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Speakers

Denon's HEOS Bar takes the multiroom fight to Sonos and Bose

The Denon HEOS Bar is a streaming sound bar loaded with HDMI inputs and an optional subwoofer -- but can it stand up to the multiroom leaders?

Denon

First came the Sonos Playbar: a standalone sound bar with an optional subwoofer and rears, which was designed to play home theater and streamed, multiroom music. Then came the Bose SoundTouch 300 and with it tumbled down an avalanche of others, now including Denon.

The $899 or £849 HEOS ($199 at Amazon) Bar is a 3.0-channel sound bar designed to accompany screens over 50 inches either on a shelf or wall-mounted. In order to facilitate both types of installation, the bar's drivers are set into the cabinet at a 45-degree angle.

You can attach a pair of HEOS speakers (such as the HEOS 1) to use as rears as well as the optional HEOS Subwoofer, which is $599 or £599. Both options will connect to the sound bar directly over 5GHz and not take up Wi-Fi bandwidth.

As part of the HEOS system the Bar will connect to a number of wireless sources, including both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Using the HEOS app you can play music from a phone or network device (in hi-res if you like) and also stream from services including Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, TuneIn, iHeart Radio, TIDAL, SiriusXM, SoundCloud and Amazon Music.

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The optional $699 HEOS Subwoofer.

Denon

Unlike its rivals, the Denon is loaded to the gills with HDMI inputs. The Bar boasts four HDMI 2.0a ports which means you can connect as many HDR sources as you like and be sure it will then display on your 4K TV. The sound bar can also decode Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio. (No, it doesn't do Atmos or DTS:X, but if you really feel you need that you could always buy the Samsung HW-K950 instead)

One common problem with mounting a sound bar in front of your TV is that it can block the infrared (IR) sensor preventing your remote from working. The Denon, like the Yamaha YAS-203 before it, provides IR flashers on the back of the Bar so that you can still change TV channels.

With a number of similar options on the market at this level including Sonos, Bose, Bluesound and Yamaha it will be interesting to see how the HEOS Bar fares. If you already have HEOS products -- which now include affordable Denon receivers at last -- it obviously makes more sense to buy this over the others.

The HEOS Bar and the HEOS Subwoofer will be available in the US and UK in April 2017, while Australian pricing and availability are yet to be announced, though the US Bar price converts to AU$1,170.

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