Soundbars are available in a plethora of sizes and variants. In the slightly more expensive segment, the Denon Home Sound Bar 550 enters the market. Is it time to take advantage of open-purchase on the Sonos Arc?
Japanese Denon are well known for their audio products. Personally, I have had good experience, especially of their amplifiers and receivers a few years back in time. Denon sold in Sweden exclusively by The HiFi Club. Which is also the reason why Denons products are not available at for example The electricity giant or other electronics chains.
What is then Denon Home Sound Bar 550 for a type of product? In short, it is a soundbar in the upper price ranges, more precisely the almost SEK 7,000 class (SEK 6,998). Something that makes it place quite in the middle, for example Sonos popular soundbars Beam (SEK 4,800) and Arc (7990 kr). In approximately the same price range, there are also several popular and well-sounding models from both Samsung, Sony and JBL to mention a few. Quite tough competition in other words.
Appearance and installation
For everyday I use (still) Sonos old sound loaf Playbar. A now quite crowded soundbar that lacks both modern sources of input and support for newer sound technologies. In terms of sound, however, it still performs really well. Compared to the very solid one Playbar disappears in the near future Home Sound Bar 550 during The t.v. Something I personally see as very positive. Technology should work, but for that matter does not need to take up unnecessary space.
Otherwise, I think Denon succeeded relatively well with the design on Home Sound Bar 550. The fabric mesh that extends around the sides is even extremely nice to look at. So why the top has been left basically completely naked, I find a little strange. The plastic finish on top almost gives the impression that some form of additional layer should be mounted on top. But that is not the case. I also do not really understand why the display at the top should be so wide when the almost only thing that is ever shown on it are three touch buttons for volume up and down and play / pause. But but. The design is generally still well approved.
Further to the installation, this is exemplary simple and is done via Denons HEOS-app. For those of you who do not know HEOS it’s a collective name for everyone Denonspeakers and products that allow playback of music and other audio sources in several different rooms. Home Sound Bar 550 thus falls into this category and can thus be paired with others HEOS-speaker. It is also possible to wirelessly connect two real rear speakers and a subwoofer to get a more proper surround experience if desired. However, I have only tested the soundbar for itself.
In terms of attitude, however HEOS-apps no miracle. You can change input sources, switch sound modes and adjust bass and treble. But it is not extremely much more than that. Admittedly, it is possible to set speed dial modes (Quick Select) for e.g. a certain input source and a certain sound mode to be able to quickly switch between different functions. But it becomes almost meaningless when it is not possible to name the various quick choices.
In terms of appearance, it is also no understatement to say that the app would feel very good from a refresh. On the other hand, the setting options that work well work and the response is generally quick and direct, which is of course positive.
Included in the package is a remote control that has approximately the same functionality as the app. Stupidly enough, however, some settings are missing. For example. cannot be selected USBinput directly via the remote control. It is possible to adjust the bass level directly on the remote, but not the treble level. A little weird. For standard volume adjustments, however, fix Home Sound Bar 550 to use the usual TVremote control, regardless of whether connected to The t.v done via HDMI ARC or optical (more on this soon).
Compared to the previously mentioned Sonos-soundbars sticker Denon out and offers in Home Sound Bar 550 almost everything I personally had wanted new Sonos Arc had done. Apart from the two common inputs (optical and HDMI eARC) there is another one HDMI-contact, a USB and a AUX-entrance. Of course there is also a network port if you do not want to run the soundbar via Wi-Fi.
Connection takes place primarily via HDMI eARCthe entrance. Just eARC is also a requirement to be able to run material via The t.v in Dolby Atmosformat. Of course it works to connect Home Sound Bar 550 to ordinary HDMI ARCinputs, but then the support for just disappears Dolby Atmossignals sent via The t.v.
Aside from Dolby Atmos fixar Home Sound Bar 550 in principle all of the most common audio formats for film and TV. DTS: X, Dolby Digital / Plus and DTS along with more classic audio codecs such as MP3, WMA, FLAC, FLAC HD and more.
In terms of services, there is support for Spotify Connect, Tidal, Sound Cloud and a few more. It is also possible to send music via Bluetooth and AirPlay 2. A fairly packed soundbar in terms of both sound support and functions!
The only thing I really miss is a built-in one Chromecast, something that is becoming more and more common in soundbars. Then, of course, it had not done anything with more HDMIinputs. But two is at least better than one.
Use and sound
We take a turn in the other direction and see what actually comes out of it Home Sound Bar 550 (instead of in) I have mixed feelings about the sound. Despite some tricks with bass and treble, I never really manage to get that clarity in the sound. Overall, it feels a bit confined. Above all, dialogue feels very dull and difficult to get sharp. Thankfully, this is remedied a lot with the help of the dialogue reinforcement mode (which is available in three levels). But it becomes more of a requirement to run with this rather than using it as an added bonus.
Apart from the above, the sound is actually quite good. Both detailed and warm. The base is also surprisingly efficient, despite the small format. If we go past the stereo experience, it is admirable how much surround it is actually possible to create with such a small speaker. Compared to my current one Playbar I even experience a positive difference to just how enveloping the sound actually feels.
Now have not Denon Home Sound Bar 550 some upward-facing speaker elements, which are usually used to create more sense of space with the help of Dolby Atmos. Here I also hear no major difference in material Atmossound versus other surround sound formats. All sound perfectly okay, but I would not say that just Atmos stands out extremely much in this case. Something that possibly comes from the speaker layout on the inside.