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Denon Home Series – Update for Amazon Alexa Built-in and 5.1-Kanal Surround Sound

Some things just take a little longer, but now a comprehensive firmware update is available for the Denon Home Series, which first and foremost identifies it as Amazon Alexa Built-in, also equips the Denon Home Sound Bar 550 for wireless 5.1-channel surround sound, and also brings some improvements beyond that.

In December 2019, Denon announced the Denon Home Series for the first time. This was to be a product series of so-called wireless speakers, which in principle was designed as a successor to the HEOS Series, thus also relying on HEOS technology for multi-room audio streaming, but now as solutions of the Denon brand.

The product announcement was thus ultimately also a sign of the restructuring in the brand portfolio of the parent company Sound United LLC. The formerly independent brands HEOS and subsequently HEOS by Denon were no longer continued, rather HEOS was to be used solely as a technology platform under the name HEOS Built-in for solutions of the Denon and Marantz brands.

Denon Home 150, Denon Home 250 and Denon Home 350

The first systems of the Denon Home Series came onto the market in February 2020, in the form of the Denon Home 150, Denon Home 250 and Denon Home 350 solutions.

All three were to be connected by the HEOS streaming platform, which, according to the manufacturer, stands for virtually limitless flexibility, the simplest installation, direct connection to smart home systems, and also an immense variety of available sources.

Denon Home Sound Bar 550

In February 2021, Sound United LLC. presented another solution of the Denon brand, which was attributed to the Denon Home Series, namely a sound bar, the Denon Home Sound Bar 550.

Of course, the focus here was on the “good sound” for television, but at the same time, another streaming solution should be offered that relies on HEOS Built-in and can therefore be used in combination with all other systems based on it.

Update delivers essential innovations

For the complete Denon Home Series, a firmware update is now available, which does not bring many, but very significant innovations.

Sound United LLC refers to the firmware update simply as firmware update U26 and states that it is available for the wireless speakers Denon Home 150, Denon Home 250 and Denon Home 350, as well as for the Denon Home Sound Bar 550.

Amazon Alexa voice control

Probably the most significant innovation is that the entire Denon Home Series is now designated as Amazon Alexa Built-in, and this makes a crucial difference to previous options around voice control.

Until now, the systems of the Denon Home Series could be controlled via Amazon Alexa, but this required an Amazon Alexa-enabled device.

To use the voice control feature for Denon Home Series, users first activate the built-in microphone using the HEOS app and connect the speaker to their Amazon Alexa account. As soon as the microphone is switched on, the light bar on the front of the device, which was previously switched off, lights up. Now they can ask Alexa to play music or the latest news, get the weather forecast, control smart home systems and much more. For privacy reasons, the microphone of the Denon Home Series is only switched on after the Amazon Alexa function has been activated.

In addition, two further capacitive buttons on the top of the Denon Home Series solutions can be used: One button is used to mute the microphone, the other is used to set Amazon Alexa to active listening so that users can utter their voice commands directly without the activation word, most likely “Alexa”. When the microphone is muted, the light bar on the front briefly lights up red and the associated button remains highlighted in red until the microphone is switched on again.

Denon Home Sound Bar 550 with wireless 5.1-channel surround sound

Especially with the Denon Home Sound Bar 550, there is another significant innovation to report around the new firmware update. It is now possible to upgrade the sound bar to real 5.1-channel surround sound with the help of the wireless speakers of the Denon Home Series, i.e. to use the Denon Home 150, Denon Home 250 and Denon Home 350 systems as speakers for the rear surround channels.

According to the manufacturer, this means that all relevant surround formats, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, can be optimally used, and a Denon DSW-1H subwoofer can also be integrated to achieve the corresponding sovereignty in the bass range or actually a fully-fledged 5.1-channel system.

Another new feature is that the Denon Home Sound Bar 550 can now deliver a richer, more precise bass even without a subwoofer, thanks to an optimisation of the DPS-based signal processing.

New version of HEOS App available

At the same time as the firmware update, a new version of the HEOS app is also available for Apple iOS and Google Android.

Probably the most important innovation here concerns the completely redesigned user interface, which is intended to make navigating and controlling the music systems even easier and more intuitive.

And what about HEOS solutions of the first generation?

Sound United LLC. announced in the context of the new firmware U26 that users of Denon Home products whose systems still include HEOS products of the first generation (HS1) will still have access to an update in the course of 2021. However, they will also be able to download the new HEOS app and benefit from its new user interface. This applies to all HEOS products manufactured before 2017.

Getting to the point

Sound United LLC. offers firmware U26, an important firmware update for its Denon Home Series, which includes three wireless speakers and a soundbar. Among other things, the update adds Alexa voice control to the entire Denon Home Series, which are now directly designated as Alexa Built-in. Also new is the ability to upgrade the Denon Home Sound Bar 550 soundbar with the Denon Home 150, Denon Home 250 and Denon Home 350 wireless speakers and the Denon DSW-1H subwoofer to a true 5.1-channel system. A new version of the HEOS app for Apple iOS and Google Android is now also available. Sound United LLC. can thus be said to have made the Denon Home Series even more attractive and versatile.

Manufacturer:Sound United LLC.
Distribution:Denon Deutschland – A Division of Sound United
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Michael Holzinger

Michael Holzinger, founder and editor-in-chief of HiFi BLOG and sempre-audio.at, has been working for years as a journalist in the fields of IT, photography, telecommunications and consumer electronics.

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