Denon DHT-S217 Soundbar

Denon has announced the imminent release of their Polk-designed DHT-S217 soundbar. This is an update to the well-received DHT-S216. The DHT-S217 promises an all-in-one audio solution for those that just want better sound. Let’s take a closer look.

Wait…Did You Say Something About Polk?

Yes, we did. See, Polk is a sister company to Denon through their parent company Sound United. If you look at the Polk website (and we did), you won’t find a product that is a direct copy of the Denon DHT-S217 soundbar. But if you right-click and save any image on the Denon DHT-S217 soundbar page (link), you’ll find the image labels indicate that the DHT-S217 soundbar is from Polk. There are some similar products on the Polk website but no direct analog. This indicates that Polk is producing the DHT-S217 soundbar specifically for Denon. This isn’t a bad thing. Polk makes a lot of decent speakers.

No Frills Soundbar

The thing about the Denon DHT-S217 soundbar is that is clearly designed for ease of use. No wireless surround speakers or subwoofers. Just a soundbar with the bare minimum of connections and dialogue lift. If you are looking for a solution for your parent’s house, this is it.

The Denon DHT-S217 soundbar is 35″ by 4.7″ by 2.6″. It sports two 1″ tweeters, two 3.5” by 1.6” woofers, and two 3″ down-firing “subwoofers.” The DHT-S217 has all the basic connections – HDMI with eARC, optical, and 3.5mm Aux. Don’t know which one to use? We have a guide for you. The Denon DHT-S217 soundbar is Bluetooth compatible. There is also a USB port and a subwoofer RCA output. We like the subwoofer output as it isn’t often included with these budget soundbars.

The Denon DHT-S217 soundbar can be wall-mounted or placed on a shelf. There are controls on the top or you can use the included remote. If you connect via eARC, you can use your TV’s remote to control the soundbar through HDMI-CEC. Bluetooth connectivity will allow you to stream music from your phone. We imagine, in most cases, the Denon DHT-S217 soundbar will simply be used to augment the sound coming from the TV. The sound modes (Movie, Night, Music, and Pure) and three levels of Denon Dialog Enhancer should help dial in any audio experience.

Keyhole mounts for wall-mounting

Things You’ll Miss

While the DHT-S217 can decode all Dolby sound codecs, notably absent is any support for DTS. You also won’t have the ability to add (natively at least) a wireless subwoofer or wireless surrounds. Many soundbars these days come with features like Chromecast, voice assistant integration, and pseudo-surround sound.

The one confusing aspect of the DHT-S217 is the surround decoding. According to Denon, only the “Pure” sound mode bypasses surround decoding. This indicates that all the other sound modes incorporate some sort of pseudo-surround sound processing. With only two main channels, the only way to achieve this is through altering the phase of the sound. If it were us, we’d probably leave it in Pure mode as we’ve not had much luck with pseudo-surround. This really leaves the DHT-S217 with only one useable sound mode. We would have preferred the surround processing was a separate option that could be layered on top of the EQ modes. But at this price point, you can’t really complain.

Take Away

At $250 when it is released in your area (currently listed as “coming soon” in the US), we think the Denon DHT-S217 is a great no-frills soundbar for those that are looking for better audio from their TV. We wish it supported DTS (when the audio doesn’t work, people don’t think to look at codec support) but other than that, this looks to be a solid offering. With Polk sound engineering inside, Denon likely has another winner in the DHT-S217.

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