“The Sony STR-DN1080 stands out immediately – it sounds fantastic. The subtlety and control we loved in the Award-winning DN1050 of a few years ago is back”
which makes it that bit easier to use in a darkened room. The others are still nice to hold, and they’re intuitive enough to use when navigating through the various set-up menus.
Here comes the crucial step. Before you start listening to any of the amps, you’ll want to plug in the supplied set-up mic and run the auto-calibration process to get the best sound for your room’s acoustics.
Virtual speaker positioning
Each manufacturer uses a different measuring program – Denon uses Audyssey Multeq, Yamaha uses YPAO, Sony uses DCAC EX – but they all do the same thing: take note of your exact speaker configuration, emit either blissfully short or laboriously long test tones to measure your speakers in relation to your room, and then optimise your system’s software sound accordingly.
The calibration is advanced enough that you get pretty accurate results (recognising whether our speakers are large or small is the only bit that tends to trip them up). We always recommend delving into the manual speaker settings to double-check and tweak the measurements, though.
Sony also offers modes that correct the positioning of your speakers virtually – it’s particularly useful when your room simply won’t allow for the best speaker placement.
All three amps also come with a variety of sound modes, too, from useful ones, such as Pure Direct, which cuts out all digital interferences for a purer signal path (best used with analogue sources) to fun ones that emulate the atmosphere of a Munich concert hall or LA’S Roxy Theatre. Yamaha’s sound modes (including ‘sci-fi’ and ‘drama’ effects) are particularly fun to play around with.
It takes only a couple of minutes of listening to the Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them 4K Blu-ray on each amp and we’re grinning. The Sony STRDN1080 stands out immediately – it sounds fantastic. The subtlety and control we loved in the Award-winning DN1050 of a few years ago is back, but there’s more to it.
The 1080 reaches deep into its reserves to deliver sound packed with punch, dynamism and authority in a way we haven’t heard at this sort of price before.
There’s an incredible amount of detail, from natural, expressive voices to layers of insight and depth surrounding each sound effect. As a glass window shatters under a spell, there’s a sharp tinkling as well as a deep, sonic note rippling around the effect – it’s spellbinding.
With the Denon AVRX2400H, our first impression is that the amp’s articulate, measured character is very similar to that of its predecessor. Considering that’s our current Award-winner, that’s no bad thing.
Scale and muscle
The ample amounts of detail are delivered with delicacy. Voices have a natural warmth, and there’s a spring in this amp’s step that means surround effects are steered with agility and precision around the room.
The Denon sticks, not unreasonably, to its refined presentation. There’s still a fair amount of wallop as magic spells blast chunks off buildings, but this isn’t a giant leap forward from its previous incarnation. It does sound more solid than the older X2300W (but less solid than the Sony), though, with thunder and explosions making more of an impact than they do with its predecessor.
It’s crisper, too. You can hear slightly more detail in the swish of a cloak or in sharp, shattering glass. Dialogue, in particular, is clearer and packs more emotion. But we’d have liked a bigger jump up in performance when it comes to all-out scale and muscle from the Denon.
If scale and muscle is what you’re after, Yamaha is only too keen to show off its talents with the RXV583. The deep bass that comes from the pounding club scenes in the John Wick 4K Blu-ray hit you immediately.
Dodging a bullet
Each thump is well placed and loaded with a fair amount of detail too, giving you a sense of the layers in each juddering electronic beat.
SUBTLE, RYTHMIC, DYNAMIC