Denon Home 150: review in two minutes
Denon, a well-known name in the field of audio and home cinema, wants to approach Sonos with its three-strong Home speaker series. The Denon Home 150 is the cheapest of the trio currently available, but it packs quite a punch for the price.
Before you get too excited, it’s not exactly cheap for a smart speaker, but the Denon Home 150 gives you plenty of options and keeps it simple.
It’s a mono speaker and offers dual band Wi-Fi connectivity along with a physical Ethernet jack, as well as a USB-A slot to plug in your hard drive or USB stick. There is also a minijack analog input. The only useful extra missing here is optical digital input, but something needs to be done on a smart speaker that costs $249 / £219.
Such variety continues with its app options. Via the HEOS app you can quickly connect to Spotify, TuneIn Radio, Amazon Music, Deezer, Napster, Soundcloud, Tidal and other services, where the app adapts to your location.
Nice touches come from the ability to set up playlists for all sources, and to use Google Assistant or Alexa to control things with your voice. The app is a bit simplistic in appearance, but it has all the necessities and the aesthetics make the features easier to access – including EQ settings and other adjustment tools.
Setup is pretty quick, aside from a hiccup we had when updating the Denon Home 150, and we’ll be up and running in no time.
The Denon Home 150 also sounds quite meaty. The sound image is quite wide for such a device, although we did wonder what it would be like with two speakers. In addition to punchy bass at higher volumes, you also get smooth mids and relaxed highs. A little spice would have been nice here at the top, but turn up the volume and you’ll see past that.
This is a speaker that wants to subtly blend into your lounge decor, but also comes into its own in the kitchen. If you want a small speaker that won’t steal focus while still offering decent sound, the Denon Home 150 is one to look at.
Some options will be over the top if you just want something to stream music from your phone, but it’s nice to have such flexibility. It’s not necessary for everyone to dive into your NAS drive’s collection, but if you’re one of those people, it’s vital.
The HEOS app also lets you control multi-room playback with the idea of formulating your own ecosystem of Denon Home speakers throughout the home, giving you control wherever you are.
Ultimately, the Denon Home 150 is a lot nicer than your average smart speaker, even if the sound quality doesn’t match that of the Sonos One. For a tech fan, the slightly weaker sound quality in exchange for so much tweaking and app potential means the Denon Home 150 is a great alternative.
Denon Home 150: price and release date
- Available in UK, US and Australia
- Priced at $249/£219/AU$340
- Released in 2020
The Denon Home 150 was released in 2020 but has held steady at its price of $249 / £219 / AU$340. At the time of writing, you can buy it direct from Denon UK for £189 with similar third-party discounts, while the price is fairly stable in the US.
It is available in black or white.
Denon Home 150: Design and Features
- Requires plug-in power supply
- Control based on proximity sensors on top
- So many music options
For such a gem (at 18.7cm in height, it is only 4.5cm taller than Apple’s original HomePod), a lot is happening with the Denon Home 150. On top of the speaker is the control panel. It’s charming that the surface darkens when not in use, and a proximity sensor detects when you’re nearby. The buttons include play/pause, volume and speed dial buttons that you can assign as needed.
On the back of the speaker is a manual Connect button, an Ethernet port, USB-A port, 3.5mm auxiliary input, Bluetooth pairing button and the socket for the power cable. You can also mount it on the wall.
There is a small status light on the bottom. Blue indicates it is ready for action, orange indicates an update and green is for Bluetooth pairing mode. Use the voice assistant and a blue line will appear at the top to indicate that you are being listened to.
The Denon Home 150’s features continue to grow when you look at the in-app side of things as well. While the HEOS app isn’t exactly stylish, it’s packed with functionality. It offers integrations with a range of music streaming services, including Amazon Music, Spotify, Tidal, and many others. There’s also multi-room control if you have multiple HEOS speakers in your home, so the app works like the remote you might not have found in the box.
There is also support for AirPlay 2 and voice assistant. The latter is as responsive as you’d expect from a dedicated solution, so it’s handy. It’s also convenient and quite easy to set up your own playlists for multiple services and choose to import music from your home network or an external hard drive.
Ultimately, the Denon Home 150 does pretty much everything you could want or need, even if the app could use a few home details or even a few tutorials.
Denon Home 150: sound quality
- mono speaker
- Good quality sound even at high volume
- strong bass
The Denon Home 150 is a small speaker, so in an ideal world you’d need to pair it with another or even a subwoofer and soundbar to get a truly room-filling experience. Despite this, its small shape does well in a living room, kitchen or even bathroom.
For starters, the HEOS app asks where the speaker will be placed, adjusting the sound slightly whether you’ve placed it against a wall or out in the open. Stick with it and you’ll get a fairly rich and clear experience.
Bass is powerful even at lower volumes during Foo Fighters’ All My Life and Muse’s Hysteria, which races around the room with confidence.
Turn up the volume and you won’t miss any sharpness, with distortion that just doesn’t occur. While these aren’t the loudest speakers out there, they beat a lot of the competition at this size. The disadvantage? Depending on what you’re listening to, you may need to adjust the volume.
Switching between a bass-heavy and lively track to something a little more zingy like Childish Gambino’s Feels Like Summer will leave you wanting to adjust the volume so as not to be overwhelmed, but stay in the same genre throughout and this will become less of an issue. Everything Must Go from Manic Street Preachers is a perfect example of how exciting listening through the Denon Home 150 can be. Switching to something edgier like John Legend’s All of Me works just as well, while The Beach Boys’ God Only Knows is full of wistful contemplation, just as it should be.
Denon Home 150: Value
- Tons of features
- Ideal for home environment
The Denon Home 150 is both a good starter product for your home entertainment setup and an effective speaker in its own right. There are alternatives, but the Denon Home 150 keeps it simple.
It has a simple app and plenty of ways to connect to other devices and services, while also looking good in your home. Reliability feels like the focus here, although it doesn’t always shine on one thing.
Denon Home 150: Should I Buy It?
|Design and Features||Lots of benefits for the money in a small package||4/5|
|Sound quality||Not afraid to go low – because it doesn’t deform easily||4/5|
|Where the||More of a jack of all trades than a master in one, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing||4/5|