The soundbar battle of multiroom system continues and Denons Heos line now includes a new soundbar named Heos Bar and a new stand alone subwoofer named Heos Subwoofer.
Heos already has a package called Heos HomeCinema, with a soundbar and a wireless sub but the two new products are more powerful and aimed directly at Sonosequal products.
So the Heos options are quite nice. Pay $599 for Heos HomeCinema and get good home cinema sound or more than double that and get even better sound with the new Heos Bar and Subwoofer.
Heos Bar has four HDMI 2.0a p/HDCP 2.2 inputs, HDMI output with ARC, compatible with 4K HDR UHD televisions and sources like Blu-ray players and PS4 Pro. It supports HD audio formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio as well as the older formats Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS. It supports Bluetooth. Optical digital input and analog inputs are also included. So it can pretty much chew anything you throw at it. The price will be $849.
Heos Subwoofer works with all of the Heos speaker lines and not just the Bar. It has two 5-1/4inch (13.5 cm) drives with Class D amps. The price will be $599.
Compared with Sonos
Heos Bar has support for all modern inputs and sound formats that Sonos does not have, with Sonos single optical input. So considering Heos Bar is a smart move, if you are not already invested in the Sonos ecosystem.
Denon upgrades its HEOS line of multi-room products and ads integrated bluetooth and hi-res 24-bit support. Basically what we have been waiting for Sonos to do a long time..
All products have been upgraded to the new HS2 platform (except the soundbar). So the new generation still has HEOS 1, HEOS 3, HEOS 5 and HEOS 7 wireless speakers. HEOS Amp for connecting to external speakers and Heos Link for connection to an existing sound system. 5 & 7 are available in stores now. 1 & 3 in june and Amp & Link in July. The prices will stay the same. See product links and prices below.
The HS2 platform has an upgraded processor (ARM A9 at 1.25GHz), 512MB flash memory and 256MB of RAM. This enables it to support high-resolution audio up to 24-bit/192kHz. An update later this year will also add support for the DSD format. Denon also adds fast Wi-Fi 802.11 ac to the existing 2.4/5GHz 802.11 a/b/g/n.
As before, the HEOS system supports the streaming services Spotify (through Spotify Connect), Pandora, TuneIn, Amazon Music, IHeart Radio, SiriusXM, Soundcloud, Tidal and Rhapsody. You can also access local network music through DLNA or attach a drive through USB.
The updated devices plays nice with existing HEOS products and can even down sample hi-res music to 16/44.1 for them when they are grouped. All controlled by the Heos App for iOS and Android.
The living room audio Receiver can be the most powerful part of your multiroom setup or its achilles heel. Any decent receiver connected to a pair of decent speakers can output higher quality music than most stand alone multiroom speakers. But what good will it do if they lack multiroom technology?
Im currently in the market for a new home theater receiver and multiroom support is a must. Along with support for 4K UHD, Audio return channel, 7.2 surround, HDMI 2.0, HDCP 2.2 and decoding of the usual HD audio formats. But without multiroom techniques, it would end up collecting dust for most part. Or i would have to buy an external streaming player and connect it to the receiver.
So let’s take a closer look at three receivers that supports the criterias above:
AVR-X1200W is part of Denons 2015 lineup and has Spotify Connect, AirPlay, Bluetooth and DLNA 1.5. Denons own Heos system is not built in. X1200W can drive speakers in a second zone if not all 7 speakers are in use for your home theater setup.
The output is 80W at 8 ohm. It has basic support for DTS Atmos (5.2.2), which can bring 3D surround with ceiling speakers. DTS X will come in a firmware update later this year.
The STR-DN860 has Google Cast, AirPlay, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth and DLNA. The STR-DN860 is fully integrated with Sonys multiroom system so it can be grouped together with Sony stand alone speakers, in their Song pal link app, to play music in party mode.
The output is 95W at 8 ohm. It also has Miracast. STR-DN860 does not have Dolby Atmos.
The TX-NR545 has Spotify Connect, AirPlay, DLNA and Bluetooth. Which are the same techniques that the AVR-X1200W supports.
The output is 65W at 8 ohm. TX-NR545 has basic Dolby Atmos support (5.2.2) in that two of its 7 speakers can be used for it. The TX-NR545 does not have DTS X.
From a multiroom perspective, the STR-DN860 is the strongest receiver with its support for Google Cast, AirPlay, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth, DLNA and works well with Sonys other multiroom products. The other two supports the same, except Google Cast.
From a home theater perspective, the AVR-X1200W is the strongest receiver with both Dolby Atmos and DTS X support. The TX-NR545 comes second, due to its Dolby Atmos support and the STR-DN860 third. Even though they all support the usual HD formats.
So the AVR-X1200W from Denon seems like the best overall choice, when weighing in both multiroom and home theater aspects. With the STR-DN860 from Sony as close runner up due to its even stronger multiroom support. But maybe the better integration with the other Sony products (and Google Cast) makes me go in that direction. Its a hard choice.
HEOS is a new multi-room music system by Denon that wants and has to compete with the market leader Sonos.
HEOS is made up of three stand alone speakers, the HEOS 3, 5 and 7. And two players without speakers, the HEOS Amp and HEOS Link pre-amp. Then there is the wi-fi extender HEOS Extend. The system is controlled with an iOS and an Android app.
HEOS has support for Spotify Connect which means that you play Spotify from Spotify’s own smartphone app. Other streaming services available are TuneIn Radio, Pandora, Deezer, Napster and Rhapsody. HEOS also plays music from a NAS or PC, attached hard drives and local music on iOS and Android devices. The system supports FLAC lossless audio, MP3, WAV, AAC, WMA, ASF and MP4.
HEOS 3 has dual custom full-range drivers and a two-channel digital amp. You can pair it with another HEOS 3 for stereo.
HEOS 5 has a carrying handle. It has four class D amplifiers, two tweeters, two mid-range drivers and a passive radiator.
HEOS 7 has a subwoofer, two full-range drivers, two tweeters and two passive radiators.
HEOS Amp drives external speakers.
HEOS Link pre-amp turns your existing Hi-Fi or AV receiver into a HEOS zone.
HEOS 3, 5 and 7 has the same inputs on the back. A USB in, a aux in and an ethernet port. The HEOS 7 also has a 3.5mm connector on the side side for headphones. Both Amp and Link has a digital out, a digital in and a USB in.
If you attach a music source through USB, it is playable by all devices in the system.
The HEOS system uses your existing Wi-Fi network to get connected, with support for dual-band 5GHz 802.11n.
So, does all this sounds familiar? Well, yes, everything from names to functions to designs has Sonos written all over it. But less trimmed and missing features here and there because of less time in the market. Spotify Connect is a welcome addition but at the same time goes outside of the usual way of controlling the system, thus making the user experience less stringent.
Denon is a welcome player in the multi-room market and the HEOS system is well thought through. But it needs to support more services and techniques (Google Music, Wimp, Rdio, AirPlay, Bluetooth) to stand out.