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Denon vs Onkyo Receivers Comparison

In this article, I would like to tell you about Denon vs Onkyo comparing the best receivers of 2 brands. Were selected models from different price segments to cover the entire range. This comparison aimed to find out which model is better and make it easier to choose between Denon and Onkyo.

Denon company history and overview

Denon is an American company with over 100 years of history, constantly evolving in search. Frederick Whitney Horn founded the company in 1910 as part of Nippon Chikuonki Shokai, a single-sided record and gramophones manufacturer.

The Denon brand was founded in 1947 when Nippon Columbia merged with Japan Denki Onkyo. D&M Holdings Inc. was formed in May 2002 because of the merger of Denon Ltd and Marantz Japan Inc.
Today the company specializes in producing professional and consumer home theaters and audio equipment, including AV receivers, DVD players, tuners, and wireless stereos. Denon is also known for its home cinema receivers and moving coil cartridges. The brand has gained many fans around the world thanks to the excellent sound of its devices.

Onkyo company history and overview

You should be familiar with the history of the brand to compare Onkyo receivers correctly with competitors from the Denon camp. The Japanese company Onkyo – first appeared in 1946. It was initially called Osaka Denki Onkyo K.K. And today, this is a reputable producer of audio and video systems for home consumption, classified as high-definition.

The first Onkyo receivers entered the market in the 70s of the last century, and they immediately recognized consumers. In 2000, the company created a multichannel receiver, and in 2001, the receiver was linked to a home theater system by the company’s technicians for the first time. In 2002, an Ethernet interface was already integrated into Onkyo devices, allowing them to connect to computers.

Through continuous development and endless experimentation with sound, the company has reached a level where the Onkyo brand is now associated with sonic excellence. And the quality of receivers and amplifiers Onkyo always speaks with the best words.

Onkyo Receiver

How I tested receivers by Denon and Onkyo

I carried out Denon vs Onkyo sound quality testing in two aspects: performing music and dealing with movies. For the comparison, I selected the Blade Runner 2049 movie, and to test the musical capabilities, I utilized the following compositions:

  • Max Roach – Lonesome Lover – SoundCloud
  • Anne Sofie von Otter – Baby Plays Around – Deezer
  • The Chemical Brothers – Das Spiegel – Spotify
  • The Weeknd – The Hills (CD player)
  • Led Zeppelin – Ramble On (CD player)
  • George Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue (CD player)
  • Thundercat – Uh Uh (CD player)
  • Daft Punk – Get Lucky (CD player)

In addition to the receivers, the following equipment was used:

  • CD player SACD 30n
  • Blu-ray player Sony UBP-X700
  • Speaker wire – AudioQuest Type-9
  • Speakers for movie – Klipsch RP-8060FA
  • Stereo speakers:
    • Klipsch RP-8060FA
    • KEF Q350

Mid-price Denon and Onkyo Receivers Comparison

Denon AVR-X3700H vs Onkyo TX-RZ840

Denon AVR-X3700H vs Onkyo TX-RZ840 comparison

I’ll begin this comparison with the amplifier. In this regard, some parallels can be drawn. Let me show, the Denon AVR-X3700H can handle 9.2 mode and delivers 95 W/8 Ohm or 125 W/6 Ohm per channel. However, Onkyo TX-RZ840 works with other powers. For example, with the same 9.2 channel amplifier, it only has 100 W / 8 Ohm per channel. Moreover, thanks to IMAX Enhanced technology, the TX-RZ840 can handle 11.2 channels.

Denon AVR-X3700H photo

In terms of surround decoders, Denon or Onkyo, both have an identical set. Here I saw a complete set of current technologies from Dolby and DTS. However, the TX-RZ840 also has Auro 3D, which the AVR-X3700H lacks. When it comes to communication, the situation is also similar. Each model supports music services such as Deezer, TIDAL, and others, wirelessly via Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay 2, and Wi-Fi. Different technologies are in charge of wireless multi-room in models: HEOS from Denon and Sonos from Onkyo.

The video segments of the receivers differ wildly. While the Onkyo TX-RZ840 already has typical support for 4K/60Hz on all HDMI I/O terminals with HDCP 2.2 protection, the Denon AVR-X3700H furnished with an 8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz decoder, along with HDCP 2.3. Plus, only Denon’s receiver can upscale images down to 8K/60Hz. Besides the exciting features, the TX-RZ840 also has the conversion of analog video signals to digital.

Onkyo TX-RZ840 photo

As for the Denon vs Onkyo receivers test, I decided to start by checking the surround sound work. The Onkyo TX-RZ840 performed well. I got a clean and rather deep sound. The level of realism was great. The device reproduced the soundtrack and song sound clearly and evenly. Alternatively, Denon pleased me with strong, rolling bass and correct positioning of effects. During the music test, both receivers showed similar results. The sounding is quite right, but there were a lot of basses in it. Overall, I got a detailed and wide sound stage.

Summing up, I can say that these receivers are more appropriate for use at home theaters, but of different levels. However, the work with music is different for each of the devices.

Key specs Denon AVR-X3700H Onkyo TX-RZ840
Channels 9.2 9.2
Power output 105 W/8 Ohm, 135 W/6 Ohm 130 W/8 Ohm, 180 W/6 Ohm
HDMI inputs/outputs 7/3 (8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz pass-through) 7/2 (4K/60Hz pass-through)
Bluetooth/Wi-Fi yes/yes yes/yes
Video functions HDMI to HDMI scaling (up to 8K 60/50) video conversion analog to HDMI
Supports HDMI ARC, HDMI eARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.3, HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision HDMI ARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.3, HDR10, Dolby Vision
Streaming services AirPlay2, Spotify, Pandora, Tidal AirPlay2, Spotify, Pandora, Tidal
Surround sound DTS:X, Dolby Atmos DTS:X, Dolby Atmos

Denon AVR-X3700H pros and cons

  • Deep and powerful sound
  • Heos app to control the various connected devices
  • No Auro 3D support

Onkyo TX-RZ840 pros and cons

  • Very detailed sound
  • 4K/60Hz on all HDMI inputs and outputs
  • No upscale feature

Denon AVR-X2700H vs Onkyo TX-NR797

Denon AVR-X2700H vs Onkyo TX-NR797 comparison

Next, I offer you a comparison of two radically different models. I start with one clear difference between Onkyo versus Denon. The Denon AVR-X2700H is a 7.2 channel receiver, while the Onkyo TX-NR797 can handle 9.2 channels. In addition, there are differences in power per channel: the AVR-X2700H delivers 95 W / 8 Ohm, 125 W / 6 Ohm, compared to 100 W/8 Ohm for the TX-NR797. However, regarding the supported audio features, there are no differences. It has a standard set of technologies from Dolby and DTS and the lack of Auro 3D.

Denon AVR-X2700H photo

When we talk about video processing, I can’t say there are many similarities. The AVR-X2700H is the 8K-ready receiver. It has HDCP 2.3 and 8K signal pass-through. Moreover, only in Denon, I found the video up-scaling feature up to 8K/60 Hz. On the other hand, the TX-NR797 supports only 4K/60 Hz processing without an up-scaling feature. However, I should note that there are 4K pass-through and Analog to HDMI video conversion.

The listening test I began from the movie. As I expected, the Denon produced a deep and dynamic sound with strong bass. The sound was powerful, but sometimes I lacked the details. In turn, the Onkyo receiver floods the room with soft and detailed sound. All the effects are in their places, but the former dynamics are lacking.

Onkyo TX-NR797 photo

In music testing, I preferred the TX-NR797 sound. The sound is smooth and soft, where all registers are clearly defined. I heard the details of vocals and instruments perfectly. However, the AVR-X2700H`s sound is entirely different. The receiver performs in the same manner, as in the test with the movie – powerfully and dynamically, but details are partially lost.

Having listened to both receivers, I can confidently claim that the Onkyo TX-NR797 is a better choice for listening to music because of its not very dynamic sound and the great sound performance. Alternatively, the Denon AVR-X2700H will be good for a home cinema setup. It has enough dynamics, but not enough detail for working with music.

Key specs Denon AVR-X3700H Onkyo TX-RZ840
Channels 9.2 9.2
Power output 95 W/8 Ohm, 125 W/6 Ohm 100 W/8 Ohm
HDMI inputs/outputs 6/2 (8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz pass-through) 7/2 (4K/60Hz pass-through)
Bluetooth/Wi-Fi yes/yes yes/yes
Video functions HDMI to HDMI scaling (up to 8K 60/50) video conversion analog to HDMI
Supports HDMI ARC, HDMI eARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.3, HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision HDMI ARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.3, HDR10, Dolby Vision
Streaming services AirPlay2, Spotify, Pandora, Tidal AirPlay2, Spotify, Pandora, Tidal
Surround sound DTS:X, Dolby Atmos DTS:X, Dolby Atmos

Onkyo TX-NR797 pros and cons

  • Soft and detailed sound
  • There is an Analog to HDMI video conversion function
  • The lack of Auro 3D

Denon AVR-X2700H pros and cons

  • Excellent producing of surround sound effects
  • Powerful amplifier unit
  • Sound details are lost in a powerful bass

Premium Denon and Onkyo Receivers Comparison

Onkyo TX-RZ3100 vs Denon AVR-X6700H

Onkyo TX-RZ3100 vs Denon AVR-X6700H comparison

It’s time for premium AV receiver comparisons. Both the Onkyo TX-RZ3100 and Denon AVR-X6700H operate with 11.2 channels. There is, of course, a difference in power output. The AVR-X6700H has 140 W/8 Ohm or 175 W/6 Ohm, while its competitor has impressive performance – 140 W/8 Ohm or 200 W/6 Ohm. And since these are premium models, here I saw a complete set of all current sound decoders: Dolby Atmos, DTS: X, Auro 3D, and all their derivatives.

Also, I want to point out that some Denon`s AVR-X6700H features will be available with software updates in the future (DTS: X Pro, for example).

Onkyo TX-RZ3100 photo

The video capabilities are again radically different, in favor of the Denon AVR-X6700H. This receiver supports a video stream with a resolution of 8K/60 Hz. Along with this, there is an up-scaling up to 8K and a pass-through video stream. Alternatively, the Onkyo TX-RZ3100 can still run at a 4K resolution maximum. Moreover, I found here the up-scaling, but only up to 4K, and pass-through feature. However, I cannot but mention that Onkyo does not have HDR 10+ and Dynamic HDR support. And also, in a pair of these two receivers, only Denon has built-in eARC.

Testing has shown that receivers of such high quality do an excellent job of creating a cinema ambiance and correctly and accurately reproducing surround sound effects. As a result, the music is lively and energetic, and it bursts into the room with significant force.

Denon AVR-X6700H photo

In the music test, the differences appeared. Again, this is influenced by brand orientation. The Denon`s receiver still suppresses detail with its unrestrained bass. Onkyo’s receiver, on the other hand, acts more like an amplifier than a receiver.

Summing up the comparison, all I can say is that both of these receivers are better suited to experienced users who already have a home theater setup. However, as the heart of an advanced home theater system, each device will provide excellent sound and picture.

Key specs Denon AVR-X6700H Onkyo TX-RZ3100
Channels 11.2 11.2
Power output 140 W/8 Ohm, 175 W/6 Ohm 140 W/8 Ohm, 200 W/6 Ohm
HDMI inputs/outputs 8/3 (8K/60Hz and 4K/120Hz pass-through) 8/2 (4K/60Hz pass-through)
Bluetooth/Wi-Fi yes/yes yes/yes
Video functions video conversion analog to HDMI, HDMI to HDMI scaling (up to 8K 60/50) video conversion analog to HDMI, HDMI to HDMI scaling (up to 4K/60)
Supports HDMI ARC, HDMI eARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.3, HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision HDMI ARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.2, HDR10, Dolby Vision
Streaming services AirPlay2, Spotify, Pandora, Tidal AirPlay, Spotify, Pandora, Tidal
Surround sound DTS:X, Dolby Atmos DTS:X, Dolby Atmos

Denon AVR-X6700H pros and cons

  • Compatible with all surround sound formats
  • Supports front-wide channels
  • Future-oriented with 8K video capabilities
  • No Multi-Channel Input

Onkyo TX-RZ3100 pros and cons

  • Great audio reproduction
  • The newest Bluetooth version
  • No HDR 10+ and Dynamic HDR support

Budget Denon and Onkyo Receivers Comparison

Onkyo TX-SR393 vs Denon AVR-S540BT

Onkyo TX-SR393 vs Denon AVR-S540BT comparison

When comparing Onkyo vs Denon, I don’t forget the entry-level models. Both of these devices operate in 5.2 channel mode. And looking at audio processing, it became clear to me the key differences between these models. The first is the power of the amplifier. Onkyo TX-SR393 operates at 80 W/8 Ohm or 155 W/6 Ohm. On the other hand, Denon AVR-S540BT is inferior to the competitor and has 70 W/8 Ohm or 90 W/6 Ohm. However, not only in this, but the Denon`s receiver also loses. While the TX-SR393 supports Dolby Atmos and DTS: X decoders, the Denon AVR-S540BT lacks them.

Onkyo TX-SR393 photo

I cannot call the Onkyo TX-SR393 network devices. It just has a Bluetooth module. However, the AVR-S540BT has no network functions at all, apart from Bluetooth.

Both of these receivers support 4K video streams. However, only the Japanese device is equipped with an upscale function. In addition to this, the Denon AVR-S540BT has several video features: Dolby Vision, HDR, and HLG. And the competing receiver, in addition to these functions, also has HDR10.

Denon AVR-S540BT photo

The TX-SR393 performed much better than the competitor when watching the movie, thanks to its surround decoders. Sound effects moved around the soundstage and positioned according to what was happening on the screen. I can’t say that the sound dynamics were exciting, but the quality was enough to make the movie enjoyable. The Denon AVR-S540BT did not respond well to the film. The situation was saved by the presence of the DTS HD Master, which allowed me to hear the multi-channel sound, but without sound objects. The musical component of the receivers is slightly better. Each of the models produced a fairly balanced sound with good detail.

Comparing these two models, I can confidently say that the Onkyo TX-SR393 is clearly the right choice for an entry-level home theater. It is that more reliable audio receiver that can handle both movies and music.

Key specs Denon AVR-S540BT Onkyo TX-SR393
Channels 5.2 5.2
Power output 70 W/8 Ohm, 90 W/6 Ohm 80 W/8 Ohm, 155 W/6 Ohm
HDMI inputs/outputs 5/1 (4K/60Hz pass-through) 4/1 (4K/60Hz pass-through)
Bluetooth/Wi-Fi yes/no yes/no
Video functions 4K/60Hz pass-through 4K/60Hz pass-through, HDMI to HDMI scaling (up to 4K/60)
Supports HDMI ARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.2, HDR10, Dolby Vision HDMI ARC, HDMI CEC, HDCP2.2, HDR10, Dolby Vision
Streaming services no no
Surround sound DTS HD Master, Dolby TrueHD DTS:X, Dolby Atmos

Onkyo TX-SR393 pros and cons

  • Surround sound decoders support
  • Balanced and warm sound in stereo mode
  • No network functions

Denon AVR-S540BT pros and cons

  • Performs 4K video passthrough
  • Has no upscale features
  • No surround sound decoders

Stereo Denon and Onkyo Receivers Comparison

Denon DRA-800H vs Onkyo TX-8260

Denon DRA-800H vs Onkyo TX-8260 comparison

Concluding the series of comparisons, I looked at the Denon DRA-800H vs Onkyo TX-8260. These stereo receivers combine a stereo amplifier unit and a video path for a 4K video playback.

The most exciting part of each receiver is the amplifier. The Denon DRA-800H can operate in two-channel mode with support for two subwoofer outputs but without bi-amplification. In this mode, the receiver can deliver 100 W/8 Ohm or 120 W/6 Ohm. Such power allows the receiver to handle playback of high-quality audio and even vinyl (thanks to Phono in).

Denon DRA-800H photo

The competitor, the Onkyo TX-8260, is built with discrete amplifiers and produces 80 W/8 Ohm or 160 W/6 Ohm per channel. Also, I want to mention that this receiver circuit has Asahi Kasei AK4452VN DAC, which allows the receiver to handle any Hi-Res files. In addition, this audio circuit design allows the receiver to operate two sets of speakers, which cannot be done with the DRA-800H.

Both receivers have advanced network functions. The manufacturers have implemented support for music streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, etc. Wi-Fi and Ethernet modules are responsible for connecting to the network. And for communication with other devices, there is Bluetooth and AirPlay2. However, I want to say that TX-8260 still stands out from the competition because of the built-in Chromecast and FireConnect.

Onkyo TX-8260 photo

Now I want to move on to the testing of devices. I will immediately note that the model DRA-800H was pleasantly surprised and pleased with the purity, transparency, and enviable detail of the sound picture. The device reproduced high-frequency and mid-frequency components of the sound range very accurately and sounded quite dense and confident in the low frequencies.

The Onkyo TX-8260 also managed to please me. The sound stage was with characteristic dynamics, the bass range never seemed strained, always matched the timing, and the other frequency ranges also had a clear and distinct structure. However, compared to the Denon, which is better, this stereo receiver lacked transparency and power in the lower frequency range.

To conclude the comparison, I can say that both receivers will do well in playing back any audio source in a typical high-end manner. However, if you will be using the receiver also for watching movies, the Denon DRA-800H will be better suited for this purpose because of its dynamic sound.

Key specs Denon DRA-800H Onkyo TX-8260
Channels 2.0 2.0
Power output 100 W/8 Ohm, 120 W/6 Ohm 80 W/8 Ohm, 160 W/6 Ohm
HDMI inputs/outputs 5/1 0/0
Phono Input yes yes
Bluetooth/Wi-Fi yes/yes yes/yes
Streaming services AirPlay2, Spotify, Pandora AirPlay, Spotify, Pandora

Denon DRA-800H pros and cons

  • The sound quality is robust, detailed, and transparent, with the right amount of base
  • HDMI with ARC and CEC function
  • No Bi-amplification function

Onkyo TX-8260 pros and cons

  • Phono input for connecting a player with an MM cartridge
  • The built-in Chromecast and FireConnect
  • Fixed power cable


Is Onkyo a good brand for AV receivers?

Onkyo receivers are well-designed and recognized by the experts as high quality. They perform very well with exceptional sound quality. We can recommend budget-range models, and their mid-range models are one of our favorite picks for AV receivers.

Does Denon make good AV receivers?

Denon is a well-recognized brand that has been producing high-quality receivers for decades. So it’s safe to say that Denon is one of the best brands for home theatre receivers. Their prices may be higher than Onkyo, but it’s worth it as you get what you pay for with Denon.

Is Onkyo better than Denon?

Any mid-range Denon receiver performs slightly better than Onkyo’s. This is because Onkyo focuses on budget-oriented models and doesn’t make as many high-end AV receivers as Denon does. On the other hand, Onkyo has a price advantage over Denon.

How much power per channel do I need?

The more power you have, the louder your speakers will play. Ideally, an AV receiver should have at least 80W per channel. High-quality speakers can be driven with less power, but quality sound requires a certain amount of watts. This is the main reason why most AV receivers are rated at 100W+ per channel.

Do I need to match speakers and AV receiver impedance?

The impedance of your AV receiver needs to be the same as the impedance of your speakers. The easiest way is to match a 4Ω speaker with a 4Ω AV receiver and an 8Ω speaker with an 8Ω receiver. The impedance specifies how much power your system will draw from the amp under ideal conditions.

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About Frederick Douglass
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