The Denon DHT-FS5 is a new sound system developed by Denon. Like usual, you won’t get the full surround experience which people expect from 5.1 channel systems, but the sound experience will certainly be intense for a sound bar. The price tag of $500 makes the Denon DHT-FS5 a competitive sound bar, but you should first identify your needs and see exactly what this product has to offer. This unit is basically the cheaper alternative of the DHT-FS3 which comes at twice the price with a few advantages, including a subwoofer.
The design of this sound bar is simple, but pleasing. There is a black cloth grille over the front panel and the rest of the unit is also black. You can find it in grey if you want it to match your grey flat panel TV. There is only one button on the sound bar and three indicators for Dolby Pro Logic II, Dolby Digital and DTS and they will light up when you use that particular feature.
The size of the Denon DHT-FS5 is considerably smaller than that of most sound bars. It is only 29.5 inches wide, 4.75 inches high and 5.1 inches deep. Add this to the weight of only 11.25 pounds and you have one of the smallest sound bar systems around. This is great for those who don’t have a lot of room for their sound system.
On the interior, the DHT-FS5 contains six mid bass drivers, measuring 3.15 inches each. They are powered by 4 amplifiers which offer 25 watts each and one 50 watt amplifier.
Setting up the Denon DHT-FS5
Because of its height, the Denon DHT-FS5 will block the lower part of your TV. If this happens to you, you can move the system in a cabinet or simply use the wall mount brackets and place it above your flat panel TV. Everything you need for doing this is included into the package, so it shouldn’t take much of your time. Make sure you have a power outlet around because the power cord is not particularly long.
If you want to set up the console, all you need is the remote control. There is no such thing as auto-setup, you just have to select the room size and you will be ready to go in less than two minutes. There are three different room size settings: 108 square feet, 172 square feet and 215 square feet. If your room is larger than that, you will have a few problems with this system. The remote control is easy to use and it doesn’t contain more buttons than it needs to. You can select the input, switch between functions like Stereo, Music, Movie or News and change the volume. Besides these basic functions, the remote is also used for the basic setup function, night mode, mute and SDB. The Super Dynamic Bass button is the one you need to press if you want to get a bass boost. This feature can’t be controlled delicately, so you can’t switch through different bass levels, but it works surprisingly well with just the push of a button which can turn it on or off.
Two optical inputs and one coaxial digital input are available, along with one stereo analog input. You can’t connect many devices to this sound bar, but you can use it with your computer, a Blu-Ray player or a DVD player. You can also add a subwoofer if you want to increase the sound quality. No matter what type you decide to buy, the overall experience will be much better.
If you want to start a movie, you will have to make the audio connection between the source and the Denon DHT-FS5 and the video connection between the source and your TV. After you finish setting up the cables, you will have to use a universal remote control macro for switching to both inputs at the same time. This is certainly not the ideal situation, but it is the only strategy that can be used.
The DHT-FS5 won’t deal with sampling rates which are over 48kHz and it will also lose quality when you are playing Blu-ray movies.
Top sound quality can be noticed if you sit right in front of the sound bar, no matter how far away from it. In this scenario, you will hear everything that happens around you and the surround sound might surprise you, especially because it is coming from a $500 audio system. However, as soon as you move to the side, the surround sound will start to disappear. If this happens, you might as well set the sound mode to Stereo because you will get a better result.
If you plan on watching a movie at night, you will certainly use the Night Mode feature. This mode will lower the exposition sounds or any other strong noises which may appear. You can notice the difference, but it won’t be an impressive result so you might want to keep your hand on the volume button of your remote, just in case.
The Denon DHT-FS5 is not great with music. You will always feel the lack of a subwoofer and high tones will start to bother you if you don’t pause between CDs. If you manage to add a subwoofer to the system, the sound bar will perform as it never did before.
Pros and Cons
Denon DHT-FS5 is great if you want to get better sound from your HD movies without spending thousands of dollars. It is small, attractive and can deliver powerful sound without the subwoofer. If you set it up right, you will feel the surround effect and your movie viewing experience will be far better than before.
On the downside, the lack of a subwoofer will certainly be noticed when listening to music and the sound coming from Blu-Ray movies won’t be what you could get from a more expensive sound bar. Even with the added subwoofer, the levels won’t be controlled from the remote which is also a minus.
The problem with sound bars is that the human ear is really hard to fool. Even so, the Denon DHT-FS5 sound bar can offer surround sounds and the sound stage is wide enough for most rooms. The system is recommended to those who want to get a sound bar on a budget. You will get enough power to fill the room with clear sound, but the result won’t be better than that of 5.1 systems.