Denon’s S-52 wireless network CD music system is a multi-faceted product- offering about ten different functions and carrying virtually all of them out flawlessly.
The product, which carries an MSRP of around $700, looks at first glance like a ‘90s-era shelf CD player. Yes, it has a speaker on either side and can play your CDs and AM/FM radio, in addition to sporting a two-setting alarm clock. But that’s only the beginning.
The S-52 also offers an iPod dock. Not to mention HD Radio along with standard radio. In addition to Internet radio, PC music, and even (with subscription) XM Satellite Radio (SiriusXM now). This device does virtually everything except play video and cook you breakfast in the morning.
The sound is first-rate- it plays your music better than your PC probably does, and as well as I’ve heard on an iPod dock. The S-52 is ideal to have going during a party- and the best part of all is, your musical options are pretty much unlimited. You can also sit across the room and frequently change channels and functions.
Let’s go function-by-function: The S-52 does everything you want an iPod dock to do- plays your music well, charges your device and, essentially, turns your iPod into an old-school stereo. The S-52 also does everything you could want in regards to playing CDs, unless you demand multiple CDs at once.
As for radio, the FM function works well, and the HD radio is even better. The latter may seem like a worthless technology to many- including one very frequent and vocal commenter on E-Gear.com- but it’s sort of nice having two or three versions of each of your favorite stations. All versions of each FM channel were crystal-clear on my end.
The AM function was a bit choppier, but that may be just where I live. It also didn’t stop me from catching the radio feed of Game 4 of the World Series- always a better bet than the witless television commentators.
The Internet radio function is also sort of impressive. You go to a Denon Web site and enter the serial number of your player. Then it allows to add favorites from a list of Internet stations, and then play them on the device. I’d never used Internet radio before this, but did discover a pretty first-rate ‘90s rock station that played four songs in a row that I loved my sophomore year of high school.
As I lack an XM subscription, I did not sample that service. And on the Internet radio front, the device also works with a Rhapsody subscription, but I don’t have that, and neither does anyone else I’ve ever met.
The S-52 can also plug into a drive via USB cable, giving yet one more music option.
The remote is also a plus- it can handle most of the device’s functions, and also works from more than 10-15 feet. Some remotes with this sort of product have much less of a range.
Drawbacks? There are but a few. The device is kind of a challenge to set up; its manual, while thick and filled with info, doesn’t make some of the functions especially easy to understand. In addition, while meta-data (track names and the like) is displayed while in radio and iPod mode, they are not displayed, for whatever reason, while listening in CD mode.
In all, for all the great things it does, the S-52 is highly recommended.