Denon announced its entry into the multi-room arena last year, hoping to take on Sonos on"head-to-head". Now the company has extended the HEOS wireless speaker range to do exactly that. Along with the HEOS HomeCinema soundbar and subwoofer combination, Denon has introduced the HEOS 1 speaker and HEOS 1 Go Pack, which is where things start to get interesting.
The HEOS 1 was announced in May earlier this year and is Denon's answer to the Sonos Play:1. Denon has taken things a step further by introducing Bluetooth connectivity, portability and water-resistance. There are several manufacturers diving into the multi-room audio market and while a couple are now offering portable options - including Sony and LG - the HEOS 1 and the Go Pack accessory takes the system into a different league.
First and foremost, the HEOS 1 is a beautifully designed speaker. It is a similar size to the Sonos Play:1, but rather than offering a 360-degree speaker grille, Denon opts for just the front and sides. The angular lines and premium finish look fabulous and deliver an impressive looking speaker we would be more than happy to have on display.
It doesn't just look good though. This speaker is clever and the design has been executed brilliantly. The HEOS 1 Go Pack turns the bottom of the HEOS 1 into a detachable battery, meaning this speaker can be used indoors and outdoors. It isn't light enough to pop in your bag and take to the park, but into the garden for a BBQ is no problem for this little number.
The battery has a twist and lock mechanism to attach to the speaker and Denon has designed a plastic cover to go over the base of the HEOS 1 for when the battery is detached to deliver a cleaner finish.
On the rear of the HEOS 1, you'll find a number of inputs. They are more prominent than they are on the Sonos Play:1, but what makes the HEOS 1 a little more interesting, is that it one of these inputs is a USB port for inserting the Bluetooth dongle into.
The Bluetooth dongle is attached to some rubber plugs that slide slickly into the inputs below it, making the HEOS 1 IPX4 water resistant by protecting all the inputs. Hats off to Denon here, as they have not only introduced a lovely small and compact wireless multi-room speaker that can be linked to the other HEOS speakers, but they have also made it portable and bathroom friendly.
The addition of Bluetooth means it can be taken outside of Wi-Fi range and used independently, whereas Sony's portable option has be within your Wi-Fi range to function so no taking it to the pool at the end of your garden, for example.
Denon says that the battery will last for 6 additional hours of music and entertainment, which may not seem like a huge amount but given the size of the battery, 6 hours wouldn't be too bad. There are four small blue LED lights on the rear of the battery to indicate how long you have left before it needs to be recharged and there is also a blue light at the front of the speaker to show when it is on.
On the top of the HEOS 1 is where you will find the volume control, just like the Sonos Play:1. But unlike Sonos, Denon doesn't add a play and pause option here. You have a mute button and the volume control toggle and that's all, which means music is all controlled via the HEOS app.
Under the hood the HEOS 1 speaker includes dual-band Wi-Fi, a bi-amped two-way system with custom active EQ and crossover, and a custom woofer and high dispersion tweeter powered by a two-channel Class D amplifier.
We had a listen during our brief amount of time with it and from what we could tell the sound was as impressive as its looks. We don't like to judge the sound quailty definitively until we get it in for a full review, but the HEOS 1 seems promising.
The HEOS 1 is available in black or white colour options. The HEOS app is available for iOS and Android and provides you with multi-room audio controls so you can play music in every room from any device, as well as group your HEOS 1 speaker or speakers together or to the rest of your HEOS system.
The Denon HEOS 1 will cost £199 while the HEOS 1 Go Pack will set you back £79. It's £110 more expensive than the Sonos Play:1 if you get both the speaker and accessory, but you get portability, Bluetooth connectivity and water resistance for that. We are big lovers of Sonos, but it seems to have some tough competition coming its way. The HEOS 1 looks good, sounds good and fills the gap in the HEOS system to deliver an exciting prospect in multi-room audio.