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Connect wired to top end speakers. Care to share your experience?

  • 15 February 2020
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Anyone care to share his/her experience? Sound quality, possible delays, anything worth while mentioning? Replacing my Arcam amplifier with the Connect should preferably not result in material, notable loss of sound quality. Because that will trigger disappointment and frustration.  
 

Got Dynaudio Audience 72 S speakers, following specs:


System type2-wayEnclosure typeBass reflexFrequency response ± 3dB28 - 26000 HzNominal impedance4 OhmAmplifier Requirements10 - 250 WSensitivity (2.83V/1m)86 dBTweeter28mm (1") soft domeWoofer2x17cm (2x6.5") MSP coneDimensions (H x W x D)959x204x256 mm / 37.7x8x10"Weight16.5 kg / 21 lbs

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Best answer by Stanley_4 18 February 2020, 06:08

Only reason I can see for going with a Port and amplifier combo would be to get more power than the Sonos Amp. By more power I’m thinking roughly 4X to make much of an audible difference.

The less efficient dB rating your speakers have the more the X in power needs to change to provide the same sound improvement.

Testing at home is a really random as so many factors are involved a true test is near to impossible and you just end up deciding the stuff you like best sounds best anyway.

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Goodness of sound is in the ear of the listener. Only you will know what sounds “best”. Why are you replacing the Arcam?

Note that both CONNECT and CONNECT:AMP are now discontinued. It would be best to purchase the new SONOS AMP or, if you prefer 3rd party amplifiers, replace CONNECT with PORT. There will not be much change in any delays compared to your present configuration.

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86 dB isn’t very sensitive, I’d go with the Sonos Amp with them over the connect Amp for the additional power.

At 86 dB you might even consider the Sonos Port and a larger external amp in the 500 watt range if you like to play them loud. 

While agreeing with every reply so far also consider this:

A Echo Dot, wired to the inputs of a amplifier of enough power will also give you the same results. The important thing here is the power delivery of the amplifier, all Dynaudio passive speakers are power hungry, and the source quality often ends up taking unjustified blame for sound quality from power hungry speakers fed by amps of inadequate power.

What source you want to use - Dot or Port or any other then comes down just to what features you want for the price you are willing to pay. 

Further things to consider when using truly high end(i.e expensive) and high quality speakers even beyond said Dynaudios:

Given the state of modern digital tech, it is quite possible to find suitable source+amplification for what look like silly price points that will deliver all the sound quality that the speakers are capable of delivering. 

The only thing to be careful here is using cheap amplification that may be susceptible to catastrophic failure in components like power supplies or capacitors, that may then dump current surges into the output terminals, destroying expensive speaker drivers. The more expensive amps usually use better quality components in these critical areas, that reduce the chances of such events.

The pure source components deal out low voltage signals and do not carry these risks - for instance there is no way that a USD 30 Echo Dot or Chromecast puck will ever damage the speakers.

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Thank you all! If anything it’ll be the Port albeit expensive. Does the Port allow for listening to my Spotify songs jointly on Play 5 speakers and DynAudio’s? As for Echo Dot I cannot see any useful functionality that I’m seeking, other being able to wire it into my Amplifier. I mean compared to Sonos hardware, it’s hardly a serious quality Hifi tool, is it? 

There are people that say exactly the same thing about the Port not being a serious quality HiFi tool and they are just as wrong/prejudiced as you are. Modern tech has equalised the field for audio sound quality to a close to miraculous degree. Plus, when manufacturing scales are large, costs of components drops dramatically. Then another reason is pricing policy - Sonos could easily sell the Port for a lot less, but will not, because where would they be if everyone used cheap Ports with Dynaudios and others - why then buy the 5 units?

The only reason that would justify a Port over a Dot would be for features - in your instance, if you want music play seamless with another Sonos speaker, it has to be a Port.

Can I just check that you are clear that if you get a Port you will still need the Arcam, or a replacement amplifier?  Or alternatively you will need a Sonos Amp, rather than a Port.

The Port (or Amp) would be a ‘room’ in your Sonos setup, so you could group it with the P:5s ‘room’ to play Spotify in sync.  Caveat - there is a theoretical risk that a slight delay may occur in processing the sound through a third-party amp.  However, this is normally only an issue with AV receivers, not hi-fi amps.

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Thanks John. I intend to use the Arcam Amp and wire it to the Port. What’s holding me is the Port’s price tag. But I just need to get used to the idea before I purchase. Right now I have 2 separate systems: 1) Sonos 2x Player 5 (old gen.) + Beamer (new gen) and 2) Arcam Amp + Naim CD player + DynAudio speakers. Bit lazy to play the CD’s (having Spotify) but a pity not to enjoy my old Hifi more.

Does the Arcam have a digital input or just analog RCA? Or to put it another way, does the Arcam have a DAC?

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Does the Arcam have a digital input or just analog RCA? Or to put it another way, does the Arcam have a DAC?

No clue its the FMJ A22- does this help?

https://www.stereophile.com/content/arcam-fmj-a22-integrated-amplifier-specifications

 

FMJ A22 does not have a digital input.

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FMJ A22 does not have a digital input.

Meaning? I guess without it the Port doesn’t add a lot? 

No the opposite. If the amp had a DAC then ypu might as well have bought a second hand Connect rather than a Port,  provided it wasn't an older 'legacy' model. Either device would have then been just passing through a digital stream.

Now it's a question of whether you believe the claims that the Port has a higher quality DAC and that you would hear any difference. Of course there are other advantages to buying a Port, including greater expected longevity.

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As I’m a noob in these matters, how would  the analog RCA input potentially notably disturb the listening experience I, compared to just playing a CD on my Naim connected to the Arcam amplifier? I mean when streaming Spotify via the Port to my Arcam, would the risk of being upset with the sound be material? I know, sound experience is very personal but I’d like to get a feel for the negatives of RCA compared to Digital processing. Thx.

Do you have the means to listen to Spotify now? If so, do you have an opinion about the relative audio quality of Spotify and a CD of the same track?

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In my experience RCA usually works just fine but on a bad day you can end up with grounding issues and induced hum or get hum from longer or poorly shielded cables.

I couldn’t hear any difference in the outputs of my ZP, RCA or Optical but went with optical just to avoid potential issues.

In my experience RCA usually works just fine but on a bad day you can end up with grounding issues and induced hum or get hum from longer or poorly shielded cables.

I couldn’t hear any difference in the outputs of my ZP, RCA or Optical but went with optical just to avoid potential issues.

Digressing for my education - where optical is concerned what are the pitfalls if any to be avoided with respect to length/poor shielding( or equivalent), cable layout and the like?

Kumar,

“Grounding” issues in wire cables are a result of stray current or magnetic fields. Since there is no wire in the optical cables, grounding issues are physically impossible. Optical cables do not interact with each other or nearby wires. There is a minimum bending radius to consider for the optical cables. TOSLINK (audio optical cables) are nominally limited to 10 meters in length. I’ve run 45 foot cables without any issues. Typically, TOSLINK cables are not very physically robust and the jacks are easily damaged.

Like Stanley_4, I prefer to use optical whenever practical.

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Yep, the optical cables are not going to be impacted by any electrical issue.

Decent quality ones, that is with a reasonable sized fiber and properly sized (only really matters on long runs, not at a meter) and molded ends will work as well as $100 ones. Pretty much pick one that you like the ends on, Amazon’s Basics works for me.

The delicate issue isn’t just the cables, the jacks aren’t very rugged either. It is best to unplug them before moving stuff around to prevent breakage. A broke cable is $5 or so, a broke jack can leave you with no optical input and no repair options.

The optical cables are pretty sturdy, kinking them or scratching up the ends should be avoided. Most come with end caps that should be used if storing the cable, if just moving stuff around a bit of care will be enough to keep from having problems.

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There are people that say exactly the same thing about the Port not being a serious quality HiFi tool and they are just as wrong/prejudiced as you are. Modern tech has equalised the field for audio sound quality to a close to miraculous degree. Plus, when manufacturing scales are large, costs of components drops dramatically. Then another reason is pricing policy - Sonos could easily sell the Port for a lot less, but will not, because where would they be if everyone used cheap Ports with Dynaudios and others - why then buy the 5 units?

The only reason that would justify a Port over a Dot would be for features - in your instance, if you want music play seamless with another Sonos speaker, it has to be a Port.

Am I wrong and prejudiced? How? No idea what you are talking about. The thing making Sonos get away with the high price setting is simple economics: a lack of competition in this market segment. 

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Thanks for all the input- albeit some of it is very technical … Anyway returning to my initial thought- the Amp. It is my understanding that one could wire the DynAudio speakers directly to the Amp - no need for the Arcam amplifier. Am i right? Doesn’t the Port offer the same feature? 

Forkys de la Suisse,

Speakers cannot be connected to PORT.

Note that the SONOS AMP does not include a phono preamp or input selector. In terms of output power and capability to drive your speakers, AMP is similar to your ARCAM.

With respect to the goodness of sound of analog vs digital there are heated discussions about this, both online and offline. One group claims that digital can never sound as good as analog the other group claims that there is no way that a human could differentiate the difference. My position is that there are good and poor examples of both technologies available on the market. Within the analog group there are blazing discussions of tube vs transistor. Within the digital group there is what I call the “numbers war” -- more is better, right? To a large extent it is a “my dog is better than your dog” sort of confrontation. There are all sorts of claims and counter claims, everyone resorts to shouting, and everyone goes home mad. Wine tasting events suffer a similar fate and there are numerous embarrassing wine tasting events where the plastic bottle wine served in a premium glass beats the premium wine served in a cheap cup.

Again, I suggest that you set up a listening test and compare a track from Spotify with the same track played from a CD. You may or may not care about the difference. And, there is a difference between observing and caring about the difference. As an example, I have perfect pitch when I want to. Many turntables have a pitch control. Even in cases where I notice an off pitch situation, I will not cross the room to adjust the speed because I don’t care. On the other hand I cannot tolerate pitch changes. Warped records and records where the hole is off center cause cyclic pitch changes that drive me crazy. I will also note that some orchestras deliberately tune to a slightly different pitch for their own reasons.

 The thing making Sonos get away with the high price setting is simple economics: a lack of competition in this market segment. 

No that isn’t it really.  The reason is that once you are committed to the Sonos ecosystem, the Port is the only way to add a conventional amplifier and speakers to your Sonos system in a truly integrated way.  But that isn’t of great consequence here.

 

Thanks for all the input- albeit some of it is very technical … Anyway returning to my initial thought- the Amp. It is my understanding that one could wire the DynAudio speakers directly to the Amp - no need for the Arcam amplifier. Am i right? Doesn’t the Port offer the same feature? 

No it doesn’t - which is why I questioned your understanding of this point in my first contribution to this thread.  The Port has no amplification.  Your Dynaudio speakers have no amplification.  Therefore Port + Dynaudios = silence.

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Thanks for all the input- albeit some of it is very technical … Anyway returning to my initial thought- the Amp. It is my understanding that one could wire the DynAudio speakers directly to the Amp - no need for the Arcam amplifier. Am i right? Doesn’t the Port offer the same feature? 

No it doesn’t - which is why I questioned your understanding of this point in my first contribution to this thread.  The Port has no amplification.  Your Dynaudio speakers have no amplification.  Therefore Port + Dynaudios = silence.

Ok. Then the big question, as far as I’m concerned is, when comparing 2 setups, a) AMP + Speakers to b) Port + Arcam + Speakers, can one expect with some degree of certainty that the sound of one is superior to the other or is it impossible to tell because of the decisive weight of the Arcam Amplifier/Dynaudio combination in the equation?