Denon’s new DNP-2000NE, which the company markets as a “high-resolution audio streamer with HEOS built-in,” is an interesting beast in a number of ways. For one thing, at $1599 (in USD), it’s on the pricier end of the streamers I normally cover here on SoundStage! Access—at least ones that don’t have built-in amplification, which the DNP-2000NE doesn’t. Honestly, half the reason I requested a review sample was simply to see what Denon has done to justify the price of this thing.
Crack the case, and the DNP-2000NE doesn’t look much different from the PMA-1700NE I unboxed and reviewed back in 2022. Denon has added a bit of clear wrapping around the accessories box to keep everything sorted while giving you a sneak peek of what’s inside, but other than that, the presentation is largely the same.
In the accessories box, you’ll find the expected remote and batteries, quick-start guide, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi antennas, and a couple of basic control/audio interconnects.
As I always do, I have to grumble a little about Denon’s use of expanded polystyrene instead of nicer-feeling and less-crumbly expanded polyethylene, but as has become tradition, Denon undercuts my complaint somewhat by splitting the foam into four sculpted pieces, with defined top, bottom, front, and back pieces. That not only makes it easier to extract the streamer from its shipping container; it also makes repacking the unit so much easier, which hopefully won’t be a concern for you, but hey, sometimes people move. And there’s an off-chance you might need to send any electronic component in for repairs.
Peeling back the thick air-foam wrapping paper taped around the DNP-2000NE, we get our first real look at the player in the flesh. A few things stand out immediately. Firstly, that’s a lot of screen real estate. Secondly, what’s that volume knob about? Isn’t this supposed to be a source device? Thirdly, look at that full-sized headphone jack. That’s a nice bonus. Overall, first impressions are that the DNP-2000NE is every bit as well-built as Denon’s stereo components in this price range, which is to say that it feels solid, fit and finish are quite nice, and the buttons all feel nicer than those found on most high-end components. The volume control is a tad small for me, but I doubt I’ll be using it. All in all, Denon’s new streamer makes a good first impression.
As if the presence of a volume control and headphone amp didn’t clue us into the fact that the “audio streamer” label is too small a box for the DNP-2000NE, the multitude of inputs and outputs drives that home. The input section includes one coaxial and two optical digital inputs, and, surprisingly, a USB Type-B connection. Next to the ethernet port (one of two ways to get the player on your local network, the other being the aforementioned antennas), there are also coaxial and optical digital outputs in case you want to plug the 2000NE into your own DAC.
This I wasn’t expecting, though. In addition to the HDMI ARC connection, there are also two sets of outputs: one fixed line-level out and one preamp out. Which makes the DNP-2000NE, for all intents and purposes, a mouthful of a product. It isn’t merely a streamer, after all. It’s a high-resolution audio streamer and DAC/preamp/headphone amp. Not bad for $1599.
So why might you buy this instead of something like the PMA-900HNE integrated amp, which does most of the above, except without the HDMI input but with 50Wpc of output and a few analog ins to boot? We’ll dig into that more in my full review, coming soon, but it mostly boils down to different horses for different courses. The DNP-2000NE might appeal more to someone who already has a good stereo amp or set of monoblocks and doesn’t need analog ins. It’s really not a matter of right or wrong; it’s just about what your system needs.
Of course, answering whether the 2000NE fits those needs is going to require an in-depth evaluation. So keep an eye out for that full review, coming soon to SoundStage! Access.
. . . Dennis Burger