Product Review

Denon S-301 Home Theater in a Box

Part I

April, 2006

Cynthia Johnson




System: DVD Player, Tuner, Stereo Amplifier, Two
    Speakers, one Subwoofer, all Self Contained
Inputs: Stereo Audio, iPod Connector (Charges iPod
    Battery and Plays Audio to System), Composite
    Video, S-Video
Outputs: HDMI, Component Video, Optical Digital,
    Coaxial Digital, Analog Stereo
Speakers: Two Powered Satellites (3/4" Tweeter, 4"
    Midrange), 70 Watts Each, and One Powered (200
    Watts) Subwoofer (8" Driver)
Remote Control and All Cables Included
MSRP: $1,599 USA


Denon USA


When I saw this system displayed at the Denon Press Conference in LA last year, I was caught eyeballing it a little too long, for a girl. Once I started asking the Denon guys a lot of questions, they invited me to review it.

I don't consider myself an audiophile by any means, but I do enjoy good sound. Being asked to listen for the slightest changes between speakers, cables, receivers, etc. and then noting it for the Editor-in-Chief, I have some experience in this.

My main issue with audio equipment is the set-up procedure. DVD players and receivers come with so many connections and options, I just let my guy friends do this for me.

So, when Denon explained that the S-301 had a DVD player, amplifier, subwoofer, and speakers, all with color coded cables, I was intrigued. They said that this is called a Home Theater in a Box, or HTIB. When they showed me the iPod connection, I was hooked for the review.

Mission: To properly set up the Denon S-301 HTIB System by only using the glossy seven-step, two-page insert as quickly as possible.

The Set-up

I opened the box and went through all the included accessories and components such as the main DVD/Tuner unit, the speakers, and subwoofer (the subwoofer enclosure has a stereo amplifier for the two speakers - 70 watts per channel - and a 200 watt amplifier for the subwoofer). The cables were color coded and fit properly into their designated spots. This took a total of 30 minutes from start to finish with a few pauses when my dog walked by.

However, one of the steps requires a video cable to connect to your TV for viewing DVD movies but also to see the on-screen display. The box does not include an S-Video cable, and it should. They are inexpensive. Put one in the box guys!

The issue was with the connection diagram in the 'easy set-up fold out' that was included along with the 70 page English section in the instruction booklet. I spent more time trying to find this simple explanation than I did plugging everything in. The illustrated diagram should have a few more words to go with each picture.

I knew what the diagram meant, but it needs to have the most basic common denominator, namely for consumers wanting something with great sound but have never fiddled with anything more than a boom box. I know the consumer electronics industry is always looking for ways to expand its market. Well, make the installation simple, and we will go shopping!

Click Here to Go to Part II.

Copyright 2006 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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