Awards 2012 Product of the Year - Systems. The champion micro for so many years is back, and better than everWrite your own review
- Solid build and design
- USB input for iOS devices
- digital optical input
- sounds great
- No Bluetooth or internet connectivity
Denon has been the boss of the micro system market for a while now, with only an occasional (normally Onkyo-shaped) interruption. The D-M38DAB was last year’s Award-winner and the new version, the Denon D-M39DAB, is out just in time to once again challenge for honours.
First things first: there’s a new CD mechanism. It now sits below the display (which makes sense to us) – a position which Denon claims will reduce vibration in an effort to improve the basic function of spinning your discs.
Denon D-M39DAB: Connecting your portable
Plus, there’s now an Apple-approved USB digital input on the front, which will not only play music from iPhone, iPad and other iOS devices, but will also charge them even when the Denon’s in standby.
Once connected, you can then choose to either control your listening pleasure via the iDevices, or sit back and use the Denon remote control (handy if you don’t have a super-long Apple cable).
It sounds decent enough, though obviously better-quality music files means a better sound. It also does a decent job with streaming music from Rdio or Spotify.
There's no such luck if you’re an Android-user however, with the USB getting confused by our attempts to connect its smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy S4.
Still, there is a standard stereo analogue input on the back of the device allowing you to connect, well, anything with an audio output.
There’s a digital optical input round the back, too, and the DAB and FM tuners are present and correct.
Denon D-M39DAB: Build quality
The micro system design hasn’t moved on much over the years, so despite the ‘refresh’ the DM39 still remains a solid, nicely put together piece of kit. The remote has had more of a redesign though, with larger keys and a simpler, more intuitive layout.
Standard speaker terminals mean you can connect your own speaker cable, though basic cabling is supplied. And of course (as with previous models) the Denon speakers are optional – they are £109 of that £359 price; we tested the complete system. The SC-M39 speakers have new drivers, promising a more open and clean sound.
Denon D-M39DAB: Sound quality
Most crucially, we’re happy to report this Denon DM39 system sounds better than ever. The White Stripes’ Elephant can be a rough-and-ready recording in places, but the Denon keeps control, sounding powerful, detailed and dynamic, yet avoiding any harshness – unless you really crank up the volume.
Plus, vocals are clear and nicely placed in the mix: The XX’s self-titled album sounds delicate, but also fast and agile.
The tuners prove fairly robust and sound clear, the higher-quality FM stations especially, while connection via USB and iOS devices sounds good enough. We like the speakers, too.
Switch to the excellent (but pricier) Q Acoustics 2020i speakers (£160) and, while the bass tightens a fraction and there’s a little more scale, there’s not much in it.
Denon D-M39DAB: Verdict
The D-M39DAB is a doddle to use, with extra functionality in the shape of the digital inputs, and offers an impressive overall sound – once again, Denon’s micro system is the one to beat.