The Commander Sport from Denon Professional presents itself as a small, portable active box that is not afraid of the natural elements, at least when it comes to splashing water.
Music comes via USB, SD card, Bluetooth or an auxiliary input. A radio microphone is included. The possible uses are diverse. On the one hand, you can imagine the black box very well on the beach or in the park, on the other hand, the speaker certainly cuts a good figure during fitness coaching.
We take the sporty commander for a practical test.
The actual panel for operation and connection to the outside world is located in a sloping indentation. The 8-inch woofer and the 1-inch tweeter lurk directly below and behind a black painted front grille embossed with “Denon Pro”.
I’m excited to see what kind of sound comes out here. But first I would like to inspect the controls as well as inputs and outputs.
Power connection on the back
Controls and connections
The Commander Sport gets the music from different sources “fed”. The connections required for this are hidden on the left and right, behind plastic flaps that protect against moisture. There are two USB ports on the left.
One is responsible for data carriers, the other is used to charge smartphones or other mobile devices. The mini jack socket for the aux signal is installed above this. A cable microphone or a line source is connected via an XLR / jack combo socket.
A small push button sets the corresponding signal. A line output in the form of a jack socket can also be seen here. For example, two Commander Sport can be connected with each other. I used this output during the test to record microphone and music (in mono).
On the right side is the slot for SD cards and next to it there are three rubber buttons for setting the wireless microphone. The radio microphone channel is set with “up” or “down” and then selected with “set”. A simple LED display shows the active channel.
The enclosed radio microphone must be equipped with two AA batteries before operation. These are not included. There is a small power button and a tiny LC display on the microphone. If you press the power button for about two seconds, the microphone is switched on and the display starts to glow with a blue background light.
It shows the battery status and the radio channel used. When the wireless microphone is selected with the round browse button, the connection is usually already established. The radio channel can also be changed if there is disruptive interference on the channel currently set.
This is done with the three buttons behind the cover on the right-hand side. The display of the wireless microphone and the small LED display above the selection must be next to one another. If then “set” is pressed,
When the connection is established, it is very stable within a radius of a few meters: In my apartment, I set up the box in the studio room, then I am two rooms further (a good 10 meters away) and the connection remained stable. When moving through the apartment, however, there were also breaks, but with three walls in between it was not a big surprise.
For comparison: when I use my cell phone to talk on the phone at home, I sometimes have the feeling of sitting in a nuclear bunker. So if you move around the box in a radius without disturbing obstacles, you can easily walk a few meters without failures.
The manufacturer specifies up to 20 meters here. This is how it should be in use on the open road, in halls or sports fields! At this point I have to emphasize again that another microphone can be used via the XLR / jack combo socket and the volume can be controlled separately.
You can rely on a solid wireless connection outdoors
Back and bottom
There is not much to see in the back, except for the connection for the enclosed power cable, which is hidden under a “rubber cover”. The handle with telescopic arm is installed in the upper edge of the housing a little offset from this.
You can pull it out a full 51 cm. This brings you to a height that is acceptable for the average person when the Commander Sport is moved with the two plastic rollers attached to the bottom. Two rubber feet are attached to the opposite underside so that the box stands firmly on the floor with the castors.
The black box weighs 11.7 kg. I would have been happy about a tripod flange. In view of the low height, it would have been a masterpiece of the developers to accommodate this. Somewhat larger representatives like the “the box MBA120W” are already equipped with it.
On the top you can see a handle, which is firmly screwed to the sides and made of a metal tube curved at the corners. So that you can grab it better, this was equipped with black rubber in the middle.
A shelf with a corrugated surface serves as a shelf for a smartphone or MP3 player. The same rubberized structure dominates the sides as the top. The black look is framed by a thin blue plastic line.
In the middle
Five volume controls can be seen on the left. The top one is responsible for the master, but the aux-in, mic/line, wireless microphone and USB / SD / Bluetooth each have their own rotary knob. That makes perfect sense, because in operation it is therefore no problem to mix the different signals with one another.
The central LC display is 8.5 cm wide and 3.5 cm high. The blue illuminated displays provide information about the charge status of the internal battery, music tracks, playing time, folder names and which signals are currently in use.
Eight larger rubber buttons are placed around it. One of them switches the device on and off again, with “MODE” the user selects the USB, SD and Bluetooth source. The remaining six buttons are responsible for playing the music: play/pause, stop, jump forwards and backwards, shuffle and repeat.
There is a push encoder under the display, which is framed with blue light. This is also used for navigation and selects, for example, folders and pieces of music or the aux input and the wireless microphone. The small “back” button next to it is a good addition. The Bluetooth button disconnects connected devices.
There are now five rotary controls on the right-hand side. They are intended for “bending” the sound. There is a three-band EQ, then a reverb effect for microphone signals and a “tempo” control for music played via USB or SD.
All knobs are very tight and have good resistance to turning. I like that.
The internal battery takes just under 8 hours to fully charge. According to the manufacturer, the battery should then do its job for up to 40 hours. I don’t know what the basis of this data is. In any case, in my test I did not get this operating time.
I measured a little over 10 hours at a medium room volume. The music came primarily from an iPod connected to the aux input. This result did not disappoint – on the contrary. If the music plays louder, the battery life is almost certainly reduced even further.
But I believe that the performance is sufficient for most purposes, unless you want to party all night at full volume. For training units, courses, In my opinion, the battery’s performance will be sufficient for promotional campaigns and comparable tasks.
After that, however, the “box” has to be connected to the power again so that the battery has enough power for the next use. In order to save the battery, the box switches itself off after a while if no music is playing or other audio signals are received.
USB data carriers and SD cards must be formatted to FAT32. The Commander Sport plays MP3 and WAV files, the latter can also be in 24 bit. The folder structure must not go too deep, otherwise the titles will no longer be recognized: Folders in the root directory should not have more than one subfolder.
The battery status is also shown on the LC display
If the music does not come via Bluetooth but from an inserted storage medium, the commander’s internal sound processor can surprise you with a little trick. The “Tempo” rotary control then affects the playback speed of the music.
That goes from -10 to +10. The pitch of the music is not changed. I’ve heard it done better, especially in the negative range, the sound quickly takes on a granular character. If I judge this with the ears of a DJ, it should only be understood as a small bonus.
For coaching training exercises or learning an instrument, this can be very practical if you can slow down the pace and adapt to the exercise.
The reverb effect is also set with a rotary knob and only works with microphone signals, regardless of whether they come from the line input or the wireless microphone.
In terms of sound, the reverb doesn’t knock me off my feet, but it would also be naive to expect studio quality here. Speech gets a little more space with proper dosage and the effect is perfectly fine for the intended purposes. I tweaked the reverb and tempo in the following recordings:
With an 8-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter, of course, you don’t expect the walls to wobble when you turn it up. However, the Commander Sport still makes a good impression at high volumes. The music sounds crisp, has a decent punch and attracts enough attention.
If it is really loud, the sound remains defined, distortion-free and does not rattle. When testing this speaker, of course, I did not listen continuously with the full “broadside”, but primarily with a carefully measured room volume.
I really liked the Commander Sport. Loud often impresses, but it is the quiet tones that determine the overall impression. And that is very satisfactory. The highs could be a little more brilliant to my ears.
The Commander Sport sounds good even at high volumes
The Commander Sport cuts a fine figure on the beach, in the bathing establishment, but also in sports halls, fitness centers, club houses, kindergartens and schools.
The size, the relatively low weight, the firm handle, the rollers on the underside and the additional pull-out handle benefit many possible uses. The internal battery is charged fairly quickly and achieves a satisfactory playing time.
I also like the fact that the box is solidly built and protected from splash water in the sensitive areas. The sound creates pressure and sounds good even at high volumes. The radio microphone fits perfectly into the concept and does a good job.
The fact that the music can come from Bluetooth, USB, SD or via Aux makes this mobile active box very flexible.