The shocking sound quality offered by today’s slim TVs has created a market for simple, discreet speaker systems that restore depth and loudness to TV and movie playback. The best known of these is the soundbar, which is placed in front of a TV or on the wall. But an alternative type of single-unit speaker has emerged that sits tidily under your TV, blasting out a big sound without bringing extra clutter into your living room. The Denon DHT-T100 is one such product.
Described as a TV Speaker Base (although they’re also called a plinth, sound base or sound plate, depending on which company you ask), the Denon DHT-T100 takes the signal from your TV and turns it into something more beautiful – and it’ll do the same with music to, thanks to its built-in Bluetooth connection. At £250 it’s a little pricier than rivals like the Maxell MXSP-SB3000 and Cambridge Audio Minx TV, but hopefully that’s justified by superior performance.
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The DHT-T100’s build quality is excellent, a cut above rival plinths from Maxell and Cambridge Audio. The 608 x 355mm top panel sports a tactile matt finish, while the wonderfully robust cabinet allows you to place your TV on top with confidence – Denon says it’ll support loads up to 27kg, which should cover most TVs up to 50-inches, provided the stand fits within the top surface, while there guidelines imprinted on the top to help you to position it centrally.
It’s slimmer than most under-TV speakers too, standing just 71mm high. Looks-wise there’s no showboating – it’s just a discreet black box with curved corners and a black metal mesh covering the front. In fact, the only things that stop it being completely anonymous are the Denon logo and a row of illuminated buttons running along the top, including volume, Bluetooth, mute and sound mode selection controls.
The lack of HDMI inputs on the back is a slight surprise, given the elevated price and the fact that Maxell provides three of them for £20 less. But they’re not crucial on a product like this as you can pass everything through your TV into the Denon’s optical digital input.
In fact there are two digital inputs, the other being of the coaxial variety. They’re joined by a 3.5mm minijack input, which might come in useful for connecting MP3 players and TVs without digital outputs. This input has its own sensitivity control (with 0dB, -6dB and -12dB settings) should your TV’s output be too strong and cause distortion.
Feature highlights include Bluetooth connectivity, which employs apt-X for CD-quality wireless music streaming, and Dolby Digital decoding, but oddly not DTS.
Denon’s Virtual Surround processing aims to emulate the effect of surround speakers. You can also tailor the sound to your taste using five listening modes, including self-explanatory Movie and Music settings, plus Movie Wide and Music Wide, which deliver an expanded front soundstage. Dialog mode brings extra emphasis to speech frequencies, while the Night mode reduces the dynamic range so you can continue listening when everyone else has gone to bed.
It’s a two-way speaker system using dual 2 x 5-inch oval mid-bass drivers and two 0.5-inch dome tweeters placed at the very edges of the front panel, while on the back are two bass reflex ports. Denon isn’t quoting any power output figures for the built-in digital amplifier.