Denon Home 150 review
Gone are the days when buying a smart speaker meant having to buy something made by Amazon or Google. Now you can get a Wi-Fi home speaker from audio brands like Bose, Sonos – or Denon – with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant built right in.
That means sound from a company you trust to handle it, but also leaves audio brands grappling with connectivity tech that may not play to their strengths. That’s the only thing that holds the Home 150 back – a strong wireless speaker that trips up on the smart stuff.
Design and build
The Home 150 is the smallest speaker in Denon’s current connected range, with the Home 250 and Home 350 there if you’ve got a bigger room or a bit more money to burn.
All share a common aesthetic: a squared off body wrapped in charcoal or light grey fabric (that’s stain and water-resistant), with light-up touch controls on the top.
The Home 150 is small enough to be unobtrusive, and will sit comfortably on a bookshelf or bedside table, making it ideal for smaller rooms or simply anywhere you don’t want your speaker to be the centre of attention.
The touch controls on the top are motion-enabled, meaning they’re hidden until you reach towards the speaker. At that point they light up to reveal the options for play/pause, volume controls, and an oddity: three quick-select options for internet radio stations. Great if you use internet radio, a waste of space if you don’t.
Round the back of the 150 you’ll find the ports. In addition to a 3.5mm aux in for wired audio, there’s also a USB socket and an ethernet port, so you can hook the speaker straight up to your router for the best possible streaming sound.
Nothing about Denon’s design is flashy or standout, but that’s no bad thing. This isn’t attention-grabbing, but maybe it shouldn’t be: it’ll look great, blend into any room, and focus on doing what it does best: sound great.
Sound and smarts
There’s little to complain about when it comes to the Home 150’s audio output. No speaker this size is going to deliver room-filling bass, but this comes surprisingly close. The 89mm woofer delivers deeper, richer bass than I’d expected, and it goes plenty loud.
There’s no loss of clarity either, or a serious drop-off at the top-end, with a sound profile that’s fairly balanced, so should suit most genres well. House, dance, or hip hop will thud along just like you’d hope, but pop vocals and guitar riffs still cut through cleanly.
If you buy two you can also set them up as a stereo pair, but with just one speaker I couldn’t test this myself. If you want to know more about how we test speakers, check out our full breakdown of what we look for when we’re reviewing audio gear.
Unfortunately what lets the Home 150 down is the smart stuff around it – even down to basic stuff like Bluetooth. Play audio over Bluetooth and there’s noticeable lag – a second or two. That’s enough to leave you wondering if it’s worked or not when you hit play, and renders it unusable for watching any video over. I’ve even had the Bluetooth stutter, glitch, and drop entirely – even coming from a phone or laptop right next to the speaker – which isn’t really good enough.
On Wi-Fi things are better at least. There’s built-in Spotify Connect support, along with AirPlay, Deezer, Tidal, TuneIn, and more, which makes it pretty easy to get music playing from most sources.
There’s also built-in support for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant for voice controls, but lower your expectations right now. At the time of writing you can use those controls to pause, skip tracks, and change the volume, but that’s about it.
You can’t use voice controls to play specific songs, artists, or playlists, though the company says these features are on the way. You also can’t access other voice assistant features like asking the weather, checking your calendar, or controlling other smart home devices.
It means that despite the advertised support for the two voice assistants, you can’t use the Home 150 to replace an existing Google or Amazon device, or to add full smart home controls into a room without one. That’s frustrating when rival devices from Bose or Sonos will serve as outright replacements.
Price and availability
The Denon Home 150 costs £219/$249, and you can get it from Amazon or other electronics retailers.
For a speaker of this quality that isn’t a bad price, but when you can get a Sonos One for £199/$199 or a Bose Home Speaker 300 for £249/$199 and get similar audio quality plus full smart speaker functionality, it’s hard to justify opting for Denon unless you’re not that fussed about the smart stuff anyway.
Check out our full guide to the best Bluetooth speakers for some other options, or the best smart speakers if you know you want more voice assistant control.
The Denon Home 150 isn’t a smart speaker, and the advertised Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa support are there in name only: simple voice controls that don’t even cover all the audio basics, without most of the features you’d expect from a voice assistant.
That’s a shame because Bluetooth wobbles aside, the actual audio quality is fantastic, and more than a match for most speakers at this price point.
If you don’t care about using your speaker to turn your lights on – or even asking it to play the music you want – then this is a solid bit of kit. But if you want more from your speaker than playback, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
Denon Home 150: Specs
- Alexa & Google Assistant
- 1x89mm woofer
- 1x25mm tweeter
- Two Class-D amplifiers
- Touch controls
- Proximity sensor
- Ethernet port
- 3.5mm aux
- USB input
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