The new Denon HEOS AVR ($1000) is a networked wireless AV receiver that provides 5.1-channel sound with the option of using HEOS wireless speakers as surrounds. It aims to marry the performance of a surround system that’s based on stand-alone speakers with the simplicity of a soundbar.
This sleek AVR—which was previewed at CEDIA 2016—can power up to 5 channels with 50 watts (into 8 ohms) of class-D amplification per channel. It can drive 4-ohm speakers and offers 100 watts per channel output when doing so.
Front view of the Denon HEOS AVR.
Its button-free aluminum front panel reflects the app-based approach of HEOS (Home Entertainment Operating System). Denon promises ultra-simple set up and operation, with the app guiding users through the configuration process.
The HEOS AVR supports multi-room streaming audio playback including hi-res formats—unlike Sonos. This includes DSD (2.4 & 5.6 MHz) plus numerous PCM formats like FLAC, WAV, ALAC, WMA, AAC & MP3 with resolutions up to 24-bit / 192 kHz. It even supports gapless playback for FLAC, WAV, AIFF, ALAC, and DSD. There’s Bluetooth support. In terms of inputs, you can feed it audio through a stereo RCA analog input, a 3.5mm stereo aux. analog input, a coaxial-digital and an optical-digital input. Finally, there’s an Ethernet port for situations where Wi-Fi is not enough.
When it comes to video, the HEOS AVR sports four HDMI 2.0a/HDCP 2.2 inputs—and one output with ARC support—for compatibility with the latest video formats, and it decodes Dolby TrueHD plus DTS-HD Master Audio for a high-fidelity surround-sound experience when watching Blu-ray.
Rear panel view of the Denon HEOS AVR.
Although it is app-based, this AVR includes a traditional remote control for convenient access to frequently used functions—you don’t need a phone or tablet to operate it.
One of the marquee features of this AV receiver is support for wireless rear speakers in a 5.1 configuration. In many instances—especially when it comes to open-plan living rooms—this feature alone can significantly simplify installation and reduce cable clutter. All you need do is add a pair of HEOS wireless speakers.
One thing the press release and Denon website does not mention is whether the HEOS AVR offers any bass management options, and whether if offers any sort of room correction. The manual is not yet available, I will ask about it and update this post if I find any information.