Heos by Denon is not the rival Sonos needs right now, but the one it deserves

Heos by Denon
I dream a stream of wireless audio

When it comes to multi-room audio streaming, Sonos owns the market. With over a decade of experience, a simple user experience and a comprehensive suite of streaming services, Sonos has gone from a niche player to market leader.

While companies like Samsung have this year attempted to try and muscle in on Sonos' turf with the Samsung M5 speakers, the launch of the Heos by Denon ecosystem actually feels like the first major competitor to the Sonos ecosystem of Play speakers.

Available in Australia from the first week of September, having launched in the US and Europe this month, the Heos by Denon platform consists of a fairly similar lineup to Sonos.

Linking the 3, 5 and 7

The Heos 3 speaker is the smallest option, and can be wall mounted either vertically or horizontally, and stereo paired if needed. It will sell for an RRP of $449 each, and goes up against the Sonos Play:1.

The Heos 5, meanwhile, is the mid-range model to take on the Sonos Play: 3, with pricing at $599 each and incorporates two custom tweeters and two class D amps.

For larger rooms, the Heos 7 is packed with two custom tweeters, mid-woofers and a large sub-woofer for a full-bodied sound, and also incorporates two large radiators and a headphone jack, and targeted directly at the Sonos Play: 5.

In addition to the speakers, the range also boasts a dedicated amp ($799) for connecting existing speakers; the Heos link ($549) for connecting to existing mini systems, and the Heos Link ($159), a wireless range extender.

All the products come in white and black, and instead of creating their own mesh network like Sonos, use proprietary technology to deliver streaming audio over an existing wireless network.

All in the service

The Heos by Denon platform is driven by mobile apps for iOS and Android. At launch, users will be able to access streaming services from Pandora, Spotify, Deezer and TuneIn Radio, as well as music stored on your mobile device or other DLNA devices on the network.

Over the coming months, new services will be phased in, with iHeartRadio, SiriusXM, Beats Music, Rdio and Songza all specifically named as planned.

Conveniently, each Heos speaker also boasts a USB port, which can connect to storage and create a server that allows stored music to be accessed from any speaker on the network.

Each Heos device incorporates dual-band 802.11n support, with the option of working on either the 2.4GHz or the 5GHz band.

Designed in Sydney

But perhaps the most surprising element about the arrival of the Heos by Denon is that it – and the technologies it uses to deliver quality audio streaming over a WiFi network – were designed in Sydney.

Based on technologies created by Aussie startup Avega about 10 years ago, which Denon's parent company D&M Holdings acquired in 2012, the lead R&D centre for the Heos brand is located in North Sydney.

We'll be taking a closer look at the Heos system of speakers in the near future, so stay tuned for our reviews.

Having spent the past decade editing some of Australia's leading technology publications, Nick's passion for the latest gadgetry is matched only by his love of watching Australia beat England in the rugby.