The DHT-T110 is a revamped version of Denon’s debut soundbase, the DHT-T100, offering a series of upgrades that will hopefully improve upon the original’s terrific performance. But essentially it’s the same deal – a speaker box that sits under your telly and pumps powerful sound into the room.
We were impressed by the original’s build and sound quality but criticised its lack of HDMIs and price. However, this time Denon has shaved £50 off the T100’s launch price, which could make it better value for money if the performance improvements pay off.
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The DHT-T110 looks identical to its predecessor. It’s a 71mm-high black box with aluminium mesh on the front and a sloping trim running along the edges. The only other details are the Denon logo on the front and a row of illuminated buttons just above the speaker mesh, which act as status indicators.
As before, its discreet, low-key design blends in with your TV and décor without drawing undue attention. It’s also reassuringly robust – the rock-solid cabinet will support most TVs up to 27kg – while the matte finish covering the top and sides feels suitably hard-wearing. Make sure your TV stand measures no more than 546 x 308mm. A helpful ‘X’ on top helps you position your TV centrally.
The connections are found in a recess on the back. Disappointingly Denon hasn’t added HDMI sockets to this new version, which might deter buyers who want to run a Blu-ray deck or Sky box through it – although it’s no surprise given the drop in price.
But there are two digital audio inputs – one optical, one coaxial – which allow you to make a convenient single-cable connection to your TV. Alternatively you could hook up a Blu-ray/DVD deck and take advantage of the built-in Dolby Digital decoding (there’s no DTS).
There’s a 3.5mm mini jack input for audio devices and a service-only mini USB port. An Input Level switch changes the input sensitivity of the analogue input (0, -6 or -12dB). Built-in Bluetooth with apt-X allows for high-quality music streaming from compatible mobile devices.
The DHT-T110 has a two-way speaker system with two oval-shaped mid/woofer chassis (2 x 5in) and two ½in tweeters. The woofers and rear ports are tasked with delivering deep bass in the absence of an external subwoofer.
Denon has updated the digital signal processing and modified the tweeters to improve the sound balance. It’s also removed the T100’s superfluous Movie Wide and Music Wide modes, reducing the sound mode count to three – Dialog, Music and Movie.
Night mode enhances low-volume listening and irons out annoying jumps in volume, while Denon Virtual Surround employs advanced psychoacoustic algorithms to simulate surround sound from two speakers.
Using the DHT-T110 is easy enough but not quite the walk in the park it could be due to the lack of a display panel. All the information is conveyed via the medium of flashing lights – the buttons along the top light up in a row to indicate the volume levels, and form different patterns to denote selected sound modes. It’ll become second nature over time but lacks the immediacy of an LED readout.
However, the remote is a joy to use. Its ergonomic shape sits comfortably in the hand, and the buttons are embedded into the all-rubber surface, giving it a responsive and tactile feel. The keys are labelled with instantly recognisable icons.
The DHT-T110 also boasts a learning remote function, which learns commands from your existing TV remote so you can keep using the same zapper to adjust volume.
The DHT-T110 delivers more of the same top-drawer sound quality as its predecessor. In fact we think it sounds even better, offering sharper detail and a bigger, more dynamic soundstage.
What better way to demonstrate this than The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies on Blu-ray. As Smaug terrorises Lake Town, the Denon tackles the turbo-charged scene with a snappy and exciting tone. The dragon’s jets of fire blast into the room in big raspy waves and wooden buildings topple with a biting crunch.
There’s plenty of detail too. It ekes out inflections in speech and the delicate, fluffy rustle of Bilbo’s footsteps as he strolls round Erebor’s walls. During battle scenes these eloquent high frequencies give the impression of an open and airy space, plus the added texture makes effects more believable.
That said, we don’t think it’s quite as silky and finessed as Canton’s soundbases such as the Canton DM50, but then they’re considerably more expensive.
The Denon doesn’t lack bass oomph either. The woofers lend depth and authority to the portentous dwarfish dialogue and Smaug’s booming voice.
And when the titular battle gets going there’s decent weight behind the marching armies and huge troll footsteps. The woofers find themselves constantly rumbling and pulsing as the clans engage in battle but they don’t flap or distort. Bass could be slightly punchier and better defined, but it still puts any TV to shame.
With Movie mode selected you get a good spread of sound and a satisfying EQ balance, although Virtual Surround sadly offers no surround presence whatsoever.
Switch to TV material and the Denon’s weight, detail and bite breathe new life into everything from Poldark to Pointless. Its loud volume is a real bonus in large, high-ceilinged living rooms where TV speakers get lost in the space.
Surprisingly the DHT-T110 displays admirable music chops. In Music mode the Denon offers an easy, even-handed sound with decent (but not spectacular) dynamics and detail. Ideal for casual listening.
If you’re after a soundbase with HDMI sockets to connect your external devices, then the DHT-T110 isn’t for you. But if you’re happy to simply hook up your TV via optical then you’re in for a treat.
The Denon delivers superb sound quality, with crisp detail, powerful bass and clear dialogue. It hits levels of power and refinement you rarely hear at this price, resulting in a highly entertaining performance from any source.
Throw in solid construction, neutral design and built-in Bluetooth and you’ve got a soundbase that’s well worth £200 of anyone’s money.
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The more affordable DHT-T110 breathes life into tired TV sonics with its sparkling detail and weighty bass, plus the discreet design integrates invisibly into any room, but it’s a shame Denon hasn’t added HDMI ports this time round.