In this review, we take a closer look at the Denon Heos HomeCinema soundbar. Is this soundbar an addition to your sound experience?
Denon Heos HomeCinema – design and installation
The Denon Heos HomeCinema soundbar has a slim and especially unique design. But make no mistake in the thickness, because the bar is jammed with the necessary parts. The soundbar is equipped with two 2 “x5” precision drivers that display the higher bass and midtones. In addition, two dome tweeters of twenty mm show the entire high range, with a response up to 20 kHz. The device has an HDMI input and output (with Audio Return Channel ) and support for Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS decoders.
In addition, the soundbar has connections for infrared (where you connect the included IR Blaster), a coaxial cable, optical cable, ethernet cable and an audio cable. There is also a USB port and you can connect the Heos HomeCinema to the Wi-Fi network. There are no buttons at the front and the top. At the front you will only find the logo and an LED strip, which can give different signals with different colors. You can find more information about these colors in the manual, which are mainly intended for setting up.
On the right side of the soundbar there are three buttons with which you can manage the sound. A button for hard and softer volume, as well as a mute button. You also need to operate the soundbar with the remote control of the television (or the app) and set it up with the free download application for Android and iOS.
You need to connect your smartphone or tablet to the soundbar to connect to the Wi-Fi network. An audio cable is supplied to make the connection. You also need to have the app installed. Then you open the app and follow the instructions that appear on the screen. If the connection fails – which was the case at first – then you should consult the manual to find out what a certain LED color means. That LED strip can therefore display different colors.
Fortunately, there is the ethernet cable, so you can still connect to your network, but it is convenient. What is also striking is the lack of a remote control. However, you will be able to use the remote control of your TV for the HomeCinema and an IR blaster is supplied for when the soundbar for the IR receiver of the TV. Via the remote control of your TV you get access to the basic functions, such as managing the volume and switching the soundbar on and off. The rest of all options can be found in the mobile app.
Placing the subwoofer is completely effortless. You place the speaker next to the cabinet from or near the television, the plug is plugged in and the connection is made automatically. The plug is also very short; I had to move my plug unit a meter. And because there are of course several devices connected to it with sometimes short plugs, it was puzzling.
It also does not lack the supplied accessories. This way you can fix the soundbar and the subwoofer in different ways. The subwoofer has, for example, got anti-slip pads, while the soundbar itself can be mounted on the wall, put on legs and can also be equipped with anti-slip pads. In addition to the audio cable, an HDMI and an optical cable are also supplied, so that you are actually provided with all the components at once.
If, incidentally, you have been able to connect the soundbar to the Wi-Fi network, you can use the Heos HomeCinema in combination with other Heos speakers. This means that you can not only realize an audio reproduction for one room, you can also set up your music in other rooms from the same app. If you find it necessary, you can set up and connect up to 32 Heos devices within the same network. The music is then, if desired, played over each speaker simultaneously, without a delay.
Denon Heos HomeCinema – use
In addition to the points mentioned above with regard to the installation, it is striking that the soundbar simply does not have things like a bluetooth connection (you have to buy a separate adapter of 9 euros for this) or support for 4K Ultra HD content (via hdmi) and High-Res audio; cheaper soundbars now have that. The lack of bluetooth is in my eyes a lack, since many smart devices now lean on the bluetooth connection for playing music.
This is especially useful when friends come to visit and also want to use their smart device for playing music. Playing music via the bluetooth connection is then the most fast and good option, because you do not have to deal with separate apps and internet connections. Handy is the possibility of the sound of the TV to be able to play over other speakers, so you always hear what is going on, even when you’re not in the living room.
It is also true that the Heos HomeCinema supports DNLA playback via the application and the most popular music files (such as MP3, WAV, FLAC, AAC, etc.), so support for high-quality audio is not available. Some people may not hear the difference between normal or high quality music, but we expect more from a sound bar of almost eight hundred euros.
The Heos app on Android and iOS offers a great interface when it comes to playing music. You can choose effortlessly for your music streaming service (although not all services are supported yet) and working with playlists goes well too. But there is no button for the home page, so you have to press the back button several times (or twice on the music button) when you want to change something. You control everything from the app of the soundbar so the software may be better designed. That is also the general impression of us; the software comes across as somewhat corny and frugal, but Heos says that it is working hard on improvements.
When you turn on the TV, the soundbar will also turn on itself. And then it takes a while before the sound comes through, which can easily take a minute. Now that does not have to be a problem. But if you set up the news just in time and still miss the first lines, that’s annoying. But when everything works then it works well. It only takes so long before you arrive at that stage and that causes a blemish on the experience.
Denon Heos HomeCinema – audio quality
The Heos HomeCinema initially delivers a natural, broad and lively sound. Especially when you watch series or films in which dialogues and a clear display are central. The sound is pleasantly displayed and can easily fill the room, even without the help of extra speakers. It is a fairly wide stereo image and sufficient depth and dynamics are created. The sound does not surround you but brings the audio stage a bit further forward.
In terms of audio reproduction, we are particularly enthusiastic about the midrange qualities of the bar, there is nothing wrong with that. But when you look outside that region, there is room for improvement. The reproduction of the higher tones is a bit disappointing – for example Matthew Bellamy’s guitar solo from the Muse band and in particular the song Exogenesis Symphony Part 2. You hear the tones here and there in the background when other instruments take the lead, but when the guitar comes to the foreground, it simply lacks power and subtle details. The same thing we noticed in other music: the soundbar leaves it at the high tones.
The subwoofer may initially sound too soft. If that were the case, then you can use the settings within the app to provide the sound with more power, so you soon send a powerful sound to the room. Fortunately, the soundbar is also capable of taking care of the low tones, so you hear beautiful, deep tones. The volume can also be turned up considerably without negatively affecting the audio output. You can fill a room well during a party, without distortion.
Denon Heos HomeCinema – conclusion
All in all, the Heos HomeCinema soundbar is not the first soundbar we think of for the combination of ultimate sound and comfortable use, especially because the experience entails a lot of hooks and eyes. The main reasons for this are the lack of different features and the somewhat disappointing app. With the app you can control and set up the soundbar, but the app simply lacks features and popular music streaming services like Google Play Music and Apple Music.
In the field of sound, however, we are impressed, with a point of criticism. The bass sounds come through nicely, with both the subwoofer and the soundbar, and the middle customers are warm and bright. Also, the audio field is wide and deep, and you can turn the volume wide open without causing distortion. However, it lacks subtle details in the higher regions, especially when you listen to music, and just that little bit of flexibility you can expect 800 euros in our view. This also applies to 4K and Hi-Res audio support.
We are also satisfied with the different connection possibilities, the slim design and the integration with other Heos products, which allows you to set up a multiroom system. It is all in all so mainly know what the limitations of the speaker and the app are. However, we see sufficient room for improvement, particularly in terms of features and software.