Multi-room speakers from Sound United, which is the parent company of Denon and Marantz, have so far had their own brand called HEOS. But it is now being replaced by Denon Home.
Earlier this year, we tested the series’ smallest, the Denon Home 150, which impressed with great sound. Now the time has come for the top model.
Denon Home 350 is a fairly large speaker of just under 40 cm in width, which likes best on a table or sideboard. It is not easy to place in a bookcase, especially since it also has an active bass unit on the back.
There are a total of six speaker units in the Home 350, which make up a complete three-way stereo system: two 6.5 “bass units, two 2” midrange and two dome tweeters. Each unit has its own Class D amplifier. The effect on the amplifiers does not say anything about the press material, but the entire speaker is stated to be able to give a sound pressure of 104 dB. Which is high enough for most things, if measured under standard conditions at a distance of one meter.
Plays – almost – everything
Denon Home speakers play a full range of streaming services, including of course Tidal HiFi. You can also play music files directly from a USB memory stick, and wirelessly via AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth. It plays every conceivable file format – with MQA as a strange exception.
As we are used to from other multi-room speakers, the operation takes place from a mobile app, in this case the HEOS app. The layout was relatively unproblematic. Even if the Home 350 was not immediately connected to the network immediately. Fortunately, the app offered a number of different alternative methods, including the router’s WPS feature, so the issue was resolved in a few minutes.
More bass than in a compact speaker
The look is reliable and WAF-friendly, but with two 6.5-inch bass units, the Denon Home 350 is heavier equipped than many decent compact speakers, and since it is a three-way system, the bass units can only do what they do best. And I can promise they do!
I first placed the speaker on a sideboard, up against the wall, but there the bass was too dominant. On a table in the middle of the room, the bottom was less violent, but the top bass still seemed oversized. I’m by no means picky when it comes to bass. But it must be connected with the rest.
Correction with retroactive effect
We basically expect the test products to be fully developed now that they come to us. But here we were still talking about such an unusual sound that we asked Denon’s development department if it was the intention that the bass should be so huge?
As such, it was not. Or rather, the Denon Home 350 was “voiced” to be placed on a stand – like traditional compact speakers. If you place the speaker on a shelf or table, the bass is amplified, as the speaker will play in a smaller room.
The solution was an update of the HEOS app and of the speakers’ firmware. Since the update that came at the end of June was released automatically via the app, it means that the sound on is also improved on the Denon Home speakers that have already been released, with retroactive effect.
Where should the speaker stand?
With the new software, it was possible to choose in the app whether the speaker is on a table in a corner, on a shelf or freely in the room. The setting that fit best in my living room was the “corner”. The Denon Home 350 is still a speaker with pressure in the bass, but now only to an extent that was fun – not intimidating. Compared to the slightly cheaper Sonos Play: 5, there is more power at the bottom.
The more disciplined bass also made the whole thing fall into place. The sound quality of the dedicated midrange unit is excellent. Voices sound clean and undistorted, as do the basic notes of most instruments. The nuance could well have been better – but only until you remember that it is actually a multi-room speaker. Dynaudio Music 5 manages the midrange range a little better.
The treble has it a bit like the midrange range. The quality is in place, but the level is a little low in the lower layer of the treble range, while there is more play in the upper treble, so that the upper harmonics are more prominent than the basic tone. Fortunately, this could be corrected by giving the tone control a slight upward jerk.
A long process
The test procedure on the Denon Home 350 has been longer than normal, and along the way we could have chosen to say stop, and judge the speaker on the basis of the present edition. When we did not, it was because our task is to be a buying guide to the products that are actually available in the trade. And if a product we write about is changed significantly before the test goes to press, it makes the most sense to test the product that customers will actually buy. Especially when the change also benefits existing customers.
When we peeked at Denon Home 250 in December, we were told that the control app would have the ability to adjust the frequency response according to location. It was obviously dropped in the first place, but is now in place.
The best thing would still have been a room correction in the style of the one that Sonos has had for years under the name TruePlay. Dynaudio also has an automatic adjustment in its multi-room speakers, where a built-in microphone “listens” to the room and guesses where the speaker is located.
The Denon Home 350 has a built-in microphone, but it is disabled for the time being. And when activated, it’s just to be used for voice control.
Denon Home 350 is a speaker with a sober look, and which most people will not be worried about having standing in front of the living room. With the updated software, you get a warm and comfortable sound image, and the large speaker plays a bass that will envy many compact speakers.
Overall, it is acoustically a hair’s breadth ahead of dominant Sonos, but the price is also correspondingly higher. Dynaudio Music sounds a little better in terms of price, but does not have HEOS ‘extensive ecosystem of multi-room units. We have to wait for the voice control for the time being, and the lack of (optical) digital input means that there is no easy way to use it to give good sound to the TV.