Denon D-M41DAB £379

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Awards 2018 -

Denon has dom­i­nated the mi­cro sys­tem cat­e­gory for as long as we care to re­mem­ber, and the D-M41DAB con­tin­ues its un­ri­valled reign.

The big news when this model ar­rived last year was that Denon had added Blue­tooth to its mi­cro sys­tem for the first time. That alone would be cause for cel­e­bra­tion, but Denon also claims its new ana­logue am­pli­fier cir­cuit, with its short­ened sig­nal paths, of­fers greater clar­ity and avoids sources of in­ter­fer­ence. This is part of what Denon dubs its Triple Noise Re­duc­tion De­sign, which also en­com­passes care­ful separation of ana­logue and dig­i­tal cir­cuits plus pre­ci­sion sig­nal ground­ing.

It also says dis­tor­tion from the in­put se­lec­tor, vol­ume con­trol and power am­pli­fier is bet­ter sup­pressed for the clean­est pos­si­ble sound.

On the out­side, though, the only way to tell the D-M41DAB apart from its pre­de­ces­sors is that the CD drive and dis­play screen have swapped places, and the screen it­self is flat­ter than be­fore, mean­ing less re­flec­tion.

More sig­nif­i­cant is the re­moval of the USB in­put. There are still ana­logue and dig­i­tal op­ti­cal in­puts for play­ing mu­sic from ex­ter­nal sources, but it means no more mem­ory sticks.

The re­design is more than just a tweak, then, and the re­wards are ob­vi­ous. We sus­pected the D-M41DAB would be good, we just had no way of know­ing it would be this much bet­ter than its Award-win­ning pre­de­ces­sor.

Throw­ing shade

The whole char­ac­ter of the sys­tem has been im­proved. The pre­sen­ta­tion is more for­ward – it’s still pleas­antly even, but it now re­ally throws it­self into rhythms with con­fi­dence. Dy­nam­ics, too, are more insightful and ex­pres­sive.

The ex­pected drop in sound qual­ity from CD to Spo­tify stream has no ef­fect on the D-M41DAB’S sonic mas­tery. The com­bi­na­tion of low-end sta­bil­ity and dy­namic sen­si­bil­i­ties leaves us with a re­mark­ably hu­man per­for­mance for a mi­cro sys­tem at this price.

The D-M41DAB doesn’t quite put its pre­de­ces­sor the D-M40DAB to shame, but it cer­tainly puts it in the shade. There are mul­ti­ple marked im­prove­ments across the board, com­bin­ing to of­fer a char­ac­ter of per­for­mance that could hold its own against groups of sep­a­rates at greater cost. Denon could have sim­ply added Blue­tooth to its sys­tem and struck the only item from our “against” col­umn. But we’re pleased it didn’t. You can al­ways im­prove the D-M41DAB even fur­ther by up­grad­ing your speak­ers, of course, but the Denon mi­cro sys­tem as a whole is quite the ac­com­plish­ment. There’s just noth­ing else to ri­val it at this price.

Blue­tooth is in for USB, but the real head­line is a quite re­mark­able up­turn in per­for­mance

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