Sonos PLAY:1 vs Denon HEOS 3 : Which Wi-Fi Speaker Keeps You Tuned in

By - December 2014

Sonos Play 1 vs Denon HEOS 3

Having checked out the Denon HEOS 3, I had to peddle back and compare it to one of the biggest WI-FI speaker companies in the game right now which is Sonos. Sonos literally took the wireless network speaker game by storm and has been continuing to push it with their PLAY series. Denon has been huge in the audio scene for some time and a few months ago back revealed its HEOS line which like the Sonos PLAY series has three different sets of speakers. PLAY has 1,3, and 5 while HEOS has 3,5, and 7. Here I will be pitting the intro models from each side with the PLAY:1 and the HEOS 3. While the comparison will be a bit lopsided in some areas it will pan out pretty good in the end.

Style

Denon-HEOS-3-While they may have comparisons with names and sets of speakers the designs are nowhere near the same. The Sonos PLAY:1 looks like a nice compact cylinder speaker that has a Play/Pause button on top and also volume controls as well. The HEOS 3 has a odd cylinder tube shape which can be sat upright or lay out horizontal. This of course fits into how you like to set up your decor. Also on the top is volume controls and Play/Pause button.

The HEOS 3 does have more options on the back then the PLAY:1 which just has an ethernet port and screw mount capabilities. HEOS 3 has a reset button, USB port, aux jack, ethernet and a screw mount.

So better design really comes down to what you like. You have small and compact with the PLAY:1 or big and loud with the HEOS 3.

Features

Sonos-PLAY-1Seeing that these are WI-FI network speakers of course you will need to use an accompanying app for each with either a iOS or Android device. On both I did use an Android device and the experience varied between the two. Sonos has you download the app, turn the speaker on and search for it which is pretty easy. Denon on the other hand has you download the app,  setup the device and you have to use an audio cable to sync it with your smartphone. This has to be done each time you sync a new device. So if you don’t have a cable lying around you are in trouble. Once you do get pass that you are good to go.

App wise the Sonos app runs circles around the Denon one. Maybe because they been around longer but all the headache I experienced in Denon’s buggy app I didn’t get in Sonos’. Its fluid, no crashing, and syncs up with the music right away. Also Sonos supports so many more music apps such as my favorite Google Play Music All Access and many others. It’s a bummer to have your smartphone jacked up to your HEOS speaker to use Google Play Music and others that aren’t supported. HEOS does have some nice options with categorizing your speakers together and jumping from one to another but that’s when the app doesn’t take you through hell.

Sonos PLAY

Denon HEOS 

Sound

Here I have to give it to Denon. It’s not a surprise as they been in the audio department so long that their HEOS 3 would sound better than the PLAY:1. The HEOS 3 sounded more crisp, clear and seemed to be a bit more punchier in the bass department. I remember with the HEOS 3 I might have it on 50% and this thing was kicking compared to the PLAY:1 where even at its loudest it felt like it was just missing a bit compared to the other. So my hat goes off to Denon in this category.

Verdict

Now deciding between the two really factors on three things to me. The HEOS 3 sounds better while the PLAY:1 has better features and streaming options. The $100 price difference may between the two might be a big choice or have you check out Sono’s PLAY:3. My best opinion is check out the two side by side if you can and compare the sound differences. If you don’t notice as much grab the PLAY:1 which has been playing my Google Play Music library on the daily.

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Jason Million is Managing Editor. Jason currently uses a Samsung Galaxy S6 with T-Mobile among other gadgets. Hailing from the streets of NYC, always trying to have a blast or catch a bite to eat. As well as enjoying technology to the fullest. Any other questions hit him up.
  • Carl Brandt

    What a stupid comparison. The Heos 3 should compete with the Sonos 3 or 5 not the 1.?

    • Craig Jacobs

      Uh, no. Heos 3 is the comparable model to the Sonos 1. If you want stereo you need 2 heos 3s or 2 sonos 1s.

  • Burt Bushell

    Honestly, this is as silly a comparison as one can get….you just don’t compare speakers in two different classes.

  • dk

    This comparison actually helped me a lot! They’re different speakers but for a lot of reasons I needed to pick between these two, specifically. Thank you!