Surround Receivers

HDMI 2.1 Upgrade For Older Flagship Denon, Marantz Announced


Owners of Denon and Marantz receivers were recently treated to a free workaround for their HDMI 2.1 woes for 2020 receiver models. The SPK618 Adapter is free and it stands between the receiver and your source. But if you have older flagship offerings from Denon or Marantz, or plan on getting one, Sound United is making good on it’s promise to upgrade you to HDMI 2.1. But it will cost you.

New Purchases

If you haven’t purchased the older flagship Denon AVR-X8500H receiver, you can get the upgraded AVR-X8500HA for $4,299 soon. Current models on the shelves will be replaced with the upgraded models “gradually” says Sound United. This is a $300 premium over the X8500H version. Similarly, if you are on the market for the older Marantz AV8805 pre-pro, you can get the AV8805A for $4,799 (again, a $300 cost increase). So, if you are shopping, pay close attention to the “A” at the end of the model number. You don’t want to get stuck with the un-upgraded model.

Current Denon and Marantz Flagship Owners

Much like the Yamaha fix for their HDMI 2.1 problems, if you already own one of the flagship Denon or Marantz models, you’ll be able to send it in for an upgrade. Sound United will swap out your current HDMI 2.0 board for a new HDMI 2.1 board. The cost? $600. This upgrade will have to be done at an authorized service center. You can contact Denon or Marantz directly via the Denon Site and Marantz Site to schedule. The upgrades will start on June 15, 2021.

What Does the Denon, Marantz Upgrade Get You?

Sound United provided a small table to explain the differences between the upgraded versions of their HDMI 2.1 board and the original HDMI 2.0 boards:

FeaturesDenon AVR-X8500H”A” Marantz AV8805”A” (A Version Factory and Field Upgrade)Denon AVR-X8500H Marantz AV8805
8K60Hz and 4K120Hz Pass-throughYes (A dedicated “8K” input and “Main”, ”Sub” outputs support up to FRL 40Gbps)No (4K60Hz, up to TMDS 18Gbps)
HDR10+, Dynamic HDR, VRR, ALLM, QMS, QFTYes (all Inputs)ALLM only
UpscalingUp to 8K (all inputs)Up to 4K (all inputs)
Copy Protection StandardHDCP 2.3HDCP 2.2

Clearly, Sound United is doing more than just upgrading a single HDMI 2.1 port. On the upgraded flagship models from Denon and Marantz, you get full HDMI 2.1 features on all inputs EXCEPT for 8k60Hz and 4k120Hz passthrough. The high framerate is still limited to a single input. All the other features including HDCP 2.3 will work on all inputs. For gamers, this means you have to pick which console you plug into the high framerate port. For everyone else…well, they will all probably work the same for you.

The Lowdown

So, what does this mean to consumers? If you were on the market and waiting for someone to figure out this HDMI 2.1 thing, you are probably going to still wait. A single full-featured HDMI 2.1 input on the flagship models from Denon and Marantz is better than nothing, but seems woefully inadequate going forward. If they are going to charge you $600 for the upgrade, why couldn’t they have added at least one more so that you could plug in both your next-gen video game consoles? Heck, how about a few more for when someone comes out with an 8K box for watching the Olympics? That would definitely be worth $600.

It’s hard to look at the $300 premium for the off-the-shelf models and the $600 upgrade price and reconcile the two. If we break it down, we estimate it is $300 for the HDMI 2.1 board and part of the labor, $100 for additional labor, $150 for shipping both ways, and $50 for dealing with all the cat hair and other gunk that probably coats the inside of your older Denon or Marantz Flagship offerings. While it is great that Sound United is even offering this upgrade for the older models (showing their commitment to supporting customers that buy their flagship offerings), we wish they would have taken one more small step and added a few more full-featured HDMI 2.1 ports. But they didn’t.

What do you think? Is this upgrade worth $600? Are you an owner? Let us know in the comments!

For more information, check out the press release from Sound United.


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