Denon Cocoon Home
Audio Products Group, www.audioproducts.com.au
Very good audio; nice design; well built
Expensive; no Lightning dock; bass lacking a bit of punch
We’ve long used Denon AV receivers for our home-theatre setups, and have been impressed in the past with the company’s bookshelf speaker systems, so we were keen to get our hands on the Cocoon, Denon’s first foray into the world of speaker docks.
It’s a sort of kidney-shaped dock-and-wireless unit that comes in two models – the Home (DSD500), which we review here, and the smaller Portable (DSD300). The latter has a water-resistant chassis with rubberised buttons and contains a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery giving up to five hours of playtime.
The Home comes in black or white and features a glossy plastic rear and cloth-covered front grille. In the middle of the grille is a small, oval display; press it and it pops out, revealing a dock for 30-pin iOS devices. You can use an adaptor if you have a Lightning device, but the easiest option is to go wireless.
One area where Wi-Fi audio systems generally fail – or, at least, make life difficult – is in the wireless setup process. Some make you interpret a series of flashing lights; some have to be hard-wired into a router; some make you use a tiny display screen and a simple remote control.
But the first thing that endeared me to the Cocoon was how it allows for an incredibly easy setup by docking an iOS device and firing up the Denon Cocoon app.
The app finds your network and asks for your password. Enter it and you’re done. A lot of AV companies could take a lesson from this.
If you don’t have an iOS device the wireless setup can also be set up via a WPS router or a web browser. Or you can just take the wired option and connect the Cocoon to a router via an Ethernet cable.
The app can also act as a player for the music on your iOS device, gives you access to internet radio, has an alarm feature and lets you browse and play the audio on any Mac, PC or NAS drive on the same network.
It can also be used to update the Cocoon’s firmware. During our testing a firmware update appeared that introduced Network Standby mode, which allows for instant startup from standby mode by bypassing the need for the Cocoon to confirm its IP address each time (a good thing, as boot times were a bit long).
Unfortunately the update failed during installation, rendering our review unit unable to connect wirelessly. Luckily we did this at the last minute, which meant it didn’t impact on our review time.
We’ve been concentrating on wireless connectivity but, of course, the Cocoon can also play audio from any docked iOS device (though only older models with 30-pin Dock connectors) and from any audio source plugged in to the 3.5mm Aux-In port.
With control delegated to connected devices, the Cocoon body sports the bare minimum – just four touch-sensitive areas on top for Source, Play/Pause, Volume Up and Volume Down, and a couple of wireless-related buttons at the back.
Inside are two woofers and two tweeters augmented by a large acoustic chamber and bass ports, and powered by four 25W Class D amps.
Audio quality is very good, with a solid, well-defined midrange, and a beautifully musical treble. The bass is a bit disappointing, however; it’s definitely there, but we missed more of a punch in all genres from jazz to dance. Hitting the Loudness switch pumped it up a bit, but we feel Loudness modes sacrifice more than they deliver so we left it well alone. Soundstaging is good, though not expansive.
Besides the failed firmware update, the only problem we had with the Cocoon was the price. At $699 you’re getting into the neighbourhood of the Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin Air and the NAD VISO 1 – which are both awesome wireless speaker docks.