SPONSORED: Got an awesome TV but still not getting the true home cinema experience you always dreamed of?
Chances are it’s nothing to do with the actual picture. Instead, it’s likely to do with an equally important, but often ignored, aspect of the home cinema experience: audio.
Why you should invest in a Denon soundbar
Do you want to know the one thing most TVs, from top-end HDR ready OLEDs, down to affordable 4K, 48-inch sets have in common? They often don’t offer terribly good audio.
This isn’t the manufacturer’s fault to be fair. It’s largely because, no matter how clever the tech is, the thin form factor of most modern flat screens simply doesn’t have enough room to accommodate all the parts you need to offer brilliant audio.
Until someone finds a way to replicate Doctor Who’s Tardis tech, there’s simply not enough space to fit all the tweeters, drivers and subwoofer hardware you need to get a truly cinematic experience out of your TV’s in-built speakers.
Which is why, regardless of what type of TV you have, our first bit of advice for any serious buyer is to invest in a soundbar. These are convenient bits of tech that can be neatly slotted beneath most TVs and used to utterly elevate any home system’s audio quickly and easily.
But with so many different variants on offer, each with spec sheets that read like an old school VCR’s instruction manual, knowing which to get can be tricky, especially as not all sound bars are created equal.
For example, not every sound bar actually sounds great. They come in varying degrees of quality. On top of that you need to consider your specific needs. Picking one that doesn’t support certain features, like the Dolby Atmos, THX or DTS virtual surround sound standards means you won’t necessarily get the best results when playing compatible content on services like Netflix and Prime Video.
Which is why as a starting point we suggest starting your search with a well known, established audio brand like Denon, which has over 110 years’ experience creating top audio products.
But which Denon soundbar should you get?
But even within Denon’s stellar range of soundbars there are a lot to choose from. Here to help simplify your shopping experience we’ve whittled the company’s diverse range into three easy recommendations covering various prices and types of user.
Denon DHT-S216: The best entry level option
If you want a quick and easy to use soundbar that ticks all the right boxes, but don’t want to spend lots then Denon’s DHT-S216 is the one to get.
The DHT-S216 is a plug and play unit that at 6cm tall can easily slot beneath most TVs without blocking the IR sensor. If space is an issue it can also be mounted to a wall. Featuring HDMI in and HDMI out (ARC), an optical input and Bluetooth support for wirelessly streaming audio the device is also compatible with pretty much every modern TV, making it blissfully easy to set up in a few minutes.
Despite its dinky dimension the DHT-S216 comes with all the hardware you need to deliver truly immersive audio. Under its tiny frame you’ll find two 3-inch downward firing subwoofers, two mid-range drivers and two 1-inch tweeters which deliver wonderfully powerful and detailed audio.
If that wasn’t enough to tempt you it also has a number of cool add on features you don’t traditionally find on a soundbar at this price. The biggest is its DTS Virtual: X support. This is a cool feature that lets the soundbar use advanced 3D algorithms to simulate a multi-channel soundtrack from a one-box system. The end result is a virtual surround sound that’s much more nuanced and detailed than you’ll find on competing similarly priced sets.
Denon DHT-S316: Perfect for serious movie and sports fans
If you’re a sports fan that really wants to hear the crowd roar during live games, who also appreciates a powerful low end when watching movies, then the Denon DHT-S316 is the soundbar for you.
The soundbar has all the features you’d expect including an HDMI (Arc) connector that lets you quickly and easily set it up with a single cabled connection to the TV, plus a few awesome extras.
The biggest is the inclusion of a free wireless subwoofer. The subwoofer lets the Denon DHT-S316 off significantly more powerful low end than competing sets, and thanks to its wireless connectivity can be easily set up and positioned with zero hassle. This really adds to its already amazing audio.
Combine the package with its Dolby and DTS virtual surround sound support and the Denon DHT-S316 is an easy recommendation for any sports or movie fan looking to upgrade their home setup.
Denon Home Sound Bar 550: The smartest soundbar available
Price: £499 (Save £100)
If you want a powerful, immersive soundbar that can neatly fit into most multi-room or smart home setups then you should check out the Denon Home Sound Bar 550.
The Denon Home Sound Bar 550 features a number of key upgrades on its more affordable siblings, despite having a similarly compact and discrete design.
These include support for Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant, which lets you interact with connected tech using voice commands, and support for most common smart home and wireless standards, including AirPlay and HEOS Built-in. This makes it quick and easy to connect the bar to other smart home devices in just a few clicks.
The functionality also makes the soundbar very scalable. The advanced connectivity and driver support makes it quick and easy to pair the 550 with a pair of Denon’s 350, 250 and 150 wireless speakers, or the DSW-1H wireless subwoofer to create true surround sound experiences with ultra deep bass, should you want to level up your home cinema setup even more later down the line.
Even if you don’t, it’s audio chops are already very impressive. The 550 supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X 3D immersive surround sound and has an improved eARC HDMI Out, which lets it send higher-quality audio from your TV to the soundbar, letting you get better audio from high res sources.
The combination of features make it the best option for serious movie and music fans that plan to build or upgrade their multi-room and smart home setups over time.