We play it through Panasonic’s DMP-UB900 4K Blu-ray player, and the Denon laps up the action during the opening battle.
As Thor despatches a squad of bad guys and Hulk smashes his way through an enemy bunker, low frequencies are delivered with force and solidity.
As Hulk and Iron Man’s Hulkbuster battle it out later in the film, their bout of fisticuffs results in the levelling of an entire construction sight. And the depths to which the Denon’s bass delivery manages to plummet are mightily impressive.
As the building collapses in on itself, the power and scale of the destruction are quite overwhelming.
Listen to the same combination of scenes on its more affordable sibling, and you can immediately hear the difference.
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When Ultron comes online and interacts with Jarvis, Tony Stark’s AI assistant, the AVR-X3300W changes tack and drops down a couple of gears. Its remarkable sense of finesse takes over, painting the scene with broad brush strokes of subtlety.
The Denon creates an eerie sense of quiet. Dialogue between the two is crystal clear and there’s plenty of detail and expression to their voices. As the conversation begins to take a turn for the worse, it really helps to draw the viewer right into the heart of the on-screen action.
As Ultron starts to sift through streams and streams of data, sound effects flit between side channels and surge from the back of the surround field to the front with impressive precision.
The Denon steers surround effects efficiently and precisely, but you still get the sensation of being in the middle of a surround-sound bubble.
Thanks to the receiver’s dynamic cut and thrust, its ability to punch its way through a movie soundtrack stands it in good stead for music playback too.
Across all inputs, the Denon’s brilliant sonic balance is still the major draw, and even wirelessly over Bluetooth or Spotify Connect, you’re treated to an entertaining sound.
Galantis’ Runaway is a catchy uplifting dance tune, and the Denon communicates the fun and frivolity of the track without restraint.
The emotive vocal starts proceedings, the Denon giving it prime position in the sound field. As the track builds and starts its dynamic shift, all the subtle details make way for an uplifting crescendo of electronica.
When we started this review, we already knew Denon had a great £500 receiver on its hands. We weren’t quite sure if the AVR-X3300W would be able to justify its position and price premium over thte AVR-X2300W.
But we were wrong to be concerned.
The way it manages to mould all its various strengths together but also maintain such expert balance and finesse should be applauded.
If you want to take your budget home cinema set-up to the next level, then be in no doubt that Denon AVR-X3300W will do just that.