This Dolby Atmos soundbar is a cheaper version of the Sonos Arc

the denon dht-s517 soundbar and subwoofer on a tv stand
(Image credit: Denon)

Denon has announced its latest soundbar, which offers Dolby Atmos immersive audio and comes with a wireless subwoofer included - and it's much cheaper than the leading model, the Sonos Arc.

The Sonos Arc is our pick for the best soundbar you can buy today, but its $899 / £899 / AU$1,499 price tag makes it a very expensive way to boost your home cinema setup.

Meanwhile, the Denon DHT-S517 costs £379. Global pricing is yet to be announced, but that works out at about $500 / AU$700 - and as it comes with a subwoofer, you don't need to shell out extra to ensure your home cinema sound is bass-heavy.

the denon dht-s517 soundbar on a tv stand

(Image credit: Denon)

Cheaper Dolby Atmos soundbars don't always come with the upfiring drivers you need for 'true' Atmos sound, relying on digital signal processing and pyschoacoustic techniques to trick your brain into thinking sound is coming at you from every angle. 

However, the new Denon soundbar contains two upfiring drivers to bounce sound up to your ceiling and back down to your ears, making it feel as though you're in the heart of the action when you're watching films and TV shows. 

Those upfiring drivers are part of a seven-driver array, comprising left/right channel tweeters, midrange drivers, and a dedicated center channel, which Denon says delivers "unmatched clarity, dynamics, and cinematic dimensionality".

If the Denon DHT-S517 sounds anything like its pricier predecessor, the DHT-S716H, you can expect a wide soundstage, balanced frequencies, and impressive volume levels - though this older model had a 3.0 speaker configuration and no Dolby Atmos support, so the listening experience will be a little different.

However, like the S716H, the new soundbar comes with a range of sound modes tailored for different listening situations, as well as a dialog enhancing feature that should make mumbling actors sound a bit clearer. 

HDMI eARC, optical, and 4K UHD HDMI inputs mean the Denon DHT-S517 should work with pretty much any TV, while Bluetooth connectivity means you can use the soundbar to play music wirelessly from your smartphone.

Can Denon compete with the Sonos Arc?

a closeup of the denon dht-s517 soundbar

(Image credit: Denon)

One of the best things about Sonos' range of wireless speakers and soundbars is their comprehensive multi-room audio support - something that's missing from the Denon DHT-S517. 

While many Denon products come with support for the HEOS ecosystem, which lets you create a sound system with the need for lots of cables snaking around your home, the brand's latest soundbar doesn't have this feature. 

Even though the DHT-S517 boasts many of the same features as the Sonos Arc (plus a wireless subwoofer thrown in), the lack of multiroom support could put off potential buyers. 

All Sonos speakers work within the company's wider ecosystem, so buying the Sonos Arc - or the cheaper Sonos Beam (Gen 2) if you're not bothered about having upfiring drivers - makes sense if you already have the brand's devices at home and want to create a no-fuss hi-fi setup you can add to and take away from as you please.

Which soundbar you go for really depends on what you want from your home cinema setup. If you're looking for a relatively budget-friendly option that still gets you Dolby Atmos sound, the Denon DHT-S517 could be the answer - but, if it's unrivaled connectivity you crave, Sonos soundbars still come out on top for us.

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.