If you have found yourself walking down the aisles of Best Buy, it's hard to get past the fact that all AV receivers look exactly the same. Same shape, same black paint job, a couple of knobs and a (blue) display. There has been little innovation in receiver design in the past 20 years.
This is why the Denon HEOS AVR is such a breath of fresh air. It looks... like the future. Maybe it's a future of silver jumpsuits and blond bob wigs but it's the future nonetheless. Looking more like a gaming PC than a receiver the HEOS AVR is quite unlike anything else in home theater right now. It features a "dark silver" finish and a blue power LED that illuminates your benchtop.
Following in the tradition of other HEOS components such as the HomeCinema, the AVR is designed from the ground up to be a streaming device, with a bit of home theater blended in. Denon HEOS is a multiroom system which offers streaming (Spotify, Tidal) and hi-res music support to compatible speakers and receivers in your home using a proprietary app. In addition the receiver offers 5x 50W channels of amplification plus enables users to add speakers like the HEOS 1 as wireless surrounds.
Connections include four HDMI 2.0a/HDCP 2.2 inputs for compatibility with 4K video and Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio sources. Like all "version 2" HEOS components the AVR will also support Bluetooth.
True, as a proprietary system HEOS has kind of faltered where competitor's multiroom solutions such as Yamaha MusicCast, Bose's SoundTouch and Sonos have flourished. The main reason for Denon's lack of momentum has been a simple lack of integration into products beyond speakers. Yet, if the HEOS AVR is an indicator 2017 could be the year this all changes.
At $999 though, it could a little expensive for what it does, especially when you consider Yamaha has the similarly specified RX-V481 receiver for less than half the price. Admittedly, the Yamaha looks like a hearse in comparison to Denon's sleek rocket ship.
Look out for the HEOS in April 2017, with UK and Australian pricing and availability yet to be announced.