Skip to main content

Denon takes on Sonos with its new HEOS wireless speaker series

denon takes sonos new heos wireless speaker series 131109 7 5 3 familyshot edit
Image used with permission by copyright holder

As the market for multi-room wireless speakers continues to expand, a new competitor aims to knock the pioneer of the genre, Sonos, from its throne. The seasoned audio veterans at Denon today unveiled a brand new line of wireless components looking to take on the multi-room audio champ, consisting of a three-speaker series dubbed HEOS.

For those unfamiliar, about 10 years ago Sonos created a line of extremely succinct wireless speakers that operate in tandem, allowing users to stream music over Wi-Fi from a single source to multiple rooms without latency, or send a different source to each speaker, all from an extremely intuitive and powerful app on a computer or mobile device. Since then, the genre has exploded, spawning copycats from the likes of Samsung, Bose, and others.

With HEOS, Denon appears to be making little effort to hide its mimicry of the popular system. Like Sonos, Denon’s gorgeous new speakers come in three sizes and price points, and offer minimalist designs. The teardrop-shaped components speak Wi-Fi, and offer easy access to cloud services, and hard drives, and streaming apps (though which apps are supported is yet to be announced). And the system is controlled over an iOS or Android app.

However, unlike previous challengers, the HEOS lineup is crafted by Denon – and that could mean that these babies offer some serious audio performance. Eight years in the making, Denon boasts its new lineup offers “audiophile-level synchronization” which suggests highly tuned clocking for playback. For its DSP setup, Denon has partnered with the digital gurus at Waves, offering the company’s proprietary MaxxAudio DSP system. And of course, the new speakers incorporate Denon’s century of audio design prowess.

In addition to the speakers, Denon offers HEOS Extend, which extends the range for larger homes, or those with poor Wi-Fi range. The company has also announced that in the near future, it will offer more speakers, as well as similarly controlled preamp and amplifier expansion packs, allowing users to transform their “dumb” systems into smart, multi-zone audio systems.

Users will have to ante up if they want a multi-room system with Denon’s considerable sound design prowess thrown into the mix, however. While exact pricing for the current lineup wasn’t fully disclosed (nor were names for each model, for that matter), Denon’s press release says the three speakers start at $300, and top out at $600. Using our superlative deductive reasoning skills, that pegs the middle-tier speaker at around $400, and puts the entire series $100 or more above Sonos’ Play:1, Play:3, and Play:5.

Will Denon’s new challenger offer audio performance worth shelling out the extra dough? We’ll find out soon enough, as we will be pulling the series in for a full review. If you can’t wait for our final verdict, however, you can buy Denon’s new HEOS speakers from Denon authorized dealers at the end of June.

Update 6/5/2014: Due to new information from Denon, this article has been updated to reflect that the HEOS does not offer NAS storage playback at this time, and will not be available until the end of June.

Editors' Recommendations

Ryan Waniata
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Ryan Waniata is a multi-year veteran of the digital media industry, a lover of all things tech, audio, and TV, and a…
The best Bluetooth speakers for 2023: Marshall, Sonos, JBL, and more
The Marshall Emberton II sitting on a table.

A great-sounding, reliable Bluetooth speaker is a must-have for music lovers who want to have their music with them no matter where they are. There's seemingly no end to the variety of them on the market for every need and use. From compact waterproof outdoor speakers to those with multiroom features for whole-home listening to audiophile speakers with high-quality Bluetooth codecs (such as aptX or aptX HD), you can find what you're looking for.

Bluetooth speakers have gotten so good over the years, with battery power reaching new heights and sound quality rivaling many passive speaker setups. But our purposes, when we talk about Bluetooth speakers, we mean speakers that are portable, battery-powered, and may also have built-in Wi-Fi capabilities for maximum home-and-away versatility (like the Sonos Roam and Move). If a more stay-at-home Wi-Fi speaker is what you're after, we also have a list of the best wireless speakers you can check out.

Read more
Skullcandy’s new Bluetooth speaker lineup boasts big battery life for $30 to $80
The Skullcandy Ounce Bluetooth portable speakers.

Skullcandy, well-known for its range of affordable and colorful headphones and earbuds, is throwing its hat into the compact Bluetooth speaker ring with a new lineup of waterproof speakers that boast some impressive battery life and that range in price from just $30 to $80.

With summer in full swing, Skullcandy's got eyes on poolside parties and camping trips with its first attempt at the price-conscious Bluetooth speaker crowd that includes five new cleverly-named devices that start with the basic Ounce ($30) and Kilo ($40) models before moving into the slightly more feature-rich Terrain Mini ($40), Terrain ($60), and the biggest in the line, the Terrain XL ($80).

Read more
Klipsch cranks up the karaoke with its first wireless party speakers
Klipsch Gig XL party speaker with wired microphone.

Klipsch Gig XXL Klipsch

Party speakers -- powerful and often colorfully lit portable Bluetooth loudspeakers -- have been a growing category for several years. In fact, we've seen a lot of the big brands in audio -- like Sony, JBL, and LG -- getting in on the act with a variety of models and prices. But the way you can really tell that this is no longer a flavor-of-the-month trend is that Klipsch is now a player too.

Read more