Denon 4520CI + 4806 combo as pre-pro and power amp

I just recently bought an used pair 4520CI+4806 combo which previous owner used as pre-pro/power amp combo. Also, previous owner mentioned that 4806 amp section is better than 4520CI and that's the primary reason for using 4806 as power amp while using 4520CI as pre-pro.

Based on my research, it seemed like 4806 is one of the best Denon amp - beefy amp, power supplies, large capacitor etc. ( other than 5805 of course) and thought it would be great setup as audiophile friend of mine used Denon 4308 as pre-pro with NAD T773 receiver as power amp and NAD has power amp inputs other than regular 8.1 EXT inputs and it sounds great.  Based on checking with my friend, in case of NAD T773 setup, it looks like there is no involvement of volume control on power amp inputs in the receiver but it looks to me that's not the case for 4806 based on looking up online so far.

So here are my questions:

I primarily bought this setup and considering used as I can't afford 7200WA right now but wanted high end sound and that's why purchased used. Secondly, I'm also right now not really interested in setting up Atmos( but 4200W is on fire sale with 5.1.2 setup and is tempting though) for now but at the same time wanted best sound quality for both music and movies. My listening preferences includes 50% music and 50% movies.

1) Is it really worth the pain of setting up 4520CI as pre-pro and 4806 as power amp?

First of all, is this setup really recommended? Also I'm not sure if 4806 really supports power amp mode similar to NAD T773 or not. If it isn't then is this setup really valid/recommended? It's confusing as both are receivers and have volume controls in both 4520CI and 4806.

If this setup is valid, then can you recommend what are the setup steps involved in setting it up in both 4520CI to configure as pre-processor and 4806 as power amp?

2) Secondly, is it going to be any better than what's out there such as Denon X4200W which is on fire sale and also there is a great deal on Denon X6200W

4200 has discrete amplifier and is close to 28 pounds
6200 is close to 30 pounds with mono block power amp construction.
4806 is really heavy around 52 pounds and 4520CI 36 pounds similar to 7200WA with L/R separated mono block power amp construction.
4520CI amp is very similar to 7200WA as both are mono block construction with L/R separated except 7200WA has upgraded DACs

First of all I'm not sure if the amplifier differences between 4520/4806 to 4200/6200 are worth it? I don't really listen at high volumes but at moderate volumes and my speakers are rated 4 ohms.

I did not find really rave reviews on 4520CI other than usual Denon 4.5 stars review from Sound and vision which also provided 4.5 stars for X4200W as well. Does this mean they both perform equally well?

For 4806 there are lot's of good reviews out there raving about sound quality and internals:


Last but not least, I appreciate your help and based on your replies I'll either keep this combo or may want to back out the deal if it's not the right setup as the seller did not provide accurate info on the setup so far and moreover the seller is not going to ship until early next week and I may have to to ask my money for refund(worst case).

First, the Denon 4520CI is still considered a force to be reckoned with in the AVR department.  Modern enough(no Atmos, etc.) with top grade room correction MultEQ XT32 and a more than adequate amp section under most conditions.  If it were me, I would sell the 4806 for +/- $400.00 and apply that toward a beefy stereo or 3-channel amplifier.  The rest of the 4520's amp channels will be plenty of juice for the remaining speakers.

On the other hand, you could try the Denon/Denon combination you are asking about.  I have an NAD T773 and have tried it as an outboard amp only before and it works great.


Thanks for your feedback. I'm buying 4520CI + 4806 as combo offer as the previous owner used it that way and mentioned that 4806 amp sounded better than running it off from 4520CI. So, previous owner usage was 4520CI as pre-pro and 4806 as amp and I wanted to continue doing so as well.

The real question here is using 4520CI as pre-amp and 4806 as power amp is actually valid set up or not as 4806 doesn't have separate power amp inputs as NAD T773 and this means I have to use 7.1 analog input in 4806 which means volume control is involved in both receivers which is confusing

I agree with willland in the fact that you should sell the 4806 and put that toward a beefy amp (you can even look into a 5 channel amp). 

Yes, you could use the 4520CI + 4806 in the scenario that the original owner did.  Sounds like he had the 4806 originally and then bought a newer 4520CI and didn't want to spend the money on a better amp, so he used the 4806 as a stopgap.  However, it is far from the optimal way to use it.  As you mentioned, there are no direct amp inputs on a receiver.  You will use the 7.1 analog inputs and you must use the volume control on the 4806.  This means that the signal is going through the entire preamp section of the 4806.  If you are using the 4806 now, there are a few things I would suggest:

- reset the 4806 to factory defaults:  first press and hold RC SETUP button for at least 3 seconds, then press the 9, 8, 1 buttons (9 -> 8  -> 1).

- use PURE DIRECT mode (Press the PURE DIRECT button to select the PURE DIRECT mode)

- use DIRECT mode (Press the DIRECT/STEREO button to select the DIRECT mode).

- disable Room EQ (hit the ROOM EQ button until it shows as "OFF")

- turn up the volume on the 4806 to "0.0 db".  It's best to have the preamp at full level and these circuits typically work best when doing full signal level when being used as an amp pre-driver.

It is still not the best solution.  Like we said, I would try selling the 4806 and then put the money towards a stand-alone amp.  You can get a really nice 5-channel that sits in at around 75-100 lbs.  It will be significantly more performance than anything the 4806 will produce.

If you do choose to think about this, let us know what you would want to budget for this amp and we can start giving you ideas or recommendations.  A couple things come to mind.  Emotiva XPA-5, there's one on ebay for $749.  There's a B&K Reference 200.5 here on audiogon for $999 if you want something warmer.

Thanks for your input and clarifying that 4806 as power amp is just a stop gap and not a great option. Since seller has not shipped it, I’ll cancel the transaction instead of reselling 4806 to avoid hassles.

I’m not sure if I need power amp at all and happened to go that route based on this transaction as seller was offering pre-pro, power amp combo deal. Since I never had separates before, I did not know if this was right setup and thanks for all clarification. So, in the future I’ll buy separate power amp as opposed to stop gap solution.

I’ll take time to think about revamping my home theater with good warmer sounding power amp such as B&K or purchasing audiophile quality AV receiver such as Anthem 300(which I just auditioned used one today locally and it seemed to sound great but still has only one hdmi output ), Cambridge Audio 651r is available online for great price as well.

Moreover, I already have Sherwood R972 which sounds great but doesn’t have bell and whistles like Denon 4520ci like even basic HDMI CEC and has only 1 HDMI output but trinnov is fantastic.

Check out the Marantz receivers.  They generally sound very good.  You can get a previous generation still new-in-box from some sellers.  For example, Crutchfield has a SR6010 on sale for $999.  It has 2 HDMI outputs. 
Thanks. I'll check it out.
Since you mentioned Cambridge Audio as one of the brands you might look into, I’d recommend you give Arcam a look as well; I own a home theater company in Atlanta, GA, and in my experience, I would say that the audio quality of their AVR’s (the AVR850 in particular) is the closest you can get to that of separates before taking the plunge into the world of really expensive high-end audio. If you want to keep the 4520CI as a preamp, there are lots of great options out there from the likes of Arcam, Parasound, Bryston, and many others. Let me know if you need any additional advice - we’re always glad to help. :)

-David Campbell
 President - Southern A/V Direct, LLC
Thanks for AVR 850 suggestion but I'm on budget and that's the main reason I originally thought this combo would work but backed out due to non optimal setup and stop gap as suggested above as two volume controls are involved. I'm currently looking at lower model of CA selling for $449

@adumadu - What kind of speakers are you using? Keep in mind that that Azure 351r has a smaller power supply and very limited output transistors (50w x 5). You can see the square heatsink in the middle in this picture - limited power supply capacitance.

The Azure 351R doesn’t even have 5.1 preamp outputs, so you will not be able to add an external amplifier on this unit, should you choose to do this in the future. I have not heard the Azure and it may be nice, but it is going to be a "final buy" item. What you get with it is what you have forever. If you are looking for a short-height unit completely self-contained unit, it may be good. I would look for a double-height (normal height receiver) with a bigger power supply. Even if you don’t use the additional channels, a 125w x 7 would give you a bigger shared power supply to work with. This can be important if your speakers are hard to drive with a radical impedance curve.

Thanks for showing the internals. Yes, I do have Totem speakers but it's running fine with Sherwood 972 and I don't want to invest a lot and wanted one simple solution for both audio/video still sounding good for music as opposed to separates. How about Cambridge Audio 651R instead? It costs almost double but I don't want to spend more than that.

First thing - I totally understand you’re on a budget and I’m not knocking the 351R in any way (I have not heard Cambridge stuff). I’m just pointing out things to think about and things that I would find important to know.

That being said, the 651R is a significant improvement in all ways. I would say the power supply capability is almost 3 times that of the 351R. It does have 7.1 preamp outputs, so you can add an amp in the future if you want. It also has 2 HDMI outputs, which is something you wrote on your wishlist (the 351R only has 1 HDMI output). Reading feedback on this receiver, I would say it’s all about sound quality. It shouldn’t have any problem pushing your speakers -- you may not even feel you need an external amp. If you can swing the cost, I would definitely recommend this one over the 351R (probably even over the Marantz SR6010 I mentioned above). The Marantz might have a warmer sound, but the Cambridge will totally rock on Home Theater and sound impact.

I looked at specs and the 651R doesn’t have any of the fancy internet radio / streaming audio / bluetooth stuff, but it supports all the important things, in my opinion. If you want streaming audio, just buy a cheap Sony Bluray and it has all sorts of streaming functions.

It looks like there’s a brand new one on Audiogon for $1199. Is this the one you’re looking at?

Though, looks like Accessories4Less is selling a "factory refurbished" 651R for $699.  It's basically used.  Up to you.
Yes, I'm also concerned with the quality issues of refurbished. So, I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for some holiday deal.