There I spoke with Stuart Tickle, managing director of the UK-based distributor, wondering how Heos was doing in Europe. Quite frankly, I told him, you don’t hear integrators talking about Heos in the U.S.
“What seems to be the problem?” I asked.
First, he said AWE’s Heos business was doing quite well, thank you; however, he did acknowledge some of Denon’s missteps in rolling out the line, which was launched in 2014 ostensibly as an integrator-friendly alternative to Sonos.
“They should have launched with drivers,” Tickle says, explaining that Heos was supposed to be the choice for integration, but launched before integration modules were available.
Tickle also believes Denon missed an opportunity to promote its esteemed heritage to integrators, who value the Denon and Marantz brands from parent company D+M Group. In rolling out Heos, it seems D+M wanted a standalone brand that could hold its own against Sonos. Heos’s association with Denon was minimized, both in product development and marketing.Thankfully, Heos now works with Control4, RTI and URC, and third-party developer RocketGUI just launched a driver for Crestron ($499 license per project).
“The marketing they’re doing right now is very retail-oriented,” says Tickle.
Increasingly, however, D+M is bringing Heos – the brand and the technology – into its high-performance Denon lineup. The company’s new 8-channel multizone amp, for example, is called Denon Heos Drive … not Heos Drive with a little footnote that says, “by Denon.”
“This is when Denon really starts showing itself,” Tickle says. “Heos will start to leverage the massive power of Denon and Marantz.”
Last month, D+M announced Heos wireless audio technology would be built into new Denon and Marantz A/V receivers and preamps, scheduled to ship in Q4 of this year.
“If you buy a Denon receiver,” Tickle says, “the natural thing to do is add Heos.”
That’s something that today’s leading DIY audio brand can’t do.
Meanwhile, Tickle says European dealers are doing well selling a simple whole-house control and audio system using URC as the backbone with integrated subsystems like Heos, Nest and Philips Hue.