HEOS gets a High-Res Au­dio up­grade

An early chal­lenger to SONOS, HEOS by Denon is back with a sec­ond gen­er­a­tion mid-range up­grade

SoundMag - - Review / Heos -

Denon’s HEOS line of wire­less ac­tive speak­ers was the first real au­dio al­ter­na­tive to mul­ti­room mar­ket leader SONOS. At launch there was barely a wafer-thin mint be­tween the two ri­vals – Denon’s speak­ers oc­cu­pied sim­i­lar prod­uct space to SONOS and in­stal­la­tion was just as straight­for­ward - but with a new gen­er­a­tion of HEOS models, and more uni­ver­sal sup­port, there’s now clear blue sky be­tween them.

This evolved range of HEOS speak­ers is dubbed HS2. They may look un­changed from their pre­de­ces­sors, but be­neath the hood there’s con­sid­er­ably more pro­cess­ing power on tap, which has opened the door to High-Res Au­dio sup­port.

All HS2 models also now of­fer Blue­tooth, which makes it a dod­dle for any­one to share tracks. Cu­ri­ously though, this Blue­tooth im­ple­men­ta­tion lacks high band­width aptX sup­port. Ap­par­ently this is down to a lim­i­ta­tion of the chipset used across the en­tire HS2 range.

We’re fo­cus­ing on the HEOS 5 HS2 here. It’s a mid-range model po­si­tioned be­low the ta­ble-rock­ing HEOS 7, but above the diddy HEOS 1 and stand-up HEOS 3.

We like Denon’s HEOS aes­thetic. Sure, the tri­an­gu­lar de­sign may be a lit­tle idio­syn­cratic for some, but at least it’s dif­fer­ent. At 3kg, the HEOS 5 HS2 is im­pres­sively weighty, and un­de­ni­ably well fin­ished.

Con­nec­tions in­clude a USB port, 3.5mm au­dio jack and Eth­er­net. The only on-body con­trols are vol­ume and mute. Com­pact at 294 x 166 x 209mm, it can be parked al­most any­where (kitchen counter, shelf, cof­fee ta­ble, of­fice ta­ble), but you will need to ac­com­mo­date a power brick. It sports a carry han­dle on the rear, but isn’t bat­tery pow­ered.

A HEOS sys­tem can of­fi­cially sup­port 32 speak­ers, so if you want to fill your home with dozens of HEOS 5 models feel free. But if va­ri­ety’s more your thing, it’s also in­ter­op­er­a­ble with a range of HEOS com­pat­i­ble com­po­nents, in­clud­ing se­lect Denon sound­bars and AV re­ceivers, a pro­vi­sion that launched with the nine-chan­nel AVR-X4300H and the eleven-chan­nel AVR-X6300H. It should be noted that the choice for wire­less au­dio sys­tem builders is con­sid­er­ably bet­ter than with SONOS or Bluesound, but not quite as broad as Yamaha’s Mu­sicCast.

Set-up and con­trol is via the HEOS app, avail­able for iOS and Android.

Few wire­less mul­ti­room speaker sys­tems are as easy to in­stall and con­fig­ure. Just con­nect the HEOS 5 HS2 to a smart­phone by the sup­plied 3.5mm cable, then up­date it with your net­work pass­word. Once on-line, the 3.5mm cable is no longer re­quired.

App ser­vices in­clude Tidal, dal, Sound­cloud, Nap­ster, Deezer and Tunein ra­dio. Spo­tify is via Spo­tify ify Con­nect. If you have mu­sic on your smart­phone, on a DLNA NAS or in an iTunes library, the HEOS app will dis­cover it. You can also play tunes lo­cally from a USB thumb­drive.

True to form, the speaker er al­lows you to play mul­ti­ple sources in mul­ti­ple rooms si­mul­ta­ne­ously,taneously, depend­ing on how your wire­less sound sys­tem stem is con­fig­ured. The choice is ul­ti­mately dic­tated by how many HEOS speak­ers you have and how ro­bust your Wi-Fii-Fi net­work is. Syn­chronic­ity be­tween units is ex­cel­lent. ent. We paired the HEOS 5 in one room with a HEOSOS 1 else­where, and had no prob­lems sync­ing them em with­out a tim­ing echo. While all HEOS speak­erseak­ers are dual band Wi-Fi com­pat­i­ble, they don’t use any form of MESH in­fra­struc­ture, so you may need to em­ploy Wi-Fi ex­ten­der­sers to get all your mu­sic around larger prop­er­tiesop­er­ties with­out dropouts.

Son­i­cally, the HEOS 5 is a cracking all-in-one. It’s a two-way y speaker de­sign, with dual tweet­ers ers and woofers, pow­ered by quar­tet uar­tet of Class D amp mod­ules. s. A pas­sive ra­di­a­tor is used to en­hance bass, to con­sid­er­able ef­fect. Given the size of the speaker you wouldn’t ex­pect it to sound par­tic­u­larly stereo­phonic. How­ever, you can pair it with a sec­ond HEOS 5 for a proper two-chan­nel per­for­mance, al­though that’s quite an ex­pen­sive in­dul­gence.

While I’d hes­i­tate to de­scribe any of the ded­i­cated HEOS speaker line as au­dio­phile grade, you re­ally can hear the im­prove­ments of­fered by 24bit source ma­te­rial. High-Res Au­dio tracks play back with ex­tra fo­cus and

greater dy­nam­ics.

File sup­port is ex­cel­lent. In ad­di­tion to MP3, AAC AAC, ALAC and 16-bit FLAC, our HEOS 5 also played un­com­pressed WAV, ALAC, AIFF and FLAC up to 24-bit 192kHz plus DSD 2 2.8Mhz and 5.6Mhz. Ba­si­cally, what­ever you have can prob prob­a­bly be played.

That said, the speaker is not MQA co com­pat­i­ble.

As with SONOS, Denon de­clines to pub­lish any spec­i­fi­ca­tion for its HEOS models,mode but we can con­firm, rather un­sci­en­tif­i­call un­sci­en­tif­i­cally, that the HEOS 5 plays loud and goes deep. ByB way of ev­i­dence we in­vite you to lis­ten to S Sev­en­ties reg­gae clas­sic Dou­ble Bar­rel, by Dave and An­sil Collins, as well as club an­thema How Do You Do, by Cas­cada. Th There’s noth­ing mild-man­nered abou about its pre­sen­ta­tion

with ei­ther.

Those small­ish driversd can get over­whelmed withw big riffs though – Iron Maiden’sMaiden Can I Play With Mad­ness mayma be me­tal, but here it sounds a lit­tle too leaden for

its own g good.

Con­clu­sion

There’s no doubt that this newly re­born rn HEOS HS2 of­fer­ing rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant step-up­tep-up in con­ve­nience and sonic qual­ity from m the first models to wear the badge. The ad­di­tionon of Hi-Res Au­dio sup­port, plus Blue­tooth, gives the line-up the moral high-ground when it comes to spec­i­fi­ca­tion, and if you’re look­ing to build a mul­ti­room sys­tem, this mid-ranger woul­dould seem like a sen­si­ble place to start. The HEOSS 5 HS2 is a solid mid-range ac­tive loud­speaker. It’s ’s a tempt­ing gate­way into the HEOS ecosys­tem. sys­tem.

On the down­side, the speaker can sound und a lit­tle mono­phonic, and the lack of aptX tX is un­for­tu­nate given the Hi-Res Au­dio na­ture ature of the up­grade. Still these are mi­nor quib­bles. uib­bles. HS2 is a step in the right di­rec­tion for Denon, and the HEOS 5 HS2 is def­i­nitely worth au­di­tion­ing. di­tion­ing.

Spec­i­fi­ca­tionSpecifi

• Con­nec Con­nec­tions: Eth­er­net, USB port, 3.5mm au­dio jack

• Wire­les Wire­less sup­port: Wi-Fi, Blue­tooth

• DLNA sup­port:s yes

• Di­men­sions:Di­men 294 x 166 x 209mm

• Weight:Weight 3kg

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