Setup takes seconds, and operation is easy but takes a little getting used to. When selecting different sound modes for example, the buttons on the front light up in different formations to indicate which mode is selected. And when you adjust the volume, they light up in a row to represent the current level. At first we needed to consult the manual to work out what was going on.
But the remote is superb. It’s small but not too small, and the entire surface is covered in a high-quality rubber finish. There are only eight buttons, all of which lie flush to the surface and sport clear glow-in-the-dark icons. You can easily switch inputs using the dedicated TV and Bluetooth keys, and there’s a single button to toggle through sound modes.
If you’d rather stick with your existing TV remote, no problem – the DHT-T100 has a learning function. Hold down the learning button on the front panel, press the relevant key on the Denon followed by the corresponding button on your TV remote.
If you’ve only ever listened to movies through your TV, hearing the Denon DHT-T100 for the first time will make you feel like Dorothy stepping into Munchkinland. This is TV sound in Technicolor, with full, satisfying bass, vivid detail and enough volume to fill your front room and maybe even your neighbours’ too.
Turning to our Pacific Rim Blu-ray disc (fed into the optical input from our TV) the DHT-T100 handles the colossal action with all the assuredness and clarity we’ve come to expect from Denon. There’s a palpable sense of weight and size as the Jaegers and Kaiju stomp through cities knocking six bells out of each other, thanks largely to the speaker’s big, beefy bass output. Low frequencies are tight and punchy, lending depth without outstaying their welcome.
This ballsy bass fuses seamlessly with the midrange, which is forthright yet easy on the ear, even at high volumes. Snarling beasts, colliding metal and demolished buildings fly from the drivers with controlled aggression and attack.
But where the DHT-T100 really excels is in high-frequency reproduction, offering more detailed and open sound than rival plinths like the Cambridge Audio Minx TV and the Orbitsound SB60. So when Newton visits Hannibal Chau in Hong Kong’s Bone Slums, the Denon allows you to hear more of the delicate background noise on the busy streets.
The effect of the sound modes is subtle. Dialog mode comes in useful when watching TV shows, lending extra focus to midrange frequencies and lifting voices above background ambience, while the Movie Wide mode gently expands the front soundfield, but not dramatically so. And at no stage did we feel even the slightest surround presence, but we weren’t really expecting to.
The Denon’s smooth, refined character and bass agility lends itself beautifully to music playback. After streaming a series of 320kbps MP3s across a range of genres – jazz, house, rock, soul – the speaker base skilfully coaxes out details and adds irresistible depth to the music, making this a decent hi-fi as well as a TV speaker.
But the Denon’s more assured performance, with sharper detail presentation and greater composure, make it worth the extra cash, plus its design has an indefinable sense of quality that makes all the difference when making a buying decision.
So if you’re looking for the best-sounding TV speaker base, then the Denon might just be the one – even if it isn’t necessarily the best value on paper.
Not the best value on paper, but Denon’s superbly-built speaker base trumps rivals with its assured performance.
Next, read our roundup of the best soundbars