Explanations for discrepancy in Denon power measurements?


Thus far I have found this BBS to be an addictive source of home theater knowledge and opinions. As everybody on this board seems to be, I am also in the mkt. for a new receiver. I was looking at the Denon 2803 and, being the an@l person that I am, read pretty much every single review about it listed on this site. Both Home Theater Mag and Sound & Vision gave it favorable review, but if you compare the test results there's a noticable difference. S&V tested the Denon to output 83 watts driving 5 channels whereas the Home Theater test shows the Denon to output a measly 36 watts when driving all 5 channels! Who's right? Which one should I believe?

Anyway, I'm now looking at the HK 325 or 525 and the Onkyo 701. My budget is around 600 bucks. I have cerwin vegas for all 5 channels (I know start laughing) and an old Advent 125 watt sub. Would love to hear thoughts, comments, and recommendations. Thanks!

I forgot here are the links:
Home Theater Magazine


Sound and Vision


I think I can help you. The S & V test of the Denon shows how much power when the amp clips into an 8 ohm resistor.

Home Theater tests a little bit differently. They are measuring the maximum power they get at a specified distortion level of 0.1% (which is actually higher than the manufacturer's specification). Clearly, the disortion goes way up as the amp approaches clipping.

Does this help?

Thanks Hawk. So which test do you think is more reflective of real world power? S&V or Home Theater?

Does that mean H/K power ratings are, for example, the 525, are 70 wpc w/ 7 channels driven w/ <0.07% distortion? In that case H/K's amps are way better. Anybody know how the Onkyo amps are w/ 5 channels driven? Thanks again!

1. Which one is more realistic? I would tend to split the baby on that one. I don't know at what level you would find the sound objectionable (when does teh distortion become noticeable?), but I am sure it would be before clipping occured. I would split the difference between the two and figure that was realistic, so about 60 wpc. It is not very precise, but the best I think we have to work with.

2. Power ratings for H/K and NAD are really the only receiver makers that are both honest and conservative. If H/K says it will do 70 wpc x 7, believe them because it will. If you pull apart an H/K receiver, you will be amazed at how big the power supply is compared to a Denon, Yamaha, et al. I also like Outlaw for that reason. Their power ratings are not conservative, but they are on the money and they have a wonderful power supply and output section.

3. My experience is that Onkyos are among the worst in meeting their power ratings. The June issue of Sound & Vision tested the Onkyo 900 (rated by Onkyo at 125 wpc), and found it clipped at 52 wpc when driving seven channels. The figure for 5 channels was something like 56 wpc, so not much better. This has been rather typical of Onkyos over the past five years.

Hey, a fellow night owl. Thanks for the quick response, Hawk. I find it so shady that companies like Yamaha or Denon mislead the public with power ratings. If I hadn't read these posts I would never have known. I'm definitely leaning toward the HK 325 and if I can afford it, the 525. From your past posts, you've mentioned that HK has a darker, more laid back sound. Which bookshelf speakers would you recommend? I vaguely remember mention of Monitor. What about the Axiom M22's? I'm trying to stay under 500 bucks for the speakers. Thanks...


Yeah, sometimes I just can't sleep, so turning onto this board is good for my soul as I can trade messages with some really nice people.

I think the H/K is a wonderful receiver and you have quoted me correctly--you definitely need a more forward sounding speaker to get the most out of it.

The Axiom is a good choice. Monitor Audio Silver speakers are a very good choice. I also recommend Klipsch, JMlabs, Canton, and Mirage as good choices for the H/K receiver. You may also want to check out the Ascend Acoustics CBM-170s. It is not as bright as some of the others, but it is forward sounding and is a marvelous speaker for the money ($328/pr., at www.ascendacoustics.com) which should work well with your H/K.

Good luck.

Thanks for the advice Hawk. I also heard the Monitor Bronze B2's aren't bad either. Well, need to go get the receiver first and then I'll worry about speakers later. Hopefully the HK will make a significant improvment in sound over the Yamaha HTR-5440 that I have now.

Jeff Plous
I have the Elite 45tx. I too was searching for speakers, and tested a few of the ones Hawk listed. I chose the MA silver S8s bc they just sounded incredible - very detailed. However they were expensive. I tested the mirage (forgot the model name). These were quite a bit cheaper (almost half from my dealer here in CO. They sounded almost the same BUT they were a HAIR less detailed IMO. WE tested them over a fairly wide variety of sounds and there were 3 of us there and all of us liked the MA the best. But if money is a bit tight Id definetely test out the mirage. In fact Im sure Sound Hounds in colorado could get you quite the deal on them if you end up liking them, ask for Scott. Hes mostly a private store but he does sell to the public and he usually has floor models with less than 10 hours of use on them that he is willing to sell at great discounts. Just my 2cents... :)

Happy listening,

As per your comment that only H/K and NAD power ratings are honest I think you should add two others to that list, they being Rotel and Elite. As the test report on the Rotel site prooves both the Rotel 1055 and Elite 2011[same as vsx43] far exceed their published power ratings. You and I agree on the importance of this factor unlike some others here. All four excell in this area and maybe we could include Marantz in the future as they have improved their power supplies in their 300 and 400 series.

Thanks for the additional comments guys. I was wondering how much power do I really need? I know the HK 325 has 50 wpc x 7 while the 525 does 70 wpc x7. My living room is about 325 sq. ft. I guess it would be considered a "medium" sized room. What do you guys think?


Yes, you are right. Sometimes when writing on this board late at night, I forget some details. Rotel is definitely an honest receiver (but priced so high, I usually forget about them) and so are the Elites (the tests I have seen have them coming in within 10% of their manufacturer's rating which is close enough given the different methodologies for testing power, and some, as you have observed, exceed their power ratings). I would also have to include Arcam as an honest receiver.

Marantz is a tougher call. Since the debacle on their x200s, I have not seen a Marantz receiver where the power was tested. Makes me wonder. As good as their output stages are, I sure hope they have the PS to back them up. As you know, I have recommended the Marantz 7300 quite a few times, but never for anyone with a large room or inefficient speakers. I would have to see a good test to be sure.

BTW, I certainly bow to your superior knowledge of the Elite line, but are you sure the 2011 is the same thing as the Elite 43? I thought it was the same thing as the Elite 45 and the 1011 was the same thing as the 43. It can get so confusing.


I think I am correct about the 2011 and 43 and I think the 45 is the same as the 2012 but reall who cares. They are overseas models so it's not that important. I share your hope about the Marantz line as they are so good in most areas. I heard my Monitors first through a Marantz 7300 and really liked it alot but already had my Elite and would not have picked the 7300 over the 45 anyway since the Marantz doesn't have as many inputs and my fondness for the Elites. Next time I will probably choose from these two lines because I plan on keeping Monitors for a long, long time. There are so many good products to pick from these days and it's a lot of fun to be able to share our knowledge and experiences and opinions with people. Take care.
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