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anybody replaced their Connect with a Port?


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Hi,  begrudgingly having to replace my connect as the connect is the beginning of my mesh network & I will not be able to separate my system.

Any forum members picked up a Port to replace their connect? 
I am running my current Connect through an Arcam Rdac into a classic NAD 3020.

Any one experienced a degradation in sound quality using the Port?

The recent ‘What Hifi’ review has made this potential  purchase even more of a quandary.

Didn't fancy shelling out the £279 before. The fact that this might actually be an inferior product to the connect makes me doubt it even more.

i don’t want to get into a ‘bun fight’ about DACs & ‘subjectivity’ only want to hear from people who have actually upgraded please 

Any input greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

 

 

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Best answer by Finbow 27 March 2020, 18:38

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I have a number of Ports, which replaced ZP80s (the ancestor of Connect).

The What HiFi review had a few ‘subjective’ observations about the internal DAC’s analog output quality. Despite complimenting Port’s “fairly clean and lean presentation” that was “cleaner and more detailed than its predecessor” they appeared to be looking for a ‘zing’ associated with a choice of filter/roll-off that I personally probably wouldn’t go for.

In your case all this is totally irrelevant as you have an outboard DAC, so feel no reservations on that score. The Port digital output is 24-bit when using variable volume -- to allow the level to be reduced to ~25% before any loss of resolution -- and a straight-through copy of the 16-bit samples in fixed volume.

As the ‘root’ of your SonosNet mesh you’ll also find that a Port has a distinctly stronger wireless than Connect.

 

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Cheers Ratty! Precisely the answer I was looking for. Hope all is good with you wherever you may be, Might order one today. Plenary of time to try it out whilst I’m stuck at home. 

One potential issue is that the CONNECT’s digital optical output has been eliminated.

PORT’s 12V trigger output can be very convenient.

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Thanks Buzz. I actually run my Dac using the coaxial output at the moment anyway. Presumably my current set up would be a more hifi sound than the Sonos Amp? Which is the other option. 

Presumably my current set up would be a more hifi sound than the Sonos Amp? Which is the other option. 

Different. The NAD 3020 had a ‘classic’ sound back in the day, which was hugely popular. Only you can be the judge really. You could always get an Amp from Sonos and, if you don’t like it, return it and buy the Port instead.

Goodness of sound is in the ear of the listener -- and everyone’s opinion is correct -- for them.

I know that the 3020 has been very popular, but it’s not on my ‘A’ list.

AMP will have a different “feel” (great technical term!) than the 3020. Better or worse is up to you.

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Thanks for the help everyone. Think I’m going to give the Amp try. Just one more question. 
if I decide I want to plug in my Technics turntable at a later date.  Is it possible to plug this into the NAD & then feed the pre-amp of the Nad into the line in on the Sonos Amp?? 

The TT will require a phono pre-amp, so you could certainly use the NAD’s for that. You could pull the jumpers on the back and take the pre-amp out from there. That feels a bit more elegant than using the Tape Out.

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Thanks again all! Just ordered the Amp. I’ll report back here in a week or so & let you know how I get on. 

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Just to update this thread as promised.

Received the amp today & it wasn’t for me I’m afraid.

I found the sound to be way to bright & shrill.

played around with the EQ but couldn’t find the right balance unfortunately. Shame as otherwise a wonderfully engineered bit of kit.

I’m pairing with a pair of a Monitor Audio Rs1’s & a Kef sub. The Monitor Audios are a little on the bright side themselves so I’m just putting it down to bad pairing.

I had the Nad recapped & serviced last year so its functioning as new really & just sounds really warm & much more hifi than the Sonos amp.

interestingly the 20 watt Nad drove my speakers better than the 125w Sonos! 
 

As an aside, absolutely no problem driving the Kef sub. So no idea why so many people are having issues with their 3rd party subs.

just ordered the port instead. 
 

thanks again for all of your input. 

The 3020 was well known for being able to deliver a heck of a lot more than 20W into difficult low impedance loads during transients, assisted by the soft clipping feature. I had one back in the 80s and, even when I’d replaced it with more expensive pre and monoblocs, I’d still dust it off for party music. Pretty much indestructible.

Good luck with the Port into your Arcam Rdac. A small tip: either run the volume in Fixed mode or if you use Variable keep the volume below about 85-90%. Above that the Port will begin to apply soft-knee limiting on the very loudest digital samples, which can under extreme circumstances introduce just a smidgen of harmonic distortion. 

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Thanks Ratty, I think the connect has the same issue doesn’t it? 

Thanks Ratty, I think the connect has the same issue doesn’t it? 

You may be recalling a fault on some models of Connect a while back where a soft knee limiter was found to be in use for Fixed volume (which is clearly wrong). As I understand it this has now been corrected. 

Soft knee limiting (compression) with variable volume is not uncommon, particularly with upstream EQ. It’s to avoid the much more unpleasant distortion that would arise should hard clipping occur.  

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I replaced my ZP80 with a Port - no issues, works pretty much the same - I was using the digital output into an older Yamaha receiver (RX-V665 ~ 2010.)

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I use variable volume on the connect at the moment. I use the coaxial out to my DAC/NAD then use the analogue outs to my Sub. Set the volume of the Nad to about ¾ & then use the volume control on the app. Works really well. I thought there might be a slight delay when streaming through the DAC but it syncs with the sub beautifully. I know technically I get a ‘bit perfect’ output in fixed mode but that would discount me using the Sub in this way. 

If it were me, I'd probably have found a way to use the preamp out on the NAD to feed the sub, but your current arrangement should work fine with the Port. 

Most DACs won't introduce any perceptible delay. They don't require buffering the same way as a network device. 

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I used to use the Pre-outs with ‘Y’ connectors into the sub. I changed it to the connect outs as I was worried that somehow splitting the signal would degrade the sound. The Kef Sub is also connected to my Denon Receiver. I have a switched input so can use the same sub with my AV set up & the Nad.
 

So, if I keep the volume below 85% in variable mode the output into the DAC will be the same as using ‘fixed’? Or is ‘fixed’ mode the absolute best way of feeding the DAC? 

As the Nad doesn’t have a remote the convenience of using the App for volume is one that I’m loathe to lose. 

The 85% volume thing was just a rough guideline. When I passed a Full Scale single-frequency test through the Port, with flat EQ, I noticed soft limiting effects just beginning to appear when volume was above that level. If I’d applied positive EQ the limiting would presumably have begun a bit earlier. Note that this was an entirely artificial test; with real music a tiny bit of odd-harmonic distortion for very brief periods should pass unnoticed. I did say “extreme circumstances”...

Decently recorded music shouldn’t hit Full Scale that often anyway, though the infamous ‘Loudness Wars’ have unfortunately conspired to compress modern music into the upper reaches of the available dynamic range.

I suggest you simply set things up as you have with the Connect and see how things go. Above all, remember to listen to the music, not the equipment. :wink:

 

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Hi Ratty, hope all is good?

Received my Port today plugged it in, sat down & felt underwhelmed. The sound just didn’t seem as engaging as the connect. As a comparison here is what I did. 
 

I had my connect plugged in via coax & optical both going to my DAC. Often did a quick A-B test between these & there is no audible difference between the two connections.

Plugged the coax into the Port & left the Connect wired with the Optical.

Been switching between the Port & the Connect & there is quite a difference between the two even running through the DAC. Had these set up as a group & the volume set to the exact same level in variable mode. 

The Port has a much narrower soundstage compared to the connect, sounds a lot more ‘boxy’. 

Surely the Port is just throwing out 0&1’s?

How can this be possible?

Definitely there. Had my son switching between the two & not telling me. Can pick out the Connect & The Port every time! 
 

Also, plugged the Coax back into the connect & no difference between the Optical & Coax there. 
When I’m paying £280 for a inferior product to the one I’ve already got it kind of sticks in the craw.

Especially as this is pretty much been forced upon me. 

Any thoughts? You seem like a guy who knows about such things. 

I think that unless you had matched the levels with an instrument to better than 0.2dB the test is not that useful. Even with that small difference, which would be imperceptible, a human will typically subconsciously prefer the louder signal.

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Absolutely no doubt about it. The connect sounds significantly better than the Port via Digital out. Instrument separation is nowhere near as defined the soundstage is much narrower & overall sound seems less dynamic as a result. Had both set to fixed volume & difference is obvious. The sound is definitely more compressed somehow coming from the Port. Is it possible it’s being ‘throttled’ somehow? Will they ‘open it up’ with S2 in June? Or is it possibly just cheaper parts? The external build quality seems lacking compared to Connect. 

Confirmation bias?  It's a known and proven effect in audio listening, and observations like your last sentence certainly can trigger it.  You can't be truly sure unless you can do a level matched blind test.

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Totally appreciate what you are saying & it could be I guess but the difference is really marked to my ears. Tried the analogue outs & the Port definitely wins that battle. I’ve even tried variable out & setting the volume on the connect slightly lower. It’s space & separation that’s the difference. It’s like I’m listening to a more compressed version of the track. There are times that I forget I’m doing the test & just got lost in the music. Every time that happens without fail I’m listening to the connect, it’s just more ‘open’. Going to use the port for a few more weeks & not listen to the connect. I may just get used to the sound of it? Might just be that I’m so used to the connect sound that the Port sounds ‘alien’. Who knows?! 

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Just to close off this thread. Couldn’t get on with the sound from the Port at all in the end. Picked up a 2018 version of the Connect on eBay. Much better sound (to my ears) & considerably cheaper to boot! 
Thanks to all for you input on this. 

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Well, bare with me! Think I’m going to have to start a new thread called ‘ Sonos Port an apology!’.

Had to send back the Connect I bought from eBay as it was faulty. Hadn’t sent back the Port yet so dug it out for one last try. It updated when I plugged it in & now it sounds wonderful! Don’t know if, it was confirmation bias all along or whether simply rebooting the device triggered something but I am now 100% happy with the Port! 

What Hifi are talking out of their backsides!!

Cheers for all of your help,