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Denon AVR-S970H

by janeausten
Denon AVR-S970H

If you’re looking for a more affordable AV receiver and the cost of the X2800H is a little out of your financial range, the Denon AVR-S970H sounds like a really exciting offering. Even though it lacks certain more advanced capabilities, the cheaper price will have you second-guessing.


The Denon AVC-A110 is almost similar to the AVC-X8500H in terms of its design, meaning that its huge input dial is located on the left and its much larger volume dial is located on the right. In between, you’ll find a large screen that provides a wealth of information on the channels being processed by the amplifier, and the information is decoded. The FLD used for the display is a custom white variant, while the indicator light is a white LED.

Due to its spare design, the power button is the only other control that may be easily accessed. Except for the Denon logo and the 110th-anniversary emblem, all other branding has been erased. A flap slides down from behind the screen to reveal the controls, an HDMI input, a USB port, a headphone jack, and a connection for the setup microphone. The earbud port and mouse button have a shiny chrome finish, too.

Connection and Control

The majority of the AVC-ports A110s are located on the back, the same as on the AVC-X8500H, with one key exception. There are three HDMI outputs and a total of eight HDMI inputs (seven on the back and one on the front). However, the primary HDMI output does support eARC, and one of the rear HDMI inputs and both of the HDMI outputs support 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz (up to a total of 40GBps) (enhanced audio return channel).

All of the HDMI inputs are HDCP 2.3 compliant, and they can all pass 4K/60p, 3D, BT.2020, high dynamic range (HDR10, hybrid log-gamma, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision), auto low latency mode (ALLM), variable refresh rate (VRR), rapid media switching (QMS), and quick format transitions (QFT) (quick frame transport). The HDMI inputs will also rename themselves according to data sent from the source (when available).

The A110 is similar to the X8500 in that it accepts four composite and three component video inputs and provides outputs for each kind of connection (all of which seem a bit redundant these days). Six analog stereo inputs, 7.1-channel inputs, and analog stereo outputs for zones 2 and 3 are also included, in addition to two optical and two coaxial digital audio inputs. There is also a grounded phono input and stereo analog inputs for a tuner. Two 12V triggers, a remote control in/out, a serial control RS232 connector, a USB port for power, and an Ethernet port for a hardwired connection are all included. The A110 supports Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi 2.4/5 GHz dual-band, and Apple AirPlay 2 thanks to its twin antenna system.

Features and Specs

The Denon AVC-A110 offers almost the same set of features as the AVC-X8500H, with the vast majority of differences being superficial or technical in nature. When you first open the double-boxed, custom-branded packaging, you’ll find a hand-signed certificate of authenticity and some commemorative postcards to kick off your celebration of the 110th anniversary. Each A110 is handcrafted at Denon’s Shirakawa audio facility, and only a select number will be produced (the actual number is a closely guarded secret by Denon). There is a five-year guarantee on the A110, as well.

Denon has upgraded some internal components to match the standard set by the newer external features. These include larger circuit boards with lower impedance, higher mechanical stability, fewer vibrations, and enhanced heat dissipation, as well as a new transformer with a copper base, new capacitors, and an upgraded DAC board with new polypropylene capacitors. Even if you don’t plan on opening the hood, you can tell it’s the 110th-anniversary model because of the black inside and commemorative 110th-anniversary logo. Denon asserts that the A110’s greater sound quality than that of the X8500 is the product of both internal upgrades and fine-tuning.

The A110 looks to be functionally equivalent to the X8500 otherwise, with 13 channels of built-in oomph supplied by class A/B amplifiers that employ a monolithic architecture and two independent heatsinks. Two dual SHARC+ core DSP processors with a total of 10.8 GFLOPS of continuous processing power are used in the digital audio processing system (10.8 billion floating point numerical computations per second). The AKM 192kHz/32-bit DAC and Denon’s unique AL32 processor enable high-resolution audio decoding of a wide variety of lossless file formats, including as ALAC, FLAC, and WAV, as well as 2.8/5.6MHz DSD files.

The A110 is compatible with Dolby Atmos, DTS:X Pro, and Auro-3D, in addition to IMAX Enhanced DTS: X. You have a beautiful one-box immersive audio solution, since all three formats may be handled for up to 13.2 channels, and the required amplification is included. Auro-3D offers seven ear-level channels, five height channels, and a specialized overhead channel, while Dolby Atmos and DTS:X Pro provide a choice of 9.2.4 or 7.2.6 channel configurations. However, in November, a firmware upgrade will make DTS:X Pro available on the A110 and X8500, which was not the case with the sample we tested.


The Denon AVC-A110 is a fantastic home theatre amplifier, providing a robust and nuanced 5.1-channel sound field. As it is based on the AVC-X8500H, which is also a Reference Status badge winner, it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Denon has consistently produced state-of-the-art receivers and amplifiers, particularly for surround sound. The Marantz stablemate is more popular among music aficionados, while the Denon is the go-to brand for movie buffs. In broad strokes, I agree with that fundamental conclusion; nonetheless, it is an oversimplification.

Without actually listening to both, I can’t determine if the A110 or the X8500 has a greater sonic quality. As a consequence, I had to base my comparisons on the X8500H I evaluated back in February 2018. Given the A110’s already amazing sound quality, though, I wouldn’t be shocked to hear a little enhancement as a result of the improved components and fine-tuning. Having said that, I also know the X8500 sounds excellent, and it’s not as if Denon tunes its other amps and receivers to sound poor. It’s safe to say that either the A110 or the X8500 will suit your needs.

Final thoughts

The Denon AVC-A110 is a fittingly cutting-edge release to commemorate the company’s first century in business. The A110 will likely bring on a wave of nostalgia among longtime Denon fans, who will think fondly of the company’s more legendary amplifiers and receivers of yesteryear. As a former AVC-A1SE user, I can absolutely connect to that feeling and was reminded of the excitement of discovering then-revolutionary technologies like DTS-ES at the turn of the century.

But if you’re considering purchasing an A110, the issue is whether your decision is being guided by logic or emotion. If the latter is the case, you’re in luck: this AV receiver is not only attractive to look at, but also extraordinarily well-built, packed with features, and capable of producing excellent sound. The performance is great, and the ability to operate an immersive 13.2-channel system from a single box is great news for movie enthusiasts.

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