Sonos / the best mousetrap?

thedudeabides

Active Member
Jan 16, 2011
1,183
1
38
Alto, NM
#1
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
 

LL21

Active Member
Dec 26, 2010
10,572
3
38
#2
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.
 
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AMP

New Member
Feb 28, 2011
302
0
0
#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.
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,031
22
38
Manila, Philippines
#4
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.
 

FrantzM

Member Sponsor & WBF Founding Member
Apr 20, 2010
6,469
0
0
#5
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.
 

joeinid

Active Member
Mar 15, 2011
1,534
0
36
NY
#6
I have the Wyred 4 Sound modified Sonos and have it hooked up to an external dac. It is amazing. I absolutely love it.
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,031
22
38
Manila, Philippines
#7
The stock electronics are actually quite good. Ron, Steve, Jim and I had a great time with Ron's Sonos hooked up via analog outs to Steve's Alexandria 2s and Lamms. I still want Ron's library though, lots of great stuff in that NAS of his.
 
Jul 1, 2010
8,713
0
0
#9
I know Sonos well...used to sell it. It is very good stuff, easy to use. But if simultaneously playing different music in different zones isn't critical for you, it can easily be bested with a computer running any computer audio source through Airfoil to any iPad, iPhone, Android or Airplay compatible device (Apple TV, Airport Express, lots of 3rd party audio), getting the wireless signal to any audio system. As an example, there are very inexpensive powered monitors available that will blow away Sonos play bars for less $, receivers/integrated amps that will offer much more versatility and more power than Sonos amps, or you can hook it up to all the existing systems in your house (Less expensively than Sonos) as another source option.

Sonos is a good system and a great solution for folks who want extremely easy plug-n-play. But for not much more trouble, and, if you shop carefully, less money, you can get better quality playback.

Tim
 

thedudeabides

Active Member
Jan 16, 2011
1,183
1
38
Alto, NM
#10
Thank you Tim and everyone else for the input.

My sense is that my Doc will be more than happy with the tech limitations and will love the "user friendly" aspects of the system.

GG
 
May 30, 2010
14,139
83
48
Portugal
#11
The audiophile mousetrap

:eek:
 

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Nov 18, 2011
10
0
0
#15
Sonos rules. I went from just trying one, after Squeezebox stopped Touch production, to having 3 connects around the house, and a Sonos 5 in the bedroom. The UI trounces anything else I'd used.
 

DonH50

Member Sponsor & WBF Technical Expert
Jun 23, 2010
3,539
4
38
Monument, CO
#16
Bringing an old thread back... After thinking about it for years, and being pushed a little by a co-worker who has a full house setup and loves it, I purchased a Bridge and Connect a few months ago with the idea of ripping all my CDs to play over the network. I have a few hundred, nowhere near as many as some here and a fraction of all the LPs I used to have, but it was still a chore! I used dBpoweramp to rip to FLAC. It didn't get all the track titles right, but handled the majority, and I'll fix the rest as I find them. I finally finished a few weeks ago and got around to hooking up the Sonos system last weekend. I am using the Connect's audio outputs though plan to use the digital output after I switch receivers (had the new one a few weeks, just no time to put it in).

Not really using anything like this before, I found the interface a bit quirky but very easy to use. I had no problem getting the Bridge to work and then adding the Connect was really easy. I had nightmares about fighting network issues for days/weeks trying to get everything to work but it was literally a few minutes. While I bought a wireless media adapter to hook up the new receiver, I stuck with the Sonos mesh network for the Connect (figured it was easier and safer to let it use its own network). It was easy to map my music library (ripped to my notebook then synched to a WD MyCloud NAS; I have a Synology RAID NAS and drives in boxes that will take over, eventually) and after years of my wife telling me how great Pandora was I finally tried it (and it is pretty nice). One goal accomplished: very easy to set up and get playing!

The sound is OK, at least to me. I have not listened long enough or hardly at all the past few months so have lost much of my basis for comparison (my Oppo broke down last fall and I haven't gotten it repaired yet). I was disappointed to read Sonos only supports 16-bit but not a killer since I have very little hi-res stuff anyway. My goals were good sound with ease-of-use since a large part of why I have not been listening to my CD collection is that, with so little time to listen, it was a hassle if I wanted to listen to say five different Maynard Ferguson ;) songs from different albums. I used to listen to an album at a time, but anymore I tend to have a few songs in mind, often different artists and CDs, and getting up to swap CDs every few minutes just wasn't worth the effort when I was often working at the same time or only had an hour in the evening to listen. A world-wide customer base and 24/7 connectivity may be a great thing for employers, and customers appreciate the support for their time zone, but it is a lot of work for employees. Last week I picked up a 2-pack of Play 1's, one for my office and one for the family room where my wife lives, and was surprised at how good they sound for a little speaker. Would not likely ever be a primary speaker, but for casual listening and background music they are really good, and my wife likes the sound (still have to introduce her to the UI).

The speakers ("players" in Sonos-speak, which is actually more accurate) are a bit pricey, but they do include amplifiers and a network interface, so aren't really out of line if you add up the pieces and supporting technology. I have read mixed reviews about Sonos support but they were good to me before and after the sale. And the sound from the little Play 1's is better than I expected. Maggies they ain't, but they aren't bad! I kow Sonos has been compared to Bose but my very limited exposure to both has me thinking the Sonos players sound better than say the Bose Cubes. As for price, I think the various Wave players are pretty expensive for what they offer.

I plan to get a Play 5 for our basement game room for when we or the kids are down there playing pool or whatever. Unfortunately the Play 5 is the only player with a line input for the kid's iPods and such (really wish Sonos would add that to the cheaper speakers!) We had the house pre-wired for speakers but never followed through, and after ~20 years the guy who wired it is long gone and we have no hope of tracking down the wires, so Sonos is replacing that system. Bottom line is I am happy with it and wishing I had done it years ago. Would've also been fewer CDs to rip...

FWIWFM - Don
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,213
93
48
Beverly Hills, CA
#17
For my wife's birthday party last week we rented a villa in Ibiza. The house has a Sonos system. I had never seen or used a Sonos system before. I discovered that the Sonos system can utilize your own songs on an iPad, internet radio stations, Spotify, etc. I found "Eagles Radio" on Spotify and we played that channel through the Sonos system for several days.

Well, my wife and I are both hooked on this Sonos thing! I plan to get their "Connect" devices, which stream the output of the Sonus through your existing amplifiers and speakers. I plan to use this for several very small stereo systems I have in a few different rooms.
 

JackD201

[WBF Founding Member]
Apr 21, 2010
11,031
22
38
Manila, Philippines
#18
Did you go to Pacha or Space? :D
 

Ron Resnick

Site Co-Owner, Administrator
Jan 25, 2015
5,213
93
48
Beverly Hills, CA
#19
Neither. My wife and her six friends wanted to relax more -- we were not into going to the big clubs.

One day we chartered a big motorboat for the day and went to Tiburon on Formentera. We went to some beach clubs.

One evening we all had dinner at Blue Marlin.
 
Apr 3, 2010
16,022
0
0
Seattle, WA
#20
Sonos has lost its mojo since introduction of Amazon Echo. I plan to rip out mine and put in the Echo in my garage. Wonderful to be able to just talk to the Echo to tell it what to play rather than pull out my phone, start sonos app, tell it what to do, etc. The company realizes this and hurrying to come up with a strategy but it might be too late: http://www.theverge.com/2016/3/10/11191978/sonos-Amazon-echo-alexa

"Alexa/Echo is the first product to really showcase the power of voice control in the home," MacFarlane [Sonos CEO] says. "Its popularity with consumers will accelerate innovation across the entire industry. What is novel today will become standard tomorrow. Here again, Sonos is taking the long view in how best to bring voice-enabled music experiences into the home. Voice is a big change for us, so we’ll invest what’s required to bring it to market in a wonderful way."

"Music is emotional. It demands immediacy of control to match our whims. And nothing is more immediate than saying, "Hey Sonos, play something happy." As a long time Sonos user, voice control seems like a natural evolution for the product. The company killed its dedicated CR200 remote control back in 2012 in favor of free smartphone apps. But for some, the extra delay at having to fish out and unlock their phones, and then launch the Sonos app tainted the overall experience."

Ron, if you have not tried Amazon Echo, I highly recommend for casual listening. It also does more than play music but music itself is superbly done. I gave my wife a Sonos and she never used it. Then I "caught" her using the Echo! :) Sadly she uses it to play country music. :( Fortunately she only does that when I am not around.
 

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