Listening to music can be done in an incredible number of ways, from cheap in-ears to massive hi-fi systems for lottery winners. By far the most popular option, however, is the wireless music system consisting of speakers and audio devices that you combine to your own taste. You often hear the term ‘multiroom’, even when it comes to Denon Home. After all, you can freely place such speakers in several rooms and operate each separately via an app. But you can also merge them into one group at times if you wish, for example if you want to hear a playlist while you receive guests on the terrace and prepare a snack in the kitchen.
This multiroom flexibility is also ingrained in Denon Home, the multiroom and streaming offer of the Japanese brand. Home can be called new, because officially it only exists since the end of 2019. But actually Denon Home is a new start for an existing multi-room system that the 110-year-old brand has been on the market for much longer. It was called ‘HEOS’, a label that you will still find on some devices. A big advantage that you then have: there are many compatible devices and speakers. The underlying software is also very mature.
With a multi-room system, you therefore have enormous flexibility in terms of which speakers and devices you place where in your home, but also great flexibility with regard to which music you listen to. No, we don’t mean genres such as ‘classical’ or ‘techno’, but which music sources you can use. A plus at Home is that in addition to the usual suspects such as Spotify and Bluetooth streaming, you have some unique choices. You can read that further on.
More than the four Denon Home devices
There are many devices that work with Denon Home devices, including a wide range of hi-fi devices and AV receivers from Denon and Marantz. You may not realize that at first, because if you only look at what Denon Home includes, the range seems limited to four devices: the Home Soundbar 550, the Home 350, the Home 250 and the Home 150. But there are actually many more compatible devices that you can use to put together your own home music system. That is a strong point of Home, because everyone’s living situation is simply different and requires a different combination of speakers. You might want an AV receiver with surround speakers in the living room and a large pair of speakers hanging from a hefty amplifier in the dining room, but your neighbor might prefer a soundbar next to the TV and small speakers in the other rooms. We do not have an exact figure, but we estimate that you can choose from thirty to forty products. That is a lot.
Good to know: every compatible HEOS or Denon Home device offers the same streaming options and functions via the app, except for a few details.
The speaker line-up
With the Home 150, 250 and 350, Denon offers three speakers in the sizes small-medium-large. These new speakers succeed the older HEOS speakers and come with a number of significant improvements. For example, the design is much more organic and modern. They fit better in contemporary interiors due to the trendy textiles around the housing and are available in black and white.
Also useful are the preset buttons that you now find at the top of these speakers. With this you can play a favorite internet station or playlist with the push of a touch button. Handy, especially if you forgot your smartphone at the top of the charger on the bedside table in the morning. A nice detail is that a proximity sensor is provided, so that the buttons light up when your finger comes close.
The Home 150 is a narrow, compact speaker that you can lose in most places. For example on a narrow kitchen worktop or sideboard. Due to its small shape, this speaker is also very suitable as additional speakers with a Denon soundbar (but we’ll tell you all about that in a moment).
With its larger housing and four speakers (and passive basswoofer), the Home 250 is a wireless speaker for larger rooms and for situations where you listen more carefully. After all, it can better show all facets of music.
Do you really want your music to be played in high quality and with impressive basses? Then the Home 350 with six speakers and six built-in amplifiers is recommended.
The next step
You can take any two of the same Denon Home speakers and merge them into a stereo pair. Place the Home speakers at a certain distance from each other – say 2-3 meters – and you will get your music delivered more compellingly and nicely. The interesting thing is that you can also make that step to a stereo pair afterwards or just temporarily. That is that flexibility again.
If you have a large room or if you want to experience music even more enveloping, you can combine one Home speaker or a stereo pair with a wireless subwoofer. You then create a 1.1 or 2.1 system, which makes basses much more convincing.
Denon Home: Not just wireless speakers
But we said it already: Denon Home is more than the Denon Home devices themselves. It hooks up with HEOS, which means that you can perfectly place a high-end AV receiver in the living room that you control via the same app as your speakers in the kitchen and bedroom. Not everyone wants that option, but it is nice that it is there. Those who want to can really opt for a hi-fi setup with high-end components and speakers, without sacrificing ease of use.
What kind of devices are we talking about? For starters AV receivers. Almost all receivers from Denon and sister brand Marantz work together with Denon Home, and that since 2016. There are also classically designed hi-fi components, such as the DNP-800NE from Denon or the Marantz SA30. In the list of compatible devices you will also find compact all-in-one music systems, such as the Denon CEOL N10.
Better TV sound is also part of the story. There are several sound bars that work with Denon Home, ranging from compact models to larger sound bars that you can expand with a pair of Denon Home speakers. You place it next to / behind the sofa to create an enveloping surround field. The most recent addition on soundbar level was the Home 550 Soundbar, a very small Atmos soundbar that offers much of the Dolby Atmos / DTS: X experience with just eight speakers. This model is also expandable with a subwoofer and speakers.
Denon Home is Operate via the app
Many HEOS or Denon Home devices can be controlled via a supplied remote. But for some things you have to reach for your tablet or smartphone, for example to stream.
With the Denon Home devices you can easily play music via Bluetooth or via AirPlay 2. The latter option is a great choice if you have an iPhone or iPad at home. You can actually use all possible streaming services or even run the audio of a game on the iPad through the speakers.
However, most options can be found by installing the HEOS app on your mobile device. This app offers two main things: selecting and grouping speakers (if you have multiple devices in the house, of course) and selecting music. But it is also a complete remote control for your AV device.
To keep it simple, these two large functions are stored in two separate main screens, which can be selected via a tab at the bottom of the screen.
Grouping, say, a Denon Home 150 in the garden with a stereo pair of Home 250s in the dining room is just a matter of dragging one speaker onto the other. Then you can control the volume together and separately per speaker.
There is also a third tab in the app. Here you can see what is currently playing. If that is streaming music, the album cover and information will appear. For example, is it about TV sound if you use a Denon Home soundbar to make your Netflix night better? Then you will see relevant shortcuts here, for example to choose a different sound mode. The app therefore adapts to the situation.
Stream your record player too
When you first open the music sources tab, you will be amazed. Here you will find many choices. In addition to a number of streaming services, you can also select a USB input (available on most devices), internet radio and the physical inputs on the selected device. Sometimes you will not find much in this area, for example with a Home 150 speaker. Then you only see an auxiliary input and Bluetooth. With a Denon AVR-X6500H AV receiver, for example, a lot of extras are added, such as the many HDMI inputs and the audio inputs.
The great thing about the Denon platform is that you can also select inputs here on another device. Are you in a hobby room with a Denon Home 350 and do you want to hear the record playing on a turntable that hangs down from an AV receiver? Then tap the phono input of that receiver in the app. This way you can have your vinyl collection heard all over the house. You can do the same with a CD player or even TV sound. The latter is nice if you don’t want to miss out on a crucial play-off while looking for a snack in the fridge.
Although listening to streaming is now mainly via services such as Spotify and Apple Music, there are also people who want to play their own music files. The Home platform has a lot to offer in that respect. Not only does it play popular formats such as AAC and MP3, lossless and highres formats such as FLAC, Apple Lossless and even DSD are also welcome. These files can be played from a USB stick or a server on the network.
As we have already noted, Denon Home has deep roots in the past. The brand has been working on sound quality for a long time – 110 years to be exact – but the streaming platform itself is also very mature. Innovations are also on the way, we hear whispers in the corridors. More compatible devices, of course, but also a makeover for the app. There will also be software updates to expand, for example, the Home 550 with a wireless subwoofer and wireless rear speakers. On the menu: more services and functions. Appointment later this year?