This full-featured but slim soundbar includes a separate subwoofer (both are finished in glossy black) and a nicely designed remote. The soundbar has six 3[1/8]-inch drivers, and the sub has a single 6[1/4]-inch driver. It also has Dolby Digital and DTS decoders plus five satellite amplifier channels rated at 22 watts (into 6 ohms) apiece and a sub channel rated at 40 watts (into 3 ohms). All of the electronics are in the bar, which you connect to the passive sub using a supplied cable. The Denon uses proprietary "X-Space" technology to create virtual soundfields.
The DHT-FS3 has a curved front faced with a metal grille. There's a display (neatly concealed behind the metal grille) and a power switch, as well as controls for volume and for selecting the input and surround mode. There's even a headphone jack. Around back are three digital inputs (two optical and one coaxial), two stereo analog inputs, the subwoofer output, and a jack for connecting an optional iPod dock. Denon offers three docks: the ASD-1R ($129) is a traditional wired model, but you can add network capability for streaming music files and Internet radio (without a PC) to the bar via the Ethernet-connected ASD-3N ($180) or the Wi-Fi-capable ASD-3W ($230). You can use the provided stabilizing feet to place the soundbar on a flat surface or use the threaded inserts to mount it on the wall.
The sub is a simple slim-line affair with no controls to adjust. Its driver fires to one side, which allows the cabinet to be placed against the wall. But you'll need to leave a bit of room for the rear-firing port.
|Price $1,199 / usa.denon.com / 973-396-0810|
•(6) 3.8-in midranges
•Finish: gloss black
•33.5 x 3.1 x 4.5 in; 10.8 lb
•6.25-inch driver; 40-watt amplifier channel
•Finish: gloss black
•4 x 15 x 14 in; 12.4 lb
Setting up the DHT-FS3 was pretty simple. As with all the systems here, I placed the bar under my display and set the sub on the floor alongside. I ran the supplied optical cable from my DVD player to the soundbar, and connected the subwoofer. Then I settled back into my comfy chair with the remote. The system can be quickly optimized for three types of rooms, each with different acoustics, seating positions, and movie or music reproduction. You can also do a more detailed setup, varying parameters such as equalization, fader, room acoustics, and delay. I spent a good deal of time with these to dial in the best sound for my room and my ears. Finally, you can select stereo, wide, and surround playback modes.
"Kalifornia" from Kashmir's No Balance Palace is a moody song with a dark rhythm guitar and pulled-back snare, and its reproduction through the DHT-FS3 was very clean but surprisingly forward - even aggressive. This was confirmed on the up-tempo "Rocket Brothers" from Zitilites, where the crash cymbals were reproduced with lots of presence, but also very brightly. The small sub pumped out respectable bass, carrying the songs with kick drum and bass guitar, particularly after I nudged up the bass level with the tone control.
Satisfied with stereo, I turned to the surround mix on Blue Man Group's The Complex. The five main channels of "Sing Along" were nicely reproduced. The front trio was tonally matched with a solid soundstage, while the surround channels were a bit different tonally (perhaps processed to create a "surround" effect), but they still meshed nicely with the front. There was a suggestion of an immersive feel, with a wider than usual soundstage, but no one would mistake it for surround sound in the usual multichannel sense.
Auditioning Superman Returns, I found highly intelligible dialogue and a stereo panorama that was wide enough to correlate to images panned across my 50-inch display. The orchestral score had an appropriately "big" sound, both dynamically and in the width of the soundstage. Action sequences played reasonably loud, and the sub, although distinctly limited, supplied enough bass to let me enjoy the flick.
The DHT-FS3 delivers surround-sound decoding, multichannel amplification, easy setup, and quality reproduction, all in a tidy package. Add a DVD player and a display, and you'll be up and running in five minutes. The sound quality is forward but not harsh, and the subwoofer is capable enough for small rooms. Though its rear-channel reproduction won't get you swiveling your head in amazement, its wide soundstage ably creates an enhanced sense of space. Throw in Denon's sense of style, and you've got a good alternative to having lots of speaker boxes in your room.
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