Denon DHT-S514 Soundbar Review 
Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems
Written by Andre Marc   
Monday, 28 April 2014

Television soundbars are all the rage today, and for good reason. They allow you to enjoy high fidelity sound -- without a bank of front, right, center, and rear channel speakers -- in a tight space. Soundbar technology advancements have been significant as of late, taking them well beyond "lifestyle" products in their evolution.

The market for soundbars seems rather obvious to me. They are tailor made for small urban apartments, bedrooms, and dens. As a matter of fact, my bedroom has a Vizio 42-inch TV, but despite the unit's subpar built-in speakers, there's certainly no space for a surround system. It was extremely timely, then, when Denon approached me to review their latest soundbar, the DHT-S514, which retails for $649.

According the Denon, the unit, "features 175 watts of total system power, the DHT-S514 soundbar and wireless subwoofer together deliver true high fidelity sound with any TV. The soundbar features dual 2"x5" precision drivers that reproduce the upper bass and midrange audio, delivering clear audio especially in the vocal range. There are also dual ½" dome tweeters that reproduce the entire treble range, with response extending to 20 kHz."

The matching wireless subwoofer is equipped with dual 5¼" woofers and can be placed horizontally or vertically, which offers flexibility. Both soundbar and subwoofer have a solid feel, and the packaging is first rate. Clear and concise instructions are included for set up.

According to Denon, "many TVs come with one of the HDMI inputs equipped with Audio Return Channel (ARC), which lets you listen to audio from a source device (such as a cable or satellite box) as well as being able to listen to audio from the TV's internal tuner or from a smart TV's built-in content streaming capabilities. Simply connect the DHT-S514 to your TV with the supplied HDMI cable, and you can enjoy audio from your set-top box as well as enjoying audio from the TV. For TVs without ARC, you can connect the DHT-S514 via one of the two available digital audio connections -- both optical and coaxial digital audio inputs are provided."

The DHT S514 has a few more tricks up its sleeve. It is Bluetooth enabled, which allows you to stream sound from any Bluetooth device, including iPads, iPhones, Android tablets, etc. Denon has also included the new aptX technology, which improves music playback through Bluetooth. There is also a good old analog jack for connecting any type of music source, including a CD player.

Wait, there is more! Denon loaded the DHT-S514 with built-in Dolby Digital and DTS decoding, which uses Denon's own Virtual Surround processing -- and "advanced psychoacoustic algorithms" -- to simulate the surround sound of a multi-channel home theater speaker system.

Aside from Movie Surround Sound mode, the DHT-S514 features two additional custom sound modes for use with different types of content. Dialog Enhancer provides improved clarity for use with news programs, talk shows, or documentaries. And Music mode, which seems pretty self-explanatory. The DHT-S514 also offers Pure Stereo, with no additional acoustic enhancement, and Night Mode, which prevents large jumps in volume when you don’t want to disturb sleeping family members. Night Mode can be used in addition to the other listening modes, a nice touch.

Denson DHT-S514 Soundbar

Set Up

The DHT-S514 required a minimum effort to set up and install. The unit comes with support footers, which snap into place, and good quality optical and HDMI cables. I connected my Viziio TV and Cable DVR via HDMI, and my DVD player via optical. Next, I found a good place for the matching subwoofer, and simply turned it on, magically it connected wireless to the main unit. The subwoofer is easy to dial in, as it has its own volume control. Once I set the desired level to blend in with the soundbar, I was ready to roll

The footprint of the DHT-S514 was perfect for setting it right in front of the TV. It nestled in perfectly in the space, and blended in seamlessly to the decor.  The unit can also be mounted on a wall if you desire. The DHT-S514 is also supplied with a nice remote control that allows you control every function including power, sound mode, volume, and source. Watching HDTV in the bedroom with the addition of the Denon system was a whole different experience than using the internal TV speakers. Suddenly movie soundtracks came alive, dialogue was easy to follow, and the overall balance was smooth. Miles ahead of what I was used to.

 

Listening

Watching live music performances on Jimmy Kimmel or The Tonight Show were great fun, with fleshed out full sound that was very believable. Palladia, my favorite HD music channel, filled with live performances from established and cutting edge artists, was a pleasure to watch and hear. No more thin and anemic sound with little bottom end.

The soundstage was amazingly wide for such a relatively small speaker, with sounds seemingly stretching well beyond the boundaries of the unit. Make no mistake; sound filled the room. I never had to go to near the top of the volume range for satisfactory SPLs. Even at higher volumes, the treble was clean and crisp, never edgy. This was nicely balanced by the clean midrange.
 
I was able to stream music via Bluetooth from an iPhone and iPad after pairing, which took all of ten seconds. Color me impressed. The aptX technology is the real deal, and makes bluetooth audio more than just a convenience. This feature comes in handy for casual listening. I found it very enjoyable.

In use, the DHT-S514 was operationally seamless. There are indicator lights on top of the unit that allow you to see volume level and sound mode. Perhaps the only place it could use improvement is lagged a bit in detecting an incoming HDMI signal, but hardly a deal breaker. The flexibility in setup was a big plus, with HDMI, optical, coaxial, and even a mini jack input.

Denon DHT-S514 Soundbar and Sub

Conclusion

While a single speaker and sub, even loaded with sophisticated DSP, will never outflank a high quality multi-speaker system, the Denon DHT-S514 does a heck of a job in that effort. This system is fairly priced, especially considering its build quality, sound, and feature list.

With a variety of connectivity and mounting options, the DHT-S514 really is a very versatile product. I would have no reservations recommending this Denon soundbar (and matching subwoofer) to anybody looking for vastly improved TV sound in a tight space, or for a spare room.

Denon has a slew of new and interesting products, so look for more reviews in the coming months.

Specifications


Denon DHT-S514: $649


Features CONTROL
HDMI: ARC / CEC • (1x in / 1x out) Control buttons •
Digital input: Optical / Coaxial • / • Remote Control •
Analogue input (3.5mm mini jack) • TV remote learning function •
Simple one wire setup • IR Repeater •
Bluetooh: A2DP / APT-X • / •
Dolby Digital decoding / DTS • / • GENERAL
Soundmode: Available colour: Black •
Dialog, Music Wide, Movie Wide • Auto Power Off •
Night listening mode • Dimensions (W x H x D) 39 17/32 x 3 9/64 x x 3 5/64"
BassTrac • 1004 x 79.4 x 78.3 mm
Height with foot 1 / foot 2 4 7/16" / 3 25/64"
INSTALLATION 99.4 mm / 111.4 mm
Keyhole style wall mount • Weight 5 lbs 1 oz, 2.3kg
Tabletop placement • Subwoofer Dimensions (W x H x D) 6 3/4 x 12 21/64 x 13 5/8"
Adjustable foot height (2x) • 171.5 x 313 x 346 mm
Subwoofer Weight 13 lbs, 5.9 kg



Review System 1


CD Transport: Marantz SA-14S1 SACD player
Server: Squeezebox Touch
DAC/Server:  SIM Neo 308D
Headphone Amp: Pro-Ject Head Box II
Headphones: Grado SR60
Preamp: Channel Islands Audio PLC-1 MkII
Amplifier: Audio Research  VS 55. Bob Carver Black Magic
Speaker: Thiel CS2.4
Cables:  Stager Silver Solids, Darwin Ascension (IC), Transparent  MM2 Super (IC), Transparent Plus (Speaker) Acoustic Zen Tsunami II (AC),Transparent (AC).Shunyata Venom (AC) Element Cable Red Storm (Digital AC), DH Labs TosLink, DH Labs AES/EBU, Audioquest, Forest, WireWorld Ultraviolet, DH Labs USB(USB) DH Labs (USB)
Accessories: Symposium Rollerblocks, Shakti Stone, Audience Adept Response aR6 power conditioner, Salamander rack

Review System 2


CD Player: Marantz CD5003
Music Server: Squeezebox Touch via Ethernet to
MAC Mini w/ Western Digital & Seagate external drives.
DAC: Musical Fidelity A90, CLONES Audio Sheva DAC, Denon DA-300USB
Integrated Amplifier: McIntosh  MA6600, Plinius Hautonga
Tape Deck: Revox A77
Speaker: Harbeth Compact 7ES3, KEF R700
Cables: Darwin Cables Silver IC, Kimber Hero HB,  DH Labs White Lightning (IC),QED Transparent MusicWave (Speaker),PS Audio (AC), Mojo Audio (AC), DH Labs TosLink, Audioquest Forest USB, Wireworld Ultraviolet USB
Accessories:Cable Pro Noisetrapper, Sound Anchors Stands, Wiremold, KECES XPS







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