What is the Damson S-Series Home Cinema System?
For review here, we have their flagship product, the Damson S-Series Home Cinema System. Retailing at £699, this is a 5.1.2 system comprising of a subwoofer, soundbar, Dolby Atmos 360 speaker and 2 S-Cube speakers for the surround sound. It is currently the World’s only wireless Dolby Atmos home cinema system as there are no audio cables, at all. None. The only cables are the power cables to the soundbar and the subwoofer as the S-Cube speakers are battery powered. With a promised simple setup, compact and beautiful design, this set looks very interesting indeed. Read on to see how it performs during our tests...
What about the Design, Connections and Control?
Firstly, you have the subwoofer. This is main guts of the system and acts as the AV-Receiver. It has a stylish and impressive design, whilst remaining very compact. All black with soft rubberised feel to the rear and sides of the unit, a black mesh front grille and an attractive chrome edging. To the rear is a pull-out leg so you can have the unit level or tilted at an angle to get the best out of it. The subwoofer measures just 240mm square and 80mm deep but does weigh 1.9kg, so has a nice weighty feel to it.
The Dolby Atmos 360 speaker is then fitted on top of the soundbar with a magnetic connection. This does add a bit of bulk to the soundbar but remains fairly compact. With the 360 speaker added it increases the height to 116mm and the depth to 110mm but doesn’t affect the width, but if you have a TV with a low level mount, this could encroach on the screen area and unfortunately you are unable to put this on a shelf below the TV as it would render the Atmos functionality useless. This speaker has a similar design to the soundbar and weighs just 541 grams. The Atmos unit has two upward and slightly forward angled drivers.
The connections are all found on the subwoofer, comprising of 1 x HDMI output with Audio Return channel, 2 x HDMI inputs, 1 x Aux-in and the power connection along with Bluetooth.
Along with the device control, you also get a wireless remote control which can change the input, mute, volume, pair, play/pause and power controls and activate the XBass feature on the subwoofer. Bizarrely, the buttons all seem to be squeezed into a tiny area of the remote, leaving the bottom half completely empty. A slightly better design would have been welcomed here.
- Powered by JetStreamNet for wireless surround sound
- Patented Ultrathin Subwoofer optimised for small to medium sized rooms
- Works with SkyQ, Amazon FireTV 4K, Apple TV 4K and many more
- Dolby Atmos via ARC with compatible TV’s including the latest LG OLED range
- 2 x HDMI Inputs, 1 x Aux-in, Bluetooth
- 1 x HDMI Output with Audio Return Channel (ARC)
- Wireless remote control – no line of sight required
- 4 x 42mm custom made drivers
- 1 x 78mm custom made subwoofer
- 7,800 mAh battery
- Up to 12 hours playtime (surround sound)
- Up to 8 hours playtime (music streaming)
- 2 hours charge time
- Wireless remote control – no line of sight required
- Wireless range up to 30metres per speaker
How was it setup and tested?
The setup simply involves you powering on the S-Cubes, deciding where you want them (there is a switch on the rear of each unit which tells it whether you have it on the left or the right side), powering on the soundbar with the Atmos speaker attached, connecting the inputs on the subwoofer and then powering that on. It all talks to each other and starts working in just a few seconds. The length of the power cables we found to be a bit on the short side, for the soundbar and the subwoofer we would have welcomed cables twice the length.
Once fully installed, configured and setup with the speakers in the required location, we tested with a variety of sources, from SkyQ, Netflix (via the HDMI ARC port) and 4K Blu-ray. Plus on the music side we tested via Bluetooth using TIDAL.
What about the performance?
This is a 5.1.2 system, but there are no separate front left and front right speakers. As it is all in the one soundbar unit, you won’t ever beat a 3-speaker front system, but the S-Series makes a good effort at it. Together with the 2 rear speakers, the front to back transitions are clearly heard and the rear effects are noticeable when they should be. The slight issue tends to be with the soundstage itself. You have the two rear speakers creating a wide rear stage, but this then narrows as it moves to the front stage which is all housed in the soundbar. You do notice the left and right effects, but these are not as wide as we would have liked, which is to be expected from a single unit.
The overall sound quality was very good across all the sources we tested including SkyQ, Netflix and 4K Blu-ray, although vocals did sound a little distorted at higher volumes, but at normal listening levels it was clear and crisp with good room effects. The volume levels are more than enough for a small to medium sized room and more, but the volume adjustment itself is not as sensitive as we would have liked, there doesn’t appear to be enough of a control range, hopefully this is something that can be fixed in the future.
So far, we were mostly impressed, but where the main negatives start to come in is with the subwoofer. With its ultrathin design, we were at least hoping for some bass, but it was distinctly lacking. There is a clip in Transformers that may be familiar to most where one of the Autobots shoots their weapon towards the ground and flies over the top of a screaming damsel in distress, incredibly bass heavy, but here on the S-Series it was noticeable by its complete absence. We had to turn the volume up far too much to even get any kind of bass out of it. The X-Bass feature doesn’t seem to add much either. For a system with so much promise, we found the bass side very disappointing indeed. Due to this complete lack of bass, the treble was perhaps more prominent than it should have been.
As a complete system it also struggled with Music. The soundbar just doesn’t have the range for music and it came off with a rather tinnier effect than we had hoped for. Testing with our usual Hans Zimmer Live in Prague album, plus various vocal heavy tracks such as from Pink, Elton John and the screechy Sia it sounded ok, but at higher volumes the limitations really started to make themselves known.
Whilst a lot of negatives there, one big positive we found was the two S-Cubes. In full system mode they are just used as rear surround effects, but you can also use them as portable speakers for streaming audio, whether that be just one, or both in stereo. We were very impressed with the S-Cubes, they have a strong sound, with clear and crisp vocals and as they are battery powered you can put them anywhere, even in the garden if it’s dry.
They also appeared to have more bass than the subwoofer. We found that when playing music it was preferable to just use the two S-Cubes rather than the full system with the soundbar, which just doesn’t have enough quality. The 30 metre range was a bit optimistic though, perhaps this is line of sight in an open area, but during testing we found it to be similar to Bluetooth with a range under 10 metres and sensitive to too many walls.
- Impressive design
- Discrete system
- No speaker cables
- Completely wireless rear speakers
- Excellent value
- Good connectivity
- S-Cube speakers are a delight
- Very disappointing subwoofer
- Front soundstage not that impressive
- Clunky remote control
Damson S-Series Dolby Atmos System Review
The audio quality is good with all the surround and Dolby Atmos effects noticeable, as well as having a strong sound with clear and crisp vocals, although it does struggle with vocals at higher volumes. But the bass is a major let down. We had to check that the subwoofer was actually working during testing as the bass was lacking that much. Due to the lack of bass, you feel like there is far more treble and a real lack of any midrange, which means everything can sound light and tiny with no weight to the soundstage.
The S-Cubes were a real highlight with excellent audio quality and a bass level that appeared higher than the subwoofer itself. These can be expanded to up to 16 (although at £149 each you may need to win the lottery to buy all 16), used as a pair in stereo or used singly for multi-room.
As this is currently the World’s only wireless Dolby Atmos home cinema system, a direct comparison is not possible, especially at this price point. If you are looking for a home cinema system at a similar price and you don’t mind big boxes and wires all over the place, then there are many better options available, but if you are looking for a discrete wire free system, then the S-Series is one to consider, it’s just a real shame the subwoofer lets the whole thing down.
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