Several new firmware updates from Denon and Marantz that were released last week bring various new features to select models. From IMAX Enhanced support on the Denon AVR-X8500H and Marantz AV8805 AVRs, to adding a web UI for those models, and the addition of eARC support on a variety of models, this is a major series of updates.

Let's start with eARC. Denon and Marantz have numerous models that support enhanced audio return channel functions, and now they will be able to use them. So what's the big deal about eARC? If you want to watch streaming video using your TV's apps while enjoying high-definition 3D immersive sound such as Dolby Atmos and dts:x, eARC delivers.

Here are the formats supported by eARC on compatible Denon and Marantz devices:

- Dolby Digital Plus (up to 7.1 channel)
- Dolby TrueHD (up to 7.1 channel)
- Dolby Atmos
- DTS-HD High Resolution Audio (up to 7.1 channel)
- DTS-HD Master Audio (up to 7.1 channel)

Denon models updateable to eARC include:  AVR-X3400H , AVR-X4400H , AVR-X6400HAVR-X3500H , AVR-X4500H , AVR-X6500H and AVR-X8500H . For Marantz, it's  SR6012 , SR7012 , SR8012 , AV7704 , AV8805 , SR6013 and SR7013 .

The latest Denon and Marantz flagship AVR models—AVR-X8500H, AV8805—offer support for IMAX Enhanced , which brings a new audio format to the table that replicates the sound experience of an IMAX auditorium and the IMAX mix with a varient of the DTS:X CODEC. Meanwhile, on the visual side IMAX Enhanced delivers to your home the huge, immersive scenes captured by IMAX cameras that play in IMAX theaters—this includes Hollywood films and nature documentaries.

Furthermore, the AVR-X8500H, AV8805 AVRs and SR8012 pre-pro now support configuration by web UI including Domotz and ihiji invision support. This surely makes these models more appealing to custom installers that need remote management and configuration capability. Even for advanced home users, a web UI can be a great tool for configuring a system, instead of having to wrangle with the remote. It's a standard feature of high-end solutions and it's exciting to see it implemented by Denon and Marantz.

The updates are available already and the first IMAX Enhanced content is coming December 12. In the meantime, I have a AVR-X8500H on hand and have already applied the update. The plan is to begin a hands-on of this awesome AVR before the first IMAX Enhanced release and then to use it to check out some of that content, in particular by using a Sony XBR- X900F 85" TV (also IMAX Enhanced) to watch it.

That's all on the Denon and Marantz update. Not every firmware update deserves its own post, but eARC alone is a big deal and at the high end IMAX Enhanced is the latest and greatest premium experience.

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