Richard Stevenson sends his beloved Denon A1HD kit off for a 3D upgrade. Was it worth it?
If you own either of Denon’s flagship A1HD products, the AVR or the standalone processor, you might be feeling a little left out these days. While these high-end devices still pack a performance punch, their v1.3 HDMI jacks and lack of height/width processing has kept them very much a 2D product in a 3D world. Enter Denon’s 3D Edition Upgrade.
This upgrade involves a number of board-swaps and plenty of internal tweakery. The upshot is your AVP-A1HD or AVC-A1HD comes back with 3D video pass-through and Dolby ProLogic 11z, Audyssey DSX and DTS Neo:X to create a 3D soundstage with the use of height or width channels. The Audyssey RoomEQ system gets upgraded to the latest XT32 version, too.
If you’re really old school and haven’t had the A suffix upgrade, the 3D Edition package also includes DenonLink 4th edition and Audyssey Dynamic Volume. In addition the 3D upgrade promises faster menu navigation, all firmware updates and bug fixes to date and a quick spruce-up and valet inside and out.
For £1,200 your machine is collected by Denon’s personal courier service, without the box if you haven’t got it, and returns fully fettled in around two weeks. New stickers are placed in key locations, including front flap logos, rear panel connections and, rather wonkily in my case, over the ‘night mode’ legend.
The upgrade still only allows 9.3-channel output and not 11.1. There’s no way to configure height and width channels simultaneously. I asked Denon’s techies about this and they said 11.1-channel would cost over twice as much as the standard 3D upgrade to implement. I still reckon they might have found some takers.
In use, the menus are definitely quicker, and even prettier pop-up menus give access to DPL IIz/DSX options. MultEQ XT32 is just as long and tedious to run as it ever was. The machine seamlessly passes 3D content but I have had a couple of incidences of video lock-up when HDMI is fed to both HDMI outputs simultaneously. Height processing is exceptionally good and immediately gives the whole front soundstage extra body and scale. I run with DPL IIz height on by default.
If you have multiple 3D sources and a hankering for height/width channels then the 3D Edition upgrade is worth the outlay. But if you have another way of routing 3D content to your display and seven-channel surround is more than enough, then £1,200 for slightly better room EQ and faster menus looks a bit pricey.
Denon 3D Edition Upgrade
Price: £1,200 Approx
Highs: 9.3-channel sound; 3D pass-through; improved Audyssey MultEQ XT32 RoomEQ
Lows: No 11.1 option; no height plus width option; some dual HDMI output bugs
Features: 3D video pass-through; simultaneous dual 3D output; Audyssey MultEQ XT32 RoomEQ, Dolby ProLogic IIz; Audyssey DSX; DTS Neo:X; DenonLink 4th Edition; Audyssey Dynamic Volume; faster menus
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