If you’ve seen Yamaha’s digital sound projector, you’ll know you don’t need an army of speakers for a surround sound bonanza.
The Smart Series S-301, despite having more speakers than Yamaha’s YSP-1100 Digital Sound Projector, doesn’t quite provide such an accomplished surround sound experience as its rival. But its picture quality, style and tone could well leave your pants as wet as an English summer.
Denon has spent many months tweaking this system, and it seems to have been time well spent. The speakers have taken a trip to a Harley Street Clinic for some audio surgery, and have come back with a better mid-range and bass.
Video quality is top-notch too. Denon has revised the digital-to-analogue conversion, so the Smart Series S-301 now serves up even crisper visuals, while maintaining the stunning signature picture clarity and breathtakingly dynamic contrast.
If you’re TV is pimped enough to sport HDMI, you also be pleased to know that the Smart Series S-301 offers digital video output, and can scale up to 720p and 1080i if you ask it very nicely.
You’ve got the brains
It’s a clever old chap too. The Smart Series S-301 can decode HDCD, DVD-A and SACD, and even provides USB input for MP3 players or audio from your PC or Mac.
Our only criticism is that it fails to deliver a genuine surround sound experience. While you’ll face an audio assault from many angles, the Smart Series S-301 can’t match up to the omni-dimensional capabilities of its multi-speaker competitors.
Having said that, the superior tone and style more than compensates. If you’ve got a flat TV and want a stylish audio system to complement it, your search is over.