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Denon DHT-FS5 X-Space Soundbar
If you want a home cinema sound system to pair with your flatpanel TV but can't accommodate five speakers and all the other bits and pieces, then a soundbar could provide the perfect solution. These increasingly popular products pack all the necessary audio decoders, amplifiers and speaker drivers into a single unit, which is designed to be wall-mounted below your TV or to sit on your AV cabinet.
Although they're no match for a full 5.1 system (and to be honest, they don't pretend to be) the aesthetic benefits and convenience usually make it worth the sacrifice - but the sound dispersal technology found inside most models does at least attempt to deliver something more expansive than bog-standard stereo, even if the results aren't always convincing.
The DHT-FS5 is designed to accompany TVs between 24in and 37in, but if your TV's between 32in and 50in you'd be better off with the bigger DHT-FS3. The FS5 is robustly built and its 750mm width/118mm height make it reasonably compact, but its 138mm depth means makes it stick out quite far when wall-mounted. The unit's plain looks are nothing to write home about, but that's probably a good thing - after all, you don't want anything to divert attention from your flash flatpanel TV, do you?
The front panel is covered in black speaker cloth, behind which sits a small two-digit LED display that glows through the material to indicate which modes are selected. At the bottom is another panel that indicates which audio codec is being received and a power light. The top and sides are also finished in black, but the unit is available in silver if black doesn't float your boat.
On the back is a small selection of sockets, including analogue stereo input and three digital audio inputs - two optical and one coaxial - which pleasingly enables you to feed signals from a Sky+ box or Freeview receiver as well as your DVD player. The selection is completed by a subwoofer pre-out should you want to expand the system further, although the unit's integrated virtual subwoofer with three bass reflex tubes means you might not need to. You can also connect the optional ASD-3W wireless control dock to the FS5 and enjoy Wi-Fi streaming, iPod playback and Internet radio access.