Hands-on with the Denon HEOS HomeCinema
The HEOS HomeCinema soundbar is the latest addition to Denon’s growing family of multiroom audio products and a rival to the Sonos Playbar.
Not only does it give your TV’s sonics a much-needed boost, but it also allows you to stream music over a network via Denon’s HEOS app. It comes with a matching wireless subwoofer to deliver deep bass.
With the HEOS HomeCinema camped in the living room and other HEOS units dotted around the house (like the new HEOS 1 portable speaker or last year’s HEOS 3, 5 and 7), you can enjoy music in any room from a variety of sources – all orchestrated from your smartphone or tablet.
We got up close and personal with HEOS HomeCinema at Denon’s 2015 dealer conference in Monaco and first impressions are good. The bar itself is slim and conservatively styled in black, allowing it to sit discreetly on a stand or on the wall – although sadly there are no other colour options for non-black TVs.
Clutterphobes will also appreciate the subwoofer’s compact dimensions and appealing black finish. Wireless connectivity gives you the freedom to place it anywhere in the room and it can be used horizontally or vertically to suit your layout.
Both units feel solid and robust – exactly what you expect from the Denon stable – and there’s a small panel of controls on the side for up-close control.
The back bears a pleasing range of sockets. The highlight is HDMI input and output, the latter offering Audio Return Channel support. The presence of HDMI ports is significant, as you can feed audio directly to the soundbar from a Blu-ray player or Sky box and take advantage of the built-in Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS decoding.
Feeding a 5.1 bitstream into the Denon allows its Virtual Surround processing to do its job more effectively than the usual two-channel PCM signal from a TV’s optical output. Music and Movie DSP modes, Dialog Enhancer and Night modes provide extra audio tweakage.
The HDMIs are backed up by optical and coaxial digital inputs, plus a 3.5mm minijack input. There’s even a USB port for music playback from storage devices.
The bar features dual 2 x 5in precision drivers to deliver upper bass and midrange, with dual 20mm dome tweeters on treble duty. The subwoofer handles the deeper bass frequencies using dual 5¼in drivers.
You can adjust the bass level and control the soundbar using the slick HEOS app for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire. The app also provides access to a variety of music streaming services including Spotify and TIDAL.
We were treated to a demo of the soundbar using the train crash scene from Super 8 and what stands out is the bar’s big, bassy sound and crisp treble as the train carriages get smashed into pieces. Obviously we’ll give it a more thorough investigation when we get our hands on one – it’s launched in July for £599/$898.