Denon AV receivers have been quite popular in the home theater market. In North America, Denon currently offers two AV receiver lineups to cater to various budgets: the AVR S-Series and the higher-end the AVR X-Series. The receiver reviewed here is from the middle of the pack of the AVR X-Series, the AVR-X3600H, which is introduced in 2019 with a price tag of $1099.
Feature-wise, the Denon AVR-X3600H is quite comprehensive, including 9 channels of amplification with 105 W per channel into 8 ohms, 8 HDMI inputs and 3 outputs with full HDCP 2.3 support, and the latest 4K video technologies, such as Dolby Vision, HDR10, and 4K video upscaling. The receiver is also capable of decoding the latest 3D surround decoding formats, such as Dolby Atmos, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization Technology, DTS:X, DTS Virtual:X, and the IMAX Enhanced Support. The advanced signal processing in the AVR-X3600H features the AKM 32-bit AK4458/VN DAC chips on all channels and supports playback of MP3 and Hi-Res audio formats, including WAV, FLAC, and ALAC (up to 24-bit/96-kHz), and DSD 2.8/5.6MHz. The AVR-X3600H also provides wireless connectivity via Bluetooth, Apple Airplay 2, and WiFi with HEOS (Home Entertainment Operating System) built-in, which can be used for accessing popular streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, and Tidal. The receiver also features hands-free voice controls that work with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple Siri. Does the AVR-X3600H offer sonic and video performances commensurate with the comprehensive features it offers?
Denon AVR-X3600H AV Receiver
- 9.2 channel with the latest Dolby Atmos and DTS:X surround processing formats and the associated virtualization technology.
- 4K Ultra High-Def video upscaling and HDMI pass-through feature with HCDP 2.3 support.
- Wireless network control with HEOS Built-in.
- 9 x 105 W onboard amplifier.
The Denon AVR-X3600H receiver is a middle-of-the-pack member of the Denon AVR-X home-theater receiver series, which has a price tag ranging from $599 to $3999. The AVR-X3600H was released in 2019 with an MSRP of $1099, squarely belongs to the midrange AV receiver category, which forms quite a crowded market in the United States. But Denon has been a player in this market sector for a while, so I guess the company knows what it takes to be successful amid strong competitions from other brands. It does not hurt either that Denon has built a solid reputation in the home-theater receiver sector.
9.2 channel (dual subwoofer outputs), can be configured to 11.2 channel with 2 pre-outs
9-channel discrete amplifier, 105W per channel (8-ohm, 20Hz – 20kHz, 0.08% THD 2-channels driven)
Multichannel audio processing:
Dolby Atmos, Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Surround, DTS:X, DTS Virtual:X, DTS HD Master, DTS Neural:X, Multichannel Stereo, IMAX Enhanced
Calibration and room correction:
Audyssey MultEQ XT32
8 HDMI inputs (1 HDMI input on the front panel) with full HDCP 2.3 support, 3 HDMI outputs
4K/60 Hz full-rate pass-through, 4:4:4 color resolution, HDR 10, HLG, BT.2020, and Dolby Vision compatibility
- analog: 5 stereo line-level, 1 phono (MM), 1 USB
- digital: 2 optical, 2 coaxial
Audio line-level outputs:
11.2 multichannel (2 subwoofer outs), 1 multi-room
3 composites, 2 component
High-resolution audio format decoding:
ALAC, FLAC and WAV lossless files up to 24-bit/192-kHz, DSD 2.8MHz/5.6MHz
Bluetooth and built-in Wi-Fi with 2.4GHz/5GHz dual band support
Spotify, Pandora, Tidal and more (music streaming services may vary by region) via AirPlay 2, HEOS app
for multi-room audio, voice control, and digital music streaming
Voice control compatibility:
Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, and Josh.AI
Denon 2016 AVR remote app available for iPhone and Android devices, also HEOS app
17.1″ × 14.9″ × 6.6″ (without antennas)
Receiver, AV Receiver, Denon AVR-X3600H AV Receiver, Denon AV Receiver, Denon Receiver, AV Receiver Review 2020
The Denon AVR-X3600H receiver is a handsome-looking product with good build quality. Even though it is a feature-laden receiver, it maintains a front panel that does not look busy. A good-sized LCD occupies the front-panel landscape, with two round knobs on its side and a series of rectangular push-button selectors right underneath the display. The left round knob (when viewed from the front) is a rotary input source selector while the right knob is the master volume control. The rectangular push-buttons are for various functions: tuner preset up/down channels, zone 2 controls, display dimmer controls, and some quick input select buttons. The power on/standby button is located right below the input-source selector knob. The front panel also sports HDMI and USB inputs and provides a headphone jack as well as a setup microphone input. The white display is dimmable and provides sufficient information on the operational state of the receiver. The main information on the sound processing format and selected input are thoughtfully shown in big lettering, which is readable from a seating position of about 8-9 ft from the receiver.
Typical to the modern feature-rich AV receivers these days, the rear panel of the AVR-X3600H sports extensive input/output connectors, including HDMI inputs/outputs, digital inputs (coaxial and optical), video inputs (composite and component), monitor output (component), stereo audio inputs (including phono), 11.2 line-level pre-outs, and 11 pairs of speaker outputs (two of these pairs are alternately assignable for bi-amping or for powering second-zone speakers). Wired Ethernet port, DC trigger, FM/AM antenna connectors, and two Bluetooth/Wi-Fi antenna receptacles (two antennae are supplied) can also be found on the rear panel. Even though busy, the input-output connectors on the rear panel of the AVR-X3600H are nicely laid out.
The HDMI connections in the AVR-X3600H supports eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel), HDCP2.3, and up to 4K 60Hz video format compatible with Dolby Vision as well as HDR10. HDMI pass-through feature in standby mode is also supported. The AVR-X3600H is also capable of upscaling SD and HD video to 4K Ultra HD with its powerful video engine.
As for the sound, the AVR-X3600H is also equipped with an advanced sound processing technology, featuring 32-bit AKM AK4458/VN digital-to-analog converters on all channels. Therefore, it is of no surprise that the receiver has the capability of decoding lossless music files, such as FLAC and WAV up to 24 bit/192 kHz. It can also playback 2.8/5.6-MHz DSD files, and thus it is quite versatile in this regard. For surround sound, the AVR-X3600H features the latest 3D surround formats: Dolby Atmos and DTS:X (including IMAX Enhanced), with their associated virtualization technologies: Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization and DTS Virtual:X, which are intended to provide immersive surround audio without the use of the physical height-channel speakers.
As with most modern-day receivers, the Denon AVR-X3600H offers a comprehensive networking feature. Besides the wired ethernet port, the wireless connectivity of the AVR-X3600H includes Bluetooth and dual-band 2.4GHz/5GHz Wi-Fi supports. It is also equipped with HEOS Built-in, enabling ease of control for multi-room audio, voice control, and digital music streaming from the local NAS server or popular streaming services like Pandora, Spotify, Deezer, and TIDAL. At the time of this writing, Qobuz is not yet supported in HEOS. The voice control feature works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple Siri for hands-free playback functions.
The infra-red remote control supplied with the AVR-X3600H is of medium size with nicely laid-out soft buttons that are color-coded and clearly labeled. Only the Main and Zone2 buttons at the very top of the remote are backlit. Pretty much all the functions of the receiver could be accessed using the remote. Moreover, the AVR-X3600H is supported by 2 freely downloadable remote apps for use with mobile phones or tablets: the Denon 2016 AVR Remote app and the HEOS app. Both the iOS and Android versions of these apps are available. The Denon 2016 AVR Remote app can be used to control some functions of the receiver via the network, which include power on/off, volume adjustment, input selection, and access to the HEOS app. The HEOS app is used to access streaming services and multi-room playback functions.
Setting up the Denon AVR-X3600H is relatively easy and straightforward. After making all the device connections, one can just plug in the supplied calibration microphone to the front-panel microphone input and run the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 calibration and optimization feature, guided by its step-by-step instructions on the connected monitor. About 15 minutes is all it takes to get everything calibrated and optimized for the room. Once it is done, only small adjustments are usually needed to further fine-tune the sound to match certain program materials or preference.
For this review, the AVR-X3600H is used to drive a 7.2 speaker configuration: 3 front speakers (front left, front right, and a center channel), two pairs of surround speakers (side and back), and 2 subwoofers. The height speakers were not used and the height-virtualization algorithm on the AVR-X3600H was engaged to simulate their presence. Two amplifier channels are available to power a pair of height speakers for a 9.2 speaker setup. But the AVR-X3600H provides 11.2 pre-outs, so it can accommodate a full Atmos 11.2 speaker setup by adding an external two-channel amplifier to drive the additional pair of height channel speakers.
During the review, I connected the AVR-X3600H to my home network using Wi-Fi, which allowed me to control the operation of the receiver using the remote control app and to utilize all its networking features, such as running HEOS and controlling the receiver using voice commands through Google Assistant. The network connection of the AVR-X3600H was very stable. I did not experience any glitches or drop-outs with the network connection during the review.
The HDMI connectivity performance of the AVR-X3600H is solid, passing through audio-video content or upscaling videos as it is intended to be. In passing-through videos, it did not cause any noticeable video degradation, at least to the naked eye. The HDMI switching control worked consistently, allowing the receiver to be automatically powered on/off in sync with the HDMI device connected to it, which in this case was my Xfinity cable receiver. I reported occasional hiccups while performing the same action with the Marantz SR5014 receiver that I reviewed a few months back, but to my delight, I did not experience any such hiccups with this Denon AVR-X3600H receiver. With some HDMI-connected devices, such as Oppo UDP-203, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch, the receiver was able to detect and edit the input name automatically.
My good impression on the relatively glitch-free operation of the AVR-X3600H was further enhanced by its sonic performance. The receiver in general produced clear and dynamic sound with no obvious trace of harshness even when it was pushed to a rather high volume level, a testament to the quality of its onboard amplification. In surround decoding, the receiver produced excellent surround envelopment and accurate steering that brought immersive surround music and movie soundtrack experiences.
The soundtracks of Netflix’s Jessica Jones series (2015-2018) are rich in dynamics with soft and loud passages, ambient sounds, as well as various musical scores. I watched Seasons 2 and 3 of the series through the AVR-X3600H, which handled these complex soundtracks extremely well. It immersed me with the surround envelopment that was believable and did not detract my attention to the ongoing scenes. Dialogue sounded natural and clear, even on soft passages. The accompanying background music sounded smooth and refined. The ambient sound involving the squawking seagulls all around the sky in the motel-by-the-sea scene near the end of Season 3 sounded realistic especially with the height-virtualization feature engaged.
The Denon AVR-X3600H also did not flinch in delivering the Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Disney’s Aladdin (2019) movie. The movie is partly musical and thus it has a lively soundtrack containing a lot of singing scenes on top of the abundant action sequences. Various complex action scenes in the movie were presented with tight surround steering and believable impact intensity, bringing immense enjoyment to the movie-watching experience.
DTS Technology Music Demonstration and Set-Up Disc
For an AV receiver, the Denon AVR-X3600H is also no slouch in stereo 2.1 application. There were noticeable shortcomings when compared to a higher-end surround processor in stereo music playback, such as my Marantz AV8802, especially in vocal naturality, treble details, and music texture, but that was not surprising considering their price difference (Marantz AV8802 was almost four times more expensive than the Denon AVR-X3600H).
In surround music reproduction, however, the AVR-3600H could give the more expensive processor the run for its money. The DTS 5.1 track Prayer for the Dying by Seal from the DTS Technology Music Demonstration and Set-Up Disc (1996) sounded as good as I could remember it through the AVR-X3600H. I also tested the AVR-X3600H to playback several PlayStation 4 game soundtracks recorded in Dolby Digital 5.1 format and I was quite impressed with the seamless immersive high-level sonic fidelity surround sound it produced. Therefore, I was not surprised when my college-aged son commented that he felt an elevated gaming experience from the insertion of the Denon AVR-X3600H into his game system.
The DENON AVR-X3600H is an excellent performer midrange AV receiver with comprehensive features that justifies its price tag and easily recommendable to serve as the centerpiece of a high-fidelity home entertainment system.
- Handsome-looking receiver with good build quality
- Comprehensive connectivity and features
- Excellent networking and wireless features
- Operationally robust
- Equipped with the latest Dolby Atmos and DTS:X surround virtualization technology
- Very good stereo and surround performances
- Backlit remote control
The Denon AVR-X3600H is a mid-priced AV receiver that has a lot to offer and is easy to like. It deserves respect not only because it is loaded with state-of-the-art features but also because of its all-around strong audio and video performances. It is robust operationally and its sonic performance should satisfy most audio and home-theater enthusiasts. While it may not be the best out there, the Denon AVR-X3600H is hard to beat within the $1099 price range. You will need to move up the price ladder significantly to get an overall better receiver. For that reason, the Denon AVR-X3600H represents a champ in the midrange AV receiver category.