Denon Dwelling 250 & Dwelling 350 Wi-fi Audio system Reviewed

Denon Dwelling 250 & Dwelling 350 Wi-fi Audio system Reviewed

The present Denon Dwelling wi-fi speaker lineup replaces the second technology HEOS audio system within the Denon lineup. The identify “Denon Dwelling” is a break from the earlier HEOS model, however the HEOS know-how platform stays in place regardless of the rebranding. The incorporation of the HEOS platform allows all the brand new audio system, older HEOS audio system, and HEOS-enabled receivers to work collectively in a multi-room system no matter technology. 

The brand new lineup at the moment consists of three mid-sized wi-fi audio system — the Denon Dwelling 150 ($249), Dwelling 250 ($499), and Dwelling 350 ($699) — in addition to a Soundbar 550 ($599), and with assist different HEOS merchandise, such because the DSW-1 subwoofer.

After I first noticed the brand new lineup, my first assumption was {that a} contemporary coat of paint had been utilized to the second technology HEOS audio system we reviewed just a few years in the past.  As soon as I had my palms on the audio system, although, it rapidly turned obvious that they had been new merchandise from the bottom up. In a dialogue with Denon’s Paul Belanger, Class Director for Denon Dwelling, he walked me via the function set of the present lineup. The entire new audio system profit from a way more highly effective DSP. The prior HEOS audio system all used a fourth-generation processor, however the present Denon Dwelling 150, 250, and 350 make use of a sixth-generation chip — the identical utilized in extra complicated soundbar merchandise — which gives higher-level decoding and processing than beforehand obtainable.

The Denon Dwelling 350 additionally has newly designed drivers, extra energy, and elevated cupboard quantity in comparison with the speaker it successfully replaces, the HEOS 7. Related upgrades may be discovered throughout the lineup.  

The entire new audio system assist AirPlay® 2, Bluetooth, and dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity and are high-resolution audio succesful, with the power to play MP3, WMA, ALAC, WAV, FLAC, and AAC information as much as 192 kHz/24-bit decision in addition to DSD 2.8 and 5.6 MHz information. Assist for AIFF was beforehand reported as being “on the best way,” however that was fairly some time in the past. Lastly, HEOS integrates with most main streaming companies, together with Tidal, Spotify, Pandora, Tidal, iHeartRadio, Amazon Music HD, TuneIn, and extra. And if wi-fi connectivity doesn’t meet all of your wants, there are additionally USB, 3.5mm analog, and Ethernet connections. Music from the bodily inputs may be performed on any HEOS-enabled system on the community. 

My evaluate system is comprised of a pair of Dwelling 250 audio system and a single Dwelling 350. I in contrast the Dwelling 350 to the HEOS 7, as they’re each the largest audio system of their respective lineups, and the very first thing I observed was the extra conservative styling of the 350. The futuristic, untraditional shapes of the unique HEOS collection have been changed with a clear and fashionable aesthetic that can also be extra timeless. The Denon Dwelling lineup is available in a black or white with coordinated mild or darkish material grilles. The oblong audio system have rounded vertical edges on the transition to the facet panels, and there’s a small standing mild on the underside middle of the entrance panel and a connection panel on the backside of the again facet. 

One thing I actually favored is the contact panel on the highest, which encompasses a proximity sensor that lights up when your hand approaches. It’s not solely straightforward on the eyes, but additionally gives entry to primary controls and quick-select buttons. The latter are new to the present technology and supply instantaneous entry to user-selectable favorites.

The Dwelling 350 misplaced the HEOS 7’s headphone jack, however your entire lineup additionally misplaced the ability bricks and wall warts in favor of straightforward energy cords, in order that’s a function tradeoff I used to be completely happy to simply accept. The Dwelling 350 has six drivers, every with its personal Class-D amplifier. The smaller Dwelling 250 has 4 drivers powered by Class-D amps, in addition to a passive radiator. 

Amazon Alexa must be enabled through a firmware replace by the point you learn this text, with Google Assistant doubtlessly coming sooner or later. I personally don’t need energetic microphones throughout my home, however fortunately, the energetic microphone is opt-in quite than opt-out, one thing Amazon might be taught from.

Setting Up the Denon Dwelling Audio system

The audio system arrived securely packed in full-color retail bins with easy-to-follow directions tucked inside. I had the audio system unpacked and plugged in about to the time it took me to kind this sentence. I used the HEOS app on my iPhone to get all of the audio system linked to my pre-existing HEOS account in only a few minutes. A couple of extra minutes for updates to obtain and set up and I used to be able to go.

In the event you don’t have already got a HEOS account, it solely takes a couple of minutes to arrange, and it’s free. The account saves your settings, preferences, music service logins, favorites, and playlists. One new function that impacts setup is a “Speaker Placement” setting that permits for one among three equalization choices to be chosen: open area, subsequent to 1 wall or shelf, or subsequent to 2 partitions. For these of you who aren’t accustomed to room acoustics, speaker placement relative to partitions can impression tonal steadiness. Sometimes, inserting a speaker close to a wall can reinforce bass, and nook placement can additional emphasize bass response. It is a little more complicated than this, however Denon’s equalization settings assist to optimize the sound in any location. Whereas sticking with the Denon equalization choices will present extra constant sound no matter placement, I’d encourage you to attempt the completely different equalization choices to seek out the sound profile you like.  

How Do the New Denon Dwelling Audio system Sound?

I began my vital listening as merely as potential: with a single Dwelling 250 on a countertop, away from any partitions, and with the open-space EQ setting. The Dwelling 250 is in between the HEOS 3 and seven audio system I already owned, however comparable in dimension to an early technology Sonos Play:3. The Dwelling 250 can play louder than any of them aside from the HEOS 7 speaker, however what impressed me extra was the standard of the sound. It’s extra detailed and higher balanced than both of the prior technology HEOS audio system or the admittedly much-older Sonos unit. 

Listening to Chris Stapleton’s “What Are You Listening To?” (Tidal, Mercury Nashville) the vocals and guitar had been effectively balanced, with sufficient element to choose up the layering of the primary and backup vocals. After I linked a second Denon Dwelling 250, the soundstage advanced from a vaguely outlined amorphous space to 1 with higher outlined boundaries and with extra particular positioning of the person sound components inside.

These enhancements had been all of the extra obvious after I performed one among my favourite tracks for evaluating soundstage: “Chicken on a Wire” by Jennifer Warnes from her album Well-known Blue Raincoat (Tidal, Cypress Data). This well-recorded observe will render a really exact soundstage, with every instrument in its personal spot when performed again on a great stereo system. The one Denon Dwelling 250 supplied a common concept of the place the artists had been organized from left to proper, however including the second unit supplied not solely elevated lateral definition, but additionally depth. 

I replayed these similar tracks via the Denon Dwelling 350, which supplied extra bass, which translated into extra weight and impression within the drums and bass guitar. The midrange space additionally sounded better-defined, particularly on guitar and vocals.  Warnes’ voice had extra physique, and I might make out barely extra element than with even a pair of 250s. That stated, if you’re into digital dance music or different bass heavy materials, you’ll possible wish to add the non-obligatory subwoofer to any of the Denon Dwelling audio system. Whether or not it’s the drums from the Eagles’ “Resort California” or the synthesized bass line from one among Billie Eilish’s tracks, the Denon Dwelling audio system did a great job conveying what was taking place and even supplied some mid-bass impression in a reasonably sized (twelve by 17 foot) room, however couldn’t reproduce the deeper, foundational bass notes. 

There was no shock that the bigger and extra highly effective 350 might play considerably louder and deeper than the 250 earlier than the compression circuitry kicked in. The DSP controlling the compression circuitry did a great job defending the audio system with out being too obtrusive, in that it gently elevated compression as the amount was elevated. This prevented the cruel distortion of an overdriven driver or amplifier, whereas additionally minimizing the intrusion on the music.

The Draw back

I wish to see the platform assist extra file codecs (AIFF) and companies (reminiscent of Qobuz and Roon) which can be favored within the audiophile group.  As of now, Qobuz and Roon are supported solely through AirPlay. 

Lastly, I encountered some connectivity issues wherein the app stated it couldn’t connect with my system and really helpful closing all the opposite apps operating on my system. This occurred occasionally, and was comparatively straightforward to clear, however was annoying nonetheless. I hope the following app replace will deal with this.

How Does Denon Dwelling Evaluate to the Competitors?

The are a number of competing wi-fi speaker ecosystems that present comparable choices, the obvious being Sonos. Sonos provides a greater diversity of speaker choices together with a battery-powered transportable mannequin. 

The place Denon Dwelling pulls forward is with its integration with present Denon and Marantz receivers and the multi-zone Hyperlink supply and amplification models, offering unmatched scalability choices inside its personal ecosystem. 

Bowers & Wilkins’ Formation is one other wi-fi system that, like Sonos and Denon Dwelling, options powered audio system and supply unit choices. My restricted expertise with the B&W Formation system left me impressed with each the audio efficiency and construct high quality. Whereas the B&W models aren’t straight similar to the others, count on to spend extra for a equally scaled B&W system.   

Remaining Ideas

The Denon Dwelling 250 and 350 are extraordinarily straightforward to make use of and supply sound high quality that’s noticeably improved from prior generations. The fast choose buttons addressed one among my pet peeves, not simply with earlier HEOS audio system, however with your entire class. With most wi-fi audio system, you want your telephone (or one other system) to play music, however with the short choose buttons you may instantly entry one among your favourite sources. 

The scalability of the HEOS ecosystem means you need to use a single speaker, a pair of audio system for higher imaging, or combine with audio system and elements all through your private home or workplace. Whereas the variety of Denon Dwelling speaker choices is comparatively restricted, the HEOS ecosystem gives quite a few choices to take heed to music out of your library, a favourite streaming service, or off of a visitor’s telephone. 

Would I change my two-channel rig with a Denon Dwelling speaker (or a pair of them)? No, however I don’t count on a sub-$1,000 speaker to compete with a system within the mid-five-figure vary. That stated, I’ve spent extra time listening to the Denon Dwelling audio system than my reference rig, since they’re easy and straightforward to maneuver, whereas offering prepared entry to absolutely anything I wish to take heed to, the place and after I need hear.

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