Definitive Technology’s Studio 3D Mini is a strange beast. This soundbar has an impressive catalog of features, and its design is minimal and sleek. But all of this is tempered by a disappointing sound that clutters film dialogue and creates a smaller, thinner sound space.
While Definitive Technology doesn’t boast the same pedigree as audiophile companies like Klipsch, Bose, or McIntosh, it’s known for delivering good-value home theater speaker systems.While the Studio 3D Mini ($899) is not bathit feels like its sharp design and extensive streaming capabilities don’t quite make up for its lack of expansive and full sound.
Definitive Technology Studio 3D Mini is compactly designed and supports multiple media formats, making it ideal for power users and audiophiles. However, its audio quality is okay, and most people are better off with one of our best soundbars, like the Sonos Arc.
I really like the design and connectivity of the Studio 3D Mini. I also feel it offers pretty good value for a setup that costs less than $1,000.
The subwoofer with its 8-inch driver is a sturdy black cube that stows securely thanks to a wireless connection to the main soundbar, a sleek black trapezoidal wedge 26.5 inches long. (It can be mounted on the wall or placed on the TV table.) It’s a great addition to a modern living room, but it won’t be so flashy to draw attention.
Plus, the Studio 3D Mini doesn’t lack connectivity. It features Toslink optical input, a 3.5mm analog jack, and an input and output eARC HDMI port that supports 4K and HDR video. There’s also a USB input for accessing local music storage, but it’s awkwardly located on the back of the soundbar. If it is mounted on the wall, it will be completely inaccessible. If you don’t mind wires, it also supports Bluetooth, 2.4 and 5GHz Wi-Fi, and an Ethernet port. Finally, in addition to the HEOS streaming protocol, it also supports Spotify Connect and AirPlay 2.
Let’s get this out of the way first. My two original HomePods cost a combined $600 when they came out, and they sounded better, wider and fuller than the Studio 3D Mini with its dedicated subwoofer. Even my non-audio partner and her daughter can tell the difference, especially when listening to a movie. (“It sounds like they’re underwater,” my Gen Z co-reviewer said.)
The Studio 3D Mini has punchy bass, yes, but the soundbar offers cramped stereo separation that doesn’t fill a room. The highs sound a bit thin and tinny, while the mids, especially in movie dialogue, can sound dull.
Surprisingly, the Studio 3D Mini features a six-driver array on the soundbar itself (two 1″ aluminum dome tweeters and four 1 x 3″ racetrack drivers – two of which are side-firing) and A driver with a 100-watt amplifier on an 8-inch down-firing subwoofer.
It got even better when I turned on the Dolby Atmos settings in the Controls app (see below). The soundstage expands a bit, but it doesn’t quite match the room-filling sound of the two separate speakers. However, listening to music was very disappointing, with minimal stereo separation. Pops like The Weekend sound like he’s performing between the library shelves, and John Coltrane’s “Blue Train” sounds like it’s being squeezed out of a garden hose.
Confusing display and settings
Despite its sleek design, the soundbar is held in place by an incomprehensible front panel with just four LEDs that let you know if you’re connected, your volume, and which input port you’re listening to. Most of the functionality has been offloaded to the HEOS app on the phone. (HEOS stands for Home Entertainment Operating System.) HEOS is “a wireless multi-room audio platform from Denon” that uses your home’s Wi-Fi network to interact with the Studio 3D Mini. It’s Denon’s answer to Apple’s AirPlay 2 protocol, but it’s more complicated.
This is how you set up and control your device. However, I am having a hard time setting it up. Tried a few times on my wifi network, but once it worked, I got a lot of music choices. The HEOS app uses wifi or bluetooth to stream music to speakers no matter where they are in the home. It supports Amazon Music, Pandora, SiriusXM, SoundCloud, Spotify, TIDAL, TuneIn, Deezer, iHeartRadio, Rhapsody, and Napster, plus manages music playing directly from your phone (if you have digital files available) instead of home server, or from a USB storage device connected to the network. If you have a music file somewhere on one of your devices, HEOS may try to play it. I’m sure it can be a powerful control center for audiophiles living alone, without having to explain to family and friends “Press this button to turn on the TV, and download this app to play your Spotify”. But for most people, I suspect this will be confusing.
The Mini comes with a remote, but I’ve never actually used it, sticking with the app.
Studio 3D Mini
26.5 x 4.5 x 2 inches (sound bar),
45 x 4.5 x 3.4 inches
Two tweeters, four mid-woofers
Three tweeters, eight mid-woofers
HDMI eARC, USB, Ethernet, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Optical, 3.5mm analog
HDMI eARC, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, IR receiver, optical fiber
HEOS, Spotify Connect, Apple AirPlay 2, Bluetooth
Sonos app, Apple AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect
Dolby Atmos, DTS:X
I really want to fall in love with the Studio 3D Mini. It looks great, and the flexibility you get with a variety of formats and music products is impressive. But ultimately, it doesn’t sound as good as a pair of discontinued HomePods. You won’t be able to buy them anymore, so if you’re in the market for a decent mid-range sound setup to go with your home entertainment system, you can check out our upgrade pick for the $899 Sonos Arc Best sound bar. However, if you’re an audiophile with a lot of media and want the more power of the HEOS app, you’ll find a lot to like in the Studio 3D Mini.