Denon DHT-S516H soundbar review

The Denon DHT-S516H ticks quite a lot of packing containers on paper, however how does it carry out in actual life?

The Denon DHT-S516H soundbar system could not have the catchiest identify, however what it lacks in branding it greater than makes up for within the audio division. With an RRP of practically £700/$800, the Denon system isn’t low-cost, nevertheless it does provide nice worth for cash for people who wish to spend money on a high-end system to reinforce their movie-watching expertise. 

I’ve been utilizing the Denon DHT-S516H system to observe motion pictures and hearken to music over the previous few weeks, and right here’s what I’ve learnt.  

Type over perform

The Denon DHT-S516H is a reasonably customary system, comprised of a soundbar and accompanying wi-fi subwoofer, with comparatively small dimensions for a little bit of package that packs such a wallop. It’s smaller than the likes of the Anker Nebula soundbar regardless of packing far more built-in tech and a lot better high quality audio playback – so small, actually, that Denon encourages you to mount the soundbar immediately onto the wall, together with brackets and directions within the field. 

The soundbar system is essentially black, with black material overlaying the forward-facing speaker array on a black plastic physique and minimal controls on the best aspect of the speaker. These are very laborious to identify – so laborious, actually, that I used the soundbar for a couple of week earlier than noticing they had been there, though I think about that’s an intentional transfer to maintain with the clear, minimalistic design of the soundbar. The controls are primary, solely providing quantity and mute controls, nevertheless it’s higher than nothing. 

Not like most different soundbars, the Denon DHT-S516H soundbar doesn’t function a built-in show, making it a bit of tough to regulate quantity – you’ll must do it by ear moderately than numbers, and that’s not one thing many individuals will probably be used to. Why spend time adjusting the amount when you recognize that quantity 12, for instance, is a cushty stage for the setting you’re in?

There’s a dim blue LED beneath the soundbar that acts like an enter indicator, flickering when registering enter, however that’s all you’ll get. 

The dearth of a show would make the system laborious to make use of with a distant, proper? That’s most likely why the soundbar system doesn’t include a distant management of its personal; as a substitute, you’ll must both use HDMI ARC, ‘train’ the soundbar to answer your TV distant utilizing the IR sensor or, as Denon hopes, use the Heos app for iOS and Android.

It’s clear that the app is the popular methodology of enter, offering a wealth of additional performance not accessible by way of most traditional TV remotes. In addition to with the ability to modify total quantity (with numbers!!), you’re in a position to change inputs, tweak the EQ, entry a Night time Mode that reduces loud noises and lots extra – however we’ll go into extra element about that later. 

The problem is that utilizing an app on a smartphone looks as if a good suggestion till you even have to make use of it. Utilizing a distant offers a near-instant response, whereas most smartphone customers should seize their telephone, unlock it, discover the app, faucet the related tab and modify the amount.

I can’t assist however assume Denon is making an attempt to push shoppers too far too rapidly, and {that a} devoted distant management – with entry to the superior performance out there within the app – could be a much more environment friendly means of controlling the house cinema system. I’m all in favour of latest tech, however just like the previous adage, “if it ain’t broke, don’t repair it”. 

Loads of smarts

As you’d anticipate from a £700/$800 soundbar system, there are many connectivity choices to select from: Optical, HDMI (with ARC assist), Coaxial, Aux and even a USB port that you should use to play domestically saved music, making the Denon DHT-S516H system appropriate with a spread of current TV setups. There’s additionally Bluetooth assist, permitting you to attach your smartphone or pill wirelessly, however there’s far more to the system than that.  

Arguably one of many headline options of the Denon DHT-S516H system is built-in AirPlay 2 assist, excellent for iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV house owners, permitting you to wirelessly stream any audio by way of the soundbar system with out the necessity to join by way of Bluetooth and compromise on sound high quality. The upgraded AirPlay tech additionally permits you to sync the system up with every other AirPlay 2-enabled audio system on the identical Wi-Fi community, offering completely in-time multi-room audio. 

Denon didn’t cease with AirPlay 2 assist both: the system additionally provides Spotify Join, Amazon Music, TuneIn, Deezer, Napster, Soundcloud and Tidal integration, overlaying most bases with regards to music streaming providers. There’s no Apple Music assist in contrast to the Sonos programs, however we’ll let that one slide with AirPlay 2 assist. 

The catch, like with most elements of the system, is that it’s important to use the Heos app for iOS and Android to provoke music playback on a lot of the aforementioned providers. When you’ve began enjoying music by way of the Soundbar, you may then use Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa to regulate playback.

It’s a useful trick, however frustratingly, this doesn’t lengthen to common soundbar use – you may solely use the digital assistants to regulate quantity, skip tracks and extra when music is enjoying by way of a built-in streaming service. That might’ve helped alleviate the problems with the dearth of a distant, and I’ve acquired my hopes up that it’s a function that’ll be pushed out by way of OTA replace sooner or later.  

Phenomenal audio efficiency

Although it ought to come as no shock as a product from an organization held in such excessive regard within the audio group, the Denon DHT-S516H soundbar system sounds unimaginable. Due to the standalone wi-fi sub, outstanding, current bass packs a thud even at comparatively low volumes, and there’s not a touch of distort at excessive quantity both. 

It truly is spectacular and comes into its personal when watching Hollywood blockbusters – you may really feel the thud of gunfire and explosions in your chest, including a particular one thing to the viewing expertise. However don’t assume that the outstanding bass overpowers the remainder of the vary – the sound separation is spectacular, with heavy bass tones having little to no impact on the crisp, clear mids and highs.

The vast soundscape produced actually immerses you in what you’re watching, and the directional sound copy is spectacular –  in case you see a door creek to the left of the display screen, you’ll hear that with pinpoint accuracy. In truth, it’s so correct that I can confidently shut my eyes and level to the place an on-screen sound has originated.

The audio efficiency might be additional improved by way of the suitable EQ: the Film mode focuses on punchy bass and clear dialogue whereas Music mode produces a wider soundstage and a extra balanced output.  

In fact, the standard is dependent upon the connectivity and encompass sound format you go for. You’ll discover assist for Hello-Res audio (DSD and FLAC information streamed domestically or by way of USB) alongside DTS, Dolby Digital and Digital Plus encompass sound decoding, and though you’ll discover Dolby Imaginative and prescient assist for related HDMI units, you gained’t discover Dolby Atmos assist right here – and that’s a bit of shocking contemplating the audio capabilities of the system.

I’m undecided how a lot of an impact Dolby Atmos assist would have when the efficiency is already this spectacular, nevertheless it’s actually a field that isn’t ticked right here.  

Worth

With an RRP of £699/$799, the Denon DHT-S516H encompass sound system isn’t the most cost effective round, however you do get quite a bit in your cash: the audio high quality is unimaginable, even with out Atmos assist, and the number of connectivity choices matches that of the similarly-priced Sonos Playbar – and also you don’t get a wi-fi sub thrown in with Sonos’ hottest providing. 

That’s made extra enticing by the truth that you may at present decide up the system for a reduced £599 at retailers like The Electrical Store, and though out of inventory on the time of writing, Currys PC World sells the system for as little as £549. The identical can’t be mentioned within the US, with retailers like Amazon and Denon itself sticking to the $799 RRP, nevertheless it’s nonetheless nice worth. 

Verdict

The dearth of a distant is a comparatively small criticism a couple of soundbar system that’s largely spectacular. The Denon DHT-S516H soundbar system ticks quite a lot of packing containers: it sounds unimaginable, with crisp highs and booming bass you can really feel in your chest, the vast soundscape is immersive and the number of connectivity choices from AirPlay 2 to Spotify Join means you’ll most likely be utilizing the system as your major speaker moderately than one thing you solely use when watching TV. 

Contemplating you get an identical providing with out a subwoofer from the competing Sonos Playbase, we expect the Denon DHT-S516H system provides nice worth for cash – even at such a excessive worth level. 

Specs

Denon DHT-S516H: Specs

  • Sound bar:(2) 2”x5” full vary drivers, (2) soft-dome tweeters
  • Subwoofer:(2) 5.25” woofers
  • Class D Digital Amplification
  • Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS decoding
  • HDMI In/Out with ARC (Assist 4K with HCDP 2.2, Dolby Imaginative and prescient & HDR10)
  • Aux-in
  • Coax-in
  • Optical-in
  • Bluetooth
  • USB port
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Bluetooth assist
  • Spotify Join integration
  • Apple AirPlay 2 assist
  • Amazon Music assist
  • Soundcloud assist
  • TuneIn assist
  • Soundbar: 1018 x 73 x 104 mm
  • Subwoofer: 172 x 311 x 172mm

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