Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Denon Heos vs SONOS




Denon Heos vs SONOS
This is one of the review quickies.
This is a review that compares the DENON HEOS to the SONOS PLAYBAR
First off the specs of each are the following presented in a comparison table, where the differences are presented accordingly.
HEOS HomeCinema
SONOS PLAYBAR
Connectivity (a/v)
HDMI x2/ HDMI (ARC), optical, coax, aux (3.5mm),
Optical only (SPDIF standard connector)
Connectivity (Network)
RJ45, Dual band 802.11N wifi (2.4Ghz and 5Ghz)
2xRJ45 ETH x2 and 2.4Ghz 802.11G only
Software controllers
Android 2.3 or higher and Apple iOS app based controllers
Android 2.3 or higher, iOS controller app, Windows (PC) controller app for windows 7 or higher
Speaker config and specs:
2 x tweeters and 2 x woofers in main and 2 x woofers in included subwoofer
6 x woofers and 3 x tweeters
Subwoofer included
Yes
No (extra 700USD approx)
Night modes
Yes
Yes
Includes cables
Yes
Yes
Setup comparison (hardware/software)
Both soundbars seem to be made well on the hardware end and they both don’t feel cheap
They both had great cables included and plugged in fine to my A/V gear.
Here’s a table outlining my experience with setup and config of both units:
HEOS HomeCinema
SONOS PLAYBAR
Ease of installing app
4/5 (app install was short)
3/5 (app install took longer)
Wifi association
5/5 (worked the first time
3/5 (took a few attempts)
Input selection
5/5 (lots of inputs and worked great on RokuTV and RCA 32 In LCD TV)
1/5 (Only optical for TVs, worked fine on RokuTV but took a long time to actually output audio)
Music server/services
4/5 (worked great with both local and streaming, however some playlists were out of order on emby and serviio servers [DLNA], recognized very quickly though and work well)
3/5 (does not directly have DLNA servers displayed, one must input manual, exact paths to servers vs having them be discovered in app, other services work well though
Sound quality:
Both soundbars have pretty good sound quality. I’ve tested with several movies and types of music.
Here’s a rundown of the highs and lows of both units:
HEOS HomeCinema
SONOS PLAYBAR
Music (all genres)
No distortion
Some distortion on lower frequencies when low freq turned up past 1.4th
Movies
Volume was pretty normal, other than the sub slightly being overpowered, I recommend lower than 1/3rd the way up. Night mode is awesome though and sound range is still full and voices are still hearable. Sub doesn’t constrain either.
Seemed to be a blur and slur on some frequencies, treble needs to be turned way up for movies and then turned way down for music. Night mode can restrain sound and it sounds a bit off. Voices are harder to hear in night mode
Overall Performance:
Both soundbars have done relatively well as a whole, however I’ve presented the high and low points of both:
HEOS HomeCinema
SONOS PLAYBAR
Connectivity perf (A/V)
had some issues with maintaining audioconnectivity with roku TV sometimes and needed to just open the app and let it sit for a while and connectivity would resume, updates have corrected it though and it's gotten much better. No CEC or control issues that often either
Had some issues with lag and took a while to get going with the RokuTV. Does not work with RCA dumb TVs that are made around 2010. Optical does not work with them and requires purchase of a new TV to make work. No workarounds without expensive converters
Connectivity perf (Network)
Maintains good connectivity overall, however takes a long time to reconnect. However is
Full dual band N and works well
Maintains good connectivity, however it takes a very long time to connect and re-associate and also only works in wireless G standard which is very extremely dated and also delivers inferior streaming quality.
Services
Works great with media servers (local and online)
Works ok with online services, however local streaming lacks
Overall
4/5
3/5
Closing thoughts:
Both soundbars are “The” ones to have, however for those that seek ultimate compatibility with thier A/V gear should go with the Denon offering, as well as being able to interface with local media servers like Plex, Emby, ServIIO, or other DLNA offerings. Those that have a TV that has no issues with optical, have a simple wifi network, and not use DLNA could benifit from the SONOS, however, SONOS remains vulnerable to being phased out when network admins start to block 802.11G clients or traffic shape them to the point they no longer work, and the lack of HDMI/ARC and other inputs can be a problem for those that have older TVs or ones that drop outdated optical in favor of HDMI or wireless. The fact, also, that SONOS has no dual band wifi will scare people away that have too much 802.11 2.4Ghz congestion, as it RELIIES on it. The HEOS uses dual band which is best in most congested environments. I could not, also get the SONOS to work with many older TVs that lack the HDCP support to support HDMI device output to an optical source like outputting the Roku 1 over HDMI to the SONOS Playbar’s optical. You can’t do that on tons of TVs and it needs to be fixed. I can do that with the HEOS but not the SONOS. SONOS chose simplicity over compatibility and this is where it failed. Also SONOS charges and extra 700 some USD for the subwoofer while DENON includes it. The high points for SONOS are the fact it can be administered via a PC controller app so you don’t need a smartphone to manage it is nice. I wish DENON had that. However DENON has a much more refined app experience.  
Overall the ratings for both are as follows:
Denon HEOS: 4.5/5
SONOS Playbar: 3.5/5

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