Denon has often brought streamers to the market. But really, a device that is designed for digital audio over the network and has a better DAC? Before that, we had to wait for the DNP-2000NE. It immediately gets an HDMI-ARC input.
With the launch of the PMA-1700NE amplifier and DCD-1700NE CD/SACD player at the end of last year, Denon provided a new and attractive range in the upper middle class. Stereo lovers who wanted to stream, however, remain unsatisfied. It was clear that the 111-year-old hi-fi brand was missing another streamer. Preferably one that would also fit other Denon models, such as that exclusive PMA-A110.
That gap in the range is now filled with the DNP-2000NE, Denon’s first fairly high-end streamer. This device is even more interesting because the designers did not only think of music lovers who get their daily musical fix via streaming services. The DNP-2000NE is also positioned as a better DAC and digital switchboard. Very intriguing in this area is the HDMI-ARC port on the back. With this device, you can finally use those PMA amplifiers from Denon for better TV sound in stereo. Of course, you can do the same with an amplifier from another brand. The Denon DNP-2000NE of 1,599 euros can substantially update your music system.
|streaming||HEOS app, AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, DLNA, Bluetooth|
|Inputs||HDMI-ARC, USB, USB class B, 2 x optical, coaxial|
|Outputs||2 x cinch (variable and fixed), optical, coaxial|
|Dimensions||43.4 x 10.7 x 42.1 cm|
A familiar design
You should not expect sudden course changes from Denon in terms of design. The solid DNP-2000NE is designed to fit with the existing devices of the Japanese. And maybe future Denons too. Because where is that successor to the PMA-2500NE top model? In terms of design, there is sometimes coloring outside the lines. After all, the DNP-2000NE is available in three colors, one more than usual. After all, internal lobbying was successful for a graphite gray version so that a version of the DNP-2000NE would also match the exclusive color of the PMA-A110 anniversary amplifier. We don’t know if there is a big demand for that. But it is a nice move from Denon, a gift for those who have invested heavily in the limited anniversary models. The graphite gray version costs 200 euros more than the black or silver versions. That’s less of a gift. Does look tight.
The neutral appearance of the DNP-2000NE does allow you to combine this streamer with devices from other brands. Its sleek design has relatively few buttons; only the front panel bends inwards at the top, and the large green-monochrome display somewhat breaks the monotony. The screen is very useful from a distance; meta information scrolls past with larger letters that can be read from the couch. In this area, the Denon is a bit more sober than hip streamers with large color screens. But not everyone thinks that’s necessary.
Maximum hi-res via USB
Two important questions with a streamer are: how does it sound, and what is the streaming experience like? The DNP-2000NE offers several answers to that last question. After all, you can work via Spotify Connect or use AirPlay 2 to play music from any streaming service imaginable from your Apple device. There is Bluetooth on board.
Roon adapts, and people who prefer to work with another streaming solution have an interesting fallback option. A USB class B port on the back of the Denon allows you to provide the built-in DAC with the highest quality streams (including DSD256 and PCM up to 384 kHz/32-bit). For example, connect a Raspberry Pi or, slightly more expensive, a Volumio Rivo to this device, and you add even more streaming options. Also, don’t forget that Denon implements a good implementation of UPnP/DLNA. With an app such as BubbleUPnP or Mconnect, you can send high-quality Qobuz to the DNP-2000NE. That goes very smoothly.
HEOS and more
Denon naturally has its streaming platform: HEOS. This is, of course, not missing on the apple. This piece of software is the same on every compatible Denon device. In that respect, the brand is very consistent – but nothing special has been done for this more expensive streamer. Although it was not necessarily necessary, HEOS is a mature platform with many strengths and a few weak points.
Another handy feature of the HEOS app is selecting the physical inputs. And even play the sound that comes in elsewhere, including the TV sound that comes in via the HDMI-ARC. In terms of operation, the HEOS app is clear and easy to use. We are now in 2023, with streaming services presenting rich apps full of images, lyrics, and meta information. You miss that a bit in this app. Regarding streaming services, Amazon Music, Deezer, Napster, Soundcloud, and Tidal are ingrained; the big loss is Qobuz. There is also internet radio via TuneIn.
It is also smart that the HEOS app integrates with certain Denon amplifiers, such as the PMA-1700NE. By laying a cable between the streamer and the PMA amplifier, you can switch devices on and off in the HEOS app. You can also adjust the volume. It’s only a small tweak, but very useful.
We noticed that the HDMI-ARC was not just added to the DNP-2000NE to have something extra on the specification list. HDMI-CEC worked great with our Sony OLED TV, allowing us to control the volume with the TV remote while watching simply. Yes, even if we connected the Denon streamer to the PMA-1700NE amplifier via the fixed output. The streamer and amplifier integration is so good that you can control the volume level directly on the amplifier with your TV box. So you use the better analog volume control on the Denon amplifier, not the digital version on the streamer. This may not work with a different brand amplifier. The combination with the PMA-1700NE showed strength because the powerful yet open Denon home sound fits well with films and TV series.
Four DACs in one house
A DAC is an important part of a device like this. It is very decisive for the sound character, although it is equally important how this part is implemented in the overall design. In this case, Denon opts for a large-scale approach. The Denon’s DA conversion hatch is built around four ES9018K2M chips. At first glance, this may seem like overkill for a stereo device. But the chips are used ingeniously: two per channel, in a differential mode, so noise is eliminated even further. This technique is often used, usually in more expensive devices. The selected ESS chips may not be the absolute high-end, but they are four pieces of a solid DA converter.
Denon also adds its Ultra 32 processing to this. This upsamples the digital audio stream to a high resolution, giving the DAC more data to work with. Although the exterior is nicely executed, the additional price of this device is mainly on the inside. The structure is much more complex than cheaper devices, with more attention to separating the digital and analog parts. A design with short signal paths has been chosen for the last output stage – as it should be.
Rich in detail and with emotion
We place the DNP-2000NE in its natural habitat: with a system consisting of a PMA-1700NE and DCD-1700NE. After an earlier test, those devices had not yet returned to Denon’s mothership because we were eager to try this streamer in the wider system. What you read further here are impressions with these Denon components, with the PMA-1700NE driving a pair of DALI Rubicon 2 bookshelf speakers. A relatively simple system, but one that promises to sound good. Incidentally, we have also tested the DNP-2000NE with other configurations, including the NAD C 3050 and the high-end Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 800.2 amplifier currently hanging on our Sopra N°2s. In none of those systems did the Denon show itself as the weak link in the display, even with that expensive high-end system. And that is quite a compliment. If we missed one thing, it was Roon Ready status. That is a necessity with a streamer at a higher level. There is a solution. Via RooExtend (cheap software that runs on a Raspberry Pi), we could send PCM audio up to 192 kHz / 24-bit from Roon to the Denon streamer without problems. It is recommended if you own a device that is DLNA-compatible but is not fully Roon-friendly. Incidentally, the DNP-2000NE is Roon Tested thanks to AirPlay 2. You are then limited to PCM streams of 48 kHz / 24-bit.
Back to the Denon system, the synergy yielded a nice result. The base is, therefore, very good. During a previous test of the PMA-1700NE and DCD-1700NE, we were very pleased with the source device from Denon. The Japanese brand still really likes physical discs, you can tell. It sounded excellent. We even dusted off some SACDs and realized that this dead medium could still sound alive.
But could Denon repeat that hat trick when it comes to streaming? Listening to our Big Test Playlist via Roon, we quickly got the impression that it was. Songs like Efterklang’s ‘Supertanker,’ Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s ‘Mustt Mustt’ in the Massive Attack remix, and even Pink Floyd’s grayed-out ‘Money’ give the Denon a good turn. We know that last track by heart because, sooner or later, it sometimes comes by during a hi-fi show. Speaking of the show, Denon certainly delivers here. Guitars have a crackling, raw character, and Gilmour’s vocals sound very authentic, but it is mainly the expansive soundstage on which all sound effects – the cash registers! The coins!– appear in great detail. We also noted the same broad image with the Efterklang track, which is real food for post-rock fans. While our playlist is still subjecting us to serious genre-hopping, the Denon character becomes clearly visible. Music has a body and is far from woolly, but percussion and string instruments are well described. When tracks are played with momentum, like Rodrigo y Gabriela’s ‘Mettavolution,’ the energy and attack are transferred perfectly. As the DCD-1700NE does for discs, the DNP-2000NE can transfer music streams and files with emotion. If the above gives you the idea that the Denon streamer lacks subtlety, then that is a misread. Although the DNP-2000NE may not go for ultimate resolution, we never experience that as a loss. Analytical being is not his thing, but he does provide a coherent whole with a high sense of detail and, above all, a lot of emotion.
With the DNP-2000NE, Denon finally has a network player and streamer at the same high level as its better amplifiers and disc players. Expect expansive sound served up with rich detail across all frequency bands. Nothing clinical about it; that’s how we like to hear it. There are also plenty of ways to play music. The HEOS app is functional rather than enticing, but there are plenty of alternatives if that bothers you. A valuable bonus is the HDMI-ARC port. It’s handy for finally using your Denon or another stereo system for TV sound. There is a very good chance that this will sound better than a soundbar.
- Very good file format support
- Ultra32 processing
- HDMI eARC
- Digital inputs and outputs
- Immersive and involved sound
- Not Roon Ready
- Little meta information in the app