Denon’s new Dolby Atmos soundbar gets smart with Alexa and AirPlay 2

Denon Home Sound Bar 550
(Image credit: Denon)

Denon has unveiled the Home Sound Bar 550, the Home series’ first soundbar with Dolby Atmos

On top of that, the $599 soundbar — which is available immediately — offers a suite of smart features, including AirPlay 2 streaming and integration with Denon’s Heos multi-room system. Alexa voice controls are planned to be added via firmware update in Spring.

Like several other soundbars revealed at CES 2021, such as the Panasonic SoundSlayer and LG QP5 Éclair, the Home Sound Bar 550 is a relatively compact soundbar at 25.5 inches wide. It’s also an all-in-one model, with no separate subwoofer unless you choose to add one in later.

Even so, Denon is positioning it as a serious home cinema soundbar. It includes six drivers, supports DTS: X 3D surround sound in addition to Dolby Atmos, and any set of Denon Home speakers can be paired to act as satellite speakers.

The Home Sound Bar 550 is also loaded with smart features. Although Alexa won’t be functional for a few months (you can disable the microphones in the meantime), it’s possible to stream content from the Heos system, Apple AirPlay 2 or Bluetooth. It’s certified as Roku TV Ready, too.

Support for high-resolution music formats like FLAC and ALAC should also please audiophiles who might be lacking the space for a bigger soundbar. There is a catch here, though: because all of the Home Sound Bar 550’s six speakers fire forwards instead of upwards, you’re only getting a digitally simulated version of Dolby Atmos instead of the real thing, which directs sound upwards to create a sense of height. The digital version can sound convincing, but for the true 3D effect you’d need to look elsewhere.

Still, at $599 the Home Sound Bar 550 is more affordable than most Atmos-compatible soundbars, even with all its added streaming and multi-room smarts. We’d suggest waiting to see how it compares with the JBL Bar 5.0 Multibeam, an even cheaper digital Atmos soundbar, when the latter releases in February.

James Archer

James is currently Hardware Editor at Rock Paper Shotgun, but before that was Audio Editor at Tom’s Guide, where he covered headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. A PC enthusiast, he also wrote computing and gaming news for TG, usually relating to how hard it is to find graphics card stock.