This smart hi-fi separates style media streamer looks and sounds great, although some rivals outdo it for features
Denon’s DNP-720AE audio streamer is designed to fit seamlessly alongside your hi-fi and AV separates. It has AM and FM radio tuners, but lacks DAB. However, it supports a massive range of internet radio stations, plus Apple AirPlay, Napster and Last.fm. A party mode lets you use the DNP-720AE with other compatible Denon media streamers as part of a multi-room system, allowing you to play the same music through several networked devices simultaneously.
Using Apple’s AirPlay to stream music directly from your iOS device via Denon’s own Remote App is fantastically convenient – you can also stream from iTunes on a computer. The iPod interface is easier to use than the standard remote control which comes with the streamer, not least of all because the ability to use a touchscreen display from anywhere is more convenient than peering at the streamer’s mono OLED display.
You’ll be fine even without an iOS device, though, as the Denon’s remote is better than many we’ve encountered, with clearly-labelled keys. The on-screen interface is also far more simple than most, without a mass of menus to become lost in. The Network menu allows you to configure the streamer’s network settings and online presence, such as the login details of your Last.fm and Napster accounts. The menus, which allow you to navigate shared media, internet radio and online services, are similarly clear and can be accessed easily using the shortcut buttons on the remote control.
Last.fm support allows you to stream linked playlists based on your favourite or selected artists. It generally works very well, although we twice got inexplicable errors telling us the service wasn’t available in our country. We were bemused to find, though, that when using the Denon Remote app to carry out keyword searches for internet radio stations, for example, we were unable to use our iPod’s onscreen keyboard to enter text but instead were referred back to the alphanumeric pad on the standard remote control – Denon is missing a trick here.
The streamer sounds excellent – clear, balanced and powerful, with all the quality you’d expect from Denon. It has a pair of phono connectors for the audio output, which will again mesh perfectly with your hi-fi or AV amp or speaker system, but will require an adaptor if you want to use a more typical set of speakers with a 3.5mm connection. There’s also an optical S/PDIF output for digital audio, a wired Ethernet port and both AM and FM antenna sockets. At the front, as well as enough controls to allow you to use the streamer even if the sofa’s eaten the remote, is a USB port which you can use to connect an external drive containing audio files in a range of popular formats. It’s worth noting, though, that larger disks take several minutes for the streamer to index them.
This is a great audio streamer for a hi-fi separates system, but we’d have appreciated support for a wider range of streaming audio services, such as Spotify and BBC iPlayer Radio. Logitech’s Squeezebox Touch costs less and has a wider range of features.
|Media Streamer type||audio streaming device|
|Audio MP3 playback||Yes|
|Audio WMA playback||Yes|
|Audio WMA-DRM playback||Yes|
|Audio AAC playback||Yes|
|Audio Protected AAC playback||No|
|Audio OGG playback||No|
|Audio WAV playback||Yes|
|Audio Audible playback||No|
|Other audio formats||FLAC, FLAC 96/24, WMA lossless (Transcode)|
|Other video formats||none|
|Image BMP support||No|
|Image JPEG support||No|
|Image TIFF support||No|
|Wired network ports||1x 10/100|
|Wireless networking support||Yes|
|Minijack line outputs||0|
|Minijack headphone outputs||0|
|Stereo phono outputs||1|
|Coaxial S/PDIF outputs||0|
|Optical S/PDIF outputs||1|
|Total SCART sockets||0|
|Power consumption standby||0W|
|Power consumption on||17W|
|Warranty||two years RTB|