HEOS Link HS2
The HEOS Link can bring streaming to an existing audio system while also providing inputs which can be shared around a home to other HEOS devices.
Another streamer — another wireless multiroom system, this time HEOS, the platform now widespread throughout Denon and Marantz products, so that this little box can connect an existing audio system not only to the world of streaming music but with any other HEOS-equipped Denon and Marantz products in your home (such as the CEOL N11 reviewed in this issue on page 68).
This Link HS2 updated the original Link unit to HS2 status, which added both high-res support and Bluetooth, including the ability to forward an incoming Bluetooth stream to other HEOS devices in the home. The high-res capability allows USB playback or network streaming of WAV, FLAC and Apple Lossless up to 24-bit/192kHz. DSD is also supported.
That’s the new stuff, which is added to the already considerable HEOS offering. From the HEOS app you can access free music from TuneIn internet radio and Soundcloud, and subscription music from Spotify, Tidal, and Deezer. Of course with Bluetooth also available you can use any app to access any service offering free or subscription music.
The nicely angled unit itself has volume and mute buttons on the side, while the back panel hosts two analogue inputs (minijack and RCAs), one optical digital input and one USB-A slot, all of which can be shared through your home network to other HEOS units. There’s Ethernet for that networking, but also dual-band Wi-Fi.
Then for outputs you have the preouts which would go into your hi-fi system, but also digital outputs on optical or coaxial, should you have a DAC or digital amplifier you reckon to be better than the Link’s own conversion. Again there’s a trigger output which can be used to wake up your amp when you start streaming.
So while this unit is priced above the preceding Yamaha and Sonos streamers, the additional input options here bring significantly more flexibility; the HEOS Link HS2 is as much a multiroom preamp as it is a simple streamer add-on. Apple’s AirPlay is the only obvious omission here.
The main HEOS app screen (see above) puts everything at your fingertips. Using any of the streaming services requires you to set up a HEOS account, and that account links to all your subscription accounts. The beauty of the app is its simplicity and clarity, with all sources and inputs on the home page, sensible progression thereafter, and three buttons always at the bottom to get you easily back home.
The conversion and audio circuits on the back of all this streaming sounded to be of excellent quality. If you have some preference for changing tone, there are bass and treble controls in the HEOS app. So using the digital outputs rather than analogue is really a matter of convenience rather than need — unless you happen to have a simply superb DAC to hand.
We can see why this unit has stayed in the HEOS range while others transition to Denon branding. For any home with HEOS, this is the perfect way to update an existing system.