Steven Rittey | 29th January 2021
I recently reviewed the Denon Home 350 and enjoyed using the flagship model in the Denon Home series. I found the bass to be loud and exciting with excellent overall sound quality to match. However, due to its size and bulk, the 350 would ultimately need a permanent home in my house to be used regularly. Because of this, the Denon Home 350 has been sent back to the warehouse for collection.
All is not lost though as I still have the Denon Home 150 to review and test! This model might be a lot smaller and less powerful than its 350 counterpart, however, for this review, I am focusing on sound quality and practicality rather than power output.
Whilst reviewing the Denon Home 350, I used the speaker in my kitchen whilst listening to early 2000s dance anthems. The 350's loud and powerful output helped me through many hours of indoor cycling over Christmas and New Year.
Indoor cycling on Zwift has been one of the things that I have been doing daily during the current lockdown, the other is listening to podcasts, folk, and World Music that has led Nick, our Sales Manager, to ask which Inuit singer from the Arctic am I listening to on our daily Teams call!
I’ve spent so much time listening to BBC Radio 2 and 6Music over the past year that I’ve decided to broaden my musical horizons in 2021 by selecting new music genres via BBC Sounds, Spotify, or YouTube.
For example, a whole afternoon was recently spent listening to ‘Sea Shanties’ based on the current craze for nautical-themed music.
I’ve also been keeping up to date with my friend’s excellent football-related podcast ‘Playing out from the Bar’ that has flourished over the past year. For this review, I am going to focus on Spoken Word. A genre that I’ve never really appreciated until now.
The Denon Home 150 is a small speaker and initially, I was sceptical about the sound quality. I liked the way that the speaker felt in my hand as I plugged it in and started the installation.
Interestingly, the height of the unit is approximately the same size as a Penguin or Lonely Planet paperback book and has been designed to fit neatly on a bookshelf, next to a computer, or in the kitchen. The overall design aesthetic is very simple and blends neatly into the background.
I find that sometimes portable speakers that are over-designed can age or date quickly when style trends change. I feel that the Denon Home 150’s simple grey and black (or all white) design will give the speaker longevity compared to rival models.
Setting up the speaker is simple especially as the HEOS app was already installed for the 350 review. The HEOS app from Denon controls the speaker and can be downloaded onto a compatible device from the Google Play or Apple Store.
There is a ‘Connect’ button at the rear of the speaker that activates the pairing, but all installation and controls are carried out using your phone or tablet. The speaker can be paired with other HEOS products for multi-room capability.
With a quick set-up over Wi-Fi, the connection light changed to blue, and the sync to download the latest firmware update was instant.
The HEOS app allows one-touch access to most of the major streaming sites such as Spotify, TuneIn Radio, TIDAL, and Amazon Music. For everything else, simply connect via Bluetooth. You can also preset Internet radio stations by using the touchpad that lights up with a simple hand hover.
As I write this, I am listening to a local radio phone-in about supermarket self-service checkouts on BBC Radio Manchester via TuneIn. Speech is clear and crisp and I’ve altered the treble to enhance the clarity via the App.
My friend’s podcast which is recorded using Clean Feed and then delivered by Spotify sounds great with good quality vocals despite their mish-mash of at-home recording equipment.
After a few hours of use across different streaming platforms, subjects, and musical genres, it is clear that one of the main selling points of the Denon Home 150 is the research and development that has gone into building the speaker. Denon hasn’t simply badged up a portable speaker and traded off their excellent brand name.
The 150 is part of a series that cleverly ties together in terms of design and specification. Despite its compact size, there is compatibility with Hi-Res sound applications and the 150 can be connected to other Denon HEOS products for stereo sound capability.
The introduction of the new Denon Home Sound Bar 550 in early 2021 will create a complete matching series across both the music and home cinema categories.
In terms of price at around £200, the Denon Home 150 is an affordable piece of high-quality audio equipment that doesn’t compromise on sound quality when compared to the Denon Home 350 that retails at over £500.
Denon has over 110 years of sound experience and technologies invested in this small speaker. The 150 feels like a premium product in a category full of many brands trying to either establish themselves or compete with Denon’s sound heritage.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed using the Denon Home 150 and found the set-up to be more practical and not the Hi-Fi replacement that the 350 is designed to be. This is a complementary speaker for use around the house in various situations such as cooking, working, or DIY.
I’ll keep this one out of the box for the next week and see just how practical the 150 is in different settings, but so far so good...