high-end, high power ZP - the roadmap ?


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the concensus among user/posters here seems to be 99%+ enthusistic, not just for the great concept/great execution, but also because "the thing just sounds damn good"

However, there seems to be an audiophile minority among sonos devotees who appreciate and respect sonos for the above reasons, but wish they could still have their high-end amplification in a sonos environment.

The ampless ZP idea has been publically rejected by Sonos in this forum as somehow not working in the cost/pricepoint/target market space they have defined for themselves, which is perhaps understandable.

So many use a ZP's line outs to drive a high-end external amp in their prime listening area, effectively wasting oneZP amp (a decent amp at that!)

I suggest the obvious solution is a higher-end, higher power, higher priced ZP. Imagine a $7-800 ZP with the same features and functionality, but built around a top-of-the-line Tripath chipset with something like 100-150 watts RMS per channel @ 8ohms and even better attention to audio quality than the already fine standard ZP.

tells us, Sonos, might such an idea figure into your future roadmap?

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I agree. Sonos' reluctance to offer and ampless model is totally understandable. Folks using separate amplification (such as myself in one zone) can get over the fact that we are "wasting" the internal amp. So what? I would be first in line for a higher powered zone player, however. I think the present one sound awesome, just needs a bit more "oomph".

Thanks Sonos for the great products!
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Perhaps in a standard audio component chasis.
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I don't think this would solve anything. I already have high-end amps where I need them, and Sonos certainly isn't the only source I ever listen to on them -> so, having a high(er)-end amp in a Sonos would still leave it unused. I suspect the same is probably true for many people.


I personally would be *far* more interested in just getting a digital output.

That said, I do find the Sonos amp to be a bit anemic in those places where I do use it. It sounds fine, I just typically have to push the volume almost to the top of the scale.
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Fair points, marcuslf. Of course, as they say, you can only please some of the people some of the time . . . .

But I for one would certain jostle with mattrk to get to the front of the queue to buy the "high(er) end" ZP.

Right now I have only Sonos amps in my house. Recently moved to a new place, left all the old gear behind. Just got Sonos yesterday, hooking everything up tomorrow! I will have Sonos amps only for the time being, and add another amp in main room later. If Sonos were to offer something with more "oomph" down the road this would almosrt certainly be my first choice.

I notice that the sonos's amp is built around a Tripath chipset. A couple of years ago the well-regarded high-end supplier Bel Canto abandoned many years of purist tube amp design experience to build their latest amp with Tripath chips. I owned a Bel Canto SET40i for some years; if Tripath chips are good enough for bel canto, they're good enough for me!

Plus, since Sonos has already successfully paired their digital streamed source to the Tripath chip, I would think it would be an obvious next step to build another ZP around one of Tripath's top-of-the-line, higher power devices.

any comment, Sonos?
Userlevel 2
This might be heresy but would Sonos not be better licencing the technology to other manufacturers?

It seems to me that a small company is going to struggle against the big players. After all once you have a Sonos system you only need speakers, (broadly speaking), so where does that leave the Denon's of this world. A number of manufacturers, Yamaha & Cyrus for example, have come up with digital music solutions but nothing as good as Sonos but surely that is simply a matter of time. Look at the iPod, it wasn't the first mp3 player but it got the timing right plus it was a well designed product and it had the marketing clout of Apple. Does Sonos really have the capability of taking this product forward on its own? Audiotron is perhaps a bad example but it was a small company that couldn't properly support its product and as far as I know are no longer in existence.

Don't get me wrong I think Sonos is a fantastic product and I will be adding to my current 3 zone setup but I fear for their longevity in a dog-eat-dog market.

Maybe this is all complete nonsense and Sonos are secretly sponsored by Microsoft and I am worrying over nothing. What does anyone else think?
I doubt MSFT would sponsor such a competitor of their Windows Media vision... ;-)
My setup includes no computers, just a NAS !!! I only sometimes use my computer to add a CD RIP or reorganise playlists.

Survival in this market is surely a hard task, but the product seems really brilliant and way ahead competition, (product, positioning, marketing of it, support level...) SONOS aims at excellence and to my mind they are really close. It may not be sufficient, but its a good start.

Maybe the pricing is not high enough, as I said before womewhere else on this forum, but it helps reaching non hifi-geek audience. I would not spend more as I don't hear the difference and use MP3 with compression, and no lossless compression, but many people on this forum seem to have very pricey audio setups, and probably would pay more for the SONOS as they are used to pay big price for multiroom systems, high end amps, pronto and crestron remotes...
The audio reseller that sold a russound system to my dad almost fainted when I told him the price of the SONOS system after a demonstration of its capabilities ;-)


Anyway I wish you long life SONOS, so far you reallly stand out of the crowd !!!

Olivier
Userlevel 2
I think part of the allure of Sonos is its simplicity, and adding too many choices would compromise that. Given that most of the folks here that are clamoring for an ampless version are citing the existence of a higher-end amplifier in their present system, it is unlikely that a $700-$800 amplified ZP will change their mind. They already paid for what is likely a superior amp, why pay for it again and "compromise" the sound?

However, an ampless version, especially with a digital out, would address the need of those "existing high-end amp" folks, as well as those that need another ZP as a signal bridge, and those that need it to add more line-in sources (in a location that needs no output, for example to pull the audio channels off a satellite receiver).

Frank
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I would agree with Frank. I think the digital out would take care of most audiophiles. Many will have amps better than what Sonos could offer even in a $1500 ZP. So why bother? I can understand trying to accommodate speakers that require more power, but why try to compete with th wealth of amp options already out there? Just let people choose the amp that best fits whatever speakers they want to use. They can do that now but many folks would also like to use their own D/A to complete the loop.

Jeff
fvoelling wrote:

I think part of the allure of Sonos is its simplicity, and adding too many choices would compromise that. Given that most of the folks here that are clamoring for an ampless version are citing the existence of a higher-end amplifier in their present system, it is unlikely that a $700-$800 amplified ZP will change their mind. They already paid for what is likely a superior amp, why pay for it again and "compromise" the sound?

However, an ampless version, especially with a digital out, would address the need of those "existing high-end amp" folks, as well as those that need another ZP as a signal bridge, and those that need it to add more line-in sources (in a location that needs no output, for example to pull the audio channels off a satellite receiver).

Frank



I'm planning on adding more zones to my sonos system soon and if there was a higher power ZP I'd buy it. At this time I don't care about digital out or ampless. And yes I'd be willing to pay for it.

I know there are a group of people who want ampless. I also know that they want digital in and out along with rack mount.

I don't think there are lots of people not buying the sonos because this is missing. I don't doubt that some people who have a sonos that are planning on expanding it would jump at this new unit. In general I'm guessing the increased sales would be very small. If this is the case the only way to justify the product is increased profit. This is after paying engineering costs.

One thing that may justify it is a higher priced ZP that has all of this and a bigger amp at a bigger price with bigger profit.

I'm guessing Sonos sales have to go way up before we see either though.

I just don't see them knocking more than $150... maybe $200 max off the ampless unit with digital in and out and a new box.

Lets say they get a full $225 out of the unit and sell it for $300.

So they make an extra $25 on each one.

Assuming at the moment this doesn't cause an increase in sales (an extrx $200 gets you an amp you may want someday). You sell 10,000 units to come up with $250,000. Which is chunk of change, but doesn't buy all that much engineering. When do you start making extra money?

Now I'm sure you'd get a few new sales. Any maybe even 4 or 5 people who weren't going to buy a sonos but decide to anyway. So you get pull through.

It still doesn't add up until you get a huge install base.

Now if you can double the amp, add digital in and out and new package for $200.

Now you can sell an $800 unit with an extra $100 in profit. You only have to sell 2500 to get the same $250,000 engineering money back. A lot less…

I guess what I'm saying it is often easier to add features at a price rather than taken them out at a credit.

Having no idea what the current volume and margins are this is all an assumption

I think it'll be great if we see more options available. I think the product has to become more main stream before we see much change.

Maybe todays ZP with Digital in and out is the answer?

Now if Sonos is the biggest product this holiday season your more likeley to see more things may happen.

Until then... there is always the cradle and 1.3
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Geo and I at least agree on one thing 😃, we won't see any new ZP hardware for a while. I say at least mid to late next year (actually shipping, not just announcement).
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I am all for an ampless digi out ZP - but high end? Why would I want to put a "high end" output into my home cinema system when the quality of the music is simple MP3? I vote for a VERY low end cheap as chips ampless digi out thanks.
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tantalus wrote:

I am all for an ampless digi out ZP - but high end? Why would I want to put a "high end" output into my home cinema system when the quality of the music is simple MP3? I vote for a VERY low end cheap as chips ampless digi out thanks.



You know the system supports uncompressed formats like WAV and FLAC, right?
Userlevel 2
rgbyhkr wrote:

You know the system supports uncompressed formats like WAV and FLAC, right?




And AIFF 🙂 .

We love the ideas guys/gals. Keep them coming, and I'm also glad you are all loving the current Sonos system. As of right now I'm not allowed to comment on anything, so please do not ask for a response from us on your ideas. They are all great, and I guarantee you that we read everything that you post here in the forums.

Keep it coming!!

-Jason
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cmon guys, I'm feeding a Tag McLaren system here - and would be comparing to a DVD32R! Wav files / mp3s - surely marginal....

But I have to ask Sonos why are you not making a slimline box to slot into an existing setup? many people have hifis in their rooms, spare rooms. basements and kids bedrooms. A slim box with no amp - and optional digiout would mean that a spare room with kit in there could become another zone INSTANTLY!

You know it makes sense 😃
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tantalus wrote:

cmon guys, I'm feeding a Tag McLaren system here - and would be comparing to a DVD32R! Wav files / mp3s - surely marginal....



And? Are you saying that uncompressed source files output digitally to any DAC you choose wouldn't make for quality audio? More and more high end companies are producing audio servers that rip to uncompressed formats while taking advantage of the flexibility that a much larger storage medium offers. Heck, I own a Levinson 390s but love the accessibility that digital solutions give me to my entire collection.
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I'm slightly perplexed by those asking for higher power amps. I assume you're asking for one that can power power-hungry speakers?

I'm asking because I have two home theater receivers so I don't need a 2-channel amp. I also have a Luxman stereo receiver that I use with my Klipsch LaScala speakers (and turntable) so I don't see how a two-channel amp would help me there either as it only duplicates the amp in my receiver.

I'm not saying everyone's in the same boat as me but I don't quite understand how everyone is using these two-channel amps in the ZPs (like others I see a small form factor unit with no power and digital out as the way to go).

What am I missing here?
Userlevel 2
rgbyhkr wrote:

And? Are you saying that uncompressed source files output digitally to any DAC you choose wouldn't make for quality audio? More and more high end companies are producing audio servers that rip to uncompressed formats while taking advantage of the flexibility that a much larger storage medium offers. Heck, I own a Levinson 390s but love the accessibility that digital solutions give me to my entire collection.



Re. quality audio- have to be honest here. I hate CDs cant be bothered with them and would much rather have them streamed from a hard drive. However, I have 600 CDs and to put them all on a hard drive UNCOMPRESSED would require a big drive (and a lot of ripping time). Not saying its not quality audio to have uncompressed but it isnt as good as a proper CD player thats for sure - but at the same time its awkward and expensive (disk wise). So I am compromising with MP3s. Some albums are full wav files - but TBH they sound pretty crap compared to the real CD player so I am still compromising....
Userlevel 2
tantalus wrote:

Re. quality audio- have to be honest here. I hate CDs cant be bothered with them and would much rather have them streamed from a hard drive. However, I have 600 CDs and to put them all on a hard drive UNCOMPRESSED would require a big drive (and a lot of ripping time). Not saying its not quality audio to have uncompressed but it isnt as good as a proper CD player thats for sure - but at the same time its awkward and expensive (disk wise). So I am compromising with MP3s. Some albums are full wav files - but TBH they sound pretty crap compared to the real CD player so I am still compromising....




You should do some A/B with uncompressed rips vs CD. If you were able to use the same DAC (my 390s has digital ins so I've been able to do just that), you might be pretty surprised at the results. All you're doing is changing the source mechanism from optical disk to HDD. The bit for bit content is exactly the same in WAV format whether it's on the CD or on a HDD.

Sure, 600 CDs is a lot, but you'd be jumping into the game at the right time. For one, HDD sizes are to the point where you could get a single 500GB HDD to rip all of your CDs to (assuming 700MB per CD - and many of your CDs won't be that big - times 600) even if you stuck with WAV. If you wanted to save a bit of space, you could go with FLAC (again, you could try A/B tests with FLAC vs WAV) which would be a better route for tagging anyway.

Secondly, there are many ripping services that will do all the work for you. You choose what format you want them ripped to and they will rip the discs, make sure the tagging is accurate, and load them onto your HDD for you (alternatively they can burn your collection onto DVDs). At that quantity, you should expect to pay something like $1 per CD for the process.

It's an initial investment, but it's well worth it. when you compare that cost to what many high end components go for, it really isn't all that expensive. Once you have your collection started, adding additional discs yourself is just simple upkeep.

Jeff
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MagicMtnDan wrote:

I'm slightly perplexed by those asking for higher power amps. I assume you're asking for one that can power power-hungry speakers?

I'm asking because I have two home theater receivers so I don't need a 2-channel amp. I also have a Luxman stereo receiver that I use with my Klipsch LaScala speakers (and turntable) so I don't see how a two-channel amp would help me there either as it only duplicates the amp in my receiver.

I'm not saying everyone's in the same boat as me but I don't quite understand how everyone is using these two-channel amps in the ZPs (like others I see a small form factor unit with no power and digital out as the way to go).

What am I missing here?



Probably just that not everyone is using sonos as you do thats all. I have 6 zone players, two of which are hooked up to multi-channel receivers, others, such as the one in my office, is powerful enough to drive a pair of KEF speakers so I dont want to have to go and buy even a 2 channel amp for that room and the other three. That just drives up the cost.

What I like most about having the option of using an internal amp is the flexibility, the ability to easily move zone players to other rooms. I don't see the big deal about having an internal amp that is not being used. Really. At the end of the day an ampless version will not be cheaper.
Userlevel 2
garty wrote:


Really. At the end of the day an ampless version will not be cheaper.



Couldn't have said it better myself.. 😃
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Hi All
I've just joined this board. Haven't bought the Sonos (yet) but am very interested as it looks like having the best interface of any network music system I've seen so far.
Just to add my voice, would love to see a ZP with digital out. I'm not bothered about a better quality amp as I'm sure the internal amp is good enough for most of the zones. For the main listening zone, I'd want to hook up the ZP to an existing system with high quality DAC/preamp and poweramp hence digital out is a must.
Hope Sonos have something in the pipeline along these lines.

Once I've tested the system out, I'm sure l'll be recommending it to most of the people who I setup home entertainment systems for, but I know a few of them will want to use a digital out (probably about 20%) as they are fairly picky about source sound quality.
I've got a few more questions re flac playback but will post these in a separate thread once I've searched the board as I don't want to hijack this thread.

AV Spyder

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