Sonos Low Latency Streaming

  • 15 January 2023
  • 6 replies
  • 1197 views

Hi.

 

I’m interested in learning more details on how Sonos’ low-latency streaming works.

 

Right now, if one would want to get audio out from their, let’s say laptop, options are:

  • AirPlay 2 - strict 2 second delay
  • TuneIn Radio local stream (UPnP?) - 1-3 second delay
  • Use Sonos Roam or Move connected via bluetooth
  • Use Sonos Playbar, Playbase, Ray, Beam, Arc, Amp digital audio input

The last two is what I would like to do, but instead of requiring special hardware, I would like to have the software component. Perhaps register my laptop as a virtual Sonos device, and stream audio from my laptop with the same protocol, which should be less that 75ms.

 

I assume Sonos company would prefer to sell a device instead of giving away software for free, and also does not want to support running the streaming software on unknown hardware and dealing with random issues that could occur there.

 

That’s why I would love to have at least some pointers how to do it technically myself. Is this completely proprietary? Is this restricted behind encryption keys? Would releasing software that just allows streaming to Sonos speakers (or act as the host) violate Sonos patents?

 

FYI: I only care about using the central Wi-Fi router based network, not the SonosNet.

 

When Sonos speaker has audio input (either wired or bluetooth) and streams it to other speakers:

  1. What is it doing as a host? Is it responsible for time syncing with other speakers?
  2. If my laptop does not need to play the audio itself, does that make things easier? (otherwise my laptop needs to play in sync with all sonos speakers)
  3. How does it send audio to other speakers?
  4. Is it multicasting through wifi? Is it really only using wifi or still creates SonosNet?

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6 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +22

With the supply chain issues there are no cheap Raspberry Pis, even used. It is actually cheaper to buy a ready-made NAS than use a PI today.

Thanks for quick answers!

 

Would Sonos loose some money if such software exists? Yes.

Would Sonos gain some customers (and money) if such software exists? Also yes.

 

 

 

The only competitor to Sonos who offered a software version of their hardware was Squeezebox.  They have been defunct for over a decade, except for hobbyists who keep it alive by using cheap Raspberry Pi’s and the software version of their hardware.  Funny, Squeezebox users used to claim the company gained customers by offering the software, right up until the line ceased being manufactured.  They were wrong.  Almost nobody is going to buy something when they can get it for free (or for the cost of a cheap Raspberry Pi). 

Unlikely that Sonos would choose to publish more detail to their competitors as to how their system operates, beyond the Sonos partners page. They’ve already needed to sue other companies over illegal appropriation of their patents. 

Thanks for quick answers!

 

Would Sonos loose some money if such software exists? Yes.

Would Sonos gain some customers (and money) if such software exists? Also yes.

 

The main problem with Sonos is its closed ecosystem, however Sonos has the market advantage of selling very good speakers.

 

I was just hoping that perhaps Sonos would at least tell some general information how it works. 

@madis89
It sounds like you’re perhaps trying to put Sonos out of business by bypassing their devices and writing your own software streaming service - the only answer you will find here, is to purchase a Sonos HT master product and connect that to your laptop over optical or HDMI ARC/eARC and ‘bond’ (not group) that device to two only surround speakers and/or add one or two Subs (one of which must be gen3) to that setup. Others have already travelled down this route, mostly using a PC rather than a laptop, and some threads are available in the community here that discuss their chosen setup. 

Alternatively, as you rightly mention, you  could look at a Bluetooth option using a Sonos Roam (not a Move) which will act as a fairly low latency line-in option …and (over WiFi) will allow it to ‘group’ with other Sonos Rooms (wired, or wireless), but in my own user-experience is somewhat limited and using too many ‘grouped’ rooms, often means audio-delay (latency) being introduced, or even audio interruptions/dropouts.

So if wanting to setup one, or two, Sonos rooms playing laptop audio, then perhaps try Bluetooth. Otherwise I would definitely add a Sonos Home Theatre product to a PC, with just ‘bonded’ devices instead. There is no 3rd-party software I’m aware of that achieves what you’re looking for here and if there was, I suspect (just as a guess) that might perhaps likely result in its developer(s) being brought before a Court by Sonos for breaching their patents etc.

Userlevel 7
Badge +23

You can’t.

If you set up an http streaming source (eg from your laptop) the latency is horrible as it is not designed for “live” use.

Airplay latency is the lowest non-Home Theater source I have seen (not 2 seconds as you describe) but no-one has reverse engineered the VirtualLineIn APIs that I believe are used, to my knowledge.