Denon Home Soundbar 550 Review Page 2

At the other end of the frequency band, the clanking chains in Zeal and Ardor's Devil Is Fine (Tidal, 16-bit/44.1kHz) sounded delightfully crisp and sharp, and it's this that elevates the Sound Bar 550 above more affordable rivals. Across movies, TV and music, I got the sense I was hearing an extra layer of the mix. This 'bar delivers high-frequency details with panache.

There's a limit to the width of its soundstage – it aims at you, rather than around you – but within the L/R spread there's a nice sense of movement. The flying jets and leaping rabbits (seriously) during the opening credits of The Flight Attendant (Sky One) appear to race towards me. And in Fast and Furious 7 (4K BD), when Dom and gang car-parachute into a chase with a bus, the manic onscreen action is mimicked by the soundbar. It sounds nimble and precise with effects and dialogue, yet blessed with brilliantly integrated bass. The performance isn't room-filling, but still dynamic and full-range.


Denon's Home wireless speakers can be used for optional rears – the compact Home 150 (left) being the most likely partner

Because the Sound Bar 550 offers nothing beyond a coloured status LED, you'll need to be on the ball to be sure what sound preset you're listening in, or what the incoming sound format is. The HEOS app will tell you, and is essential for digging a little deeper into the soundbar's presets. For example, under the Movie umbrella, there are both Dolby Atmos and Dolby Atmos (Movie) options for Atmos-encoded content – the latter offering playback 'performed using Dolby technology exclusively.' Note that in this setting neither the soundbar's Dialogue Enhancer or Night Mode features can be selected. There are then also DTS:X and Virtual:X options, plus both Direct and Pure. It's somewhat confusing.

Does this forward-facing array create a believable overhead effect? No. But what it does do is sound appreciably involving, particularly considering its compact design.


Top-panel controls light up courtesy of a proximity sensor

Even better, however, is the Sound Bar 550's general demeanour and voicing. Over the course of a couple of weeks with it, I never once felt its sound was unbalanced. It disgorges dialogue and vocals with ease, and showcases great energy and punch without veering into fatiguing territory.

The price point is perhaps high if you were to never use it with other HEOS hardware, and a full 5.1 HEOS setup is expensive. But that doesn't detract from what's on offer. Highly recommended.

HCC Verdict

Denon Home Sound Bar 550

Price:  £550

We say: Pricey for a stereo 'bar, but the performance of this Denon is a cut above the norm thanks to excellent bass integration and crisp highs. HEOS brings extra treats, too.

Overall: 4.5/5


DRIVE UNITS: 2 x 0.75in tweeters; 4 x 2.25in full-range drivers; 3 x 2in x 4in passive radiators ONBOARD POWER (CLAIMED): Four-channel amplifier, power not specified CONNECTIONS: 1 x HDMI input; 1 x HDMI output with eARC; digital optical audio input; 3.5mm analogue input; USB; Ethernet Dolby Atmos/DTS:X: Yes/Yes SEPARATE SUB: No – but can be partnered with optional wireless model REMOTE CONTROL: Yes DIMENSIONS: 650(w) x 75(h) x 120(d)mm WEIGHT: 3.5kg

FEATURES: HEOS multiroom streaming platform built-in (with app); Alexa built-in; compatible with Denon Home 150, 250 and 350 (or any HEOS speaker), plus DSW-1H subwoofer, for 5.1 surround; dual-band Wi-Fi; Bluetooth; wall-mountable; 4K HDR/Dolby Vision passthrough; Movie, Music, Pure presets