Denon Home 150 Wireless Speaker Review
For those who want their smart speakers to be genuinely smart, the Denon Home 150 now incorporates the promised compatibility for Alexa. Sonos still beats the Denon overall, but the Home 150 is a wireless speaker with decent performance. The Home 150 is the tiniest attempt in the Denon’s wireless speaker family, featuring smarts, built-in HEOS, and Hi-Res audio talents.
Denon’s Home range of speakers contradicts Sonos’ supremacy in the multi-room speaker industry. Denon undoubtedly has the pedigree, and both the Home 350 and Home 250 were delivered. Can it make it a three-peat?
Is the Denon Home 150 Portable?
The Denon Home 150 shares the same appearance as its larger brothers. It’s not as essential as the Sonos One but it approaches that degree of invisibility. Tucked within is a mono speaker with two Class D amplifiers driving a 25mm tweeter and 89mm woofer.
Available in black or white, the speaker is wrapped in fabric, and on top is a touch screen made of toughened glass with presets (up to three), volume and playback controls. Hover over it, and proximity sensors light the regulations.
Down at the bottom is a little status light. When in operation, it’s blue but changes color according on the action, such as updating (orange) or Bluetooth connection (green) (green). The intensity of the light may be modified with the HEOS app.
Around the back is a screw thread for wall-mounting, a Connect button for joining the HEOS network: an Ethernet socket, a USB port, Aux-in, and a switch for enabling Bluetooth. Though it’s mains-powered, the supplied cable is of sufficient length, so you shouldn’t worry about being too far from a mains outlet.
The Denon Home 150 weighs 1.7kg – fractionally less than the Sonos One despite being higher (187 x 120 x 120 HWD, mm) (187 x 120 x 120 HWD, mm). It’s a fair-looking attempt since it’s not designed to attract your attention. It’s the audio that does the Denon Home 150’s talking. It’s taken nearly two-and-a-half years, but Denon now has native voice help. If you’re in the Amazon Alexa ecosystem, you can ask Home 150 a question, and it finally has a voice to answer with.
The HEOS app (Android, iOS) is the doorway to Denon’s linked ecosystem, allowing the user to reign like an overlord across any HEOS device in the home.
It allows connectivity with music streaming providers such as Spotify, TuneIn, Amazon Music, Deezer, SoundCloud, Napster, and Tidal. There’s access to EQ settings, personalization, bass optimization, which works in real-time in a recent update, and optimization of bass, which works in real-time, too.
The HEOS software is neat if the primary UI lacks the current shine of the Sonos control app. Streaming service functionality includes and Spotify aside, catalogs, search, and playback of material that can be handled from HEOS. A HEOS account must be set up to make use of all this. Denon Home 150 supports Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5GHz), Bluetooth 4.2, and AirPlay 2 (which adds Siri into the picture) (which brings Siri into the equation). There’s a tiny latency when utilizing AirPlay, which is not always beneficial when going back and forward through a playlist.
File compatibility includes MP3, AAC, and WMA and expands to Hi-Res with 192kHz/24-bit FLAC, WAV, ALAC and DSD 2.8/5.6MHz. These files can be played over the network or via the back USB connection.
The Denon Home 150 may be used as a stereo pair or as rear surrounds for the Denon Home Soundbar 550 to create a 5.1 system. Despite its size, the Home 150 is a speaker with no invitation to get loud. It’s not the broadest soundstage owing to its proportions, but it contains lots of basses that have been tweaked a little after the bass tuning update. Compared to the One SL, it’s bolder in its presentation but lacks the nuance of the Sonos.
Vocals are articulated nicely, driving them forward from the rest of the mix. Jill Scott’s voice Golden is nicely replicated, the Home 150 catching her breathy tones and inflections.
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Volume might be little tough to determine and needs adjusting periodically. What was suitable for one song wasn’t always fitting for another, especially at high volumes. Another thing to take care of is streaming Tidal using the HEOS app. It only transmits Masters’ recordings at 16-bit, not 24-bit, which is a letdown.
Dynamically there’s a nice feeling of rise and fall; the sweeping nature of Ennio Morricone’s The Untouchables is a delightful interpretation as the Home 150 retreats during calmer parts before erupting into life, emphasising the track’s heroic spirit.
Tonally it’s rather warm and rich in its presentation. There’s a strong, full-bodied presence to it, the organ from Hans Zimmer’s Where We’re Going? has a terrific feeling of weight and mass. The Treble is rolled off a little, not quite as harsh or piercing, but enjoyably described.
There’s more bass on tap than in the Sonos One, and bass is more controlled than it is with the Marshall Uxbridge, with the upgrade taming the Home 150’s bassy proclivities for improved balance and control. Even so, the Home 150 delivers a considerable quantity of low-frequency energy. One concern is the slightly tubby, ill-defined notes between the mid-range and bass. It’s not a significant problem, but certain messages aren’t as simple as I’d like.
Sonos remains the elephant in the room, and the Denon Home 150 lacks the finesse, midrange detail, and even-handed balance of its opponent; The Home 150’s warm nature makes its tone a touch thicker, losing out in terms of speed and attack. Put that aside; the Denon Home 150 puts up an energetic, smooth, and booming performance.