Following in the whispy contrails of Arcam's solo, Denon's S-81DAB is one of the new breed of super-mini systems. As with the Arcam, the S-81's CD player, iPod dock and DAB are integrated into a single svelte block. Stacking mini-system components was last century's folly -- now it's all about keeping it bungalow.
The kleptoscenti will enjoy the S-81's native playback of MP3s and WMA from burnt discs. There's also support for ID tags, which means you get to see the name of the currently playing track on the LCD. In keeping with the modern obsession with Apple's iPod, the S-81 features an iPod interface, which allows direct control of your 'Pod using the Denon's controls. Those who are fans of the sonically inferior successor to FM, DAB, will delight at the integrated tuner.
The bundled speaker cabs are two-way bass reflex type speakers enclosed in a metal powder mix cabinet with "low vibration characteristics". The speakers hook up to the central slab using proprietary jacks. These make setting up the system much easier, but does mean you'll have to hack things at an extremely low level if you want to use an alternative pair. In addition, there are two stereo inputs, one stereo output, an antenna jack and digital optical out. Expect a full review soon, cats and kittens. -CS
Update: We now have a full review of the Denon S-81DAB live in our Reviews channel.