Denon DHT-T100 Speaker Base Review
Best in class? Possibly....
What is the Denon DHT-T100?
The Denon DHT-T100 is the most recent of a growing list of speaker base products we’ve had in for review.The fashion for improving your TVs audio performance in the most discreet manner possible seems to go on unabated and we’ve recently published our thoughts on the Orbitsound SB60, LG LAP340, Panasonic HTE80, Maxell SB3000 and Cambridge Audio Minx TV.
Each is a speaker built to withstand the weight of a flat panel television without increasing the footprint your TV takes up on your AV unit. The Denon certainly looks much like many of the products mentioned above, let’s see what it can do to make itself stand out from the crowd.
Denon DHT-T100 Design & ConnectionsIt’s probably unfair to term these products as boxy. It’s inherent in the design ethos that a speaker base is designed for functionality, rather than looks, and at least the DHT-T100 has rounded corners and edges to soften the appearance somewhat. It tapers in just a little from front to back, too, and overall it’s a reasonably attractive design, given the constraints. We’re not sure that the taper is the best idea, however, as it will mean that any stand that is borderline too large will have some potentially dangerous overhang at the back.
A fine black mesh covers the speaker drivers, to the front and just round the corners, with Denon’s company logo placed in the middle, just below centre. Reassuringly, the top of the unit feels suitably hardwearing, although the sample did arrive with some inevitable scuff marks. Still, they shouldn’t really be visible with a TV placed on top.
The top of the front panel and supplied remote control share almost all the same eight command buttons, with controls for power, inputs, listening modes and volume on both, whilst the main unit has a unique Remote Learning button – more on which later. The Remote, itself, is very tactile, with a very soft rubberised top surface and it’s of a decent size as well. Unlike some supplied with competing products.
Another digital audio connection would have been nice
Denon DHT-T100 SetupIn terms of what you can safely stack upon the T100, the manufacturer says its safe for most TVs up to around 50-inches and no more than 27Kg so, for older TVs – plasma in particular, you’d be well advised to check the specifications. Most importantly, the maximum stand dimensions the speakerbase can handle are 546mm (width) x 308mm (depth) so, again, worth checking what yours is before taking the plunge.
All the physical connections are around the back in a recessed connections plate. There are both S/PDIF and Coaxial Digital Inputs and a 3.5mm input which is unusally, for this kind of product, accompanied by an input level adjustment switch. For the majority of equipment sporting a 3.5mm output, the default 0dB setting will be appropriate but if you find it distorting, switch to one of the others.
Denon includes cables for all the connection options in the box but, where possible, we’d suggest you use the optical output of your TV for the best results.
The remote is very touchy feely
Denon DHT-T100 FeaturesThe lack of an HDMI port is rendered almost totally insignificant by the T100’s ability to learn commands from your TVs remote control. Probably the greatest benefit of the ARC (Audio Return Channel) feature of HDMI is that allows you to use your TVs remote to adjust volume but since the Denon can learn up to 8 infra-red commands, which correspond with the buttons on the front panel, you can still do that. We also had the DHT-T100 learn the standby command from the TV remote, meaning one press of it turned on both of the devices. Neat!
Like just about every audio product we review these days, the Denon includes the ability to stream audio over Bluetooth. It’s is aptX compatible, although that doesn’t mean a great deal with highly compressed music files, and it maintained a stable connection with both our Nexus 7 and v4.0 dongle inserted into our Windows 7 PC.
Front panel display isn't the easiest to decipher
The DHT-T100 has a number of Listening Modes including Dialog(ue), Music, Music Wide, Movie and Movie Wide. We’ll explore their performance below but you’ll need to consult the onwers manual in order to work out which one you’re actually using. Basically, the T100 lights up various combinations of the lights below the front buttons to indicate which is being used but we’re not going to give you all the possible connotations here. Safe to say, it’s probably not the most user-friendly example of an interface but without a display panel, what could they do?
Denon DHT-T100 Video Review
Denon DHT-T100 ListeningHaving just reviewed the rather gorgeous little Ruark MR1 Bluetooth Speaker pair, we needed a period of expectation readjustment with this product. As a little aside, the DHT-T100 and MR1 are priced within £50 of one another so although you could compare on the grounds of price bracket, you wouldn’t want to try and balance a telly on top of the Ruark’s.
Of course, what we should be drawing comparisons with are the products mentioned in the intro and against those it fares quite well. The DHT-T100 boasts a good degree of verticality to its output meaning audio sounds as though it is coming from the screen, rather than below it, and all the listening modes present a fairly bright dynamic that many will find engaging. The Music mode is a little too bright for our tastes but with dance music it sounds OK.
We actually settled on the Movie Wide mode for TV and films as it definitely brings the widest soundstage along with it. One of the inherent issues of the cabinet size and driver array utilised, therefore, is the fact it tends to sound too centralised, often giving little to no sense of stereo or effects separation. We often find the wide or surround DSP (Digital Signal Processing) to sound echo-y and unconvincing but Denon’s seems to be a cut above the pack here.
Dual subs lend a decent amount of impact
The in-built dual subwoofers combine for a diameter of 10-inches and that’s reflected in a pretty impressive level of agility and quite a satisfying amount of impact. OK, you would expect a dedicated 10-inch subwoofer to pack in both more attack and raw volume but we have no complaints about the DHT-T100’s low-end performance, given the constraints of the casing.
We wouldn’t exactly call the Denon is musical, the tuning certainly seems to have been primarily focussed on getting the most out of movies and television, but as background listening kind of device it does the job well enough and, overall, we think Denon has pulled off a successful product with the DHT-T100.
- Neat and tidy
- Nice remote
- Bright & Engaging sound
- Reasonably deep bass
- Good DSP modes
- Remote command learning
- Tapered design might be limiting
- Display isn't the most informative
- Slightly lacking in connectivity
- Not very musical
Denon DHT-T100 Speaker Base ReviewThe Denon DHT-T100 is a fairy plain looking package but that really is the point. If prospective buyers wanted something to show off, they surely would opt for a soundbar or satellite speakers. That’s not to say it’s ugly – the fine meshed front and rounded edges give it a certain amount of panache, although the decision to taper the cabinet in at the back might mean its limiting the number of TVs that could safely be placed upon it.
There are a reasonable array of connection options, including S/PDIF, Coaxial, a 3.5mm jack and Bluetooth and you probably won’t miss the inclusion of HDMI given the fact the unit can learn commands from your TVs (or another device's) remote. The bundled remote is definitely one of the best in its class, however, boasting a soft rubberised surface that’s begging to be fondled and a sensible amount of space between buttons.
The T100 has a number of listening modes and, room permitting, we’d suggest trying out the Movie Wide option as this does the best job of widening out the inherently narrow soundstage in to something quite a bit more expansive. The DHT-T100 certainly does a very good job with movies and TV in this configuration and it’s probably the best DSP we’ve heard in a speaker board product, to date.
Judged against its peers, the Denon DHT-T100 is right up there amongst the best. It’s neat and tidy, well priced and capable of creating some genuinely impressive noise. Recommended.
Ease of Use6
Value for Money8
Our Review Ethos
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