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Denon Readies Wireless Multizone Audio

Mahwah, N.J. –Denon will become the latest home-audio supplier to offer a home-wide wireless multizone-audio system with the launch of its first Heos-series products in late June with key partners.

Additional distribution starts in August.

The first products consist of three single-chassis tabletop Wi-Fi speakers at a suggested $299, $399 and $599. They will be followed in September by a Heos Amp, which connects to passive speakers, and the Heos Link preamp, which connects to an outboard amplifier and passive speakers. Prices on the latter two devices weren’t disclosed.

 The Amp and Link will also connect to A/V receivers, and if connected to Denon AVRs, “there will be some special functionality,” said Brendon Stead, Denon product development VP.

 The system will be controlled from Denon’s iOS and Android Controller apps, which incorporates a DLNA server to distribute smartphone- and tablet-stored music to the DLNA-equipped Heos devices. The apps will also distribute music stored on USB sticks and USB hard drives plugged into a Heos device’s USB port. And with a planned software upgrade targeted for August, the apps will select music stored on DLNA-enabled PCs and NAS drives for multiroom playback.

 At launch, the Heos devices will incorporate Pandora, TuneIn, Rhapsody, and one other streaming service, with more added on a quarterly basis, Stead said.

 The products incorporate dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11n and Ethernet port. Denon will also offer a wireless range extender, which will extend Wi-Fi range to Heos devices and to any other Wi-Fi device.

With a Heos Controller app, users can send “multiple types of content to multiple speakers with the same or different volumes,” Stead said. “You can seamlessly and easily group content to all zones or specific content to a few zones, all by our patented ‘Pinch to Party’ mode.”

A major Heos differentiator, he said, is the ability of multiple app-equipped smartphones and tablets to interact simultaneously with a Heos system. “Anyone with the app can add songs to play queues,” Stead explained.

 The system supports eight Wi-Fi zones, each playing back the same stream when the app is in party mode or each playing back a different stream when the app is in family mode. All eight streams can reside on the phone, on a USB-connected device, or on a networked PC or NAS drive.

 Up to 32 Heos devices can be connected to a Heos system if each device is connected via wired Ethernet to a home’s Wi-Fi network.

 Detailed audio specs of each product were unavailable, but the company said the system delivers audiophile-level synchronization and incorporates Waves’ MaxxAudio DSP, described as “a sophisticated sound enhancement suite customized to provide top-of-the-line sound quality for an optimized listening experience.”