Denon DHT-S517 reviewon May 23, 2023 at 14:57 Tech Advisor

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At a glance

Expert’s Rating

Pros

Compact designDecent sound quality Dolby Atmos supportSubwoofer included

Cons

Bass may not be enough for big roomsLimited smart featuresFaces cheaper competition

Our Verdict

The Denon DHT-S517 offers solid audio with Dolby Atmos, making it especially great for watching movies, though the included subwoofer only suits smaller spaces and the whole set-up is lacking in smart features.

Price When Reviewed

£379

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The Denon DHT-S517 is a soundbar and subwoofer combo that won’t break the bank. It has numerous ways of connecting to your telly and is easy to use – even if you’re not the most tech-savvy. Plus, it comes with support for Dolby Atmos, bringing you a spatial audio experience.  

However, this is a crowded market, with rivals also offering affordable home entertainment sound systems. Can Denon’s soundbar outpace them? 

Design & build 

Lightweight and compactManual button controls on top Accompanying remote for power, volume, and EQ modes 

The Denon DHT-S517 shares a very similar build to its more affordable sibling, the Denon DHT-S416, in that the overall finish is understated. 

The rear is made from black matt plastic, whilst the front has a grey fabric cover to keep everything looking neat, with the Denon logo in the centre. There are LED lights on the front to indicate your volume and bass levels. These also flash different colours to let you how the soundbar is connecting and when Atmos is enabled.

Hannah Cowton / Foundry

If you’ve got a TV on the smaller side, then the good news is that the Denon DHT-S517 won’t dwarf it. It’s reasonably compact, though just over a metre long, and weighs 2.5kg, so is light enough for wall mounting, should you want to. On the top there are buttons for the power, volume, Bluetooth connection, and input source.  

The subwoofer connects to the soundbar wirelessly, though it will still need to be plugged in for power. This shares the same lightweight and inconspicuous design.

Setting up the Denon DHT-S517 is a breeze

The Denon DHT-S517 comes with an accompanying remote, which you can use to control the power, connection type, volume, bass, and EQ modes. Whilst everything is clearly labelled, the remote is on the flimsy slide and could do with more pronounced and brightly coloured buttons for users with accessibility needs.

Hannah Cowton / Foundry

Connectivity & setup 

eARC and optical connections Bluetooth 5.0 No real smart features

Setting up the Denon DHT-S517 is a breeze – once everything is connected it pretty much just works.

The rear of the soundbar features one HDMI ARC (audio return channel) input, an optical cable port, one extra HDMI port, a power port, and a USB-C slot for factory updates.

You’ll want to use that eARC connection for your TV if you want the benefits of Dolby Atmos, or if you want to control the speakers’ volume using your TV remote.

Hannah Cowton / Foundry

If you’re watching via a media player, then you should also ensure that this supports Dolby Atmos, and that the content you’re watching is optimised for it. The former you should be able to find online, and the latter should be displayed in the digital library it’s in, if you’re streaming.  

You’ll know when the Denon DHT-S517 is outputting Dolby Atmos, because the light will turn aqua. It also turns green when the sound output is Dolby Digital.  

Whilst the soundbar supports wireless Bluetooth connectivity, it doesn’t have any support for Google Chromecast or AirPlay, so it can’t connect with smart home speakers or be used to cast audio. It also doesn’t have Google Assistant or Alexa support, so voice control isn’t possible.  

In addition, the Bluetooth connection only supports the A2DP codec, with no LDAC or aptX support. For the best sound quality, you should opt for a wired connection.  

Sound quality 

Impressive Dolby Atmos support Subwoofer suited to smaller spacesThree EQ modes 

There is no denying that the Denon DHT-S517 is a solid soundbar for the price.

The bar itself packs an impressive seven drivers, with a dedicated central channel, a mid-range driver and a tweeter at each end, and a pair of up-firing speakers that power the Atmos effects. That’s all combined with the included subwoofer, which handles the low end.

Hannah Cowton / Foundry

The Dolby Atmos surround sound support works well. Streaming Avengers: Infinity War over Disney+, the sounds of gun shots and sci-fi machinery sounded as if they were reverberating around the room, enhancing the experience compared to the Atmos-less Spider-Man: Far From Home.

That’s not to say that the sound suffers too much without Atmos though, whether it’s the likes of Spider-Man or the rich music of The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Dialogue is evenly balanced with music and sound effects, with fine details present where they wouldn’t be on your built-in TV speakers. 

I haven’t been blown away by the bass

The speaker is definitely best-suited for a TV, though, and less impressive as a music player. Whilst pop and rock songs sound well balanced and impressive, high notes in some genres were a struggle to hear, with the flute in Emmelie de Forest’s ‘Teardrops’ and the strings in Sebastian Bohm’s remix of ‘Blue Monday’ both getting lost in the mix. 

I also haven’t been blown away by the bass. The two speakers are probably right for my London flat with close-proximity neighbours, but even so I tended to have the bass turned all the way up to high to get enough of it.  

If you’re looking for room-shaking rumbling with your movies and music and have a larger space to fill then you should consider stepping up to a larger and more powerful soundbar and subwoofer combo. 

Hannah Cowton / Foundry

There are dedicated EQ modes for movies and music, as well as a night mode which automatically turns the bass and volume down to socially acceptable levels, and a ‘pure’ mode for relatively unaltered audio.

There are also three levels of ‘dialogue enhancement’ available, which essentially controls the mids, and could be useful if you struggle to pick conversation out from the background noise in films and TV. I found enabling this made voices sound a little too sharp and grating – the soundbar is clear enough without it.  

Price & availability 

The Denon DHT-S517 soundbar has an official price of $449/£379, but at the time of writing many retailers are selling it for quite a lot less than this. You can currently buy it from Denon in the US, and Denon, Amazon and Currys in the UK. 

That discounted price makes it a very compelling option for a soundbar with Dolby Atmos. However, it’s not as cheap as the Creative Stage 360 which also offers Atmos and a compact build. For another spatial sound option, you could also consider the Polk MagniFi 2 – though this is a much bigger device.  

You can find further options in our chart of the best soundbars. We also have a similar roundup for the best TVs if you want to complete your home entertainment set-up.   

Hannah Cowton / Foundry

Verdict 

If you’re after the Dolby Atmos experience without breaking the bank, then the Denon DHT-S517 soundbar is an excellent choice – particularly if you’re looking to enhance your movie and gaming experiences.  

It’s not quite perfect – the bass isn’t the most powerful if you have a large room to fill without cracking up the volume high, and it lacks smart features such as Chromecast and Alexa support. Nonetheless, this is an easy-to-use soundbar that yields impressive audio for a solid price.  

Specs

Two 1in tweeters, two 4.7in mid-range drivers, 1in full-range driver, two 2.5in up-firing drivers and one 5.9in bass driver (subwoofer)Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS decodingHDMI In/Out with ARC (Support 4K with HCDP 2.2, Dolby Vision & HDR10)Aux-inOptical-inBluetoothUSB port (servicing only)Bluetooth supportMusic, Movie, Night, Pure and Dialog Enhancer EQ modesSoundbar: 1050 x 60 x 95mm, 2.5kgSubwoofer: 172 x 370 x 290mm, 4.3kg

Speakers

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