The Good: The Denon HEOS 3, has good sound quality with deep bass. Its ability to be wall mounted gives you placement flexibility. Multiple units can be added and used in a stereo arrangement.

 

The Bad: No PC app. It’s rear ported design means it needs to be a few inches away from your wall for maximum effectiveness. Mid-range and High frequencies can use a little more detail.

 

Summary: The Denon HEOS 3 is one of the better sounding wireless speakers on the market. Although we felt the Sonos Play:1 and Sonos Play:3 sound just a tad better, the HEOS 3 is no slouch in the sound department.

 

Denon HEOS 3 Review

For the past few years, Sonos has basically had a death grip on multi-room audio. However, we’re starting to see other manufacturers trying to get a piece of the action. Based on our time spent with the HEOS 3, Denon has earned a spot as one of Sonos’ top competitors.

Denon HEOS 3 Review

 

The Denon HEOS 3 currently comes in two color choices, black and white. The angular shape of the HEOS 3 is a departure from what we’re used to seeing with speakers. The speaker can be placed in your listening area either vertically, horizontally or wall hung which gives you some flexibility with placement.  On the left end of the speaker (or bottom if you’re using it vertically) there’s a rubber ring with a colored LED embedded inside. The LED displays three color hues green, blue, yellow and red. Each one of these colors tells you something different about the current status of the HEOS 3. Green & blue usually mean you’re in good shape. If you see yellow and red, then you’ve got some problems you have to deal with. Inside the Denon HEOS 3 are custom full-range drivers and a two-channel class D amplifier.

 

On the reverse of the HEOS 3, you’ll see USB, auxiliary and ethernet inputs as well as a connect button that you use to get the speaker on your WiFi network. The USB input allows you to stream music from an attached USB storage device.

Denon HEOS 3 Review

Near the top of the speaker you’ll see a mounting hole for wall hanging. You’ll also see a rear port which helps with bass response. With this rear port, ideally you’d want to keep the HEOS 3 a few inches away from your wall to avoid low-end distortion. On the top of the HEOS 3 you’ll see 2 buttons, one for muting the system and one for volume control.

 

Setting up the Denon HEOS 3 requires you to connect it to your iOS or Android device via the included audio cable which seems a little “low-tech” in today’s age. Once you’ve done this and downloaded the Heos app, it then walks you through the simple set-up instructions.

 

During the setup process the software will ask you if you’re using the HEOS 3 in a vertical arrangement or horizontal. Depending on the orientation of the speaker, the software will adjust it’s calibration accordingly. If later on down the line you decide to change the orientation of the speaker you can go into the settings menu on the app and manually change the orientation. To get the best sound quality you always want to specify the orientation of the speaker.

 

Once you have your HEOS 3 speaker on the network, adding more speakers is a simple process. If you connect the new speaker to your network with an ethernet cable, it will show up in the HEOS app. From there you can give the new speaker a name etc. Wirelessly adding a new speaker is just as simple. Once you power up the new speaker select “add device” and the HEOS app will walk you through the necessary set-up steps. You can also create a “stereo pair” of speakers by grouping two HEOS 3 speakers together via the app. The HEOS app also gives you limited control over the equalizer settings such as bass and treble.

 

Denon HEOS 3 Performance

The control app for the Denon HEOS 3 is a free download from the App Store or Google Play, however as of the writing of this article Denon’s app is only available for Android and iOS devices. Hopefully, Denon will release a Windows app in the near future. On the bright side, even without a native Windows app you can still stream music from your PC as long as it’s connected to your network

 

The app for the Denon HEOS 3 definitely grabs design cues from Sonos. In testing it, we found it to be intuitive and easy to use. Early reviews of the app stated that it was a little buggy, however when we used it, it seemed rock solid. Navigation was simple and pretty straightforward. Once you get into the app, it gives you several streaming music options to choose from including; Pandora, Spotify, TuneIn, Rhapsody & iHeartRadio. The selection of streaming options isn’t as robust as those of Sonos, but it has most of the heavy hitters.

 

While you can have the HEOS 3 setup either vertically or horizontally, the horizontal orientation seems to give you a wider sound dispersion. For music playback the Denon HEOS 3 is pretty impressive. The HEOS 3 is capable of surprisingly good bass output for its size. The speaker seems ideally suited for Rock and Hip Hop tracks. Listening to Flo Rida and Jay-Z, the little speaker demonstrated that it’s more than capable of hitting punchy low notes. Electric guitars from several classic rock tunes sounded exciting and powerful. However, we did note that the mid-range and some higher frequencies lacked a little detail. This was more noticeable when we played several Jazz tracks. Saxophones, trombones and trumpets didn’t have the detail or precision we expected. Adjusting the equalizer settings helped a bit, but it never managed to sound quite right. Despite this, the HEOS 3 is by far one of the better sounding wireless speakers we’ve heard. The sound never sounded thin or weak and whatever room we had this speaker in, it made it’s presence known.

 

Conclusion

Being that this is one of Denon’s first forays into the multi-room arena, it’s a pretty good first step. Overall, the HEOS 3 has pretty good sound quality. It has surprisingly strong deep bass for its size, but the mid-range and upper registers can lack a little detail. The HEOS app is reminiscent of Sonos’ and is nearly as good. However, we have to shave a few points off since there’s no native Windows app. Priced at $299, the Denon HEOS 3’s top competitors are the Sonos Play:1 and Sonos Play:3. Both of which edge it out slightly in terms sound quality. Despite this, it’s still one of the better sounding wireless speakers on the market.

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2 Responses

  1. Rianna Ellison

    Really HEOS 3 gives us many options to place it according to our needs and is also good for connectivity which made it first choice for many of my friends. No doubt the sound quality is amazing. You really explained very well the functionality of HEOS App and I also agree with you that Denon should launch the App for Windows users too. Here I wanted to mention the official URL http://usa.denon.com/us/music-streaming-apps-and-devices of HEOS app page where people can find more info and details about music streaming services available with HEOS wireless speakers.

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