HEOS HomeCinema


The HomeCinema has full HEOS abilities, so will not only handle your TV and movie sound, it also has access to all the streaming music sources which come under control of the HEOS app for iOS and Android. HEOS is closely tied to its app — on the whole, you need a smart device to even turn on a HEOS system. But given that a soundbar might require more general use, HEOS has here included the ability to use your existing TV remote to control some of its functions. This is a very good idea indeed.

Despite the potential complexity of a network-streaming app-controlled soundbar, HEOS has achieved wonderful simplicity of set-up with the HomeCinema. It is usefully compact, at just 7cm deep and 10cm high (with the smaller of its two sets of feet), and a template is included for wall-mounting. And on the back of the bar there are very wellmarked (white on black) inputs split across two separate rear patch bays, rather than one. The extra space successful­ly removes much of the fiddliness common behind soundbars.

Connection options are straightfo­rward enough — a minijack auxiliary analogue input, one each of optical and coaxial digital inputs, a USB slot (which can be used for a Bluetooth receiver dongle), and two HDMI sockets, one in and one out to your TV. The HDMI output is ARC-enabled, so if your TV input is similarly equipped, you can use this connection to play other audio from your TV back to the soundbar. If you don’t have ARC (or if it doesn’t prove compatible), you can use the optical or analogue inputs for your TV sound. In the app, during set-up, you can indicate which input you’ll be using for TV, and thencefort­h selecting ‘TV’ will default to your chosen path.

There’s no built-in IR repeater (in case the bar blocks your TV’s IR receiver), but there is an IR blaster which you can use.

The subwoofer, meanwhile, is equally compact, with a narrow front just 30cm high by 17cm wide, and 32cm deep. It ports to the rear (and the mains lead sticks out), so it’ll need a little space behind it. It connects wirelessly to the soundbar (and did so flawlessly), so it needs only the power connection.

Denon has been generous with the cables — HDMI, optical, Ethernet, minijack for auxiliary analogue stereo, even an adaptor cable to turn RCA stereo phono plugs into the minijack required; all in the box.

We connected our Blu-ray player to the soundbar’s HDMI input, and ran the optical connection for sound from our TV. For the smart stuff, you connect to your home network by Wi-Fi or Ethernet. On this occasion we gave the HomeCinema a hard Ethernet cable, which skips the simple Wi-Fi process. When we opened our HEOS app (installed during previous reviews) the unit was already connected and prompting us to install an update on our device.

Alongside the various music sources are listed the different inputs available to the soundbar, and you can tidy things up by hiding any unused inputs or services.

The set-up also invites you to teach the soundbar commands — initially just volume up, down and mute from your normal TV remote (without which you’d be scrambling for the app at every turn). But a longer menu (above) can also assign input selection to other learning buttons. Highly versatile.

Several sound options are offered — ‘Dialogue’ to emphasise speech, ‘Night Mode’ to limit dynamics and bass, and a choice of ‘Music’ or ‘Movie’ mode. These are available only under the ‘TV’ input, but we gather the settings ‘stick’ across all inputs, so if you want them when watching, say, a Blu-ray, go first to ‘TV’, press something, then leave again.

More useful, and applied across the board, are the EQ controls (left), which are rather hidden away among the app settings. Where most HEOS units have bass and treble sliders, the Home Cinema has three — treble, bass, and subwoofer. So ‘bass’ here is really more a midrange control, and we were soon able to significan­tly improve the sound of the HomeCinema in our room, for music in particular, by nudging up both the sub and the middle slider just a couple of notches. This rounded out response without overpushin­g the subwoofer (we were impressed how well the sub integrated, despite it being a relatively small unit).

The width of the bar also allows effective stereo, as we noted when Pandora served up ‘Hotel California’. The bass guitar was delivered with fullness across its range, the vocal well projected, and none of the spittiness on vocal sibilants that often comes from soundbars when trying to do music.

If any lower midrange congestion or bloat appeared, it could be notched out with the ‘bass slider’. And Neil Finn’s ‘Twisty Bass’ showed just how much low-end the bar/sub combo could push into a room when requested.

That bass also serves movie fare, of course, and here the default EQ seemed well chosen — as the bass pumped out impressive­ly on ‘The Lego Movie’ Blu-ray’s ‘Everything is Awesome’ we notched the subwoofer level back to its central point. And there’s a good level available — the HomeCinema doesn’t quite envelop a room like a full surround system, and the layers were prone to break down at very high volumes, but it provided an effective and dramatic performanc­e for movies, while not getting too in-yerface with casual TV viewing.

Big movie sound, effective TV sound, no duffer at music and with all the multiroom abilities of HEOS, the HomeCinema is quite the little giant, and a great addition to HEOS.

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 ??  ?? Not entirely dissimilar to a previous award-winning Denon soundbar, the HEOS HomeCinema has become a double Sound+Image Award winner in its own right.
HEOS HomeCinema wireless soundbar + sub Price: $1499 + Big movie sound + Also OK with...
Not entirely dissimilar to a previous award-winning Denon soundbar, the HEOS HomeCinema has become a double Sound+Image Award winner in its own right. IN SUMMARY HEOS HomeCinema wireless soundbar + sub Price: $1499 + Big movie sound + Also OK with...
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