ampless version, with digital out?

  • 25 January 2005
  • 46 replies
  • 7703 views

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i'm intrigued by your product, but i am wating for the version without a built-in amp as i already have one (several actually) which is (no offense) much better. perhaps more importantly - i'm looking for digital out. surely this must be coming soon. the zone player with the amp is fine for say, the patio, but for my main listening room(s) i would need it to integrate nicely into my existing system.

also, is there a way you could make the next version look more stereo component-y? such that it fits in with the rest of my similarly priced gear?

if audiophiles and people with existing stereo systems aren't your market, then i understand - but i just thought you should know that we're out here.

46 replies

an ampless version has been discussed at length so I hope sonos is listening 🙂 but this is the first thread talking about the stereo component form factor. I would like to voice my support for a form factor that would easily stack on a rack like my other equipment. that would be great!
a digital out, ampless model would integrate very well into a whole house head end, with a multichannel amp powering the inwall speakers. I bought two bundles, but I would like the flexibility of using my own amp, and not having to pay for an amp that I don't use.
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Given the nature of the Sonos amp (very efficient Tripath "digital" amp), I'll bet that the manufacturing cost of a ZonePlayer without an amp isn't that much less than with an amp. But the digital out would be nice.
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just want to voice my fondness for the current form factor. these puppies don't sit with my stereo stuff, and the smaller size makes it easy to hide them away easily. the fact that they are inobtrusive is a big plus as far as i'm concerned
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I too like the style of the Sonos, hands down......and my wife really really loves the style, was definitely a selling feature for us, she was so happy not to see another black box sitting around.
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I think what I am hearing is that there are many people that have existing "home run" smart house type systems out there that want to use sonos because it is way cool.

The Sonos system of today was designed for people that don't have home run systems.

Currenlty, I have (5) rack mounted HK Receivers at 100W per channel fueling (5) home run sound zones in my home. Many smart home people have similar set ups. So my 2 cents is this:

1. Yes, the amplifiers in the ZP is useless to me. An amplifierless ZP does make sense if it saves me money.

2. Digital out would be cleaner and sound better (although Chris the moderator in another forum said there would be no difference and the limitations are in the mp3 files themselves).

3. And most important, I have 5 ZP players stacked up down next to my receivers. Alot of money. Alot of space. Alot of heat. Alot of wasted amplification... What I would love to see is a rack mountable Sonos box specifically designed for the smart house with output slots, each slot representing a zone. MMmmm. More tidy. Call it ZonePlayer Pro!

I know Sonos can't be everything to everybody, but I assume a majority who by this high end product already has infrastructure for a home run system.

-Bruce
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yes, yes, yes, an ampless sonos is what I really want. I understand where they are coming from and believe me it makes total sense. BUT - I'm an audio and video geek - and there are many of us, I already have the house wired for sound. What I love is the remote on this baby...just beautiful. So what I want is the remote, the software and some sort of ampless box to connect to by home system...bing bang boom, I have my whole mp3 collection at my disposal - with plenty of amplifcation to boot
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I would also like an ampless version. I was at MacWorld in Jan and asked Sonos about this and they confirmed that price difference would be minimal.

I agree with all the reasons stated here, I have multiple nice amps and don't need another. It seems that the price point of this product is geared towards early adopters like us but those same people would rather have a 17" wide unit that fits with their existing system, and doesn't have an amp.
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I have to add my support for a single ampless version with digital out. I have a home cinema system and would love to integrate my MP3 collection into my TAG Mclaren suround processor. Even better if SONOS make a SLIM box (like most hifi components) for this purpose - rather than the zone player (which looks like my 3 year old's booster step for standing at the toilet!).

A simple sleek box with digital out and wireless connectivity which can be considered a new 'zone' would be brilliant.
I too would like it a lot if Sonos would offer an ampless zone controller. I believe that the reality of the audiophile market is such that a lot of people will want to have a high-end systems in their house and yet be able to stream their audio collection to it, in the same seamless way they would to other zones powerd by Sonos systems.

As far as price savings, Apple's Airport Express Base Station currently retails for $129. Add the AirPort Express Stereo Connection Kit with Monster Cables priced at $39, and you get an "ampless controller" for $168, with is quite a way from the $499 Sonos charges for their current ZC. So there seem to be plenty room for price reduction. What am I missing here?

As far as form factor, I am not sure why an Audio component form factor (19" rack) makes sense. Why not a small box ala Apple Airport Express that can be hidden behind the preamp/integrated amp? Part of the simplicity is how invisible the solution can be, I think.

Thoughts?

Thanks.

Philippe
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I too have been interested in an ampless, more component-friendly design since I first found out about Sonos.

Like others, my goal is to save on cost and have a different form factor. I'm still not sure why, other than price, the ampless version is important since Sonos tells me that we can hook the ZP unit up to a receiver.

By the way, I have a wired house (network and HD DirecTV) with two separate stand-alone home theater setups (family room and MBR) and another stereo-only system for music in the living room. I'd like to connect ZP's to all of these receivers as well as another outside.

I'm still looking at other options including the new (at least to me) A-Bus systems (which I believe = sound over Cat 5e). Suggestions?
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Having been a loyal Tag Mclaren user for some years and having seen their forums fall on their face when they CEO made announcement of products which never saw the light of day - I can understand the reticence of Sonos to make a comment upon their plans for ampless (perhaps digiout) version of their amp. However in this fast-moving world of technological innovation, its only a matter of time before other manufacturers catch up. My own local retailer poured a little scorn on Sonos - particular from a UK perspective (I mean guys - what use is a office for UK in the Netherlands?) but aside from that -their comment was that they think that before long, Sonos will be 'out-gunned' or bought come time. But people like me, who are considering adding in Sonos to an already established home cinema, patio, new extension, garage etc - zones which ALREADY have an amp and speaker - surely it makes sense to appeal to as many potential customers as possible.
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What Sonos should do is just market the same zone player as an ampless version and remove the speaker pegs from the back. Then we will all be happy 😃
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As long as it has a digitial out coax or SPDIF! Which brings me to a question - I assume that the audio stream is broadcast digitally - so would it require any complex decoding / conversion to convert to a 48k or 44.1k bitstream?
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Could you post a picture of that paint job?

I'm curious how it came out. We have a decor that the Zoneplayer look doesn't fit very well. My partner notices more than I do and I'd like to see what is possible.

Thanks

PIB
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I'm still looking at other options including the new (at least to me) A-Bus systems (which I believe = sound over Cat 5e). Suggestions?


I installed an A-Bus system in my previous house, it is an easy and cheap way to distribute music, the cat five having 8 wires carries line level left and right channel, dc voltage and ir signal and something else I guess, but those 5 watt amps in the wall controller really struggled. I just used it as a single source 4 zone system. I'd probably give it 5/10. Sonos for me rates 10/10.
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Another vote for Ampless ZPs with a digital out, as well as an ampless solution for the computer connection.

I currently own the Slim Devices, "Squeezebox," but would gladly trade it for Sonos, but I will hold off until Sonos (or a competitor) offers me something that matches my needs a little more closely.

For example, I already have speakers connected to my computer. I do not want an additional amped Zone Player (ZP) in my office. What I want is something unobtrusive that will stream my music to the other ZPs from the computer.

Further, like many people with the interest in the Sonos product and the means to buy it, I already own a powerful amplifier connected to my stereo. I don't want to stream my music through a redundant amped-ZP that fits akwardly in with my stereo components. What I want is an ampless ZP component that fits in with my other stereo equipment.

I will keep my eye on the Sonos, but I can hold off until the right product comes along.
I hear the ampless crowd loud and clear... and while I can understand most of your requests...

The amplifier circuit is only a small portion of the ZP. And while I would consider buying an ampless unit. I don't see it being significantly cheaper.

My question is...

Are there any people who do not own a Sonos system, that would purchase one if there was ampless ZP in new footprint with digital for the same price. How about for $400? Do I hear $300?

I'm just curiouse because I don't see getting more than $150 out of the design.

I think most people really are looking for a budget system, with a small percentage looking for better integration to thier home system.

I say...
Keep your budget airports and squeeze boxes. Sonos is truely a value if you see value in a quality easy to use inovative product.

For the people looking for higher end... hope that sonos gets big enough to expand to bigger products.
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In response to Geo's query - As far as I am concerned, I don't really care about the cost of an ampless ZP. As I noted above, form and function are the key elements. Make an ampless ZP (with digital out) that either fits in with the stereo components, or is so small that it doesn't need to (I am imagining something the size of the airport express), and I would pay at or near the same price for the amped version.

One way for Sonos to market this product would be to sell it as a bundle similar to their current 2-ZP package. Sell 1 ampless and 1 amped together for $999, which assumes a price of about $299 for an ampless version. I think if it is marketed as a sophisticated way to stream music using the Sonos mesh network and in conjunction with that nifty remote, you would find buyers like me ready to buy.

I just don't want to buy a product that essentially requires me to buy amped models for two rooms where I either don't want one (the office where the computer is), or don't need one (the room where I already have an amp for the stereo). To the extent that I am cost-sensitive - there's my problem: two $499 amped ZPs where I don't want them seems excessive.

Anyway, that's all I have on this subject.
Geo, I was not trying to suggest that the Airport Express compared functionally with the Sonos solution. Apologies if I was not clear. I was just trying to suggest to this thread that there seem to be more cost savings opportunity by removing the amp then previously suggested.

This said, I am not focused on squeezing cost, I think the Sonos solution has an outstanding value proposition, but rather on promoting the notion that an ampless ZP makes a lot of sense on Sonos' solution roadmap given the realities of the installed base.

Whatever savings can be had by removing the amp (and adding digital in), I would invest in additional ZC or better speakers for the ampped ZPs.

Philippe
Userlevel 2
Another vote for Ampless ZPs with a digital out, as well as an ampless solution for the computer connection.

I currently own the Slim Devices, "Squeezebox," but would gladly trade it for Sonos, but I will hold off until Sonos (or a competitor) offers me something that matches my needs a little more closely.

For example, I already have speakers connected to my computer. I do not want an additional amped Zone Player (ZP) in my office. What I want is something unobtrusive that will stream my music to the other ZPs from the computer.

Further, like many people with the interest in the Sonos product and the means to buy it, I already own a powerful amplifier connected to my stereo. I don't want to stream my music through a redundant amped-ZP that fits akwardly in with my stereo components. What I want is an ampless ZP component that fits in with my other stereo equipment.

I will keep my eye on the Sonos, but I can hold off until the right product comes along.



This pretty much sums up my thoughts on Sonos. And, while I'm ready to buy, I'm holding off for now. It's very close to what I want but I'm waiting to see if they'll come out with an ampless unit with a better form factor (fits in with my other components). I expect such a device will cost less but price is not the main concern.

By the way, the look of the Sonos ZPs remind me of the Bose Acoustic Wave - products that visually aren't appealing to "audiophiles."
I can totaly understand wanting a digital out. I can also understand wanting it to fit in a rack and match other components that you own.

I've seen more euipment mounted in racks then I ever cared to see. And while I have had professional audio racks in my home before.... I 'm happy to have most of my audio system almost invisable with the exception of one ZP on a bookshelf. Which I don't mind.

If you love the look of an audio rack more power to you. I guess I'm not a true audiofile.
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I thought "audiophiles" were all about the sound the equipment made, not about what the equipment looks like 😃
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I thought "audiophiles" were all about the sound the equipment made, not about what the equipment looks like :D

Try telling that to the wives... 😉
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Ahh, such a good note to end the thread on but... 🙂

I only read about sonos a couple days ago when the wiring issues came up for our kitchen remodel. I spent a few hours reading reviews and just trying to get a grasp on the system but was confused because I couldn't find the model without the amp. After checking the forums here I finally realized there isn't one.

I actually think it's really strange that they don't offer an ampless version (and a digital output). I already have my house wired and prefer to use my older integrated tube amps since I still listen to some local radio. The ampless version seems like a no-brainer to me. The real attraction to me is the possibility of controlling my itunes playlists from across the house with that excellent looking remote.

If they could figure out a way to do the ampless version and make it smaller with a digital out for a couple hundred less per player I'd buy 3 tomorrow. As it is, I'll probably wait to see what the competition does.

I figure either the amplifier in the players sounds nice and has some value (and savings if removed), or it's not much of an amp.

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