School me on SONOS and other home streaming systems

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I can't find a specific thread about this other than some discussion buried in the Spotify thread. Most of my home listening nowadays is through to streaming audio (either digital files or Spotify) straight from my laptop to my living room stereo via an Airport Express. This is fine sound quality-wise but patchy in terms of reliability, and having to open up my laptop whenever I play music is a pain in the arse. I want to upgrade to something better, seemingly bewildering array of options out there, so help me ILM. Criteria are:

- I have an excellent separates system and really good speakers in my front room, I do want or not need something that comes with its own speakers.
- It might be a decent option for other rooms in the future though, so the option to add speakers later would be nice.
- Without wanting to be a tossy audiophile about it, sound quality is important, but without having to resort to a two grand Linn streamer. Good enough is good enough.
- I don't currently have a server and I don't really want to keep a computer on 24/7. The ability to just plug an external hard drive into the back of it would be ideal.
- Ability to stream Spotify in high quality is essential
- So is internet radio (primarily BBC)
- Ability to control via an Android phone would be nice

Does anything actually exist that fits the bill here?

Matt DC, Friday, 29 January 2016 15:05 (one year ago) Permalink

The Marantz M-CR611 is the one I crave. It does everything you want, I think. as soon as I have the money...

droit au butt (Euler), Friday, 29 January 2016 15:11 (one year ago) Permalink

Another not-inconsiderable concern is how long developers will continue to support the hardware, so I'd rather not drop a bomb on it unless it's relatively future-proof.

Matt DC, Friday, 29 January 2016 15:15 (one year ago) Permalink

I like Sonos pretty well, sounds good, was relatively cheap, mostly works fine. But I don't like my internet connection so much. Mostly it all works fine but occasionally bad internet connection makes me wonder wtf was wrong with a stereo and physical product.

japanese mage (LocalGarda), Friday, 29 January 2016 17:45 (one year ago) Permalink

I went with Sonos (after also using Airport/Airplay for years) and am totally in love with it. The only downside to it for my purposes is the expense — the unit you would need for your existing setup is the Sonos Connect, which at $350 seems overpriced to me to attach your amp to the network. But the ease of use and rock solid reliability makes the cost worth it for me.

It ticks every one of your requirements except being able to plug in an external hard drive. If you don’t want to leave your computer on you’ll either need a NAS or do what I did — upload your library to the Google Play Music cloud (the first 50,000 songs are free, which has been plenty for me so far — and now I can also access my library from work or anywhere else, which is pretty neat). I believe it limits your local library to around 65,000 songs.

One thing I really like about it is that everything goes through the Sonos app, so playing music from multiple services is pretty seamless and you have a unified interface. Some people don’t like that aspect of it because certain features might not be ported over from a service’s native app and if the service isn’t supported within the Sonos app you can’t stream it — e.g. no YouTube which bugs a lot of people. But you’d want to be sure that any specific features you like about your current apps are supported.

I believe it's been around the longest and as far as I can tell is the current market leader, so it’s probably the safest bet as far as future-proof.

A much cheaper though much less slick option is the Google Chromecast Audio. You’d still need to upload your library to the cloud, and you’d need to use different apps to play your music — Google Play for your library, Spotify, whatever radio app you use, etc. It’s sort of a low budget cross between Sonos and Airplay.

Lots of info on Sonos and comparisons with competition both here and on the horizon: http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/sonos-player/

early rejecter, Friday, 29 January 2016 18:06 (one year ago) Permalink

I have a multi-zone Sonos setup at home. Have used it for the last two years and I love it. My only issue is the iTunes library limit is something weird like 80K tracks.

brotherlovesdub, Friday, 29 January 2016 22:52 (one year ago) Permalink

The limit is 65,000 tracks. There's ways to get around that - installing a Subsonic server is one of them. You can also connect to Sonos speakers via DLNA - I use BubbleUPNP on my Android phone for just such a purpose, connected to my JRMC Media server. Setting up all this stuff isn't all that hard, actually.

I've got one Sonos Play:1 speaker (a gift) and I quite like it, though it's technically mono. The newer, more expensive stereo Play:5 has a line-in port which opens up other possibilities. The primary appeal of Sonos is IT JUST WORKS. You don't have to buy anything other than a speaker or two and use them via their app or another that supports DLNA. And the word on the street is their customer service is second to none.

I've also got a Chromecast Audio and find it a terrific value ($35) and an easy way to connect to regular speakers that have a line-out. You could add one to a Sonos Play:5 for the best of both worlds.

My setup is so hodge-podge that I never bother with playing something in multiple rooms. That's now how my life and house is configured anyway.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 29 January 2016 23:56 (one year ago) Permalink

Having said all that, there are new Sonos competitors on the market. Samsung has multi-room speakers as does Denon. You can set up multiple Chomecast Audio's and sync them together.

If were starting from scratch I very well might just go with Sonos, in part because I like how they sound, it's dead simple to set up, and their app is quite clever in the way it can easily combine tracks from various sources.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 29 January 2016 23:59 (one year ago) Permalink

This may well be a dumb question but can you plug Audiocast into the back of an amp, or does it need to go straight into the speakers?

Poacher (Chinaski), Saturday, 30 January 2016 19:52 (one year ago) Permalink

Here are the various ways you can connect Chromecast Audio to an amp, speakers, or whatever:
https://support.google.com/chromecast/answer/6280276

Sonos looks good but is a little pricey for my budget. If I were setting up a new multi-room system on the cheap, using existing stereo systems, I'd probably go with Chromecast Audio. But those would not support Matt DC's requirement of being able to plug in an external hard drive rather than running a server.

Currently I use antique Squeezeboxes and the free Logitech Media Server software, which streams the contents of my iTunes library and (via a plug-in) Spotify. I love being able to synch audio throughout the house. Based on what I've read, I think I could get my server talking to Chromecast Audio devices without too much craziness ... I hope I won't have to test that for a while!

Brad C., Saturday, 30 January 2016 20:54 (one year ago) Permalink

chromecast audio is frustrating in what you can use with it. on a pc, you can only stream browser tabs, not from stuff like itunes or spotify. you can basically only stream from paid mobile apps, etc. it's useful sometimes, but you can only do exactly what google wants you to do with their platform.

circles, Saturday, 30 January 2016 21:04 (one year ago) Permalink

But on an Android phone you can stream all output, regardless of source, to a Chromecast Audio.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Saturday, 30 January 2016 21:37 (one year ago) Permalink

xp There are some ways to work around that, both in and outside the browser, but yes, it is frustrating.

In the browser, you could use the Spotify web player and stream that tab. There are some Chrome extensions that can play media files from your computer, and I guess those tabs could be streamed too, as a way to send things from your iTunes library to the Chromecast ... I doubt this would work with DRMed stuff.

So many devices now support streaming that it's hard to keep up with what they can do. The other day I replaced the Blu-Ray player on our home theater system and without my doing anything the new player discovered and connected to my local music server. It has a Spotify app too, so that is an option for streaming music that appeared in my living room more or less by accident.

Brad C., Saturday, 30 January 2016 22:02 (one year ago) Permalink

okay, i knew you could stream from the regular android music player but didn't realize you could just do anything. lol obv i have an iphone.

circles, Saturday, 30 January 2016 22:34 (one year ago) Permalink

Chromecast audio using the optical into a DAC is really great. CCA is the greatest value audio product in history

Amira, Queen of Creativity (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Saturday, 30 January 2016 23:12 (one year ago) Permalink

thanks for this thread, had been meaning to sort this shit out for ages and it made me think about properly - in a similar situation to Matt DC, but a little less worried about quality. On top of that, also need something the family can use - like I love thinking about clever cheap solutions, fiddling with connections, weird off-brand black boxes from tottenham court court road, but everyone else in the house will want something that just works, ie as-if-by-magic players that they can control, rather than me saying "it's quite simple. First, open terminal…"

Always dismissed Sonos before - expensive, a bit too single-company dependent, and multi-room was never a need… but shit it does look easy and clever, so… a Sonos 1 to start, get another down the line if it works & have stereo or second room, and maybe build from there. Get my library into Google Play, and down the line run a sonos connect into my old amp and speakers if it all seems to be working. In the meantime, a chromecast audio for them because it's cheap and interesting and why not.

woof, Saturday, 30 January 2016 23:49 (one year ago) Permalink

Yeah both my wife and I have Android phones and will I think continue to for the foreseeable future, so the Chromecast Audio looks a pretty easy solution. Although getting my entire library into the cloud, while probably sensible in the long term, still feels like a massive ballache.

Are there really no options that involve just whacking a hard drive into the back of them? TV streaming boxes have been offering that functionality for years, with the ability to zip files round the network vi wifi.

Quality is an issue for me (this is a really good Linn system that we were amazingly lucky to get second-hand) so any option has to sound good on that kind of setup. Then again streaming any source to the Apple Express sounds good in that setup, and I doubt the Chromecast will be a big step down from that.

NAS + Sonos Connect might be the way to go, happy to pay a bit more for something robust in the longer-term. But that Marantz box in the first response does look tasty.

Really useful thread, thanks! I figured I was unlikely to be the only person wondering about this stuff.

Matt DC, Sunday, 31 January 2016 12:28 (one year ago) Permalink

I'm running a Chromecast Audio through optical to Musical Fidelity VDAC II into s Cambridge Audio amp and nice speakers. Even using Spotify it gets pretty close to vinyl and CD, there's still some harshness which I think midrange speakers that aren't so revealing might be better... But all said I spent $35 for the CCA and $150 off eBay for the DAC and it's great

One thing to point out, Chromecast Audio doesn't "stream" from your phone. It has its own broadband WiFi connection. Your phone just "points" the CCA towards what you want to play. That means it's not compressed like Bluetooth streaming and even better you can go to another app like YouTube or take a phone call and it won't affect the music. Even if you turn your phone off it will continue to play until the end of the current album or play list.

Amira, Queen of Creativity (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Sunday, 31 January 2016 14:57 (one year ago) Permalink

I'm sure Chromecast works best with Android devices, but I've had good luck using my iPhone and a regular, video-oriented Chromecast -- no problems using the iPhone to control Spotify or YouTube on the Chromecast.

Brad C., Sunday, 31 January 2016 15:45 (one year ago) Permalink

also need something the family can use . . . everyone else in the house will want something that just works

This might actually be my favorite things about Sonos. My wife had just about given up on listening to music between her frustration with Airplay and the impracticality of CDs/vinyl on our main stereo with two kids under the age of 5 running about pressing any button within reach. Now she has music playing all day long and is rediscovering her love for forgotten bands, the kids are being exposed to so much more music, everyone is asking for more speakers throughout the house . . .

early rejecter, Monday, 1 February 2016 03:19 (one year ago) Permalink

I got my parents into Sonos w/ Spotify. My mom is the kind of person who types GOOGLE.COM in the search bar on Google.com. She can work the Sonos from her phone.

brotherlovesdub, Monday, 1 February 2016 03:44 (one year ago) Permalink

Anyone here with experience replacing a Squeezebox 2/3/Touch with a Sonos Connect? I guess since it doesn't have a screen you need an iPad or something to control it?

erry red flag (f. hazel), Monday, 1 February 2016 04:17 (one year ago) Permalink

I was also thinking about this recently. My hifi is very old and i haven't listened to any of my cds or vinyl in years. It's also difficult to find a space for it in my current living room.

How are the actually sonos speakers? I don't care sooo much about sound quality but I certainly don't want anything that sounds like a portable bluetooth speaker.

Or is it a better option to investigate a new standalone hifi and then get a sonos connect or similar?

tpp, Monday, 1 February 2016 06:12 (one year ago) Permalink

Sonos app makes it unusable to me. True heads can't even listen to Youtube & my 64 gb itunes library never fully syncs. Currently use apple airplay thru vintage gear but it buffers so I'm interested in other options as well.

Captain Maximus, Monday, 1 February 2016 09:50 (one year ago) Permalink

Thanks for the tips in this thread, I've been looking for a streaming device too. I have only one audio set in one room I would need to stream to, so I ended up ordering Chromecast Audio... However, upon looking at Google own streaming app, Google Play, it noticed that it transcodes all the FLAC into MP3s. And I know Plex does the same... Most of the music files on my computer are FLACs, and Chromecast itself supports that format, so are there any good music streaming apps that would stream FLACs to Chromecast without transcoding them?

Tuomas, Monday, 1 February 2016 09:55 (one year ago) Permalink

I agree with ums that chromecast audio is THE best bargain on the market. But for multiroom purposes I think Sonos, HEOS or Bluesound are better (though more expensive) choices, in part because of the dedicated control app.

Sonos Connect is a great way to get started with streaming on your current stereo system, it's probably the most stable and developed system on the market. Heos Link and Bluesound Node 2 are good alternatives, they offer more connectivity (usb, optical input, bluetooth-adapter, subwoofer pre-out, triggers) and improved sound (24 bit support, better built-in DACs, better optical outputs).

If you're looking to replace you current amplifier, you'll need active speakers or streamer-amps. The stand alone speakers (like the Sonos Play 1) are impressive but can be a bit tiresome to listen to for very long - unless you're allergic to passive speakers I'd recommend the Sonos Connect Amp, Heos Amp or Bluesound Powernode 2 with a set of budget passive speakers for your main listening room. Price will be similar to a Play:5 or a stereo pair of Play:3s, sound is going to be a lot better.

No matter what system you choose, I think you'll experience improved functionality with a NAS - so if streaming your own collection of music files is important, I think that's a solid investment.

As a final note, I'll add that your streaming system is never going to function any better than your router - so if you're using the one supplied by your ISP, getting a proper router (~80$) can make all the difference.

niels, Monday, 1 February 2016 11:45 (one year ago) Permalink

No matter what system you choose, I think you'll experience improved functionality with a NAS - so if streaming your own collection of music files is important, I think that's a solid investment.

Sorry if I sound stupid, but what's a NAS and how do you acquire it?

Tuomas, Monday, 1 February 2016 11:58 (one year ago) Permalink

and can i eat it?

NAS, Network Attached Server. dedicated file server running something like FreeNas or MediaVault.

koogs, Monday, 1 February 2016 12:08 (one year ago) Permalink

NAS : network storage.
basically a big hard disc that you access via your home network.
they are not too pricey these days :

http://www.pcworld.co.uk/gbuk/computing-accessories/data-storage/data-storage/wd-my-cloud-personal-cloud-storage-4-tb-21817659-pdt.html

i use the NAS/Sonos Connect setup, and its brilliant.
not fussed re speakers round the house, just needed to get my digital archive into my stereo, and figured this was the best option for my needs.
and yeah, the desktop app is very easy to use, and i love the way you can flip from digital radio, various streaming services (i got 12 months free deezer when i bought the sonos connect), and your local digital library without any trouble whatsoever.

mark e, Monday, 1 February 2016 12:10 (one year ago) Permalink

Rather than full-blown NAS enclosure… can i kill 2 birds/1 stone: buy a new, stronger router with a USB port, plug a terabyte hard drive into that, then point Sonos and/or CCA towards that?

woof, Monday, 1 February 2016 12:23 (one year ago) Permalink

So basically it's an external hard drive that also works as a cloud? The price is pretty steep, but I guess it'd eventually pay itself back since you don't have to pay a monthly/yearly like with net-based cloud services...

One thing that seems a bit worrying, in order for it work you have to keep it and your modem on all the time, right? That seems like a bit of fire hazard, or am I overtly cautious?

(xpost)

Tuomas, Monday, 1 February 2016 12:28 (one year ago) Permalink

yes, to keep your network up and running, then you do need to leave the router on.
i dont think this is a fire hazard !
re router+ USB : no idea, i would suspect it is possible, just depends on how the router maps the USB drive.
if you can access the USB drive as a standard external network drive, then i see no reason why you cant point Sonos to that location and pick up the digital files.

mark e, Monday, 1 February 2016 12:34 (one year ago) Permalink

One thing that seems a bit worrying, in order for it work you have to keep it and your modem on all the time, right? That seems like a bit of fire hazard, or am I overtly cautious?

people turn off their modem/router???

tpp, Monday, 1 February 2016 12:36 (one year ago) Permalink

One thing that seems a bit worrying, in order for it work you have to keep it and your modem on all the time, right? That seems like a bit of fire hazard, or am I overtly cautious?

You're being overly cautious. The equipment is designed to be on 24/7 and to just burst into flames would represent a major design flaw. Virtually every office building in the developed world has a server on constantly, if your concerns were realistic they'd be burning down all the time.

I don't think I've turned a router off except to reboot it in about 15 years.

Matt DC, Monday, 1 February 2016 12:49 (one year ago) Permalink

Rather than full-blown NAS enclosure… can i kill 2 birds/1 stone: buy a new, stronger router with a USB port, plug a terabyte hard drive into that, then point Sonos and/or CCA towards that?

I think my BT Homehub might do this but I've never worked out how to actually set it up properly.

Matt DC, Monday, 1 February 2016 12:50 (one year ago) Permalink

if you think about it there is also electricity CONSTANTLY running into the house. you can prove this by flipping a light switch on, there is no latency, i.e. the electricity is storing up behind the walls in an active state.

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Monday, 1 February 2016 12:51 (one year ago) Permalink

haha that is not how electricity works

Eyeball Kicks, Monday, 1 February 2016 13:07 (one year ago) Permalink

Like even if any of that post made sense, "you can prove this by flipping a light switch on, there is no latency" is cartoon funny - the idea you could see the delay between your fingers flipping a switch and a light turning on if it wasn't "storing up behind the walls".

Eyeball Kicks, Monday, 1 February 2016 13:15 (one year ago) Permalink

You're being overly cautious. The equipment is designed to be on 24/7 and to just burst into flames would represent a major design flaw. Virtually every office building in the developed world has a server on constantly, if your concerns were realistic they'd be burning down all the time.

Yeah, I get this, but those servers have inbuilt cooling, unlike my modem, which gets fairly hot if I keep it on for two days in a row. I assume this NAS has its own cooling system, though?

Tuomas, Monday, 1 February 2016 13:24 (one year ago) Permalink

i acquired a sonos player last year and the sound is really good but

It ticks every one of your requirements except being able to plug in an external hard drive.

this was just a bit of a deal-breaker - i play all my music off an external HD and the speaker seemed to be requiring that i never switch my laptop off? i don't really see how that's remotely desirable.

cher guevara (lex pretend), Monday, 1 February 2016 13:41 (one year ago) Permalink

Yeah I think this is why people are talking about servers/moving everything to the cloud. Always-on laptop is the scenario I want to avoid.

Matt DC, Monday, 1 February 2016 13:46 (one year ago) Permalink

what about an always-on raspberry pi?

koogs, Monday, 1 February 2016 13:53 (one year ago) Permalink

it really confused me when i got it because it was like...how on earth did sonos not take that into account when designing their weird system?

xp

cher guevara (lex pretend), Monday, 1 February 2016 13:53 (one year ago) Permalink

I have the older version of the Marantz mentioned near the top of the thread.

I went for this because, after selling all my high-end gear in 2012 and going with a basic separates system (10yo Sony DVD player into 30yo Cyrus amp), and then giving those up too, I wanted to start from scratch with something good but simple. The sound quality is great (basically just the Marantz into Q-Acoustics monitors and Sennheiser headphones), but there are a few niggles with it dropping off my network with some regularity - so it can't find Spotify, or my iPhone / tablet app can't find the Marantz. CD playback was essential for me (again, it would be nice here if, seeing as it's a networked device, it could do a Gracenote-style lookup and not just say "11 tracks 55:12" like a dumb CD player), but there is a cheaper model without.

It also has a useless Last.fm mode (support for that was withdrawn before I bought mine), good FM/DAB and NAS/USB/Bluetooth/AirPlay connections (the last of which I use a lot when I can't be bothered navigating Spotify via the clunky Marantz app).

As an amp, it's perfectly fine - I route the TV and MD deck in via S/PDIF, and the turntable pre-amp via analogue. I think that's about all the connections taken up, mind.

Michael Jones, Monday, 1 February 2016 14:01 (one year ago) Permalink

it's tempting to think there's a NAS out there that you can dump your music onto, and feed your Spotify Premium details, and it would provide a unified search/playlist interface to? with RCA out?

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Monday, 1 February 2016 14:05 (one year ago) Permalink

I'm looking to reconfigure my home audio system, hopefully in a way that also integrates with my TV. My main music source is Spotify and my main TV platform is Roku. The essential apps for me on Roku are Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, Twitch, and Spotify. Unfortunately, the Roku Spotify app is pretty bad. It doesn't allow you to play from folders, only from individual playlists, and it doesn't support local files, only songs in Spotify's library. I've tried doing screen mirroring from my Android phone to Roku for Spotify, but Roku's screen mirroring is junk, it crashes a lot and pretty much disrupts my wi-fi.

I don't think SONOS is the answer to this, but I'm curious about Chromecast. My main reservations are the lack of Amazon and the concern that casting from my phone to my TV/stereo will cause similar wi-fi issues as the Roku.

Check Yr Scrobbles (Moodles), Monday, 1 February 2016 14:19 (one year ago) Permalink

I wonder if there are any players that would do the same as what the Marantz does, but also work as an bluray/net video player with an HDMI out and surround sound? I have 5.1 speaker set and I watch movies and play music through the same Yamaha A/V receiver... It feels pretty pointless to have separate systems for music and videos, but most audiophile players/receivers seem to be for audio only.

Tuomas, Monday, 1 February 2016 14:23 (one year ago) Permalink

(xpost)

Tuomas, Monday, 1 February 2016 14:24 (one year ago) Permalink

I have been looking at that Marantz thing for a while actually. If it had phono input I would have bought it already. But I've been in a state of indecision for a while now about whether to get that plus separate phono preamp OR vintage integrated amp plus bluetooth adapter (plus separate CD player I guess).

Eyeball Kicks, Monday, 1 February 2016 14:24 (one year ago) Permalink

Oppo players might they are supposed to be great dacs

Amira, Queen of Creativity (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Monday, 1 February 2016 14:25 (one year ago) Permalink

(also the audio is lossless 44/16 fwiw)

MatthewK, Thursday, 13 October 2016 05:15 (one year ago) Permalink

one month passes...

I finally ditched the 30 pound giant old speakers for two play:5s. Have two play:1s in the apartment as well. I use the analog inputs on the play:5s for tv and records. It is great to be rid of long snaking cables and to be listening to records broadcast everywhere. Still I'm not sure that the sound is better than my giant old monitors.

tried Blue Apron and we died (Sufjan Grafton), Friday, 9 December 2016 01:27 (one year ago) Permalink

there's a freshman year of college computer speakers quality to it all that may be entirely psychological. Could be the weird "loud" eq setting they use as defalt.

tried Blue Apron and we died (Sufjan Grafton), Friday, 9 December 2016 01:30 (one year ago) Permalink

Also had to turn the bass down before I coud even hear any dialogue over the rumble in a movie/tv.

tried Blue Apron and we died (Sufjan Grafton), Friday, 9 December 2016 01:32 (one year ago) Permalink

I'm now thinking of getting a Connect (sans amp) and hooking it up to my Audioengine A5+'s. The best of both worlds, although they're a bit overpriced ($350), I think I can get one off eBay for considerably less.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Friday, 9 December 2016 01:46 (one year ago) Permalink

seems like a good idea. The best part of all of this is wifi (not bluetooth) and the software.

tried Blue Apron and we died (Sufjan Grafton), Friday, 9 December 2016 01:50 (one year ago) Permalink

seven months pass...

After years of babying along my ancient Squeezeboxes, I took the plunge and replaced them with Chromecast Audios ... so far these are delivering good synchronized sound to my upstairs and downstairs receivers.

Brad C., Saturday, 5 August 2017 17:19 (five months ago) Permalink

one month passes...

really wish the sonos app had a way of listing albums in year of release order so i could see what i have bought from this year.

mark e, Thursday, 28 September 2017 17:35 (three months ago) Permalink

Yeah, I'd like more sorting options too. I've tried to get around it somewhat by creating smart playlists in iTunes for things like releases from specific years, but that's really only practical for shuffle mode since it shows tracks, not albums. And I prefer to stream my library from Google Play, not my computer, so end up almost never using the playlists away.

They're announcing new hardware on October 4; hoping for app updates as well.

early rejecter, Thursday, 28 September 2017 19:27 (three months ago) Permalink

i have no interaction with anything other than my local NAS archive/sonos connect/hi-fi amp.
would rather not have to replace the connect,
as they will probably make any new kit more about streaming as opposed to local archives as thats their declared future.
i am even old school in the new school.

mark e, Thursday, 28 September 2017 19:35 (three months ago) Permalink

two months pass...

got the sub with discount for christmas this year. also found a way to place 5s so that they can stand vertically, tweeters on the inside. now completely satisfied with this as replacement for my giant old monitors.

crocus bulbotuber (Sufjan Grafton), Thursday, 14 December 2017 04:51 (one month ago) Permalink

also tried using alexa with sonos and almost immediately went down a road that featured alexa trying to sell me amazon music unlimited :-/

crocus bulbotuber (Sufjan Grafton), Thursday, 14 December 2017 04:59 (one month ago) Permalink

amazon is maybe good at supply chain operations and some software stuff but then bad at hardware quality and many other software things. anyway, alexa is listed under a "voice services" menu in the sonos app settings. other voice services will presumably be available some day.

crocus bulbotuber (Sufjan Grafton), Thursday, 14 December 2017 05:04 (one month ago) Permalink

I've not had to change my setup in two years (Connect plugged into my big system in the front room, NAS, additional speaker in the kitchen). It's basically perfect and the idea of integrating Alexa or any other voice control options into it is extremely offputting.

Matt DC, Thursday, 14 December 2017 08:11 (one month ago) Permalink

I've not had to change my setup in two years (Connect plugged into my big system in the front room, NAS, additional speaker in the kitchen). It's basically perfect and the idea of integrating Alexa or any other voice control options into it is extremely offputting.

this.

mark e, Thursday, 14 December 2017 08:31 (one month ago) Permalink

I got the Connect for the Audioengine's in the living room and a Sonos One (with Alexa) for the dining room. It's great and once I've paired the rooms they always play together regardless of what app I use to stream to them.

Agreed that the Alexa function on the One is fun but not as full-functioned as Google Assistant. It's great for my wife to be able to say "Alexa, play WCRB on Tunein" to get her radio fix, or for the kids to ask Alexa to play something random from Spotify. Me, I don't listen to music that way - I've always got something playing or in the queue and control it from my phone.

I also picked up a few Google Home Mini's and they're terrific for the kids and for asking random questions that pop up, I look forward to Sonos adding the Assistant to the One.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Thursday, 14 December 2017 19:22 (one month ago) Permalink

what's the setup of your big system, MDC? I fancy the NAS/connect/big system approach

x-posts

||||||||, Thursday, 14 December 2017 19:50 (one month ago) Permalink

xp yes, it is great for "alexa, play discover weekly". Our One is in the kitchen so we don't have to touch the app controls while cooking. I just wish it could all be so easy. I haven't tinkered with it too much. I made spotify my default music service to drop the "on spotify" part. It might be more useful to make a set of commands for more complex tasks, though.

crocus bulbotuber (Sufjan Grafton), Thursday, 14 December 2017 21:07 (one month ago) Permalink

you'd think that "Alexa, what is the containment of the Thomas Fire?" would work. google will at least point you toward an article with 'containment' in it. you could find that article and recite the bit containing 'containment'. alexa just recites the wikipedia entry.

crocus bulbotuber (Sufjan Grafton), Thursday, 14 December 2017 21:12 (one month ago) Permalink

what's the setup of your big system, MDC? I fancy the NAS/connect/big system approach

I bought a WD MyCloud which seems to do the storage job well enough. The system itself is an inherited Linn which I would never in a million years have bought for myself (I have audophile in-laws who upgraded a few years ago), so it's not an especially useful guide, but the Connect will plug into the back of pretty much anything.

Matt DC, Friday, 15 December 2017 09:51 (one month ago) Permalink

Tim H has an eBay'd Linn which is one of the best-sounding things I've ever heard.

stet, Friday, 15 December 2017 13:11 (one month ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

My bedside listening device is a venerable mid 90s Hitachi boom box. Tbh it's more than fine, plays tapes and CDs and has a real radio obvs.

I've been thinking about getting a small Bluetooth receiver for it so I can stream off phone / computer (and recommendations are welcome - doesn't have to be super hi-fi.) But for reasons I'm also wondering if a Play:1 (specifically) would be a significant step up (or otherwise) in audio quality. The Hitachi is stereo of course and has a third 'bass' driver.

Any 'pinions?

Noel Emits, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 17:33 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I would highly recommend the Harman Kardon Onyx. I have the Studio 2 version which is a couple years old now. Bought it for around $150 and it sounds fantastic.

kornrulez6969, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 17:41 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I love play:1s. they sound good, are small, and have reliable wireless performance. any sonos player will come tied to using a sonos app on your phone or pad device, at least for setup and admin, though. so it helps to have good wireless in the location you put the player and a good phone or pad for reliably connecting to that same network. Since it isn't bluetooth, you need to also be sure that your chosen streaming methods (or suitable equivalents) can be used with sonos.

Scatperson (ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-whore.) (Sufjan Grafton), Tuesday, 2 January 2018 17:54 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Sonos also has the benefit of being a system. if you find you have another $150 to spend at a later date, you can build upon your bedside purchase and sync a play:1 in the bedroom with a new one in the kitchen. given the popularity of the system, the community also produces other interesting things to play with, such as the soco (sonos controller) package for python, if that interests you.

Scatperson (ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-whore.) (Sufjan Grafton), Tuesday, 2 January 2018 18:02 (two weeks ago) Permalink

downside to the wireless/system approach is that you will need to go through speaker setup/registration every time you switch wireless networks. so it is harder to bring a play:1 to your friend's party (though not too much trouble)

Scatperson (ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-whore.) (Sufjan Grafton), Tuesday, 2 January 2018 18:04 (two weeks ago) Permalink

We have a Play 1 in our kitchen and a 3 in the living room. Small house, so that covers us pretty well downstairs. The upstairs is the kids' space, and we just got them one of the new Play 1's with Alexa, which they love. So far I have resisted the urge to remotely take over their speaker and blast them out of bed in the morning.

a man often referred to in the news media as the Duke of Saxony (tipsy mothra), Tuesday, 2 January 2018 19:01 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I'm thinking that a lot of what a Sonos system offers I don't especially need right now. It would hinge mainly on sound quality, although setting up a NAS starts to seem quite appealing.

The Onyx stuff seems like it probably wins on sound quality.

Then again I'm looking at a <£20 Bluetooth 4.1 receiver with APTX which would require almost zero faff. I do love that the Hitachi has been with me over twenty years and survived multiple festivals and house parties.

Noel Emits, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 19:12 (two weeks ago) Permalink

tbh I'd expect the Onyx to win on portability and ease of setup and lose on sound quality. you'd have to A/B to know for sure.

Scatperson (ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-whore.) (Sufjan Grafton), Tuesday, 2 January 2018 19:18 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I love my Sonos system. I've got it connected to a HDMI splitter, so I can use it both as a wireless stereo and also for movies off my laptop and games off my Switch.

Lots of weird quirks-- if the Wifi is slow at any point in the day, sometimes the sound dips out pretty annoyingly.

flamboyant goon tie included, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 21:42 (two weeks ago) Permalink

by "HDMI splitter" do you mean an HDMI to ethernet adapter? I'm confused about how you are getting digital audio to sonos in this case. I've had good luck with the wifi on play:1s or Ones. play:5 wifi reliability is bad, though. Sonosnet is 2.4GHz, so reliability will depend on the number of other 2.4GHz routers near your system. can also try changing the channel sonos uses.

Scatperson (ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-whore.) (Sufjan Grafton), Tuesday, 2 January 2018 22:21 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I'm not AV smart, I just bought a 4-to-1 HDMI funnel and then a "split stereo audio off the HDMI cable" connector. Maybe not the most elegant solution but I can switch between SNES mini, Switch, computer or Sonos app without touching any buttons

flamboyant goon tie included, Tuesday, 2 January 2018 23:27 (two weeks ago) Permalink

ah, I see. So you are plugging that analog audio into an analog input on a sonos player or some other device eventually on the network. I plug all hdmi stuff into the TV and convert the digital optical out to stereo audio. I didn't think of the HDMI splitter + converter way.

Scatperson (ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-whore.) (Sufjan Grafton), Tuesday, 2 January 2018 23:48 (two weeks ago) Permalink

i just plugged my new alexa (!) straight into my stereo and it's great

"play 1xtra" and it does it. spotify is plumbed in so i say "play the new gas album" and it does it. wild

podcasts are shonky. it's via tunein and i can't tell if any sort of subscribing or "bookmarking" is possible i.e. all the things that make podcasts good.

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 00:52 (one week ago) Permalink

however. i can just bluetooth to it from my phone. which is probably a better interface for podcasts anyway.

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 01:00 (one week ago) Permalink

bye bye airport express, you always pretty much sucked

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 01:00 (one week ago) Permalink

Hm, AE is lossless, and the most recent has a DAC which measures better than most audiophile gear. Works for me.
Also - https://www.wired.com/story/hackers-can-rickroll-sonos-bose-speakers-over-internet/

attention vampire (MatthewK), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 10:56 (one week ago) Permalink

AE dropped out constantly for me, totally unreliable whether i was using phone or computer.

it also didn't tell me the weather

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 11:36 (one week ago) Permalink

Can be chancy in a cluttered wifi environment, but I stream to mine literally dozens of hours a week and typically get maybe 2-3 dropouts in that playtime.

attention vampire (MatthewK), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 12:15 (one week ago) Permalink

no weather, but

attention vampire (MatthewK), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 12:15 (one week ago) Permalink

yeah i live in London, literally more than a dozen Wifi networks visible in my dropdown

almost just wrote "me dropdown" like some salty sailor tutting at his poor wifi reception on the open seas

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 12:18 (one week ago) Permalink

We got a second-hand Linn Numerik DAC over Christmas and plugged the Sonos Connect into it, and it's improved the sound even on Spotify to an audible degree. Everything just sounds more three-dimensional now.

My old Airport Express used to drop out all the time, it was hugely annoying.

Matt DC, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 12:22 (one week ago) Permalink

I connected my Airport Expresses to inexpensive powerline adapters via ethernet and it solved all of my dropout issues. I've mostly moved to Sonos but still use a couple of AEs and can't remember the last time I had a dropout. Don't know how well those adapters work in apartments though.

This might be outside the scope of this thread and better suited to computer questions in ILE, but -- I picked up a Chromecast Audio to use at work, not realizing that client isolation would prevent me from using it on the office wifi network. I think I can get around this by using one of those $20 wireless travel routers in bridge mode to create my own wifi network that piggybacks off the office wifi. Will that complicate my life in any ways I'm not anticipating?

early rejecter, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 15:48 (one week ago) Permalink

Wouldn’t the travel wifi itself have to join the office network, encountering the same problem?

attention vampire (MatthewK), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 19:34 (one week ago) Permalink

if you have access to an Ethernet port at work, you might be able to use the Ethernet Adaptor for Chromecast

Brad C., Wednesday, 3 January 2018 20:17 (one week ago) Permalink

It would have to join the network, but no other wireless devices would need to communicate with it on that network, so I think I would be ok. The reason I can't use the Chromecast now is that our office router isolates all of the wireless devices connected to it, so my phone can't communicate with the Chromecast over the network. But with the travel router they'd be communicating through the new wifi network that it creates, so I think I'd be ok. I think if I can set my phone to prioritize my new network over the office one it should work pretty seamlessly, but I wouldn't be surprised if I'm overlooking something.

I hadn't seen that Ethernet Adapter for Chromecast -- will look into that too, though my stereo isn't very close to the available ethernet ports unfortunately. Might be worth running a cable though. Thanks.

early rejecter, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 20:42 (one week ago) Permalink

the travel router needs to be a repeater, not a bridge, no?

Scatperson (ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-whore.) (Sufjan Grafton), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 21:26 (one week ago) Permalink

Wouldn't a repeater mean that I'd be on the same network that is causing me problems now with AP/client isolation? (I'm no expert on this stuff.)

early rejecter, Wednesday, 3 January 2018 21:53 (one week ago) Permalink

I am also not an expert. but when I set my second router to "repeater mode", it creates new wifi network for forwarding to the main router. if I connect to that new network, I believe the main router still only sees the repeater as a client. when I set the second router to "media bridge mode", I am connecting to the LAN of the main router and connecting to the bridge with ethernet. I don't think I am treated as a wireless client in this case? this is at least the convention used by my old asus router.

Scatperson (ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-whore.) (Sufjan Grafton), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 22:41 (one week ago) Permalink

actually, I think the bridge is treated as a wireless client. so you'd need to do "repeater mode". I think we are in agreement here, and just using different terms.

Scatperson (ski-ba-bop-ba-dop-whore.) (Sufjan Grafton), Wednesday, 3 January 2018 22:47 (one week ago) Permalink


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