Can one actually speak of a home cinema when a narrow sound bar under the TV makes every effort to blow virtual 3-D sound into the living room? Advertising does, and even we occasionally follow the semantic evolution, albeit with a good deal of indulgence. Actually, the term stands for an opulent installation of several loudspeakers, which, professionally controlled, acoustically illuminate all dimensions of the room. Just like in the cinema, sometimes even better.

Suitable hardware still exists today. And a community of perfectionists who prefer to dedicate a room in the house to the cinema installation is still active. She may be interested in an apparatus that Denon recently unleashed on the scene. It is called AVC-A1H, works as an amplifier, control center and promises to leave nothing to be desired. This aroused our curiosity: What is going on in the audiovisual engine room today?

Above all, the operation with a dizzying variety of channels: The AVC-A1H combines 15 power amplifiers under its cover, which stand vertically tight on separate boards. Each, say the data sheets, makes at least 150 watts loose. This corresponds to a total performance with which you could operate a kettle. The power supply was correspondingly bulky: the transformer alone weighs 11.5 kilograms.

What do you do with it in home cinema?

For example, the speaker configuration 9.4.6 is fired. In it, nine loudspeakers play on the ground floor, so to speak: three deny the front channels, two more front speakers position themselves slightly raised above, two surround speakers fire the listener from the sides of the room, two more take position behind his back. According to this scheme, six loudspeakers mounted under the ceiling of the room take care of the representation of the height dimension. And to reproduce the deepest noise, four subwoofers can play along – active specimens that connect to the amplifier's preamps via RCA jacks or professional XLR connectors.

Of course, this massive pit use is not mandatory. No power amplifier takes it amiss if it is initially only available for later expansion stages. Or if it shares the power supply of a loudspeaker with another power amplifier in bi-amping mode. And if a subwoofer socket remains free, an original accessory can get involved: Denon offers exciters, dynamic converters that can be sunk into the plush armchair of the home cinema to vibrate silently as soon as the cinema scene pretends to be explosive. After all, the body listens. The entire amplifier phalanx can be subtly adapted to the speaker range. The adjustment procedures assign electronic branches and speaker connections to each other, query the sizes of the speakers and log their distances from each other, they place the lowest notes on subwoofers or the bass cones of floorstanding speakers, and since the harmony of a large contingent works, the measurement via the supplied system Audyssey helps.

Denon masters all surround dialects

As far as the processing of digital sound formats is concerned, we can confidently spare ourselves a list. The Denon masters all surround dialects of Dolby and DTS, on top of that Auro-3D and even Sony's music format 360 Reality – in short, everything that is currently in circulation. And with a built-in multi-room component, at Denon the responsible technology is called Heos, the cinema center opens up all conceivable audio streaming services or retrieves music from the server. The video department of the amplifier also operates with befitting technology. The HDMI ports can even handle image signals in 8K resolution and relay metadata of all HDR standards, whether Dolby Vision or HDR10+, and of course they also support the variable frame rates of game consoles.

We have not yet tried all options, but we can already say: With a price of 7000 euros, the AVC-A1H is not for savers, but those who buy it have technically provided for the next few years.