Canton DM55 review

The performance prowess of Canton's premium DM55 soundbase speaker makes up for the lack of HDMI support

The Canton DM55 soundbase replaces the terrific DM50, offering some new features and upgraded audio. It’s the smallest of three models from the German brand, alongside the DM75 and DM100, which are both designed for bigger rooms and TVs.

The DM55 isn’t exactly cheap – these days there are soundbase speakers around for less than £100. But the price is reflected in its opulent construction. Available in black, silver or white, the robust cabinet is topped by a thick slab of glass, providing a solid platform for screens up to 40kg in weight. The front-facing aluminium mesh and thick feet add to the DM55’s premium feel. A three-digit LED display is succinct but clear. 

The sense of luxury continues on the inside. The DM55 uses six drivers – two tweeters, two midrange and two subwoofers, size unspecified – which is a more sophisticated configuration than most soundbases. They’re driven by a 200W amplifier.

If the DM55 has an Achilles' heel, it’s socketry. There are no HDMI ports, just optical, coaxial and analogue phono inputs. You can't, therefore, employ the Canton as an HDMI switcher. That said, it does make setup cleaner and less complex – most will route to a TV’s optical output. 

Built-in aptX Bluetooth gives the DM55 a second life as a wireless music speaker, and a new Select feature automatically switches the soundbase into Bluetooth mode when you hit play on a paired device. Other fresh features include a dialogue-boosting Voice mode and a Hotel option that sets a maximum volume limit – useful if you’re re-homed to a travel tavern.

As with the DM50 you can choose from three EQ settings for under-TV, freestanding or rack placement, while IR learning keeps your existing TV zapper in gainful employment. If you have to use the supplied remote, its chunky build and logical button layout make operation a pleasure. 

Falling in love

In terms of performance the DM55 delivers an even more exciting and focused sound than the DM50. 

What I love about Canton’s soundbases is their ability to combine huge sonics with the refinement and expressiveness of decent-quality separates, and it's the case here – when I fired up Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Blu-ray, the results were spectacular. John Williams’ iconic fanfare is crisp and dazzling, projected with great purpose. Skip to any of the film’s thrilling action scenes and the roaring spaceships, crackling lightsabers and explosions shoot into the room with bite and punch. As the movie rattles along at breakneck speed, so does the Canton. Its natural agility and attack keeps you immersed and entertained. 

It’s articulate too, picking out the texture of each character’s voice, human or otherwise. Such intelligibility is helped by Voice mode, which subtly but effectively enhances the midrange. 

The DM55 also displays treble finesse, teasing out effects noises like the rustle of sand as BB-8 rolls along. Other 'bases can reproduce these sounds but not with the clarity and precision of the Canton.

The whole thing is held together by the DM55’s excellent bass output. There’s a subwoofer pre-out if you have a spare woofer to call into action, but left on its own and the twin in-built drivers prove deep and potent, giving bass-rich moments ample scale and weight without overpowering the other speakers. The thud and hum of lightsabers in a forest clash is tight and beefy, and when the final act plays host to some truly destructive sequences this 2.1-channel soundbase has the presence to match.

There are two listening modes, Stereo and Surround. The latter certainly widens the soundstage and makes Blu-ray soundtracks a touch more immersive. I found Stereo a better choice for TV and music, though, with its clear, focused presentation. Whichever mode you use, the Canton’s sound will enhance your enjoyment. 

The DM55 manages to improve upon the performance of its forebear, chucks in a couple of useful new features and looks and feels like a serious slab of AV gear. At this price it's one of the best options around. Buy with confidence.

HCC Verdict: 5/5