Now almost every apartment has an Internet connection and at least a Wi-Fi router for wireless communication of all smartphones and tablets in the family. Even more functional are local Ethernet networks, in which, with the help of additional access points or “twisted pairs” laid throughout the home, a variety of devices are connected: from purely computer components (network drives, laptops, printers, etc.) to entertainment ( SMART TVs, IPTV set-top boxes, game consoles, media players). On the basis of such an infrastructure – universal, standardized and already quite well-developed – Denon began to implement audio components controlled through a single interface.
The installation of these devices is simplified to the limit. First, you download the Denon HEOS proprietary application to your smartphone for control, then simply connect to power any of the Denon HEOS units that you plan to add to the system. The application automatically detects the appearance of related hardware on the network and starts a step-by-step configuration process, during which other network or mobile devices are also registered. There are practically no restrictions on the number of components in a personal “web” – the system “picks up” a variety of smartphones via Wi-Fi (with the appropriate application) and can sound up to 32 zones, allowing you to assign each its own name (living room, study, kitchen, veranda, etc.) .d.). At the same time, the program opens access to the settings of any of the Denon HEOS devices, where you can set their role in the system, operating mode, volume level, timbre, etc.
So from simple and seemingly not at all connected by any wired intricacies of elements, an extremely flexible complex is formed. All signals in it are distributed as local multi-stream broadcasting over the internal network, and with a minimum delay, which is important.
The functionality is also unique: you can listen to any source in any chosen place, literally with two fingers on the smartphone screen combine zones into groups or, on the contrary, switch them to a mode when the selected music sounds only where you are, and in addition, it also follows you when moving from room to room. Previously, such capabilities could only be implemented in expensive advanced systems with control processors.
Everything is simple here. There are only three tabs in the application. One is the listening position. In the second, we indicate the source, which can be either an online music service (Deezer, TuneIn, SoundCloud or Mood Mix), or a local device – a smartphone on the network or a flash drive inserted into a USB port, a hard drive on a home computer, or a NAS storage … in some cases, playback is available via Bluetooth or even from “non-network” components – it is enough to connect them by analog or digital to those registered in Ethernet. The remaining third tab is responsible for the playback process itself: serves to select songs, form a playlist, display tags, landscape graphics, station logo, etc.
The Denon HEOS AVR component discussed below is perhaps the most versatile cube of our wireless construction kit. It has no buttons on the front side at all – only a volume control knob. But, despite the laconic appearance, we have before us a full-fledged AV-receiver, on the basis of which a very powerful home theater is assembled. The presence of five built-in amplifiers and a subwoofer output allows you to build a classic 5.1 set, but you can also use active Denon HEOS speakers. We tried just a combined version – with rear based on wireless Denon HEOS 3 HS2, but with traditional fronts, center and subwoofer.
Although all AVR modes can be controlled from a smartphone, the developers were not too lazy to make a small remote control that gives access to all the necessary functions and does not shock with a scattering of incomprehensible buttons. Moreover, you can control the system, for example, from the remote control of a Denon universal player, since at the command level, the Denon HEOS platform is largely compatible with other equipment of this brand. It also provides input for IR commands from other devices and support for IP control.
Five HDMI 2.0a ports let you directly connect up to four 4K Ultra HD video or media players and send the signal to a TV panel. The onboard processor is designed for surround formats up to Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. For composite or component video, neither inputs nor outputs are provided, but by analogy, you can bring an audio signal into the system – a stereo pair of RCA line inputs and one jack for a 3.5 mm jack are allocated for it. The switch is complemented by optical and digital inputs, USB and Bluetooth.
In terms of tuning capabilities, the Denon HEOS AVR roughly corresponds to the most simple AV receivers – you specify the configuration (from 2.0 to 5.1), set the approximate distances in the bass manager, the LFE cutoff frequency and channel levels. However, despite the rather large step of setting the same distances (50 cm), there are no problems with building the field. It turns out that if the AVR interacts with other Denon HEOS components, then it automatically loads the necessary audio profile. And this, you know, surprises most of all – the system is so user-friendly that it can in fact be called a “smart theater”. How much pain can be caused by the coordination of acoustics, but in our test, the surround and clear “lows” turned out literally from the first turn on.
Let’s talk about the sound quality: it meets expectations. The skepticism about the class of discrete switching amplifiers vanishes right away – the amplifiers do not compress the dynamics, it controls acoustics well.
The stage space is large-scale, although the images in it are slightly enlarged. Surround effects, sounded by wireless acoustics, do not “sit” in the speakers either. In the digital path Denon HEOS AVR uses a jitter suppression system and, probably, therefore, the playback is well detailed and devoid of synthetic or poisonous “aftertaste”.
However, the coloration at high frequencies characteristic of simple PWM amplifiers sometimes makes itself felt on some music programs. To prevent high horns, cymbals, vocal sibilants or gnashing film effects from sounding aggressive or dry.