It’s worth noting that unlike Philips’ HTS series soundbars there’s no built-in DVD player, which doesn’t make it completely self-contained and leaves you with the problem of hiding the audio cables when wall-mounting. When doing so, there are screw holes on the rear and brackets provided in the box, plus you’ll find a set of screw-in feet that can be used when placing the unit on a TV stand.
The unit boasts built-in Dolby Digital and DTS decoders as well as Dolby Pro Logic II for spicing up stereo signals. The lack of Dolby True HD or DTS HD decoding could be seen as a missed opportunity given the growing number of Blu-ray players in our homes, but it would have required an HDMI input and pushed the price up even further – we’re sure Denon is working on something for the future.
The highlight on the feature list is Denon’s X-Space, which uses diffraction and sound beams to spread out the surround effects and create a greater sense of space. Because it doesn’t rely on reflections off the walls, the technology generates a wide sweet spot and allows you to install the unit in any location. To achieve this feat, the cabinet contains six precision speaker drivers, advanced digital signal processors and five digital amplifiers delivering 150W or power (4 x 25W and 1 x 50W).
The FS5 is extremely simple to use. Everything is controlled using the supplied remote, which has a lovely brushed aluminium finish and a strangely retro feel to it. There’s a sparse selection of buttons providing quick and easy access to inputs and sound modes – for the latter you can select from Movie (which expands the soundstage), Music (best suited to live music sources), News (which boosts dialogue) and Stereo (best suited to two channel music playback). You’ll also find a button that activates the SDB bass-boosting circuit and a Night Mode to boost the audibility of sounds at low volumes.
There are no complex calibration procedures to endure – you simply toggle through three different modes using the Setup button on the remote, with each one catering for different room sizes and listening positions. This approach means you can’t tailor the sound exactly to your room requirements but it does make setup blissfully simple.