Denon CEOL/ CEOL Picolo
Distorts at very high volumes
$799 PICOLO ($999 with CD player)
This shelf system looks like the odd one out, but it packs plenty of great features.
The Denon has a hideaway 30-pin iPod dock on the top, plus you can connect your iGadget via USB or play audio from a USB stick. You’ll find a headphone jack on the front, while on the back are digital optical and analogue inputs along with an FM antenna socket and sub-woofer connector. You can pay an extra $200 for a built-in CD player with MP3/ WMA support if you’re still attached to your collection of discs or just plug a CD player into the back.
This model also features a front 3.5mm auxiliary input for playing audio from practically any device. When it comes to networking, the Denon features built-in Ethernet and 2.4GHz Wi-Fi (but no 5GHz). You can send music to the Denon as an AirPlay or DLNA speaker – but the audio was slightly out of sync with our Apple Airport Express in our AirPlay multi-room audio tests (a common problem with third-party AirPlay gear). The remote control and front LCD display let you browse
the library on your DLNA server or else listen to Last.FM (not available in Australia!), Spotify and internet radio stations.
The screen displays the details of the current track, but you can also control the system from another room using the free Denon Remote App from the iTunes store. This 2 x 60-watt system features 12cm woofers and 2.5cm tweeters, which offer impressive sound quality, assisted by the fact you can move the speakers further apart for improved stereo separation.
The Denon might make a good compact shelf system in the bedroom or living area and would service a medium-sized room, although the sound distorts when you really crank up the volume.