Denon AVR-X2100W Home Theater Receiver Product Review

Denon AVR-X2100W Home Theater Receiver with Remote
Denon AVR-X2100W Home Theater Receiver with Remote. Image provided by Amazon.com

The AVR-X2100W is one of Denon's InCommand Series home theater receivers, which offer up extensive audio/video features, as well as network connectivity and internet streaming capabilities. At its core, the AVR--X2100w houses a seven-channel amplifier section that can be configured to accommodate different speaker setups (including a Zone 2 option). For video, 3D pass-through and both 1080p and 4K upscaling are provided.

To find out if this receiver has what you might be looking for, keep reading this review.

Core Features of the Denon AVR-X2100W

  • Audio Processing and Sound Mode Bypass Options - Direct (Bypasses all audio processing, but video processing stays on), Pure Direct (Front panel display and all video processing shuts off - only HDMI pass-through video is active).
  •  Audio Inputs (Analog): 1 Audio-only Stereo Analog, 3 Audio stereo analog audio inputs associated with analog video inputs.
  • Audio Inputs (Digital - Excluding HDMI): 2 Digital Optical, 1 Digital Coaxial.
  • Audio Outputs (Excluding HDMI): 2 Subwoofer Pre-outs, and 1 set of Zone 2 Analog Stereo Pre-outs (digital audio sources cannot be sent to Zone 2 except when using the All Zone Stereo feature).
  • Speaker connection options for Front Height/Surround Back/Bi-amp/Speaker B/Powered Zone 2 (Note: Only one of these options can be used at a time).
  • Video Inputs: 8 HDMI (3D and 4K pass-through capable), 2 Component, 2 Composite videos.
  • Video Outputs: 2 HDMI (3D, 4K, Audio Return Channel capable with compatible TVs), 1 Set Component Video.
  • Video Processing and Settings: Analog to HDMI video conversion, analog to 1080p and 4k upscaling, as well as 1080p to 4K HDMI-to-HDMI upscaling. Picture Mode Settings include Standard, Movie, Vivid, Streaming, ISF Day, ISF Night, Custom (manual adjustment of Brightness, Contrast, Color Saturation, Noise Reduction, Sharpness Enhancer - independent of settings available on your TV or video projector), Off.
  • Standby Pass-Through: Allows the receiver to pass through HDMI video and audio signals (no addition processing) while the receiver is in standby mode. This comes in handy if you just want to watch HDMI source devices when you do not want the receiver functions engaged.
  • Audyssey MultiEQ XT automatic speaker setup system. By connecting the provided microphone, the Audyssey MultiEQ XT uses a series of test tones to determine the proper speaker levels, based on how it reads the speaker placement in relation to the acoustical properties of your room.
  • AM/FM Tuner with up to 56 available Presets.
  • Network/Internet Connectivity via either Ethernet Connection or Built-in WiFi.
  • Internet Radio access includes vTuner, and Pandora, Sirius/XM and Spotify Connect.
  •  DLNA V1.5 Certified for wireless or wireless access to digital media files stored on PCs, Media Servers, and other compatible network-connected devices.

Receiver Setup - Audyssey MultEQ XT

There are two options provided for setting up the AVR-X2100W to best match your speakers and room.

One option is to use the built-in test tone generator with a sound meter and manually make all your speaker level distance and level settings manually. However, an easier way is to take advantage of the receiver's built-in Audyssey MultEQ EX Auto Speaker Setup/Room Correction program.

In order to use Audyssey MultEQ XT, you plug a provided microphone into the designated front panel input. Then, place the microphone at your primary listening position at seated ear level (you can place it on top of the provided assembly-required cardboard stand, or simply screw the microphone onto a camera/camcorder tripod).

Next, access the Audyssey Setup option in the receiver's Speaker Settings Menu. Now you can start the process (make sure there is no ambient noise that could cause interference). Once started, Audyssey MultEQ XT confirms that the speakers are connected to the receiver (as well as the configuration - 5.1, 7.1, etc...). The speaker size is determined, (large, small), the distance of each speaker from the listening position is measured, and finally, the equalization and speaker levels are adjusted in relation to both the listening position and room characteristics.

The entire process only takes a few minutes for each listening position (MultEQ can repeat this process for up to eight listening positions).

Also, during the auto-speaker setup process, you will also be prompted to enable settings for Audyssey DynamicEQ and Dynamic Volume. You have the option to bypass these two features if you want.

Once the entire automatic speaker setup process is completed, you can select "Details" and see the results.

However, it is important to note that automatic setup results may not always be precisely accurate (for example, the speaker distances may not be registered correctly) or to your taste. In this case, do not change the automatic settings, but, instead, go into the Manual Speaker Settings and make any further adjustments from there. If you find that you do end up preferring the Audyssey MultiEQ result, you can use the Restore Function to retrieve the last Audyssey settings. You can also opt to re-run Audyssey MultEQ XT again, which will override the previous settings.

Audio Performance

The AVR-X2100W accommodates both a traditional 5.1 or 7.1 channel speaker configuration, or a 7.1 channel configuration that substitutes two front height channels (when using the Dolby Prologic IIz sound processing option), rather than two surround back channels. The receiver sounds with great with any of those configurations, depending on your room and preferences.

I was quite satisfied with the surround sound listening experience provided by the AVR-X2100W, especially after going through the Audysssey MultiQ XT setup.

The sound levels were very well balanced, with minimal dips, between the front, center, surrounds, and subwoofer, and sounds were accurately assigned to their respective channels.

Also, the AVR-X2100W not only had sufficient power output for my 15x20 foot room but also exhibited quick response/recovery time faced with rapid sound peaks and dips.

For music, I found the AVR-X2100W did very well with CD, SACD, and DVD-Audio discs, as well as providing flexible digital file playback with very listenable quality.

However, it must be pointed out that the AVR-X2100W does not provide a lot of 5.1 or 7.1 channel analog audio inputs. As a result, multi-channel SACD and DVD-Audio is only accessible from a DVD or Blu-ray Disc player that can read and output those formats via HDMI, unlike some higher-end or old players that perform this function via 5.1 channel analog audio outputs (some players offer both options). If you have an older pre-HDMI DVD player with SACD and/or DVD-Audio playback capability, make sure you check the audio output connections you have available in relation to the input options available on the AVR-X2100W.

One last thing I wanted to mention in this audio performance section is that the sensitivity of the FM tuner section was very good - just with the provided wire antenna, reception of local stations was solid, which is often times not the case these days with many receivers.

The Zone 2 Option

The AVR-X2100W also provides Zone 2 operation. This allows the receiver to send a separately controllable audio source to a second room or location. There are two ways to take advantage of this feature.

The first way is to reassign the two surround back channels (channels 6 and 7) for Zone 2 use - you simply connect Zone 2 speakers directly to the receiver (via a long speaker wire run) and you are set to go. However, using this option prevents you from using a full 7.1 channel speaker setup in your main room at the same time. Fortunately, there is another way, by using the Zone 2 preamp outputs instead. However, this also presents another obstacle. While the Zone 2 preamps will enable you to send an audio signal to a second location, in other power your Zone 2 speakers, you will need to connect the AVR-X2100W's preamp output to a second two-channel amplifier (or a stereo-only receiver if you have an extra one available).

However, it is important to note that with either option, Digital Optical/Coaxial and HDMI audio sources cannot be accessed in Zone 2, with one exception. If you activate the All Zone Stereo function, any source that you are listening to in the Main Zone, will also be sent to Zone 2 - However, all audio will be downmixed to two channels (if it is a 5.1 or 7.1 channel source) - and you lose the ability to have a different source playing independently in both Zones at the same time. For further illustration and explanation, consult the AVR-X2100W user manual.

Video Performance

The AVR-X2100W features both HDMI and analog video inputs but continues the trend of eliminating S-video inputs and outputs.

The AVR-X2100W provides both video pass-through of 2D, 3D, and 4K video signals, as well as providing both 1080p and 4K upscaling (Both 1080p and 4K upscaling were tested for this review), which is becoming more common on home theater receivers in this price range. I found that the AVR-X2100W provides near excellent upscaling to standard definition (480i) to 1080p, but did show more softness and noise when upscaling the same 480i source to 4K.

As far as connection compatibility goes, I did not encounter any HDMI-to-HDMI connection handshake issues. Also, the AVR-X2100W did not have difficulty passing through video signals to a TV that is equipped with a DVI rather than HDMI connection option (using a DVI-to-HDMI converter cable).

Internet Radio

The AVR-X2100W Denon provides four main internet radio access options: vTuner, Pandora, Sirius/XM, and Spotify Connect.

DLNA

The AVR-X2100W is also DLNA compatible, which allows for access to digital media files stored on PCs, Media Servers, and other compatible network-connected devices. My PC easily recognized the AVR-X2100W as a new network-connected device. Using the Sony's remote and onscreen menu, I found it easy to access music and photo files from my PC's hard drive.

Bluetooth and Apple AirPlay

Bluetooth capability allows you to wirelessly stream music files or control the receiver remotely from a compatible device that fits the A2DP and AVRCP profiles and can play AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) files from devices, such as a smartphone or tablet, through the receiver.

In a similar fashion, Apple AirPlay allows you wirelessly stream iTunes content from a compatible iOS device, or a PC or laptop. I did not have access to an Apple device to test the Airplay feature for this review.

USB

The AVR-X2100W also provides a front mounted USB port for accessing music files stored on USB flash drives, physically connected iPod, or other compatible USB devices. Compatible file formats include MP3, AAC, WMA, WAV, and FLAC. However, it must be pointed out that the AVR-X2100W will not play DRM-encoded files.

What I Liked

  • Excellent audio performance for its price class.
  • Flexible Speaker Setup Options - Surround Back Channels can be reassigned to Front Height, Zone2, Bi-Amp, or Speaker "B" roles.
  • Incorporation of WiFi, Apple Airplay, and Bluetooth.
  • DLNA compatibility.
  • 3D, 4K, and Audio Return Channel compatible.
  • 1080p and 4K video upscaling provided.
  • Front panel USB port.
  • Good FM/AM radio reception.
  •  Easy-to-use remote control and onscreen menu interface. The setting options on the onscreen menu interface are also duplicated on the receiver's front panel display, which means that you can also make settings and adjustments without having to turn your TV or projector on (although the onscreen menu is visually easier to navigate).
  • Clean, uncluttered, front panel design.

What I Didn't Like

  • No analog multi-channel 5.1/7.1 channel inputs or outputs - No S-video connections.
  • No dedicated phono/turntable input.
  • No analog or digital optical/coaxial input options on the front panel.
  • No analog AV connections on the front panel.
  • No MHL-enabled HDMI Input
  • Runs Very Warm (do not install in a tight space).

Final Take:

The Denon AVR-X2100W is a prime example of how home theater receivers have changed in recent years, morphing from being the audio centerpiece of a home theater system to controlling audio, video, network, and streaming sources.

However, that doesn't mean the core role (audio performance) has been neglected. The AVR-X2100W turned out to be very good performing midrange receiver, with a stable -power output, a well-defined sound field that did not succumb to fatigue over long periods of use. However, I did notice that the receiver is definitely very warm to the touch after just about 20-30 minutes of use, so it is important that user installs the unit where air can easily circulate around, above, and behind the unit.

The AVR-X2100W also performs very well on the video side of the equation. I found that, overall, both its 1080p and 4K capabilities were pretty good.

However, it is important to note that if you replacing an older receiver with the AVR-X2100W, it does not provide some legacy connections that you might need if you have (pre-HDMI) source components with multi-channel analog audio outputs, a dedicated phono output, or S-Video connections.

On the other hand, the AVR-X2100W provides enough connection options for today's video and audio sources - with eight HDMI inputs, it will definitely be awhile before you run out. Also, with built-in Wifi, Bluetooth, and AirPlay, the AVR-X2100W provides a lot of flexibility for accessing music content that you may not have possession of in a disc-based format.

The AVR-X2100W also features a very easy-to-use onscreen menu system, including a Set-Up Assistant that can get you up and running out the box with the basics, before you need to dig in deeper to optimize the receiver to your room environment and/or set it to your own listening preferences.

Now that you have read this review, also be sure to check out more about the Denon AVR-X2100W (in addition to the video performance tests link I provided above) by going to my Photo Profile.

Additional Components Used In This Review

Blu-ray Disc Players: OPPO BDP-103 and BDP-103D

DVD Player: OPPO DV-980H.

Home Theater Receiver Used for Comparison: Onkyo TX-SR705

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System 1 (7.1 channels): 2 Klipsch F-2's, 2 Klipsch B-3s, Klipsch C-2 Center, 2 Polk R300s, Klipsch Synergy Sub10.

Loudspeaker/Subwoofer System 2 (5.1 channels): EMP Tek E5Ci center channel speaker, four E5Bi compact bookshelf speakers for left and right main and surround, and an ES10i 100 watt powered subwoofer.

TV/Monitor: Samsung UN55HU8550 55-inch 4K UHD LED/LCD TV (on review loan) and Westinghouse LVM-37w3 37-inch 1080p LCD Monitor

More Info

Note: After a successful 2014/2015 production run, the Denon AVR-X2100W has been discontinued and replaced by newer versions.

Although you may be able to find the AVR-X2100W on clearance or used via Amazon, for a look at newer versions from Denon, as well as other home theater receiver brands and models in the same price range, and with updated features, refer to my periodically updated list of Best Home Theater Receivers Priced From $400 to $1,299.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer unless otherwise indicated. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

Original Publish Date: 09/13/2014 - Robert Silva

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