Denon makes some of the best mid-range electronics on the market. I particularly like their gear because it isn’t overly pricey but yet is extremely well engineered to sound great and is built to last. I have had Denon in my home for a long time and it has proven to be excellent value. Now I am thrilled to see that they have come out with a new wireless speaker system, Denon HEOS. I recently got my hands on all three Denon wireless speakers to test them out and I loved everything about them – the look, the features, the quality, and most importantly the sound.
The HEOS Speaker Lineup
Just like Sonos Play and Bose Soundtouch, Denon HEOS is a multi-room wireless speaker system that is designed to deliver great sound throughout your entire house. Denon has a lineup of 3 different sized wireless speakers (HEOS 3, 5, and 7), depending on how big a room you need to place them in. I think they have reserved the HEOS 1 for a future product for even smaller rooms like a small office.
Right now the HEOS 3 is the smallest of the three and can be placed upright or laid flat horizontally. It works well on its own or makes a very nice stereo pair with another HEOS 3. It is ideal for a bedroom, den, or kitchen – any smaller to medium sized room in the house. Although it is relatively small, it still packs some punch with dual custom full-range drivers and a two-channel amp.
The HEOS 5 and HEOS 7 are bigger and look very similar to each other with a teardrop shape. The HEOS 5 has four dedicated class D amplifiers, two custom-designed tweeters, and two mid-range drivers and a passive radiator. HEOS 7, the biggest of the three, has serious punch with it’s a powerful subwoofer, two full range drivers, two tweeters and two passive radiators. It is about 50% bigger than the HEOS 5 and is ideal for larger rooms. I had it outdoors on my deck and was extremely nice for that.
Build and Sound Quality
When you lift any of these speakers, even the HEOS 3, you can tell that they are very well made. They are all a lot heavier than they look due to the substantial electronics inside and speakers that have heavier more powerful magnets. The materials outside look and feel of higher quality. The speaker cloth is a strong material that has a fine feel to it, and the rest of the casing,is a high quality plastic with lots of rigidity to it. The design is simple yet fairly elegant, especially the HEOS 5 and 7 with its teardrop shape.
The sound quality is where these speakers shine. Just like the HEOS 3, 5, and 7 are small, bigger, and biggest – it shouldn’t be surprising that the sound quality is good, better, best. I automatically got drawn to the HEOS 7 because it sounded so clean, pure and powerful. I tend to like a crisper sound with some bass to support it, while not overpowering the clean sound of the higher range speakers. The HEOS 7 does a great job of that, but don’t underestimate the HEOS 3 and 5. They will naturally not have as full a sound as the 7 but they still do a great job filling a room that is an appropriate for their size. Both of them also have a very clean crisp sound that doesn’t distort at all, even at higher volumes. I pushed these speakers and they did surprisingly well.
HEOS Speaker Connections
Being a wireless system, it doesn’t really need a lot of wired connections since the main connection is through your Wi-Fi home network. In addition there is a USB, Ethernet, and Auxiliary port on the back of each unit. This gives you the ability to connect non-Wi-Fi devices to the speaker to play their content. For instance, if you have music on a flash drive or mp3 player you can simply plug them in and play. The nice thing about this is that by plugging into one speaker you can play that content on all the HEOS Speakers that you have in your network if you want to.
HEOS Setup – Multi-room
Of all the multi-room wireless systems that I have tested out, the HEOS is probably the easiest to set up. You simply plug power into the speaker, load the Denon HEOS free app on your device, and plug your device into the Auxiliary port on the speaker using the cable that is conveniently provided. Open the app and it leads you through a few simple steps to connect the speaker to your Wi-Fi network and then give the speaker its own name based on the room that you are placing it in.
You can add more speakers in exactly the same way. The app then lets you control all the speakers you have in your home in a very straightforward and simple manner. You can control them as a group or any sub-group, or individually – there is full flexibility on what you play where.
The Denon HEOS app is very intuitive and well organized. At the bottom of the main screens are three selections: rooms, music, and now playing. Rooms allows you to select which speaker(s) you want to control. You can manage them individually or group them together simply by dragging them together, or separate them by pulling them apart on your screen.
The “music” selection is where all the magic happens. The main menu on this allows you to select whatever music source you want including: a huge variety of Internet streaming stations, Deezer (an service that you can sign up for), music from your device, playlists, or your auxiliary port. You can also see your history and select from that.
I really liked the music available on the Internet streaming portion of the app, called “tunein.” Not only is the selection enormous, but the search and sorting options are as good as I have seen. You can filter the myriad of Internet content in so many ways. A couple that are impressive to me is by language and by location. For instance, you can find content in well over 100 languages including all the common ones and a bunch of not so common like Yoruba, Tibetan, Khmer, and Faroese. Location filter starts with all 7 continents, then countries in each continent, then states or provinces, and then cities. I could even stream a couple of stations from Antarctica!
The music genre list is equally impressive, with 40 to 50 different genres and then often subcategories in each so you can really refine what you are looking for. Then when it plays off of a station it will show the artist and the song.
You can also create your own playlists from multiple sources, see all the history of what you have been playing, or play something directly off of the Smartphone or tablet that you are using with the app.
Denon HEOS is another great choice in the multi-room wireless speaker market. I like it because it has excellent sound for relatively small speaker systems, it is very well built, and the software gives you a huge selection of content that is extremely easy to find great variety in whatever type of entertainment you are looking for, and in whatever language you want!