Canton DM50 Soundbase review.

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
There currently appear to be few user reviews of the Canton online, so I thought I'd write about my experience to help anyone who's thinking of buying one. Apologies in advance if it seems overly lengthy and tediously detailed, but the intention is that it would answer virtually any queries someone might have without actually having to ask the question!

First, a little background detail about my telly, which was an important factor in my decision to buy the Canton. I have a Pioneer Kuro 50" plasma which weighs 36 kilos on its table top stand. That immediately rules out most current soundbases as I was planning to rest the Kuro on top of the unit. Also, the Pioneer was a bit of an anomaly at the time as it didn't come with speakers nor a table top stand as standard - all you got was a remote, a power cord and an instruction manual, that's it! Anything else was extra.

At the time of purchase (2009) the soundbar market was relatively small and expensive and soundbases didn't even exist. Pioneer offered their own in-house, add-on external speakers in two forms: a single horizontal design that fitted under the TV via a height adjustable stand or two vertical speakers that attached to the sides, thereby extending the telly's width. I tried the horizontal design first, and though it was fairly loud and upfront it also seemed quite a narrow sound image without much space or air. I then switched to the twin vertical design and the sound image was much wider and bigger, though in terms of quality it didn't really differ from the other design.

The stereo speakers cost £80, which wasn't cheap but not stupidly expensive either for the time. By offering these add-ons, Pioneer managed to cleverly circumvent the established criticism of flatscreen tellies and their thin, poor sound. Mind you, the speakers in standard mode were nothing to write home about, you had to boost the sound significantly using the telly's built in digital sound processing modes (SRS) and thereby artificially enhancing the midrange, bass and sound image height and width.

I lived with this arrangement fairly happily but always kept an eye on soundbar technology and improvements over the years. I do have 5.1 Surround Sound, but I also had my telly professionally calibrated and there was always a sense that the picture was far superior to the potential sound, that it was adequate but no more.

Come January 2014 and I decided to start seriously having a look around at soundbars. And then "What Hi-Fi" ran a Group Test of soundbases and I immediately realised that this was a sound technology and upgrade that was far better suited to my needs. Firstly, there wouldn't be any unsightly trailing wires running across the TV shelf from the back of a unit parked in front of my telly. Secondly, height wouldn't be an issue as I would be able to place my TV directly on top of any unit with the additional benefit of hiding connecting wires. And thirdly, I wouldn't have to concern myself with a lack of bass impact without an external sub as soundbases have bass drivers built in.

Now this is purely coincidental, but the dimensions of my TV stand are 56 cm wide x 30 cm deep, the Canton is 55 x 30 and it fits absolutely perfectly and blends seamlessly, almost like they were designed to work together. Add this to the weight factor mentioned earlier (the Canton can support tellies up to 40 kilos) and the only other competition was the Maxell SB3000, which looked like an absolute beast and would be far more dominant aesthetically.

My only other concern was about the Canton's downward-firing twin bass speakers. I have an Optimum TV stand with toughened 10mm glass shelves, it is very heavy and solid but I wanted to try and isolate the Canton as much as possible, to try and reduce any distortion or vibration. I bought a granite chopping board from Ebay (60 x 30 was the closest I could get, dimensions-wise) and thought about some squidgy isolation feet between the granite and the glass shelf, but the combined weight of everything on top would just squash them down so much as to render them virtually useless. I then found this:

Draper 30743 Vibration Absorber Mat: Amazon.co.uk: DIY & Tools

Dimensions were 60 x 30 and a perfect match for the granite board! Maybe this was a bit of overkill, but better that than to try and change anything once the Kuro and Canton were in position. The current arrangement is:

TV
|
DM50
|
granite
|
absorber mat

and I have put my hand on top of the glass shelf whilst something was booming out and have felt no vibration at all.

Now, onto the Canton itself. It arrived last month and came packaged with:

1 x unit
1 x remote
1 x instruction manual
1 x power cable (note: the Canton is German and comes with a 2 pin plug as standard. Make sure you get or have a 2 into 3 pin Euro adapter available otherwise it won't work out of the box!)
1 x digital optical cable
1 x digital coaxial cable
1 x analogue stereo cable

Canton recommended that you connect to your TV via optical for best sound quality and to run the unit in for at least 15 hours, so I used my own QED optical cable rather than the cheap freebie supplied. This involved the relentless banality of 4Music (bass and treble) and QVC (midrange) for what seemed like an eternity. After this torture, I then cranked it up and sat back to watch "Match Of The Day" and was immediately completely underwhelmed - it sounded flat, thin, lifeless and worse than the Pioneer speakers I had before!

I don't have Cable or Satellite and only use Freeview. I know that sound quality can vary enormously between TV channels, but I wasn't expecting such a lacklustre performance, not after all the glowing professional reviews and adhering to the running in period. The Kuro doesn't have a coaxial connection, so that only left the analogue stereo connection (QED again) to try. What a transformation! It was like a thick, heavy blanket had been lifted off the unit and it could finally sing.

Treble is sweet and unobtrusive, midrange is fantastically clear and detailed - you can really hear the emotional expressiveness, subtlety and nuances of voices - and bass was truly stunning - fast, taut, propulsive, abundant (no real need for an external sub), tight and musical. The balance of abilities is simply outstanding and Canton have pitched the sound just right - it's warm and rich, clear and detailed, not overly analytical and clinical and certainly not fatiguing over extended listening periods.

Must also mention the dinky yet solid and chunky, metal-bodied remote. The main unit is beautifully built and finished and the remote matches that. It's also well laid out and has just half a dozen functions, so it's simplicity itself to use. The Canton offers a lipsynch function (which I've never had to use) and an EQ function during initial set up. This is basically: EQ1 (for having the DM50 on a shelf in free space with your telly on a wall), EQ2 (having your telly on top of the Canton) and EQ3 (having the DM50 inside a TV unit on a shelf). It's nice that Canton offers these options, but having flicked between them I could discern no noticeable difference whatsoever but still stuck with EQ2.

I also like the minimal sound options of the Canton - either Stereo (for music) or Surround (for TV and films). A great many AV amps offer a ton of sound modes, hardly any of which anyone uses, so its nice to just have as little to fiddle about with as possible. This pretty much describes setting up the DM50 in the first place - it's just two cables, one to your TV and one to the power socket. After that, the only thing you ever have to do is switch it on and adjust the volume up and down. I just leave mine in Surround mode and lose myself in whatever I'm watching.

Now, nothing in this life is perfect so here are the criticisms! Firstly, the unit itself has no external buttons or switches anywhere; to maintain its clean look, I suppose. However, this means that you are entirely dependent on the remote to operate the unit, so what happens if you lose it? Or it breaks? Or it just stops working? I always want any device to have at least an on/off switch and volume up/down as a back up. Secondly, the digital connection was not the best way to connect the unit at all, certainly not for my TV, and HDMI would have been a useful option to explore, especially as I understand that analogue connections are increasingly a rarity with modern flatscreens. Thirdly, though perhaps a little unfairly, the Canton produces a huge, room-filling wall of sound when it's cranked up, but it's ultimately a small-ish box right in front of your face (I'd recommend mounting it as high up as possible because of this, though still underneath your screen) and there's not much height or width projection of specific objects within a soundtrack. Panning left to right or front to back is almost non-existent too; it is a big, powerful sound field but there's not much sense of movement like you get with 5.1. And finally, though the Canton is rich and warm, it is also surprisingly accurate and if you feed it a bad signal it will sound terrible. Give it quality, though, and it is simply breathtaking.

But perhaps these sound quality criticisms are a little harsh. If all you've ever heard is your TV's thin, weedy and feeble speakers then upgrading to a soundbase is just a complete revelation. They certainly offer a neater, less obtrusive and more compact alternative to soundbars, though maybe at the expense of image width and panning sound effects (though you could always explore soundbases that have side firing speakers, I suppose). The current market seems to offer most models in the £2-300 price range, so the Canton stands alone at being £400 and nothing else priced above it.

Is it worth spending the extra? I would say yes, I certainly haven't regretted my decision and it's been a clear improvement over the Kuro's in-house external speakers. But I must also say that I do believe in the Law of Diminishing Returns and incremental improvements, also that I think the human ear adapts over time to whatever it is exposed to. If you feel that £400 is far too much to spend, then I'm sure you'll be more than happy with anything in the £2-400 price band below.

I must also say that it's worth checking on your telly's connection options as that can make a significant difference to the overall sound. And (and this is just a personal observation) your TV's internal amplification - the Kuro's manual states the sound output at a measly 36 watts, the Canton has a claimed rating of 200 watts! Am I really getting the best out of the unit here and using the analogue connections too?

To finish (finally!), buying and using the Canton has mostly been an absolute joy. I haven't had to artificially manipulate the sound to create a vast improvement on what I was using before. Aesthetically, it fits and blends in beautifully and seamlessly. The build and finish is top quality. It was a doddle to set up and is simplicity itself to use. And the sound is truly magnificent from something so small and discreet; it's not just about the quantity but the quality of sound that's been so hugely impressive.

Highly recommended, if your budget allows!
 
Last edited:

Silverblack

Well-known Member
Thank you for your very detailed review, I'm interested in one of these but there's no local shops near me that have them on display to demo. I have read numerous positive reviews for the canton so it must be as good as the praise that it has received.

Regarding the audio side have you changed the audio output on your bluray player or DVD player to auto?? Because if i brought one I would connect my telly via the analogue in on the canton then my bluray player to coaxial and my Xbox via optical into the canton so at least to take advantage of the Dolby digital sound.

Once again really appreciate the in depth review.
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Thank you for your praise and for making it all the way through my review!

I probably didn't make it too clear, but I do have 5.1 Surround Sound and have Blu-Ray audio running through my AV amp. However, my Blu-Ray player (an Oppo) does have two HDMI outputs so I can play discs without turning it on, there is a direct audio connection to the Kuro.

My DVD player is actually a DVD recorder, and again, I have its HDMI connected directly to the telly. Both the above disc players have their respective audio outputs set to Auto.

As I said, I'm not sure if ultimate sound quality of the Canton is hampered or restricted by:

1. The relative weedy output of the Kuro.
2. The fact that I'm not using a digital connection.

I just thought it was worth mentioning in case anyone bought it, or any other soundbar/soundbase-type device automatically expecting it to be brilliant. These things are plug-and-play to an extent, but it's definitely worth experimenting to find out what works best for your set up.
 

Silverblack

Well-known Member
Is the bass as deep as the reviews claim it to be?? In the whathifi review when they state it has a sub out they also say you won't need to use it, also on the trusted review site they talk about the deep and thumping bass and room filling sound would you agree with that.

Reason for the questions is I'm really tempted to pull the trigger on one.
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Do it, my friend!

I'm not joking, the bass is truly stunning. The Canton has no right to produce such deep and plentiful bass from something so compact, it's an engineering miracle!

It's not just the depth though, it's the speed and quality that's so incredible. It is genuinely musical and beautifully controlled, the Pioneer speakers in comparison were slow, lumpen and plodding. Bass is an essential element of scale, reach and impact and there were times when I was genuinely blown away by what I heard whilst recently watching "Star Trek: Into Darkness" on Blu (funnily enough, the same test disc on the Trusted Reviews test).

Please don't get me wrong, it doesn't match a dedicated subwoofer for rumble - there's no trouser-flapping activity involved here. But in its own right and on its own terms, it's simply astounding and I'd be perfectly happy to watch films in future without firing up the 5.1.

And yes, it is also genuinely room-filling, albeit mostly in front of you. There is height and width, but nothing behind. I don't know if this helps, but this is the best offer I've seen online:

£360— Canton DM50 Black Home Cinema - Compare Prices with ProperPrice.co.uk

If you do take the plunge can you give us an update on here please? And do consider what I've written about isolating the Canton from its shelf. Of course, I can't say with any certainty what it would sound like if you didn't do it, if you just placed it on a shelf as is, but I was happy to try it for just an extra £30 on top. And you don't have to use both the granite and the absorber mat together, but I'd certainly recommend trying the granite chopping board off Ebay for around £20.

Good luck!

p.s. Have just amended my review regarding the power cable.
 
Last edited:

Silverblack

Well-known Member
Yeah if i was to get one i would have it resting on a granite chopping board, your really making want to get it even more now lol... And even if the bass wasn't enough i could always opt for a subwoofer later on down the line.

Thanks again the info you have provided really has been beneficial.
 

dazwaldo

Active Member
Good review, this is on my shortlist of sound bars so it's good to hear, but I don't really want it under the TV. Aesthetically I would prefer to put on the top shelf of my TV stand. The stand is made of very solid oak so I wonder how this will affect the sound, does it really need to sit under or in front of the TV? Do you have any photos of your set-up?
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Here's a picture I took today:

Canton DM50 Photo by Derek22464 | Photobucket

Sorry you've got lumbered with my whole photo album, but I didn't know how else to create an image upload - just ignore everything else.

As you can see, I have it mounted high up and under the telly - the top shelf is 86 cm from the ground and the granite chopping board and absorber mat add another 2 cm = 88 cm. You should also be able to see just how small and discreet it is in appearance compared to my Center speaker, it's still hard to believe it makes such a big sound sometimes.

Oh, and that's a replica of a Star Trek TOS communicator on top of the TV base, with authentic "chirrup" sound when you flip it open!:smashin: When I've got the Canton really cranked up it actually moves sideways and slides off!

To answer your queries:

1. Canton recommend that you mount the DM50 under the TV and I would agree with that. Having used it, I would say that the sound is fairly directional in nature (more forward than up or sideways), especially when it comes to speech, and it locks the dialogue track directly to the screen. Unless you plan to have your telly down by your ankles, then mounting the Canton above the screen could just create sound anomalies, but you could always try it and see how you get on (height placement of the DM50 is crucial here).
As I mention in my review, there are various EQ parameters to try to account for different mounting arrangements, but none account for placing the unit above the screen and firing the sound "downwards", if you see what I mean.

2. Oak is obviously a more solid material than glass, but it is still susceptible to vibration and is not as dense as granite. Again, I would recommend that you try isolating the unit from its surroundings in some way, maybe you could try some Sorbothane feet under the unit if nothing is on top of it?
I must admit that I never did a before/after comparison, I just bought the granite and absorber mat in advance and always intended to pair them with the unit. I was just wary of any potential ringing or distortion effects caused by the downward-firing woofers and didn't want the hassle of having to add them after I'd put everything in position - lifting a 36 kg telly into place on top of an 86 cm high stand is definitely a two person operation!
 
Last edited:

Silverblack

Well-known Member
It actually looks smaller than in the promotional photos, and i can see that you also have a very nice looking speaker setup.
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Thanks!

Looking at those photos again has made me realise how much I've changed since I took them originally: different subwoofer, updated to HD with a Blu-Ray player and HD amp, HD games console, different phone and different router.

I think I should perhaps have taken the photo with the dinky remote on the shelf too for a sense of scale of that device. But yes, as I mentioned in my review, the Canton's dimensions blend seamlessly with the dimensions of the Kuro's table top stand, and the granite and absorber mat aren't much bigger either.

It is a surprisingly slim unit, and if you didn't look closely you'd never know it was even there, it's certainly nowhere near as physically obtrusive as a soundbar. Yes, the price will be offputting for many, but it is a fantastically well designed and thought-through product in many respects.
 
Last edited:

mpw2081

Well-known Member
What do we have on prices at the moment I've seen it for £349 can't remember the site but saved it on my laptop if anybody interested
 

Mister Al

Novice Member
Hello! Just signed up to avforums to contribute to this thread.

I took the plunge and ordered one of these today in silver using a 10% spring discount code at Sevenoaks Sound & Vision (code detailed on the item page) bringing the price down to £360

HOWEVER

If you don't mind a black unit, Conrad-Electronic.co.uk currently feature the unit for £329.99. Unfortunately I wasn't able to convince my wife that a black unit would look awesome with a siver edged TV...Grrrr.

Ive no previous experience of either company mentioned so please dont think I'm endorsing them :)
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Hello! Just signed up to avforums to contribute to this thread.

I took the plunge and ordered one of these today in silver using a 10% spring discount code at Sevenoaks Sound & Vision (code detailed on the item page) bringing the price down to £360

HOWEVER

If you don't mind a black unit, Conrad-Electronic.co.uk currently feature the unit for £329.99. Unfortunately I wasn't able to convince my wife that a black unit would look awesome with a siver edged TV...Grrrr.

Ive no previous experience of either company mentioned so please dont think I'm endorsing them :)
£330 new?
Good price, they should sell like hot cakes!
 

Woody3466

Novice Member
Hi, I am about to get a sound base ( probably! ) but just want to clarify a point. I'm pushing towards the Canton DM50 - the wife wants a white one..... or the Onkyo LS T10. My concern is that the TV is wall mounted and I was wondering if the base needs the weight of the tv on it to prevent vibration etc. Any one have any ideas?
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
Hello Woody

In my opinion, the Canton doesn't need anything on top of it not to work well. It is extremely well made and seems suitably reinforced to not keep moving about when you crank it up.

I do have mine located with the TV on top purely out of convenience and aesthetics than anything else, I don't think performance would be affected if it were situated in free space.

What I would say is consider something underneath the Canton due to its twin downward-firing bass speakers. I feel that if you don't isolate the unit from its surroundings in some way, then that may create distortion and affect the sound.

Good luck!
 

Woody3466

Novice Member
Thanks Derek. I did read your earlier posts about your set up, which seems to make sense to me. Mine will be on a shelf I made, its based on 20 mm ply and is really solid so was thinking of just putting down an absorber mat or some cork or similar. I'm new to all this so busily picking up tips from this site add I go along!
 

Woody3466

Novice Member
I've taken the plunge and ordered it, very excited now! I needed to get a white one, I emailed Conrad three times asking if they could get in white and got no reply, waited 5 days from the first email. I ordered mine from Home AV direct, over the phone. They had an offer of a free car audio optimiser, which I did not want, so haggled a bit off the RRP. They guy I spoke to seemed very good and knowledgeable, free fast delivery, so hopefully will arrive after the Bank Holiday.

One question, any advice re breaking in the speakers? what sort of volume should it be done at? I assume it will be best to use a variety of sounds so the system is exposed to the full range...?
 

markymark34

Well-known Member
went to richer sounds today and after a bit of haggling they agreed to price match Conrad so i took the plunge and bought it. Obviously not run in yet but the sound is superb, for such a little box i can't believe the bass it can produce. Vocals nice and clear as well.
Surprised to learn you there is a sub out and also the remote can learn commands so i can turn my tv off and on.
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
I've taken the plunge and ordered it, very excited now! I needed to get a white one, I emailed Conrad three times asking if they could get in white and got no reply, waited 5 days from the first email. I ordered mine from Home AV direct, over the phone. They had an offer of a free car audio optimiser, which I did not want, so haggled a bit off the RRP. They guy I spoke to seemed very good and knowledgeable, free fast delivery, so hopefully will arrive after the Bank Holiday.

One question, any advice re breaking in the speakers? what sort of volume should it be done at? I assume it will be best to use a variety of sounds so the system is exposed to the full range...?
Hello again Woody!

Good question - one I forgot to mention in my initial review, even though it goes on forever!:facepalm:

I mainly had my DM50 on two channels: 4Music (for Bass and Treble) and QVC (for Midrange), and that seemed to do the job (I wouldn't recommend that you actually watch either channel, though!).

The volume setting is a bit trickier as it really depends on:

1. What connection you use to your TV.
2. What your TV's sound output is rated at.

With my Kuro, I have the Canton connected up via Analogue red and white cables as that produced the best sound output, digital optical was disappointingly thin and feeble lacking punch and dynamics, and the Kuro doesn't support digital coaxial.

The DM50's volume control range runs from 0-99. I ran mine in at 50 over the course of about 3-4 days, but you may decide to run yours in slightly higher or lower depending on your own judgement. There's nothing in the manual about this specifically regarding a particular volume setting, so I just used my ears. I suppose I just wanted something that could be playing in the background, not too loud but also not too quiet. Just don't crank it up when you first get it and I'm sure you'll be fine.

Sorry I couldn't be more specific.
 

Derek S-H

Distinguished Member
went to richer sounds today and after a bit of haggling they agreed to price match Conrad so i took the plunge and bought it. Obviously not run in yet but the sound is superb, for such a little box i can't believe the bass it can produce. Vocals nice and clear as well.
Surprised to learn you there is a sub out and also the remote can learn commands so i can turn my tv off and on.
Hello Mark

Would it be possible you could describe in steps how you managed to program your TV remote to turn the Canton off? I can turn mine on and adjust the volume up and down using the TV remote, but I don't know how to turn it off!

Thanks.
 

dazwaldo

Active Member
went to richer sounds today and after a bit of haggling they agreed to price match Conrad so i took the plunge and bought it. Obviously not run in yet but the sound is superb, for such a little box i can't believe the bass it can produce. Vocals nice and clear as well.
Surprised to learn you there is a sub out and also the remote can learn commands so i can turn my tv off and on.

Sounds good so far. I'm quite tempted to take a demo of one of these. Does the unit automatically power down when TV is off or do you manually have to switch it off? Also I'm guessing it can learn my Sky remote? Ideally I want to be able to control the volume from sky remote rather then tv remote.
 

Mister Al

Novice Member
Does the unit automatically power down when TV is off

Sort of. As a power saving measure (I assume) ,the unit appears to drop in to STBY mode after one hour of inactivity.

I can't imagine any problems with the SKY remote. I've got the volume functions mapped to my virgin TIVO remote, and the ON/STBY functions mapped to my Sony TV remote. No problem

I've had the soundbase for a few days now - Really happy with the purchase :clap:
 

kopmjj

Active Member
have you guys had any issues with the volume? i read people are saying between 1-50 the volume is useless and it only kicks in after 50 ?

also you guys and reviews say the bass is great etc, is it really? i mean would you say its good enough without a sub?

also if i was to connect a sub would it need a powered sub or passive? i hope it will be able to connect bk xls 200 that would be awesome.
 

markymark34

Well-known Member
have you guys had any issues with the volume? i read people are saying between 1-50 the volume is useless and it only kicks in after 50 ?

also you guys and reviews say the bass is great etc, is it really? i mean would you say its good enough without a sub?

also if i was to connect a sub would it need a powered sub or passive? i hope it will be able to connect bk xls 200 that would be awesome.

The sound is fine. I have mine sitting at 45 normally (I think), no idea what it goes up to. had it at 65 yesterday for a bit and the whole room was vibrating so its definitely loud enough.

As for the bass, there is plenty, it obviously isnt going to be as much as a dedicated 8" or 10" sub. Its just a sub out so you would need a powered sub.

If i had loads of space i wouldnt have bought a soundbase, but im severely restricted, this ticks all the boxes.
 

The latest video from AVForums

Star Wars Andor, Woman King, more Star Trek 4K, Rings of Power & the latest TV, movies & 4K releases
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Latest News

Starzplay streaming service rebrands as Lionsgate+
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
JVC adds Filmmaker Mode to latest D-ILA projector firmware
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Bowers & Wilkins launches Px8 headphone
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Sky set to launch its plug-and-play Sky Stream solution
  • By Ian Collen
  • Published
Movies Podcast: 26th September 2022
  • By Phil Hinton
  • Published

Full fat HDMI teeshirts

Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom