Denon AVR-S710W Review
By Chris Heinonen on
Trying to pick a future-proof receiver in 2014 was a challenge. You had to pick between full bandwidth HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 copy protection, and DTS:X didn’t even exist yet. No matter what option you picked, you knew that in the next year or two you might need to replace it if you got a new TV. By mid-2015 that had changed and it was not hard to find receivers with full HDMI 2.0a and HDCP 2.2 support for UltraHD along with DTS:X and Dolby Atmos support. One of the more affordable options with those features is the Denon AVR-S710W.
For $480 the Denon AVR-S710W has 6 HDMI inputs, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X with 7 channels, HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2, Bluetooth, AirPlay, WiFi, Audyssey MultEQ, and the best setup routine of any receiver. Best of all, I can crank it to reference levels with my KEF Atmos system and it sounds wonderful. For most people, the Denon AVR-S710W offers everything you need in a receiver today and is ready for tomorrow as well.
There isn’t much missing from the Denon AVR-S710W from a features perspective. It’s easier to list off what you don’t get than what you do. No, you don’t get analog to HDMI video conversion, but do you have many analog sources? There aren’t any preouts to use an external amplifier, or drive more than 7 channels, but few people ever do that. You aren’t going to find S-Video or Component Video inputs, and there’s no phono preamp, but those are all uncommon features now as well.
With seven channels of amplification, the Denon can support a 7.1 channel system, or a 5.1.2 channel Atmos and DTS:X system. DTS:X support is not live yet, a firmware update will do that in 2016, but Dolby Atmos support is working. The integrated Bluetooth and AirPlay make it easy to get audio from your smartphone into your home theater system. It also features integrated Spotify Connect so you can stream audio without needing your smartphone to be on.
As mentioned earlier all the HDMI inputs are full bandwidth HDMI 2.0 with HDCP 2.2 copy protection. This lets the Denon work with all current and future HDMI 2.0 devices coming out. Testing it with an NVidia Shield and Roku 4 on an UltraHD TV, every pixel of the UHD image passes without issue. Now that UltraHD Blu-ray is almost here, having a receiver that is ready for it in the future is almost essential. Even if you aren’t going to an UltraHD set this year or next year, you’ll want to have a receiver that is ready for that in the future.
What sets the Denon apart to me is the easy setup. A nice GUI guides you through everything: connecting speakers, the Audyssey calibration, and all the way to configuring the inputs to what you want them to be. If you have an iOS device, it even uses that to setup WiFi instead of making you enter a long password. One of the worst things about receivers is that they are almost impossible to set up. They have 100+ page manuals and even professional reviewers like me struggle to set them up. The Denon AVR-S710W is a receiver that almost anyone can setup thanks to the incredible automated routine it includes.
All these features are for naught if the Denon doesn’t sound good, but it sounds great. I used the Denon with my KEF R300 based system and added in a pair of KEF R50 Atmos modules to test that out as well. I worried that the Denon wouldn’t have the amplifier to drive these, but it did so and without complaint. Watching the Atmos track on Mad Max, the sound mix throws you into the center of the action. From the opening scene to the end of the film, the soundtrack never slows down but the Denon never faltered. I felt every explosion and impact from the film, and enjoyed the whole ride.
The integrated AirPlay and Spotify Connect make the Denon a joy to use as well. While I have a collection of hundreds of albums on CD and vinyl, I listen to streaming more than anything else today. Being able to launch Spotify on my iPhone, start my Discover Weekly playlist, and send it to the Denon makes it easy to listen to it on my main AV system. AirPlay also worked just as well, letting me stream lossless CD quality from Tidal straight to the Denon. Since most people stream their music today, the Denon AVR-S710W is ready for them and handles it well.
I watched a whole host of other Atmos titles on the Denon AVR-S710W besides Mad Max. From Expendables 3 to Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, the Denon handles everything with aplomb. Audyssey does a good job of mixing everything with the subwoofer, and making the blend between the channels seamless. At no point did I find myself thinking the audio performance of the Denon was letting me down and making me miss my preamp setup. I had my Emotiva and Parasound Halo amps sitting around doing nothing, but I wasn’t missing them at all.
I had a few small issues with the Denon AVR-S710W but nothing that would cause me to not recommend it. I did find that I ran out of inputs, but most people won’t. After connecting an Oppo Blu-ray player, Sonos Connect, NVidia Shield, Roku 4, TiVo HD, and Control4 EA5 to it, there was nothing left for me. Most people aren’t running multiple media streamers. If you have a lot of video game systems you might want to move up to the Denon AVR-S910W instead.
If you’re running a universal remote that can support IP control, the Denon AVR-S710W cannot do that. You’ll need to move up to the Denon AVR-X1200 to get that feature integrated. In the past this meant you had an expensive control system like Control4. Now Harmony and others are starting to integrate IP control into their universal remotes. If you own one of these, it is worth the extra money to get IP control because it ensures that everything works together.
It also takes the Denon AVR-S710W a long time to lock onto an HDMI signal. For most people this isn’t going to be a problem. You’ll turn it on, set it to a specific input, and leave it there for a long time. As I was testing and switching inputs a lot, this bothered me, but most people won’t notice. If for some reason you move between inputs all the time you might want to think about this, but most people will not care.
Thanks to Audio Precision, we ran the Denon AVR-S710W thought many bench tests. In testing against other $400-500 receiver, the Denon AVR-S710W performs well. It has less noise, lower THD+N, and a higher SNR than other options in this price range. Of course spending more will always get you better performance here, but the Denon does better than all the other options I’ve looked at.
Tested using the speaker level outputs at 20V (there are no pre-outs to test with) the Denon manages an A-weighted SNR of 109dB with -87dB of crosstalk. The output is +/- 0.058dB flat from 0 to 20kHz and has -78dB of Inter-modular distortion. Viewing the charts for harmonics with a 1kHz test tone, those harmonics are nearly -90dB below the fundamental or lower which is very good for a $500 class receiver. Power line noise is virtually absent, with only a small -117dB ripple at 120Hz. The maximum resolution of the DAC seems to be a THD+N level of -106dB.
The Denon isn’t going to out-perform a $1,000 receiver or preamp on bench tests, but for a $480 unit with all these features, it out-performs its direct competitors.
If you need a receiver right now and want to spend ~$500, I can’t think of a better way to go than the Denon AVR-S710W. You are set for the future with Atmos and DTS:X support along with HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2. The main things you are giving up is some legacy input support and analog-to-digital conversion. In 2016 that is something most people don’t need. The integrated streaming support makes it easy to listen to music through your main system as well.
I’ve spent a few months with the AVR-S710W handling the main duties for my system and it has held up without any issue. If you have speakers that dip down to 4 ohms you might want to move up to a higher-end Denon, but those with 6 ohm or 8 ohm speakers will be fine. If you need more HDMI inputs or analog-to-HDMI video conversion, you should step up to the Denon AVR-S910W.
For almost everyone, the Denon AVR-S710W is fantastic. I’ve recommended it for Wirecutter and recommended it to one of my best friends from college. I’ve use it in my own system and haven’t missed having a high-end preamp at any point yet. For almost everyone the Denon AVR-S710W is a fantastic buy and a receiver that is ready for future UltraHD sources and audio format.
Loaded with features, easy setup routine, great subjective and objective performance
No analog to HDMI video conversion, slow to lock onto HDMI signals
For a receiver in the $500 price range, the Denon AVR-S710W stands alone. It offers all the features you want in a package that performs well and is easy to setup.