“The Denon and Sony amps have an articulate, agile and rhythmic quality that does justice to stereo music. The Yamaha receiver doesn’t fare too badly either”
You’re getting more than just a wall of low frequencies – the RXV583 reveals the gritty textures and earthy booms without getting out of hand or becoming overpowering.
Elsewhere, cars skid around from right to left and each gunshot is well placed. If we’re being picky, we’d like a little bit more precision from the Yamaha – playing the same scene through the Sony STRDN1080 gives a greater sense of the location of each sound. Gunshots are terrifically precise, and punches land with a satisfying impact. The agile and surefooted manner in which the Sony conducts itself around the film’s equally agile choreography is admirable.
And there’s so much low-end depth and texture. It’s not quite as brawny as the Yamaha, but the Sony pulls each bass note taut and has such subtlety – it’s a more engrossing, satisfying performance.
Unfortunately, the Yamaha receiver doesn’t have the same degree of sophistication in its midrange as demonstrated by either the Denon or the Sony. Even the atmospheric soundtrack carries a little less tension in its notes compared with the Denon AVRX2400H’S delivery, which handles the scene with a little more refinement and expression.
While the Yamaha is powerful, weighty and energetic, it has more difficulty with the quieter moments. Dynamically, it pales in comparison to the Sony, which is as fun as it is insightful. Quiet moments are captivating as huge explosions go off in every corner of the open soundfield – and the DN1080 handles the changing shifts masterfully.
There’s also a harsh edge to the RXV583’S treble that becomes more obvious when you turn up the volume, so careful speaker partnering is needed.
It’s a criticism we’ve aimed at Sony in the past, but this appears to have been ironed out in the DN1080. High notes are reached with plenty of headroom. The sound is clear and crisp, but the vein of solidity running through the Sony amp stops it sounding bright or harsh.
Some of that solidity and dynamic subtlety is missing from the Sony’s current arch rival, the Denon AVRX2400H. The Sony is demonstrably more detailed, offering a bigger scale of sound with more grunt, drive and low-end depth than the Denon can muster. Next to Sony’s more robust character, the new Denon sounds a little delicate.
All three amps are particularly adept at steering sound around the room, with the Sony and Denon’s precision giving them the edge over the Yamaha’s blunt muscle. Surround effects swirl around convincingly and you can track exactly where each noise – whether it’s a spell, a crash, a gunshot or a magical creature – is placed in the soundfield.
They envelop you in a cocoon of sound, and that’s before you engage the Dolby Atmos or DTS:X 3D soundtracks.
A home cinema amp is never likely to be a match for dedicated stereo amplifiers such as the Rega Brio, but the Denon and Sony amps have an articulate, agile and rhythmic quality that does justice to stereo music. The Denon sounds dynamic and enjoyable enough when listening to a concert Blu-ray or Bluetooth-streamed songs, while Sony handles dynamic shifts and vocals in a fluid, articulate manner that sounds more musical than most AV amps.
The Yamaha receiver doesn’t fare too badly either – play Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, and the amp kicks into gear, with the slick guitar riffs and confident drums rolling along with an enjoyable momentum and tight timing. As listenable as it is, it isn’t quite enough to make it the winner of our Group Test. Ultimately, this is Sony’s show.