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The Denon DHT-S216 uses DTS Virtual:X for affordable virtual surround sound

(Image credit: Denon)

Denon is ending 2019 with a bang - or, rather, a boom - with its newly announced Denon DHT-S216 Soundbar that supports DTS Virtual:X surround sound at just $249 (around £190, AU$365).

That price puts it around the same price as many entry-level soundbars from Vizio, Samsung and Sony, but the DTS Virtual:X support, along with some new custom features from Denon, are what could set this bar apart from the competition.

According to the specs sent to TechRadar, the Denon DHT-S216 measures in at 2.35-inches tall and uses two 3-inch down-firing subwoofers, two 1 3/4 x 3 1/2-inch dual mid-range drivers and two 1-inch tweeters. Spin it around and you’ll find HDCP 2.2 HDMI IN and HDMI OUT ports that supports ARC and 4K/60Hz playback.

New to this soundbar is something Denon’s calling Pure Mode, which “eliminates surround processing and removes any adjusted characteristics associated with Movie, Music or Night mode for a more precise and open sound”, though it also has three Dialogue Enhancing settings that boost the mid-range and sharpen dialogue clarity. 

(Image credit: DTS)

DTS Virtual:X vs Dolby Atmos explained

So what's the deal with DTS Virtual:X? It's an audio technology that promises overhead sound without the need for upward-firing speakers. It's able to do it regardless of the source, but the effects are more pronounced when you're watching content that specifically supports it.

Dolby Atmos comes in both virtual and actual formats depending on what speaker and content you use, but most often we refer to products having Dolby Atmos if they have the upfiring speakers.

So what's the difference? Though neither DTS or Dolby would like the comparison, DTS Virtual:X is like Dolby Atmos-lite. It's pretty versatile, but our experience suggests that the sound effects are a bit less pronounced than they are with Dolby Atmos. 

Also, Dolby Atmos is a bit more widely supported: Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Vudu and iTunes all support Dolby Atmos, but none of them support DTS Virtual:X.

So what does that mean for the Denon DHT-S216? At this point, without hearing it for ourselves, we feel that its budget price tag probably outweighs its ability to do true surround sound and should largely benefit from virtual surround, but we'll need to bring it into our labs for testing before we can give a final opinion. 

Want to grab one right now? You can. It's available now.