Denon brings its HEOS Wi-Fi audio system outdoors
About a year ago, audio manufacturer Denon released its HEOS Wi-Fi music system, one of the latest members of a burgeoning market of Sonos competitors. Now it's added the all-new HEOS 1 speaker, bringing the buy-in price for the system down while throwing in a bonus: it's weather-resistant and designed to be used outside as well as inside. With the new Go Pack, it even becomes a fully portable Bluetooth speaker.
Wi-Fi-connected multi-room home audio has been quite interesting to watch of late. Long dominated by Sonos, the space has seen some big-name competition enter over the past two years. Tech industry giants like Google and Samsung and audio staples like Denon and Bose have introduced their own wireless, multi-room home audio solutions. Such systems tap into your home Wi-Fi network to deliver a multi-room listening experience you used to need an expensive, custom-installed, hard-wired stereo system for.
One thing that has been noticeably lacking from many Wi-Fi-based home audio systems is a weatherproof outdoor speaker option. It seems logical that some multi-room audio listeners would be interested in extending their systems to the deck or backyard. Instead, they've been left with a coordinated music system on one side of the door and completely separate standalone Bluetooth speakers on the other. Sure, you can always transport your indoor speaker outside in nice weather, assuming you have somewhere to plug it in, but that temporary solution really lacks the seamlessness and convenience that a multi-room audio system is supposed to offer.
With the new HEOS 1, Denon brings its system outside. The new entry level speaker is the first speaker in the HEOS line designed for indoor/outdoor use. It does require power, so you'll still need an available electrical socket to use it.
It's nice to see an indoor/outdoor Wi-Fi speaker, but the HEOS 1 falls short of the real experience we'd like: a fully weatherproof outdoor speaker that you can set up and leave on the deck or in the yard, ensuring that you have music outside whenever you want it.
Denon describes the HEOS 1 as "humidity resistant," and when we clarified what exactly that would mean as far as leaving the speaker outside, Denon's PR rep explained that users will want to bring the speaker in when the weather gets bad. In other words, we're right back to an indoor speaker that you can take outside in clear weather before bringing it back inside when you're done.
Those looking for a more versatile, weatherproof option will have to upgrade the HEOS 1 with Denon's Go Pack. The $99 Go Pack ups the speaker's weatherproofing to the IPX4 (splashproof) standard, so you can use it in light rain or by the pool.
The Go Pack also unplugs the HEOS 1, giving it up to six hours of play time with a rechargeable battery pack that secures to the base of the speaker. Since you probably won't have access to Wi-Fi at all the places a portable speaker can follow you, the pack includes a Bluetooth USB stick that lets you beam music from your smartphone or tablet. So the Go Pack basically turns your HEOS 1 into a splashproof Bluetooth speaker good for trips to the beach, tailgate, campground, etc.
In addition to its all-new versatility, the HEOS 1 becomes the lowest priced HEOS speaker at US$200. Denon promises that the dual-driver speaker packs the same types of design features that its larger, more expensive siblings have, including all the buzzwords you can handle – "state-of-the-art audio DSP optimization," "MaxxAudio by Waves" and "audiophile grade synchronization."
Both the HEOS 1 and Go Pack are available now.
The new HEOS 1 adds a bit of extra versatility and affordability to the greater HEOS ecosystem, which also includes 3, 5 and 7 powered speakers and Amp and Link stereo components. HEOS connects directly to your home network, via Wi-Fi or ethernet cable, and offers a selection of Internet streaming services, like Pandora, Rhapsody, Spotify and TuneIn radio. It can also play your own personal music collection from a network-connected computer and directly from a smartphone or tablet. You can use the auxiliary input and USB to play music from hard-connected sources over the entire system. The free app serves as remote control, and you can sync music on all speakers or play different sources on individual speakers.