Quick Review: Denon Home 150 HEOS Speaker

Foxbat

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I have been listening to the pair of Denon Home 150 wireless speakers for a few hours now, and I must say, they are a great little pair of speakers. I brought them up over in the Amazon Deliveries thread in The Pub, but felt an actual review would be better placed here.

I got my speakers in time for the weekend. One thing I like is their ability to be paired as a left-right grouping. One thing I am disappointed in is using them with my Denon AVR with HEOS, I haven’t found an easy way to control the portable speakers from the Denon. Using the HEOS App is okay, but I was hoping I could run it through my entertainment center.

On their own, though, these are impressive little units. Once paired, the volume control in the top panel controls the volume for both, and the proximity detector causes the touch controls to light up when you bring your hand near.

One other thing I like is the HEOS app support for most music streaming services. Once the stream has started, you don’t need the App to pause or control the volume. I was even able to play music in one room, unplug the speakers, move them into another room, and after they powered up, press play on the top control to start the music up again. Right now, the supported audio streaming services include Amazon, Deezer, iHeartRadio, Mood Mix, Napster, Pandora, Rhapsody, SiriusXM, SoundCloud, Spotify, TIDAL, and TuneIn.

I was hoping that this product wouldn’t be like the other Smart Speakers on the market, but there are two microphone holes located on the speaker’s control panel. There isn’t much in the Owners Manual about voice control, other than using Alexa or Siri to control through your respective control mechanisms. There are some limitations with Apple, so, for example, I can create automations through HomeKit to perform operations with my Denon AVR, but not with these new Denon Home 150 speakers.

According to Denon, “*The Denon Home 150 speaker has microphones built-in for new features to be added via firmware update in 2020. We will not enable this microphone without your explicit permission.” So, possible Voice Assistant integration possible, but “not yet”. The App doesn’t have any Microphone control GUI yet, so I guess I trust they aren’t streaming my various inner monologues that I let out from time to time.

Using Siri to AirPlay to these speakers through my iOS devices is supported, but only if they haven’t been linked together in the HEOS App. Also, I haven’t seen any way to play stereo when using AirPlay 2, just being able to play the same audio content to both speakers at once.

If you have a compatible home media server you can also add that as a source in the HEOS App. I need to play with that more as I should be able to see my music collection but haven’t got it configured yet.

Also, I was not able to get the speakers to pair with my WiFi immediately, but part of that is the MAC restrictions on my router. Also, I had to activate the 2.4 GHz radio even though the speakers support 5 GHz as well. It is possible to connect the Home 150 via an Ethernet cable and the WiFi connection can be set differently than your App’s device connection. The App does need to “see” the devices, which may require them be present in the same IP subnet for those with VLANs or Guest WiFi networks.
 
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Foxbat

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I’ve been using these Denon Home 150 speakers paired for stereo to listen to SiriusXM ClassicRewind and the radio station up north near to our vacation getaway. There are three touch areas, 1, 2, and 3, that act like radio presets. You use the HEOS App to configure the audio you want to listen to, then touch and hold the preset number you want to assign to that channel. You can use different streaming services, the physical 3.5mm input, Bluetooth, a NAS server; anything that you can set up with the App will play from the speaker without needing to open up the App.

So, in the morning, I move my hand towards the Home 150 speaker, touch the “2” preset, and after the speaker wakes up, and it contacts its stereo twin, on comes my TuneIn jazz station.

I picked this over the HomePod for the connectivity openness and the lack of voice recognition. Someone asked me why not Sonos? After their decision to brick older devices, that left me cold. These have a physical analog input, plus the Bluetooth, plus a physical NIC. The software licenses are all GNU and open source, so they should be supported One way or another down the road. Fingers crossed!

I had seen these before at full MSRP, but I got an email 2 weeks ago with a 25% off sale code which made it worth my while to get two without seeming like it was too big a risk. Plus, I had points I needed to use up so it was closer to 40% off. ;)
 

Foxbat

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Just a quick update: I found that plugging in the analog 3.5mm cable allows you to play audio in stereo (if your HEOS speakers are configured for stereo). So, you could have two analog sources plugged into each stereo group speaker and use the App to select the appropriate input. I’m not saying that you would want to do this, but you could.

For testing, I used the headphone out from my Win10 test box and played a Band Geek YouTube Yes cover. It sounded pretty awesome, better bass than my Sony HT box connected to my TV that I used for a monitor. The separation was far superior since the speakers were 8’ apart (the Sony HT enclosure

I also managed to properly format a USB thumb drive (seems to want FAT or FAT32) with a Music and Podcasts folder. The App then allowed me to play my stored content, with some annoying caveats. The biggest is there is no way to move through a podcast MP3, so you’re always starting at the beginning. That makes it hard to pause or stop a podcast and come back later to pick it up at the same point.

Also, each selection of a song pops up a menu of choices, play now, play next, add to the end of the queue, or reset the queue and play next. So, be careful where you press or your curated queue could vanish.

But my day to day is listening to my local Jazz station via TuneIn. On the weekends I switch to The Best Radio Station on the Planet, WVBI (also via TuneIn).
 

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