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  1. #1
    Addicted to Best! thedudeabides's Avatar
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    Sonos / the best mousetrap?

    Hi all,

    I had my annual physical and my doc asked me about this product line.

    Non audio types have raved about the quality but more importantly about the multi-room / multi-source capabilities in a wireless system.

    Seems like a pretty darn good "life style" product for the money (reasonable sound quality for non-critical listening) considering cost of wiring / install in an existing home environment.

    Any thoughts / experiences with this wi-fi based product and other products on the market that are similar in nature.

    Thanks in advance for any comments.

    GG

  2. #2
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    Sonos is easy to use as an interface...personally I like it. I have never truly experimented with hard drives though it was the concept of a music server that led me to buy a standalone DAC over 6 years ago when almost no one was selling one. That said, I did a lot of reading and I believe Empirical Audio has created some kind of reclocker which allows one to reclock the signal as part of a Sonos-based setup and then i2s directly into the back of a DAC...creating a much lower amount of jitter in the signal to the DAC.

    I know of at least one owner who swears by this solution with his Zanden DAC and preferred it over his Zanden transport. So done right, I have been told it is a great interface with proper audiophile quality. YMMV and I have never done it...eventually opting for a matching Zanden Transport. Will get around to a server when all the elements (isolation, interface, how to properly, losslessly burn files, etc) is all touch of a button easy for people like me.
    Last edited by LL21; 12-18-2013 at 01:09 AM.
    Speaker: Wilson X1 + Velodyne DD18+
    Source: Zanden 4-Box Digital
    Amp: CJ GAT2 + Gryphon Colosseum
    Cable: TA Opus Gen5&MM2 + PAD 25th Sablon GCUber
    Isolation Sandwiches: Under: HRS.Stillpoints.Auralex Top: HRS.Artesania.Entreq.EAT.90kg Mass Damping
    Power/Ground&Shield: 7 x 16A Furutech . Burmester948 . NordostQX4 / Tripoint Troy Sig+Thor . Entreq Atlantis/Receivus/Everest/Wrap
    Room/Tube: Stillpoints Apertures / Amperex.Mullard
    Headphone: Sennheiser 650 . Arcam rHead . ApogeeGroove

  3. #3
    I carry the line, but have been a Sonos user since long before I got remotely close to the industry.

    In my opinion Sonos absolutely nailed it with their offering (keeping in mind that we aren't their target market).

    It's best to think of Sonos as a software product and the hardware is just the enabler to make the software work. Much like Apple they chose to keep the hardware ecosystem completely closed and that has allowed them to control features and functionality very well.

    The good:

    1) It's truly plug-and-play with most systems up and running in multiple rooms in a matter of minutes.
    2) The interface is completely intuitive and non-intimidating to average people (non-geeks).
    3) The system always works...if setup properly. This is where working with Sonos directly or through a dealer has benefits as the shirts at Best Buy don't have a clue.
    4) Install the software on your computer and it finds your music and serves it up. No configuration needed in most cases. It just works.
    5) Excellent selection of third-party services. I've discovered some great music with Pandora and made purchase decisions with MOG.
    6) The CONNECT (used to be the ZonePlayer 80 and 90) has a digital out with relatively decent performance. I have one that was modified by Cullen and it's even better. Digital output is bit perfect and the clock mods reduce the jitter significantly.
    7) The new offerings (Playbar, S1, SUB) all work very well and are well worth the price. We installed a playbar in our bedroom and were able to kill two birds with one stone...better sound on the TV, and got rid of the speakers we were using for music. Sound quality is surprisingly good considering the reality of where it's placed.
    8) Feature releases are frequent and usually very well tested before release.

    The bad:
    1) Bitrate for file playback is limited to 16/44 and this likely won't change anytime soon. Sonos has offered up several reasons, but the most compelling is the fact that due to the way that the system works it's actually very difficult to keep the zones in sync. Bumping up the bitrate (over 8x for 192/24) would make that even more difficult.
    2) The system currently has a limitation to the number of files that it can catalog (about 65,000), but the practical limit is lower. A friend with about 22,000 files does have trouble browsing his library on occasion as the system slows to a crawl. I've got about 15,000 loaded and haven't had any trouble so YMMV. I can say that my network is quite a bit more robust than his.
    3) Sound quality from their speakers is average at best for anything more than brackground music.
    4) They discontinued their dedicated controllers favoring smartphone / tablet apps instead. This is fine as the apps work well, but there's always a delay in waking up the phone, finding the app, it connecting to the system, etc. Not a big deal, but can be frustrating when you need to mute playback or skip a horrible track. The dedicated controllers were always on and ready to go.

    Overall it's a solid product that shows some sound engineering. The fact that the core products haven't changed in years (other than marketing names) shows that they had a very clear plan from the beginning and that's refreshing in the flavor-of-the-month consumer electronics industry.
    Andrew Papanikolas
    Esoteric Audio
    Phoenix, AZ

  4. #4
    [WBF Founding Member] Addicted to Best! JackD201's Avatar
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    My home has Sonos zones in various locations. It just works. These are set up with simple independent systems around the house comprised of Bel Canto S300 integrateds and Duevel Planet Omnis. The girls have a Sonos hooked up to a Yamaha integrated and a pair of B&W 302s. I only had two complaints. The first wasn't even really SONOS' fault since a change within Apple had my SONOS down until they could come up with a patch for iTunes reintegration. That took about a month and a half but all was well afterwards. The other was that the SONOS controller s broke down a lot. This is no longer an issue since you don't need their controllers anymore. Just download the App and use your smartphone.
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  5. #5
    Member Sponsor [WBF Founding Member] FrantzM's Avatar
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    Echoing the sentiment about SONOS: It just works and most reliably. One small con: It has no IR remote control something that could be useful in a Wholehouse system so that it could better integrate with other brands. Yes there are work around but they defeat the utter simplicity of use and installation of the SONOS ecosystem. A great product.As for sound quality, for casual listening it is all that is needed. For the audiophiles there are mods. Haven't heard these though.
    Frantz
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  6. #6
    Addicted to Best! joeinid's Avatar
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    I have the Wyred 4 Sound modified Sonos and have it hooked up to an external dac. It is amazing. I absolutely love it.
    Joe



  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by thedudeabides View Post
    Hi all,

    I had my annual physical and my doc asked me about this product line.

    Non audio types have raved about the quality but more importantly about the multi-room / multi-source capabilities in a wireless system.

    Seems like a pretty darn good "life style" product for the money (reasonable sound quality for non-critical listening) considering cost of wiring / install in an existing home environment.

    Any thoughts / experiences with this wi-fi based product and other products on the market that are similar in nature.

    Thanks in advance for any comments.

    GG
    Chromecast audio is another possibility which seems to be a relatively inexpensive and viable alternative.

    Having a digital output adds flexibility and more than likely improve sonics over the Amazon product. It also does 96KHz/24-bit.

    Overall several interesting products, and I would think more advancements coming down the road.


  8. #8
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    absolutely great to see this thread...back in 2007 i started asking around for a DAC when 1-piece high end players was the rage. The audio dealers thought i was nuts...and i was looking for one SPECIFICALLY to use with a Sonos system. That was my ideal setup.

    I looked at the DCS Elgar Plus and just could never convince myself to pull the trigger for the money. I came across a 2nd hand Zanden DAC (which i had never heard of before)...and was 90% to buying it after 20 minutes...a 1 hour audition that weekend, and i bought it for 2x the asking price of the 2nd hand Elgar.

    The funny thing is...years later...i came across a fully up-to-date Zanden DAC WITH Transport...and i have NEVER ended up doing hard drives, Sooloos or Sonos or anything else for that matter. The one good thing about the DAC is that i can use the Oppo digital-out to drive movies through the Zanden as well.
    Speaker: Wilson X1 + Velodyne DD18+
    Source: Zanden 4-Box Digital
    Amp: CJ GAT2 + Gryphon Colosseum
    Cable: TA Opus Gen5&MM2 + PAD 25th Sablon GCUber
    Isolation Sandwiches: Under: HRS.Stillpoints.Auralex Top: HRS.Artesania.Entreq.EAT.90kg Mass Damping
    Power/Ground&Shield: 7 x 16A Furutech . Burmester948 . NordostQX4 / Tripoint Troy Sig+Thor . Entreq Atlantis/Receivus/Everest/Wrap
    Room/Tube: Stillpoints Apertures / Amperex.Mullard
    Headphone: Sennheiser 650 . Arcam rHead . ApogeeGroove

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