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Denon Home Amp adds HDMI eARC, Dolby Audio to HEOS systems

Denon Home Amp seen next to a Denon turntable.

In its competition with Sonos and Bose, Denon has a new arrow in its wireless, multiroom quiver: the Denon Home Amp. It’s effectively the next-gen version of the aging HEOS Amp HS2, with two important new features that keep it relevant in a modern home: an HDMI eARC input and compatibility with multichannel Dolby Audio. Plus, there’s more power on tap for connected speakers with up to 125 watts per channel. You can buy the Denon Home Amp from retailers or for $799.

Denon Home Amp.

Denon has been slowly migrating its HEOS line of wireless multiroom speakers and components over to its new Denon Home brand, and the Home Amp is the latest device to be transitioned. It takes the guts of the $499 HEOS Amp HS2 (which Denon continues to sell) and wraps it in a new, simple-yet-sophisticated body that will blend more seamlessly with people’s existing hi-fi setups. The clean lines and squarish dimensions are very reminiscent of the Sonos Amp ($699) and Bose Music Amplifier ($699), with touch controls on the front panel for preset access, play/pause, track skipping, and volume control.

Denon Home Amp with cables connected to the back panel.

All of the usual HEOS capabilities remain, like app-controlled multiroom music streaming from a variety of popular services like Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, SiriusXM, Amazon Music, Tidal, iHeartRadio, Deezer, and SoundCloud. The device can decode ALAC, FLAC, and WAV formats up to 24-bit/192kHz hi-res lossless audio, as well as DSD 2.8MHz and 5.6MHz (a rarity in the wireless home audio space). The Home Amp will work seamlessly with any other HEOS-enabled device like AV receivers from Denon, Marantz, and other brands.

Denon Home Amp rear panel.

On the back panel, optical and USB-A digital inputs are joined by RCA analog inputs (the HEOS Amp’s 3.5mm input has been omitted), along with four-way binding posts for connected passive speakers and a subwoofer output. New to the Home Amp is the HDMI ARC/eARC input and a dedicated button for Bluetooth pairing.

That HDMI input lets the Home Amp downmix multichannel Dolby Audio (with Dolby Digital Plus compatibility) into two-channel sound — a handy feature for those who prefer a stereo setup for their TV audio instead of a soundbar or AV receiver-based multi-speaker arrangement. Like all of the other inputs, the audio from the HDMI port can be shared across connected HEOS speakers in the home.

You can use wired or wireless networking to connect the Home Amp to your network, though curiously Denon hasn’t upgraded the Amp’s Wi-Fi specs: It’s still dual band, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac instead of the newer Wi-Fi 6 or better standards.

Denon Home Amp (top view).

Amplification is still two-channel, class D, but power has been increased considerably from the HEOS Amp HS2 (70 watts per channel @ 8 ohms) to 100 watts @ 8 ohms and 125 watts @ 4 ohms. Like the Sonos Amp, you can run two sets of speakers, as long as their combined impedance isn’t less than 4 ohms.

Like the rest of Denon’s Home series of wireless speakers (and the Sonos Amp), the Home Amp gets Apple AirPlay 2 support. You can stream lossless audio at CD quality from any Apple device, and the Home Amp can be added to the Apple Home app, where it can be managed along with any other AirPlay devices you may own. Another benefit to this capability is Apple Siri voice control: As long as you have an iPhone, Mac, or HomePod, you can control the Home Amp using Siri.

Amazon Alexa is also compatible if you use the HEOS Alexa skill, however there’s no support for Google Assistant compatibility.

Simon Cohen
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like spatial…
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