What do you do with a soundbase that’s nicer to use than it is to listen to? The Denon DHT-T100 faces such a conundrum.
On one hand, it’s effortless in use. On the other, it’s not quite the exciting, involving listen you’d hope for.
The DHT-T100 delivers a smooth and balanced sound, but just plays it a little too safe.
There’s a decent weight to its presentation, and that ties the overall sound together with a smooth, civilised treble and doesn’t lean towards brightness.
It’s definitely inoffensive, but at the cost of delivering a truly engaging and punchy sound There’s a good spread of sound, but not as open and powerful as the likes of Onkyo LS-T10 or the Canton DM 50.
Dynamically it’s a little flat. There needs to be more subtlety and clarity to convey the nuances in dialogue and excitement of sound effects in Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse TV series.
Voices sound a little muffled and indistinct, and it’s a quality that makes us feel indifferent towards the Denon’s sound.
If it could muster a touch more clarity and confidence, such as that heard in the Maxell MXSP-SB3000, the Denon would sound far more interesting.
The same characteristics apply to songs streamed over Bluetooth, which don’t sound as cohesive and rhythmic as they should.
Basslines aren’t taut or agile enough, and it does sound rather confused overall. However, it does sound more solid and focused in Music mode.
More after the break
It’s a good size and shape for a soundbase, we reckon: not too bulky, not too slim, and a discreet black finish that will look neat under your telly.
It does feel just a little plasticky to touch. We’d like more a more substantial feel, even though its stated 27kg weight limit will easily support most flatscreen TVs.
The DHT-T100 focuses on digital connections, with optical and coaxial inputs available on the rear panel.
However, there are no HDMI inputs; the optical input is the main connection to the TV. A 3.5mm input is the only analogue connection.
It supports the higher-quality aptX Bluetooth codec, although we don’t find the Denon soundbase discriminating enough to deliver the difference.
This is the point at which we’d normally go into a tirade about how there’s no display, but Denon has a way around this issue: LEDs that glow in different combinations to indicate the soundbase’s status.
The touch-sensitive controls on the top panel light up with white LEDs when a certain input is selected (there are buttons for power, TV, Bluetooth, volume, mute).
But the clever touch is how the entire row of logos lights up and goes up or down in line with volume changes.
They all dim again after a few seconds too, so there’s no confusion about what mode you’re in. It’s a simple, effective design.
The five listening modes have distinct LED combinations that are easy to decipher at a glance (the vocal-led Dialog mode makes two LEDs in the middle glow, the Movie Wide LEDs are spread out across the top buttons).
It’s a great visual aid, and is easy to get accustomed to after the first cycle of button-pressing on the remote control.
The remote is nicely made, too. It’s slim and small, with a smooth rubber finish and responsive in-laid buttons. It’s these little touches that make the Denon soundbase so nice to use.
It’s a bit telling that we’re more excited about the Denon DHT-T100’s dancing LEDs than we are about its sound.
Products like the Orbitsound SB60 might sound more dynamic, rich and exciting, but the Denon offers a far more pleasant user experience, despite its rather unforgettable audio performance.
In the end, though, it isn’t enough. The Denon is an inoffensive listen, but it just doesn’t stand out from the crowd – a crowd that includes exciting and dynamic rivals such as the Cambridge Audio Minx TV and Canton DM 50.
It’s decent value if you want a smooth and easy operation, but we’d look elsewhere for outright sound quality.