To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Denon DHT-S316 review: Upgrade your sound without downgrading your bank account

Our Rating :
£279.00 from
Price when reviewed : £279
inc VAT

The Denon DHT-S316 will bring your TV’s audio into line with its picture quality but is hardly your only choice at this sort of money


  • Good soundbar/subwoofer integration
  • Spacious, well-defined sound
  • Typical Denon quality of build and finish


  • Subwoofer can get over-excited
  • Treble is a little tentative
  • Plenty of worthwhile competition

The Denon DHT-S316 isn’t quite the company’s entry-level soundbar – that title is held by the DHT-S216 – but it’s not far off it. And despite a couple of sonic issues, it’s an undeniable upgrade on the sound made by most of the TVs it’s designed (and priced) to accompany.

As far as soundstaging, dynamism, low-frequency presence and general all-around fidelity are concerned, the DHT-S316 is a significant upgrade on the unassisted sound of the majority of affordable TVs, even though it’s only a 2.1-channel system. The fact that its subwoofer can get a bit pleased with itself at bigger volumes, and that its high-frequency response could do with being a little more assertive, though, mean it’s not quite the no-brainer Denon was undoubtedly shooting for.

Denon DHT-S316 review: What do you get for the money?

The Denon DHT-S316 has a list price of £279, and that money buys a compact, discreet soundbar and a wireless subwoofer. As the asking price indicates, this is a fairly prosaic device that’s designed to bring a bit of space, heft and body to those televisions (and there are plenty) with audio systems that were fitted as something of an afterthought.

At 900 x 82 x 55mm (WDH) the soundbar is tidy enough to sit comfortably beneath any TV of 43in or more, and unless it’s one of those TVs that sits very low on its stand, it’s not going to obscure the bottom of the screen as it does so. Of course, you may prefer to position your new soundbar on the wall; if so, Denon has included a couple of basic fittings on the rear of the soundbar, and its 1.8kg weight isn’t going to present any danger to your plastering.

The subwoofer, meanwhile, is an equally neat 170 x 340 x 318mm (WDH) and an unthreatening 5.2kg. Thanks to its wireless configuration, it can be stashed pretty much anywhere you want (as long as it’s in the same room as the soundbar, of course, and as long as it has access to mains power).

Build quality is perfectly acceptable, as we’ve come to expect from Denon. The price point dictates that this isn’t the most tactile or luxurious soundbar around, but the combination of plastic and acoustic cloth looks orderly enough. The subwoofer presents an expanse of acoustic cloth, too, and as long as you don’t spend a lot of time staring at the rear of its chipboard cabinet it’s a perfectly inoffensive looker. The ring of glossy plastic that surrounds its bass reflex port mimics the plastic at the end caps of the soundbar and adds just a touch of visual interest.

READ NEXT: The best cheap TVs

The DHT-S316 is a 2.1 system, with the .1 taken care of by the subwoofer’s 140mm bass driver. The two-channel soundbar features a 25mm tweeter and a 32 x 112mm racetrack midrange driver at each end of the front face. But the amount of power that’s allocated to these five drivers is not information that Denon is prepared to share.

The subwoofer’s connectivity consists of a socket for mains power and a little pairing button that can be pressed should the soundbar and subwoofer not get immediately acquainted. The soundbar takes care of Bluetooth 4.2 wireless connectivity (it’s only compatible with the basic SBC codec), and there are some physical connections on the rear of the cabinet. They consist of HDMI ARC, digital optical and analogue 3.5mm; there’s also a socket for mains power, of course, and a USB-A slot that’s purely for servicing.

The DHT-S316 can handle PCM, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 audio information, although naturally it has to downscale the multichannel stuff to fit its native configuration. You can find out what’s what as regards incoming signal, volume level and input selection via four multicoloured LEDs behind the acoustic cloth at the front of the soundbar. Or, rather, you can once you’ve memorised what the different colours mean…

Actually selecting the input or the volume level you’d like can be done in a couple of ways. There are a few physical controls on the surface of the soundbar covering power on/off, volume up/down, Bluetooth pairing and input selection. Or you can use the small, plasticky remote control handset instead – as well as those functions, it includes a mute button, an independent bass volume control and a selection of EQ presets (Movie, Night and Music). There’s also a three-stage “Dialogue enhancer” for when you’re watching those Marvel films that have the speech buried way down in the mix.

READ NEXT: Best subwoofer

Denon DHT-S316 review: What do we like about it?

You need to keep your expectations realistic, but if you do there’s plenty to like about the Denon DHT-S316. In sonic terms it’s several cuts above the sound of the TVs it’s most likely to partner.

Certainly the way it delivers information in the midrange – which is where all of the dialogue sits in any movie you’ve ever watched – is very pleasing indeed. It’s quite assertive with voices, projecting them helpfully ahead of any and all the action that might be going on around them. Detail levels are high, so speakers sound characterful as well as articulate, and the dynamic variations that are always evident in speech are identified and delivered in every circumstance.

The soundstage the system creates is equally worthwhile: where the majority of bog-standard TV audio setups sound captive, the Denon generates quite a wide, spacious stage on which the sonic action can occur. There’s more width and depth apparent than your TV has a hope of creating by itself, and the definition is such that each element of a soundtrack has enough elbow room to do its thing without sounding confined or being affected by other audio events. It’s just a two-channel soundbar, of course, so effects-steering is at a premium, but if the onscreen movement is pronounced enough, the Denon can track movement on the horizontal plane quite effectively.

The subwoofer, too, is capable of being quite eloquent. It’s certainly able to reveal detail of tone and texture where less accomplished designs just go “thump”, but it can summon sufficient drive to give even the biggest Hollywood action set pieces proper body and substance. It controls its output well, describing nice straight edges to bass sounds, and – like the soundbar it accompanies – has plenty of dynamic headroom.

The DHT-S316 is on slightly less sure ground when asked to deal with music, but if we’re talking about the soundtrack to a movie it’s capable enough. Certainly the subwoofer is disciplined enough to allow rhythms decent expression, and the whole system can summon enough attack to give music decent momentum, too.

Denon DHT-S316 review: What could be improved?

There are two main issues with the way the Denon DHT-S316 delivers sound. That’s not many, but they’re each, in their own way, significant.

The first concerns the way the subwoofer loses its head somewhat at bigger volumes. Denon is coy about how much power drives both the subwoofer and the soundbar, but however much it is, it’s sufficient to let the system perform at fairly oppressive volume levels. If you decide to show it the whip in this respect, though, the subwoofer is liable to abandon control, discipline and careful integration in favour of loads of bass and scant supervision of it. Those straight edges that are apparent at more realistic volume levels become quite blurred, that smooth integration with the soundbar modulates to the sub threatening to swamp the bar, and the rhythmic positivity it previously demonstrated is lost in all of that low-frequency activity.

Mind you, it’s quite easy to overcome this shortcoming: you simply don’t play the system at levels at which it’s not comfortable. The other issue is rather more difficult to deal with.

Basically, the way the soundbar reproduces treble sounds isn’t especially convincing. No-one’s interested in top-end reproduction that’s too bright, or edgy, or in any way hard, of course, but it would be nice to hear the shine and bite that’s undoubtedly there in a movie soundtrack. But the DHT-S316 rolls off its treble response somewhat, meaning what should shine is rather dull, and what should crunch tends to just creak. In broad terms it’s an understandable choice Denon has taken when voicing the DHT-S316’s high-frequency response – it’s just gone a little too far.

Denon DHT-S316 review: Should you buy it?

As far as its primary purpose of making the unassisted sound of your TV seem feeble, the Denon DHT-S316 is a complete success. If you own a mainstream, affordable TV, this Denon system represents a considerable sonic upgrade.

It’s not perfect, though; it has issues, to a lesser or greater extent, at each end of the frequency range. And it’s not as if Denon has the field clear, either: there are numerous similarly priced soundbars, or soundbar/subwoofer systems, from similarly credible brands, all vying for your attention. Put the Denon DHT-S316 on your shortlist, by all means – but don’t imagine it’s a default choice.

Read more