Denon launches a new cheap soundbar that rivals the Sonos Ray in two big ways

The Denon DHT-S218 underneath a TV on a bench
(Image credit: Denon)

The Sonos Ray has a brand new rival. It's the new Denon DHT-S218, which has the same price tag as the Sonos soundbar but offers some things that the Ray doesn't – namely HDMI ARC and Dolby Atmos.

Designed specifically for smaller rooms, the DHT-S218 can also be wall mounted but its main purpose – like the best soundbars – is to deliver a significant sonic upgrade without also demanding lots of space. And with a price tag of just £249 (roughly $314 and AU$481), it's clearly priced very keenly. For comparison, the Sonos Ray had a launch price of $279 / £279 / AU$399. 

If you're in the market for a small-ish soundbar and don't want to spend enormous amounts of money on one of the best Dolby Atmos soundbars, it's definitely one for your shortlist. 

Denon DHT-S218: key specifications

The DHT-S218 has two down-firing subwoofers, two mid-range drivers and two tweeters, but it's just 60mm tall so it'll fit under the majority of smaller TVs. It's designed for 4K with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. Denon's Dialog Enhancer also offers three levels of audio enhancement to help you hear the dialog more clearly. If you prefer, the Pure Audio Mode removes all surround processing. 

As you'd expect, there's Bluetooth streaming built-in, and here the Bluetooth is Bluetooth LE Audio for better streaming with low latency. In addition to the HDMI eARC with support for VRR, ALLM and 4K passthrough, there are also optical and analog inputs, and there's a subwoofer out if you decide you need more low-end thump. You can also have it in any color you like, as long as that's black.

This looks like an interesting addition to Denon's line-up. When we reviewed its previous budget soundbar, the DHT-S216 in 2020, we said that it was "capable of punching above its audio weight". While it didn't have the range of whizzy add-on features like voice assistants and Wi-Fi of its rivals, "it prioritized putting together impressive audio" and delivered an impressive audio performance that belied its diminutive dimensions. Denon did it again with the launch of the DHT-S217 in 2022 when it added Dolby Atmos support, which we noted at the time was something you didn't find a lot in competitors. 

The Denon DHT-S218 is available now from retail outlets but exclusively in-store.  

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.