Denon DHT-T100 TV Speaker Base

Denon's under-TV sound base offers strong Bluetooth support and respectable sound, but cannot deliver any deep bass.


7.3
CNET Rating


The Denon DHT-T100 is aptly named a 'TV Speaker Base'. That is clearly the intended role for the device, and Denon has made it very easy to install for that function. It is designed to sit in your TV's normal place, with the TV on top of it. You then just plug the optical (or coaxial digital for the rare TV with that type of output, or analogue audio for TVs with neither) output into this unit, plug in the power, put the button battery in the remote and you're right to go.

There is no subwoofer to adjust (nor is there a subwoofer output at all — the bass provided by this system is what it is and there's no changing it). You can change sound modes: various surround options, or select a night mode that compresses the sound's dynamic range.

You can also program the unit to respond to your TV's remote if you find that more convenient. And you'll likely want to pair it to at least one Bluetooth device for music playback. The unit supports the rarer but purportedly higher quality Apt-X Codec (in addition to the standard SBC Codec) for Bluetooth.

One possible objection to sound bases as a concept is that they lift the TV higher than looks natural to the eye. Obviously that is quite unavoidable. At 71mm, this one does that less than some of the others I've seen. It will support up to 27kg, and accommodates a maximum TV stand size of 546 x 308mm.

Inside are four speaker drivers: a pair of 14mm tweeters at the extreme left and right of the front panel, and two 51mm x 127mm oval bass/midrange drivers. The sturdy enclosure has two bass reflex ports, both at the back. To operate effectively in enhancing the bass, these should have some clearance from walls and not be blocked into a nook in an entertainment unit.

(Credit: Denon)

In Use

As I've implied, setting up took all of two seconds. Until I tried to use the remote control. The unit was quite unresponsive to it initially. I popped the battery back out and checked its charge and it was full, but still nothing. So I went through the 'learning' procedure you use for other remotes and had the unit learn its own. All worked fine after that.

The only other wrinkle was that at first I couldn't get the system to produce any sound from my Blu-ray player via optical digital. Then, after perhaps ten or fifteen seconds it suddenly started working. The unit auto-selects the physical input, so it there may have been a delay while it was polling them to see which was connected. Thereafter there were no such delays.

The digital inputs support both CD-like PCM (it worked even with 96kHz, 24 bit resolution material) and Dolby Digital (including 5.1 channels). All the channels of the latter are supported, including even the LFE. It was best to switch the unit to 'Movie' mode when using 5.1 channel sound. This produced a sense of surround left and right with some material and to some extent, and a bit of ambiance in proper 5.1 channel surround material. Nowhere near as good as real surround, of course, but not too bad.

A 'dialog' mode is also provided for concentrating the sound at the centre. Kind of like a more powerful TV sound.

As an aside, the various surround modes had no effect on 96kHz high resolution sound. That just came out as unprocessed stereo.

The 'Music' mode just leaves the signal pretty much in its original two channel format. The tonal balance — at least from the upper bass and on up — was fairly balanced, with perhaps a slight emphasis on the mid treble. Fortunately this didn't seem to add any sibilance to the sound, but the cymbals in Jethro Tull's 'Thick as a Brick' rattled a touch more than the norm. The main problem was that the sound seemed rather light thanks to a marked absence of significant bass underpinning.

Denon appears to have tried to add a sense of bass by allowing some emphasis on limited sections of upper bass. This was particularly evident with tracks like 'Staring at the Sun' by The Offspring. The complex double-kick drum rhythms were clear enough, but only from the upper harmonics, which were pretty pushy.

With music, the unit improved in quality as the volume level was advanced. At low levels it sounded remarkably thin, but pushing out the decibels it livened up quite a bit.

There's also a Music Wide mode which actually does increase the width of the sound stage noticeably, but it also adds an unfortunately midrange coloration to the sound which made it rather unpleasant.

I was surprised that most of the soundbars I've been looking at lately have been strictly one-Bluetooth-device systems. That is, they could only pair to one at a time. Kudos to Denon to allow multiple pairings. Denon describes its priority system for multiple Bluetooth devices as "first come, first served". Whichever paired device is connected has to be disconnected (most conveniently just by turning off Bluetooth) before another paired device can connect. With iOS devices, changing the playback device from the Denon unit to the internal speaker isn't enough of a disconnect.

I measured the output in my office to check out my impressions of the bass. It turned out that there was a noticeable peak between 63 and 72 hertz. Below 63 the output fell off very quickly with little effective output below about 55 hertz.

The End

The Denon DHT-T100 is an easy fix for improving the sound of just about any TV, and has a strong Bluetooth feature, but it will always be limited in bass.



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