Denon DHT-S517 soundbar review: Outstanding sub-$400 sound for mid-sized bed or living rooms

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A good soundbar is essential for any serious or even semi-serious purveyor of movies and TV. While TV manufacturers like Samsung are making their TV speakers better than ever and almost good enough not to require a soundbar, something like the Denon DHT-S517 is still an excellent addition to a mid-sized bed or living room.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Even more seriously, buyers who haven’t invested in a TV with outstanding speakers, such as the Samsung QN900C, would benefit significantly from an upgrade in sound. Soundbars are a great option for upping your sound game without investing in a full-on amplifier with tower speakers. The integrated amplifier and the significantly more prominent speakers on a soundbar generally trump those of most TVs. The highly rated Denon DHT-S517 is certainly one to consider, and at a reasonable price. Read on for the full review.

The Quick Take

Denon DHT-S517 soundbar review: Outstanding sub-$400 sound for mid-sized bed or living rooms

With the sheer number of soundbars on the market, it cannot be easy to know which one is best suited for you. That’s why you’ve turned to Techaeris for help. My quick take on the Denon DHT-S517 is this.

The Denon DHT-S517 is a midsized soundbar best suited for mid-sized bedrooms or living rooms (250 – 450 square feet). This soundbar will perform best with lower ceilings (8 – 12 feet) than in vaulted or tall rooms. While it will still sound good in those scenarios, you will get the best performance in mid-sized rooms with average ceilings.

Denon’s seven-driver setup with Dolby Atmos sounds excellent, producing a pleasing sound from movies and television. The Denon DHT-S517 brings a good sense of depth to the sound of your content. Music also sounds excellent with this soundbar.

Setup is simple, straightforward, and can be done within 10 minutes. The remote control is well laid out, but the DHT-S517 will also work with your TV remote (when using HDMI eARC), which is excellent. There’s something to be said that Denon made setup and operation simple and concentrated on the sound.

Is this a perfect soundbar? Of course not; nothing is ever perfect. This soundbar also does not compete with higher-priced soundbars with better Dolby Atmos projection and better sound. It provides far better sound than your current TV at a price that most people can get into. Techaeris highly recommends the Denon DHT-S517.

Specifications

Denon DHT-S517 soundbar review: Outstanding sub-$400 sound for mid-sized bed or living rooms

The Denon DHT-S517 has the following features and specifications:

  • Acoustic System: 3.1.2 (7 drivers)
  • Wireless Subwoofer: Yes
  • HDMI ARC/inputs: Yes (1x in / 1x out eARC)
  • Digital input | Optical / Coaxial: Yes / No
  • Analog input (3.5mm mini jack): Yes
  • Simple one-wire setup: Yes
  • Bluetooth: Yes
  • 3D Audio: Dolby Atmos (up-firing)
  • Dolby Digital decoding / DTS: Yes / No
  • Soundmode Music, Movie: Yes
  • Night listening mode: Yes
  • Denon Dialog Enhancer: Yes
  • Keyhole style wall mount: Yes
  • Tabletop placement: Yes
  • Control buttons: Yes
  • Remote Control: Yes
  • TV remote learning function: Yes
  • Available color: Black
  • Standby Consumption: 0.4 W
  • Auto Power Off: Yes
  • Dimensions (W x D x H): 41.3 x 2.3 x 3.8”
  • Weight lbs: 5.5 lbs
  • Subwoofer Dimensions (W x D x H): 6.7 x 14.5 x 11.4”
  • Subwoofer Weight lbs: 9.5 lbs
  • Left/Right Tweeters: 2x 1″/25mm (round)
  • Left/Right Midrange Drivers: (W x H) 2x 4.7 x 1.6″/120mm x 40mm (racetrack)
  • Center Full-Range Driver: 1x 1″/25mm (round)
  • Left/Right Up-Firing, Full-Range Driver: 1x 2.6″/66mm (round)
  • Subwoofer Driver: 1x 5.9″/15cm (round)

What’s In The Box

  • Denon DHT-S517 soundbar
  • Denon DHT-S517 subwoofer
  • Denon remote
  • Power Cable
  • HDMI Cable
  • Optical Cable
  • Manuals and Documentation

Design

Denon DHT-S517 soundbar review: Outstanding sub-$400 sound for mid-sized bed or living rooms
Upfiring speakers mean you should place this in front of the TV.

There’s not much to say about the design of the DHT-S517; it is effortless and straightforward. It’s about what you’d expect from a soundbar, black on black with a fabric front.

The front of the soundbar is wrapped in a fabric mesh which acts as a cover for the speakers while allowing for the sound to come through unimpeded. The Denon logo is center bottom, a simple logo with no flare. The bottom and sides of the soundbar are pretty boring; nothing going there.

The top of the Denon DHT-S517 houses physical controls, which I appreciate. While you may never need to use these buttons, having them is excellent if you lose the remote. These are the controls you get on the top:

  • Power On/Off
  • Input Selection
  • Bluetooth
  • Volume Down
  • Volume Up

As for the subwoofer, again, not much to see here. It looks similar to the soundbar, only bigger and broader, with the same black design and a fabric covering.

Denon DHT-S517 soundbar review: Outstanding sub-$400 sound for mid-sized bed or living rooms
Controls

The remote was a pleasant surprise. I love how small it is, with only the essentials on it. These are the controls you get on the remote:

  • Power On/Off
  • TV Input Selector
  • HDMI Input Selector
  • Optical Input Selector
  • AUX Input Selector
  • Bluetooth Button
  • Volume Up/Down
  • Pure Button (basically a reset button to return to default settings)
  • Bass Up/Down
  • Movie Mode
  • Night Mode
  • Music Mode
  • Dialog Enhancer Low
  • Dialog Enhancer Medium
  • Dialog Enhancer High

Finally, the back of the Denon DHT-S517 houses four options for connectivity. You have AUX, Optical In, HDMI In, HDMI eARC/ARC, and a USB-A port. There are also keyhole mounting points on both the soundbar and subwoofer for mounting on the wall. Keyhole mounting allows for hanging these flush to the wall while hiding the mounting hardware. It makes for a very clean install for those who wish to wall-mount their hardware.

Overall, the design and look of the DHT-S517 are nothing mind-blowing. It is straightforward and familiar with just the right amount of features.

Ease of Use

DHT-S517 soundbar
Easy to use

The Denon DHT-S517 is a very straightforward soundbar with minimal tech to get in the way. What do I mean by this? Well, there is no Wi-Fi connectivity, no app to pair with, and no AirPlay or similar integration. Your hardwire connections and Bluetooth is all you get. This may turn some buyers away who enjoy app integration or integration with platforms like Spotify and Apple.

This is as simple as it is for buyers looking for simplicity and a wired connection.

We tested the Denon DHT-S517 using HDMI eARC on the Samsung QN900C and Bluetooth streaming from our iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra. Setting up the Bluetooth connection is basic by pressing the Bluetooth button and finding the DHT-S517 in your Bluetooth settings. Wired connections are a simple plug-and-play affair.

The setup was a breeze as we placed the soundbar under the QN900C. It is essential to put the soundbar in front of the TV and not under it so that the speakers on top are not obstructed. You can also wall mount the soundbar and subwoofer. We put the subwoofer on the floor; not complicated at all.

The remote is very simple to operate and is not needed once you have the settings you want. Using HDMI eARC allows you to control the volume via the TV remote or, in my case, my AppleTV remote. You will need the remote to choose different profiles or change any of the core settings.

Overall, the setup and ease of use are effortless. I understand other finicky audiophile types would rather have more features, but they can choose from plenty of options aside from the DHT-S517. I’d say this soundbar is for those who want to set it and forget it.

Sound

HDMI eARC on the DHT-S517
I recommend HDMI eARC

The Denon DHT-S517 produces far better sound than most TVs. This affordable Dolby Atmos soundbar fills a mid-sized bedroom or living room with a deep and expansive sound. The frequency ranges the DHT-S517 can reach are impressive, with movies and TV shows benefiting greatly.

The different modes you can choose from offer user-tuned sound for movies, music, and nighttime. The Dialogue Enhancer feature is not bad; it helps to bring voices forward in the mix. It is annoying when the vocal mix is too low to hear over the music or other background happenings; the Enhancer helps in this situation.

Mids and highs are decent and balanced, and the subwoofer adds an excellent low end to the mix. There are better subwoofers on the market, but this one handled things respectably, giving intense movie scenes with low rumbles a good feel.

Dolby Atmos is respectable on the Denon DHT-S517. It manages to give the listener the Atmos experience but watch out, putting this into a huge room, you may not get the same experience. This is why I think a mid-sized or smaller room is the sweet spot for this soundbar. Anything bigger and the effect of Atmos’s broad and immersive soundstage might get lost.

Streaming via Bluetooth using Apple Music Lossless produces excellent results. Using this as a Bluetooth speaker is a plus, as you won’t have to buy a separate Bluetooth speaker and soundbar.

Overall, the sound experience on the DHT-S517 is worth the price of admission. Are there better-sounding soundbars? Probably. But at this price point, I think Denon delivers one of the best experiences you will get.

DHT-S517 remote
The remote is nice and compact

Price/Value

Price at $449 ($349 at the time of this review), the Denon DHT-S517 is an outstanding value add to your home entertainment setup.

Wrap Up

The Denon DHT-S517 is for those looking for a simple and easy-to-use soundbar that will add a decent Dolby Atmos experience while keeping the price to a minimum. Sure, it is missing some features, and the sound isn’t as good as more expensive competitors, but it ticks the boxes for those that need an elevated sound experience without busting their wallets.

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