Price: $249 / £219 / AU$340
Colors: Black, white
Speakers: 1x 3.5-inch mid/bass driver, 1x 1-inch tweeter
Ports: Ethernet, USB, 3.5mm jack
Wireless: 2.4/5GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Smart assistance: Alexa
Size: 120 x 187 x 120mm
The Denon Home 150 smart speaker has strong audio know-how thanks to the company's considerable hi-fi heritage. Although today's integrated music systems may look different to the separate audio components the audio specialist started out with, its expertise in the hi-fi and AV markets has meant that it has been able to adapt to changing consumer needs and evolved as one of the main contenders alongside Sonos in the multi-room audio streaming space. And with the HEOS platform making wireless connectivity and streaming as seamless as these things can possibly be, it's easy to understand how it's managed to achieve its success.
When it comes to smart speakers, the Apple HomePod 2 may be the one getting all the attention right now, packing in several upgrades over the original that could make it the smartest Siri speaker yet. On the face of it, Denon's Home 150 doesn't have all the home smarts that the HomePod 2 looks set to deliver. But as a Wi-Fi speaker that integrates with your music subscriptions, and other HEOS speakers and audio components around your home, it's an attractive alternative to a Sonos One, which ranks as one of the best smart speakers we've heard.
Read on to find out how the Denon Home 150 performs, and whether it ranks as one of the best wireless speakers.
Denon Home 150 review: Price and availability
- MSRP higher than Sonos One
- Widely available from online retailers
The Denon Home 150 first launched in 2020, and despite the recent price increases we've seen on audio products elsewhere, it has maintained its $249 / £219 / AU$340 introduction price. It can be ordered directly from the Denon website, or online retailers including Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart, and Crutchfield, where it's currently being discounted to $199. It's available in black and white options.
By comparison, the Sonos One costs $219, but lacks some of the Denon's superior design and extra features.
Denon Home 150 review: Design
- Attractive design
- Compact size and weight
Denon's Home series is covered in soft fabric, and looks a lot smarter when compared to its closest rival: the Sonos One. A proximity sensor lights up quick shortcut buttons, which can be pre-set to specific functions (see connectivity and controls below), and is a very neat touch.
In terms of size, the Denon Home 150 stands 20mm taller than the Sonos One speaker (measuring 180mm for the Home 150 compared to 160mm for the Sonos One), but both are the same 120mm in all other dimensions, making their footprint identical. Weight is similar too at 1.7 and 1.85kg respectively.
Denon Home 150 review: Controls and connectivity
- Plenty of connectivity options
- Useful quick select touch controls
- HEOS platform is stable and easy to set up
As a smart speaker, the Home 150 is compatible with Alexa voice control, as well as integrating with popular streaming services including Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon Music, Soundcloud, Deezer, Sirius XM, and Tune-In. These are all embedded in the freely downloadable HEOS app that's used for setting up the wireless (or wired) ecosystem, and to control the speakers.
Bluetooth support is also onboard, and you can connect any music libraries stored locally. Should you wish to physically connect audio to the speaker directly, there's a 3.5mm jack or a USB port to oblige, making the Home 150's connectivity options more versatile than the Sonos One.
The proximity sensor mentioned earlier lights up three Quick select buttons controls on the Denon's top surface when a hand gets close. I found this a neat touch, and useful for accessing preset shortcuts on top of the speaker without needing to go into the HEOS app. Moving your hand away from quickly hides the buttons, and you can even adjust the amount of time it takes before the backlit controls fade out and disappear from view.
A second Home 150 can be paired for listening in stereo. Simply group two speakers together in the Rooms tab on the HEOS app, and then tap the Stereo Pair slider.
Denon Home 150 review: Sound quality
- Great music sound from a small speaker enclosure
- No room tuning
- Effective as wireless surrounds in a home theater system
First things first, the Denon Home 150 sounds great for such a small speaker enclosure. The HEOs platform may lack room tuning tech similar to Trueplay that's incorporated into Sonos' ecosystem of products, but nevertheless the Denon Home 150 sounds remarkably well tuned and balanced across the frequency range — as you would expect given that it's built by an audio company with a considerable hi-fi heritage.
In terms of sound output level, the Home 150 goes remarkably loud, too. But what impresses me most is the low end it manages to bring to the party. OK, it doesn't have the low-end to resolve the full bass power of "Dangerous" by Big Data (feat. Joywave) as featured in my 5 best bass tracks to give your music system a workout, but it makes a fair stab at it.
What's more, Home 150 achieves all the rhythmic energy of the track and the song remains engaging even though it can't quite dig deep enough to reach the very lowest bass frequencies. Nevertheless, spin up something lighter like Newton Faulkener's "Teardrop" or Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill", and there's plenty of bass gravitas, even if the midbass drum elements of these tracks lack a little authenticity.
Denon says the main driver measures 3.5-inches, but the digital signal processing going on inside makes the sound feel sonically bigger than you'd think. The mid/bass driver is partnered to a 1-inch tweeter, but that's it. There are no bass ports or passive drivers to augment the lower frequencies, so the amount of bass output the Denon Home 150 can achieve is very impressive indeed.
It's so impressive in fact, that when I partnered two Denon Home 150 speakers with the Denon Home Sound Bar 550, as part of a home theater setup I tried out recently, they seamlessly conveyed surround effects with the same level of low-end as the larger front speakers.
Elsewhere, the Denon puts in a good performance with vocals, and the Home 150 sounds more natural and musically voiced compared to the Sonos One. Treble is the only area where the frequency range seemed a little rolled off, but a quick twiddle with the EQ controls improved the frequency balance for my ears.
As a single Home 150 speaker playing music, the sound is narrow. But paired with a second speaker in stereo, the performance naturally opened up and became far more musically engaging.
Denon Home 150 review: Verdict
There are plenty of reasons why the Denon Home 150 is better than the Sonos One. But the biggest is the engaging and well balanced sound it delivered with all types of music I played. Throw in its versatility as a set of surround sound speakers, flexible wireless and wired connectivity options, hi-res audio support (including DSD 2.8/5.6MHz playback), and this is the best entry-level smart speaker for a home entertainment system without question.
If you're not already tied into Sonos' ecosystem, the Denon Home 150 is the best entry-level smart speaker I've come across for getting into the HEOS ecosystem, and comes highly recommended.