Steven Rittey | 12th January 2021
Just before Christmas, I received the flagship Denon Home 350 wireless speaker by courier directly from the warehouse. I was quite excited to finally get my hands on one of Denon Home models as I have been featuring the 150, 250 and 350 on the website for several weeks now and as with all of my featured products, I’ve been intrigued by the overall performance of the Denon wireless speaker series.
After an extensive marketing push by Denon to promote their new speaker series online, I’ve wanted to switch one on, hook up my phone, start streaming and see why this particular model receives great feedback on the various audio review websites.
Upon taking the Denon Home 350 out of the box, I was surprised at just how solid the unit feels. There is a real weight behind the speaker and its form is almost brutalist in design. The touch-sensitive glass button lights up with white LEDs giving the option to preset Internet radio stations, pause/play media and adjust the volume control. The symbols disappear when the sensor detects no motion which is a classy feature.
The unit is very minimalist and all of the USB, AUX, Ethernet and power connection inputs are hidden at the rear of the unit. The 350 is designed to be used in conjunction with a phone or connected device via the HEOS app so the speaker isn’t cluttered with additional screens, indicator lights or menus as a result.
After plugging in the Denon Home 350 and waiting for the LED lights to change to pairing mode, you'll need to pair the device to the HEOS app. A quick download from Google Play (or Apple Store) starts the pairing process. It took me about 5 minutes to set up and navigate my way around different music options from scratch. The unit did require a firmware update (I was using a demo model) and once downloaded, I was ready to press play...
I set the volume to around 50% and put on a dance track via Spotify. Immediately upon starting the stream, I was taken aback by the bass and quickly altered the volume to avoid annoying the neighbours. I could feel the vibrations from the bass reverberating around the walls and through the stone floor!
When you live in a terrace house made of stone, the bass does travel through the house and is always something that I am aware of when testing out equipment. Fortunately, my neighbour appreciates the benefits of having a musical ‘blast’ so understands when a bass-line rips through the house!
After finding a suitable volume limit that doesn’t overpower, the sound is clear, crisp and fills the room. You get the feeling that the 350 wants to be played loud and make the most of the built-in power despite its unassuming appearance. You can adjust the bass and treble level using the HEOS app equalizer to control the output.
There is no built-in music mode setting on the app and you will need to use the EQ on your device to adjust the music style accordingly. After listening to Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio 2 via TuneIn whilst writing this review, speech via the Home 350 is clear and even muffled callers are still easy to hear.
Despite receiving the 350 before Christmas, I deliberately left the speaker in the box until the New Year as I had a plan on how I was going to approach this review. As well as switching it on and going through the functionality aspects from easily setting up the HEOS app to the overall design of the unit, I’d write about the speaker from my perspective and how I’ve been using it whilst going on Zwift - the indoor cycling platform.
January and the New Year is often used as a time to kickstart goals and also improve fitness levels, however, the new lockdown has once again limited exercise options to once per day so my bike has re-entered the kitchen and my Zwift set-up is once again dominating the house.
For those unfamiliar with Zwift, it is a cycling game that lets you hook up a bike to a turbo trainer and connects to a ‘virtual world’ with the option to take part in races or events. You can ride for short distances or set yourself up for endurance sessions that last for several hours following an on-screen avatar using a phone, TV or tablet.
Whilst the visual aspect of the game makes stationary cycling more immersive, minutes can sometimes feel like hours and distractions are very welcome. I normally watch catch-up TV or listen to a dance mix to pass the time whilst pedalling.
I placed the Denon Home 350 close to the bike, left my headphones in the drawer and through a combination of using the HEOS app, Spotify and Wi-Fi, I listened to an uptempo mix for 30 minutes whilst pedalling around the virtual French countryside.
It is very easy to skip tracks from my Android phone using Spotify and the music change is almost instant on the speaker with no delay over home W-Fi. Whilst on Zwift, I tend to watch YouTube videos with my phone mounted on the handlebars and have recently rediscovered a selection of Judge Jules dance mixes from the early 2000s.
YouTube cannot be streamed directly via the HEOS app, but with Bluetooth, it is possible to connect to YouTube quickly. The same applies to BBC Sounds and other unsupported HEOS app services. You can also connect to other Denon devices such as AVRs and another Home speaker to create a multi-room set-up via HEOS.
Overall, the Denon Home 350 can be summed up in one word - feisty. The grey surround is concealing something powerful and loud behind the grille. You are also getting the benefit of Denon’s research and development in a speaker that is both portable and wireless. The 350 is the flagship model and certainly lives up to that title.
The unassuming design means that the Denon Home series fits neatly into almost any setting from the lounge to the kitchen. However as I have been using it whilst indoor cycling, that powerful bass has certainly made me pedal a bit harder on Zwift!