Since the introduction of its HEOS multiroom wireless audio system in 2014, Denon’s answer to Sonos systems has added new product models at a fairly good clip. Currently, the system is mainly controlled by the company’s app, available on most mobile devices, but soon that will be far from the easiest way to control your system thanks to the upcoming addition of Amazon Alexa voice control.
Earlier this year, Denon formed a team headed up by Robby Kilgore focused exclusively on bringing a voice-powered user interface to the HEOS product line. In March, Sonos CEO John MacFarlane wrote that his company would also be focusing on adding voice control to its systems, but Kilgore’s team has made progress very quickly, and it looks like Denon could be the first multiroom system to bring voice control to its models.
“Denon has a 100-year history of performance, innovation, and design, we have always been driven to provide the best possible audio experience to our customers — and we’re doing that with Amazon Alexa,” Denon senior vice president of product development Brendon Stead said in a statement. “We see the recent shift toward voice as the preferred interface for searching, retrieving, and controlling music as a tremendously compelling arena where we can focus that heritage of technical excellence and innovation to deliver completely new experiences.”
Once the update arrives, HEOS users won’t need to rely on the app to control their systems. Not only will users be able to use Alexa to play music, but ask questions, get news and weather information, and control smart home products. It isn’t clear if the entire range of functionality offered by Amazon’s own hardware will be supported, but even if that isn’t the case, plenty of features will be supported.
Neither Denon nor Amazon has said exactly when this new feature will arrive, but the new “skill” — the terminology for additional Amazon Alexa features — is expected to be available on all HEOS devices by the first quarter of 2017.
“Amazon shares with Denon a passion for innovation and design,” Amazon Alexa vice president Steve Rabuchin said. “We are excited to collaborate with them to bring hands-free voice control to premium audio products early next year. Soon HEOS and Amazon Alexa customers will be able to enjoy the convenience of the Alexa voice service plus high-quality home audio — getting us one step closer to our goal of enabling Alexa voice control on every device within customer’s homes.”
Denon’s HEOS line currently consists of the HEOS 1, HEOS 3, HEOS 5 and HEOS 7 speakers, the HEOS HomeCinema sound bar and subwoofer, the HEOS Drive multi-zone amplifier, and the HEOS Link and HEOS Amp, which add HEOS functionality to existing home theater and audio products. As of last month, the company is also adding HEOS to some of its A/V receivers.
For more information on the entire line, see the HEOS by Denon website.