Denon AVR-4500h Home Theatre Amp

9.3

Features

9.0/10

Sound

9.0/10

Value for Money

9.0/10

Build Quality

10.0/10

What we like (Pros)

  • Future proofed (as much as possible)
  • Powerful, big sound
  • Pre-out options
  • 9.2 channels of good movie times
  • Audessy (better than YPAO IMO)

What we like less (Cons)

  • Inputs have fixed names on remote and back of amp.

The Denon AVR-4500h is the updated AVR-4400h model for 2019.

I have always loved the Denon sound signature. I bought my first Denon amp second hand about 20 years ago which powered a huge floor standing tower set of what I seem to remember were Energy speakers. It was a big sound for a small amp. Flash forward 20 years and I bought a newer Denon Amp, model number DRA-37, when living in Vancouver from Future Shop on Granville St (shut down in favour of Best Buy). It’s a basic stereo amp with FM capabilities. Only 50w per channel but it’s simply delicious to listen too. Sadly, it’s only good for stereo and everyone loves a good movie so I also bought a Yamaha RV-371 amp for home theatre a few years later. The RX-371 got a 5 star review from What HiFi and it certainly did a good job of filling our Yaletown apartment with a couple of newer Energy CF-50 Connoisseur Tower speakers and centre/surrounds. This was then updated to a Yamaha RV-481 5.1 speaker set as I blew up the RX-371 moving to a 240v country with a faulty step down transformer. #sad 🤦

Sorry – this is taking a while to get to the Denon AVR-4500h but bear with me. I feel it’s important to establish my historical listening hardware to understand my perspective on the AVR-4500h.

Get on with it…

With the RX-481 I updated my speakers to Concept 40s from Q Acoustics. I got the centre speaker and a couple of Q Acoustic 3020’s for surrounds. All in all it sounded great but the Concept 40’s just didn’t seem to perform like they did in the HiFi store I bought them from. The DRA-37 sounded amazing with them, so for such an old amp I thought that if I could get that quality for home theatre as well, then I would be #winning.

New Denon Home Theatre amps announced.

In late 2018 Denon announced that it was going to update the AVR-4400h and AVR-3400h Home theatre amps with the AVR-4500h and AVR-3500h.

Denon AVR-4500h

Choosing between the AVR-3500h vs AVR-4400h

Sometimes a decision comes down to price vs features. The previous years model, the Denon AVR-4400h was discounted significantly when the AVR-4500h was released. This put it only slightly above the new model Denon AVR-3500h. A better featured model for slightly less than a newer, less-featured, model. As the features of the AVR-4400h and AVR-4500h were not significantly different it seemed that getting the AVR-4400h was a better choice than the AVR-3500h. So, that made it an easy decision. After ordering it turned out the supplier had run out of AVR-4400h so they upgraded me to the AVR-4500h – I know – so good. You were probably wondering where I was going with this considering I’d decided to buy the AVR-4400h, but there it is 🙂

So. How does the Denon AVR-4500h sound?

Warm. Big. Powerful. Detailed.

The sound stage is wonderful. It’s wide and the separation in instrumentation is really lovely. They power the Concept 40s with ease and when combined with the Concept 40 center speaker and surrounds it is immense and enveloping. I bought some cheaper surround sound speakers and as a test I used the Q Acoustic 3020’s as the Dolby uprising speakers for Dolby Atmos. Yes – it looked ridiculous (and a touch dangerous) having the 3020’s sitting on top of the Concept 40s but I’m new to Atmos and didn’t want to spend money on the speakers and find out they were lame.

Using Q Acoustic 3020 Bookshelf speakers for Dolby Atmos Upfiring Speakers.

Dolby Atmos and 5.1 Sounds performance

It is the closest I have come to being in a cinema in my living room. It puts sound into every corner of the room. When watching Triple Frontier (Dobly Atmos version) my wife, who was trying to read on the couch next to me, looked up as she thought the rain on the movie was rain on our roof. That is a big tick for getting proper up-firing speakers that fit on top of my floor standing concept 40s. [note to self: start savings plan for up firing atmos speakers].

Update: July 2019 – see our recent post on Dolby Atmos up-firing height speaker options.

My home theatre set up is:

This is all paired with:

  • Samsung 4K TV
  • Apple TV 4K

My living room is approximately 4 meters wide and 6 meters deep and has one open end to the left of the HiFi and TV.

I am able to run the system loud without feeling it’s hurting or damaging. Explosions are deep even pushing the crossover to a point the floor standing Concept 40s take the weight. I have the front, centre, rear speakers all set to SMALL to make the Amp push the bass frequencies to the Subwoofer and leave the amps to run the rest of the speakers. Using a DB meter results in low results despite how huge the sound is.

Warm sound signature

I will definitely say the sound signature is warm. Not as clinical as the Yamaha amps I had been used too, and perhaps even warmer than the DRA-37. In truth, this results in a more natural sound. Personally, I like sibilance and treble in my audio sound signatures but I have come to like the AVR-4500h as for long listening and watching periods I don’t get at all fatigued. It has really opened up a new soundscape to me. Voices are clear and strong, bass is deep but it never makes anything muddy or blends in – all the sound frequencies and more specifically the instrumentation and effects are well separated. It definitely makes the Amp perfect for what it’s built for. A really enjoyable experience.

Sounds modes

I set the sound processing for AUTO for movies and Pure for listening to stereo audio. The Auto feature for video will automatically select the right output based on the input – whether it be atmos, DTS:x, 5.1 or 2.1 etc. You can manually select Dolby Surround which will attempt to upscale

Issues with the Denon AVR-4500h

Everything has worked as expected. If you don’t want to tweak anything then it’s easy. After Audessy set up it runs on its own.

But with Spotify on the 4500h… (Update: and Airplay)

There is one quirk when playing music using Spotify connect. That is that the Amp seems to turn itself off and on after about 3-5 minutes, sometimes longer. The auto time off is not enabled and it only happens with Spotify connect. Not sure if it happens with Pure and auto modes but I believe so. It’s not a deal-breaker but just a note.

UPDATE; July 2019

This issue with Spotify seems to have stopped. I’m really not convinced it was the Denon at all and possibly some other issue.

Would I change anything about the AVR-4500h?

If I was going to change anything I would remove the labelled inputs and remote buttons. The inputs at the back and the buttons on the remote all have pre-labelled names. e.g. DVR / CD / Phono etc. I would prefer just naming them Input 1, Input 2 etc like you would on a TV.

Conclusion

The Denon AVR-4500h is a powerhouse of a unit. It’s got loads of wattage and force that can present the most delicate Cello beautifully, through to the deep explosions of a John Wick block blockbuster. It has features and technology future proofing that make it quite leading edge in the world of typical home theatre set ups. It can power 2 extra zones, includes HEOS/Spotify, works with smart homes (Alexa & Google), is 9.1 strong and includes Atmos, DTS:X, Aura ready etc. It also comes firmware updatable for future improvements.

I’d highly recommend this amp to anyone who has a love of hifi, home theatre and stereo listening; with a little bit of modern tech thrown in as a passion. It runs a little hot but it’s coming in to Winter here so any extra lounge room heating is a plus.

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