I have always been a big fan of Denon electronics, having several Denon components in my home today. I find Denon to be great value with high quality equipment that is at a reasonable price. They are now launching a new product line, HEOS, which is a wireless multi-room speaker system that is poised to compete with the likes of Sonos and . It is great to see Denon enter this market as they are a formidable competitor that will force everyone to continue improving their products. Here is the lowdown on their new HEOS line.
Denon HEOS Products
The HEOS system has 6 different products, giving them even more flexibility than their competitors in configuration options. Similar to Sonos and Bose, HEOS has three speakers that come in different sizes depending on the size of room that you want to fill with sound. They are the HEOS 3, 5, and 7. Each of these speakers comes with their own digital amplifiers to drive the internal speakers. The HEOS 3 has two full range drivers, while the HEOS 5 has two tweeters, two mid-range drivers, and a passive radiator. The HEOS 7 has serious power with a sub-woofer, two full range drivers, two tweeters, and two passive radiators.
Each of these speakers has the same Internet streaming capabilities and connectivity. They all use WiFi streaming but can also connect via Ethernet. In addition, unique to HEOS is a USB and auxiliary port that allows playing content directly off of a flash drive or a variety of other devices. Connected a flash drive to one speaker can easily be played on all the speakers in the HEOS network.
Other HEOS products include the HEOS Amp, HEOS Link, and HEOS Extender. The extender simply extends the range of your wireless network, if necessary, so you can place the speakers anywhere in the home. The HEOS Amp allows you to connect other speakers to the HEOS network, allowing you to take full advantage of existing speakers in your home. HEOS Link is a pre-amp that you can connect to your TV or other device to play throughout the HEOS network.
Denon HEOS App
The way to control the HEOS system is through its free app, available for both Android and IOS platforms. The app is well designed around three main icons on the bottom of the screen: Rooms, Music, and Now Playing.
“Rooms” allows you to see all the speakers on your network and group them any way you want to. They can play the same content, or work independently. “Music” lists all the streaming services that you use plus all the local content on your device and your network. It also has shortcuts to all your playlists, a history of what you’ve played, and access to other devices connected to your network. It essentially allows you to manage all your content and select music to play.
“Now Playing” simply shows what’s being played, what is in the queue, and allows you to control the volume, fast forward, skip, etc. You can tweak the volume of each speaker individually, which is a very nice feature.
Denon HEOS Set Up
Denon recognizes that most of us are not technology geeks so they have made set up of their system dead simple. Simply power up the HEOS speaker; download the EOS app on your tablet, smartphone, and/or computer; and then use the app to connect to your wireless network. You can now play music! The HEOS system uses your home wireless network rather than a proprietary system like Sonos does. I think this makes it simpler and more flexible. In addition, the HEOS extender can be used to strengthen your home network need be.
Although I haven’t been able to personally test out Denon’s HEOS speakers, I am betting they sound very good. Denon tends to focus on sound engineering and simplicity with most of their products, which is something I have always liked. Although there is a lot of similarity with Sonos and Bose Soundtouch, Denon has managed to add some unique innovations that their competitors haven’t mastered yet.
The main ones that I really like is the ability to tie it into your existing entertainment system so you can use other devices like your TV, CD players, etc. to provide music content; and the ability to add non-HEOS speakers to the HEOS network. This gives you more flexibility to set up an awesome multi-room home entertainment system.
Denon is also rumoured to be adding more to their HEOS system with future releases. Things like a soundbar, subwoofer, and smaller HEOS 1 speaker (maybe for a bathroom?). They also may add Bluetooth capability, which isn’t available with the first launch, coming to Best Buy soon. HEOS is an exciting development from Denon that is a very attractive well-designed system taking home entertainment to yet a new level, definitely worth a look. We will keep you posted as soon as it is available.