Line-In Latency/Delay Disable PLAY:5


Userlevel 3
Hey Sonos Engineers!

I know this has been touched upon. I previously submitted this request to support and they encouraged me to share here to keep the conversation going.

Is there any chance we could implement a soft switch for line-in audio to bypass the computer for "delay disable" functionality.

I understand and appreciate the reason for the delay.

However, I'm running turntables through a mixer and into the line-in of the PLAY:5. Can't teach my son to mix records with that delay, and since we're set-up in a communal space, my wife is not too keen on bringing out the old mix monitors. Can you dig it?

Can we figure out a way to manually disable the delay on an individual speaker basis?

Otherwise love the gear!

Thanks!

Here's quote from customer support. Hope it isn't too heavy handed or out of school to post:

"I'm not on the development team, but I personally think that it wouldn't be too hard to implement some kind of soft switch to bypass the computer altogether and pipe line-in audio directly to the amplifiers (something like a computer-controlled solid state IC relay network)."

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193 replies

Userlevel 2

Add me to those hoping for a low-latency line-in option!

My Setup:

  • PLAY:5 connected to computer (line-in)
  • Playing Piano on the computer via Keyboard (MIDI-Connection)
  • The delay of 75ms sucks hard when learning to play piano with a software

Please Sonos, this is a legit use-case!

Userlevel 3
Thanks for the reply buzz.

I understand that there is a 70ms delay. I understand that there is no option to defeat this. Just inquiring as to whether this can be an added feature in the future.

As I mentioned in my post, I was informed by someone at SONOS that adding a "delay disable" feature wouldn't necessarily have the negative impact you refer to in your reply, or require a complete redesign. Are you a SONOS engineer? Was this information I received incorrect?

Whatever SONOS may have been designed for, it is marketed primarily for home use. For me, my home use is, at times, a live DJ environment. I have read that the delay is for speaker syncing. Do you know if this is correct? I live in an apartment. In my uneducated opinion, the distance between all the SONOS speakers, in all the different rooms of my home is so small, that no delay (or very, very little) for syncing purposes should be necessary.

I am attempting to use SONOS for this application, because I own, use, and love SONOS speakers for all my other home audio needs, and this additional application (turntables & mixer) is one of the ways I play music in my home, and I would love to be able play mixed, vinyl, line-in audio throughout my home just like I play digital audio from my phone, buuuuuuut without the delay. (So wireless connectivity, is the short answer.)

Thank you for the work around suggestion. You're right. I can just do the mixing in the headphones. But for me, without getting into too much detail, that would limit my interactivity/approach/enjoyment.

The work around I'm considering now, is to feed my entire home's SONOS system the mixer/turntable audio through the line-in on the PLAY:5, AND use hard wired monitors for "mix monitors", and mute the PLAY:5, on account of the delay. Thus having a 70ms sync discrep between the hard wired monitors in the "DJ" room and the speakers in the rest of the home. Not ideal, but a start. We'll see...

Thank you again for the response and the work around suggestion. I know its an ask. I just wanted to put it out there to gauge how big of an ask it really is.

PS - Not for nothing, the attached picture is from the SONOS homepage. Not sure the usage context I'm supposed to infer, but that sure looks like a DJ environment to me.
Userlevel 2

+1 for the direct line-in with 0 delay for isolated use. 

Userlevel 2
I've recently purchased several Sonos devices including a Play:1 & a Play:3 (I then upgraded to a Play:5). While I really do love the sound quality, I feel like I've been a little duped by Sonos. I got a Play:5 specifically because it added the flexibility of a line in, but only after plugging in my TV do I find out there's a noticeable delay (I have already adjusted to uncompressed audio as the guides have suggested, BTW). Is it really so much to ask for something like a "standalone" mode? I get that the delay is necessary for sending the signal out to other devices, but the speaker would not have to be streaming to other speakers on the network in this case.

I realize Sonos would likely dismiss this as being "niche" and not worth the effort. But it's really hard to commit to keeping this very expensive speaker when it is unable to perform a basic function like outputting audio without a delay. At the very least, Sonos should reconsider the wording in their official Line-In guide here: https://sonos.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1091/~/using-line-in-on-sonos#compression "A benefit of using Uncompressed is that there will be very little delay from the source and the audio." It would've been nice to know before my purchase that the "very little delay" is not quite little enough to be unnoticeable.

I found this video to be pretty accurate in demonstrating the Play:5 delay. It may not be a huge delay, but personally it's enough to make it quite unacceptable for video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvkxLnaYFYI
Userlevel 3
Badge +4
Being able to use the Play:5 as a regular, latency free powered speaker from the Line-in is an obvious use case that many people would find useful, and would improve the product. I think it would be welcome and overdue addition to the feature set.
Userlevel 1
I can't believe how much resistance there is between fellow Sonos customers.

I too bought Play 5 to listen to music in my living room and to watch TV. Little did I know I'll get the lag when watching it.

So yeah, I too would like a setting to disable the lag when I'm watching TV and not broadcasting to other speakers.
Userlevel 1

The 75ms delay when using line in has just stopped me from buying a pair of Play5’s. Absolutely gutted :(

We purchased a Sonos Beam and Sub (which we love) towards the end of last year with intention of adding the Play5’s for a bit more versatility around the house, including mixing records from my DJ setup when the mood strikes. 
 

Ive been fiddling with hi-fi and audio products for a good part of 25 years and this is the first time I’ve come across a product with a direct line in which suffers from this type of lag (even the salesman who sold me our other SONOS products was surprised to hear this was true) Although highly disappointed, I am glad I discovered this before dropping another £1k on these speakers. In fact, it’s kind of hard to justify the rest of my SONOS setup now and will probably be spending the rest of weekend researching alternatives; THIS SUCKS! 😭

Userlevel 1

The 75ms delay when using line in has just stopped me from buying a pair of Play5’s. Absolutely gutted :(

We purchased a Sonos Beam and Sub (which we love) towards the end of last year with intention of adding the Play5’s for a bit more versatility around the house, including mixing records from my DJ setup when the mood strikes. 
 

Ive been fiddling with hi-fi and audio products for a good part of 25 years and this is the first time I’ve come across a product with a direct line in which suffers from this type of lag (even the salesman who sold me our other SONOS products was surprised to hear this was true) Although highly disappointed, I am glad I discovered this before dropping another £1k on these speakers. In fact, it’s kind of hard to justify the rest of my SONOS setup now and will probably be spending the rest of weekend researching alternatives; THIS SUCKS! 😭

Oh man I’m exactly in the same situation. Beam and Sub for home theater, and now wanted to extend for the real musical experience and connection my DJ setup with two Play5. What did you come up with by searching for an alternative?

 

Btw even tried the monitor setup, but the delay is too much for a normal living room, this gives a huge sound mess.

Userlevel 2
Nobody wants it to "sync with other devices" -- we just want it to OPTIONALLY play without a delay. Sheesh. The Airport device I have connected to it is already doing the sync-ing with the other Apple Products.

Sonos specifically markets to guys like me who use Apple Products -- co-branding with Apple Music, instructions for how to connect an Airport Express etc. etc.

Anyway, this thread was originally started to express the desire to do this. You're not really a part of this. 😉
Userlevel 2
Right, we get it, necessary for streaming reliability. But what is being said here is that while some of us enjoy the multi-room streaming functionality of the Sonos, we also have other ideas for it -- and you've heard two of them (from the OP and me). If I had a boom box, I would plug my airport express into it, and there'd be no delay against the other rooms' airport express devices. I don't want a boom box in my living room, so I'd like my Sonos to *sometimes* function as one.

So for those of us who don't always want Sonos streaming reliability for our part-time purposes, we are asking the software design team to consider that.

What the OP and I are probably imagining it is that the complexity of buffering / streaming could be optionally bypassed, and the line-in inputs would be sent right to the amplifier.
Userlevel 2
@JohnB I understand the Play speakers are largely only promoted as being for streaming music. However, if I am researching their products that include a line-in on their own support site, I would expect the "bonus for legacy audio devices" aspect to be made clear. Their official Line-In guide is here https://sonos.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1091/~/using-line-in-on-sonos#compression and specifically lists television as a legitimate reason to use uncompressed audio with line-in. For example:

[quote]Use Uncompressed if:

* You want to reduce the lip sync delay for video or a television.[\quote]

A simple disclaimer that the delay may still be noticeable even when uncompressed would be helpful. If their own guide lists TV as a viable line-in source, they can't blame me for not knowing a Playbar is the only "real" option for TV. I put a lot of time and research in before making this purchase and it's disappointing that the use of a TV (which was a big selling point) is now out of the question.
Userlevel 1

I was very impressed with the sound of Play 5 and Sub when I auditioned them last year.

In December I bought Play 5, Sub and One and just used them for playing music on my phone or laptop. 

I am a Dj but have not really had the opportunity to dj at home using the Sonos speaker until this weekend.

As a DJ, I discovered the latency issues which has really disappointed me, due to its impact on mixing songs.  If I had known the issue present, it would have been a deal breaker.

 

I truly hope Sonos can address this issue, even if a 0ms latency could be had for Line-in use only,  which will open up these fantastic speakers to a potentially larger market.  

In my opinion, this latency is a design flaw. I assume it is a defect unless responded to by a Sonos help team. I would like to add that the logic behind Sonos’ decision here is not clear to us.

I suggest you read the thread. The design principles have been gone over multiple times. 

Sonos is a multi-room wireless networked audio system. This requires a modicum of buffering to sync reliably, hence the delay.

I have checked the product FAQ here, and nowhere does it state Aux line in has latency. Confusingly, it does state it for TV. https://www.sonos.com/en-us/shop/five.html

I followed your link, and opened the FAQ section. It says:

The line-in isn't designed for use with a TV and will result in some latency or lip sync issues while the audio is converted from analog to digital.

Badge +17

Hey folks,

 

This is a 5-year-old topic that’s been discussed at length, and not just here. There’s plenty of information about the merits and demerits of line-in latency on Sonos products on previous pages with many users chiming in on their experiences. I’m going to close this topic for further responses as it feels like this thread has run its course.

just want to add my voice of support for a feature to remove the latency in an ungrouped / local mode

yes this is a scope-creep request- it isn’t how sonos was designed

i have a playbar, sub, two play:1 surrounds, and a play:5… and they work quite well as a connected home theater

but i also play electric guitar with a boss kitana mk2 amp that doesn’t have looping hardware, and an external rc-500 loop station that i would love to be able to throw into the play:5.  it would save having to buy yet another bulky non-sonos speaker or upgrade the whole guitar amp- and could be done with a basic software patch

i’m an electrical & computer engineer so i understand the sync issue and a product manager by trade and yes it’s a questionable call to prioritize building and supporting it

but there’s a big community of passionate hackers and musicians that would benefit from sonos understanding and making a fairly small edit

hopefully folks will continue to post their use-cases here so (1)some people can search and find that the delay won’t work for their particular need before they buy, and (2) maybe sonos will pay attention and decide solving for this community should be in their company DNA

rock on

I'd love a low latency aux mode! I have synths and other electronic music equipment that I'd love to be able to use with my Play:5

I’ll add another request for the low latency line-in option. My use case is similar to a previous poster - small home office with line in from PC. My preference is for my Sonos to handle both “business and pleasure” - streaming music normally while I work (latency unimportant), and as PC speakers for gaming/youtube after hours (require low latency). Ideal setup would be line-in to one play 5 that links with another play 5 and sub in stereo pair configuration over low latency 5GHz dedicated network link similar to Playbar/surrounds. It is frustrating to find out after purchase that the line-in delay makes this less than optimal as a solution.

To quote Sonos marketing:

“Everything works together, and Sonos works with all your favourite services so you can listen to what you want, where you want, how you want.”

Perhaps this should read:

“Everything works together, and Sonos works with all your favourite services so you can listen to what you want, where you want, how you want - unless you want to use Sonos for PC gaming, Youtube streaming, DJ turntables, electronic drums….”

Sonos is not really the flexible solution it claims to be in marketing. It is a very reliable and stable experience within the bounds of its core use case - wireless multiroom streaming - but is too rigid in its design to be the complete home solution claimed in the marketing.

Another DJ use case here. Gutted to find I couldn't use with my set up. I had the Sonos 5 (gen 1) and it didn't have any delay. I used DJ with the Gen 1 regularly, in a group with no delay. It's the reason I went out an bought the newer version.

So lame. Come on Sonos. 4 years 150 comments. 

 

 

The gen 1 has the same delay as current speakers.  Or to put it another way, if you have been happy up to now you should still be happy.

Userlevel 1
I will chime in as a customer who is interested. It seems likely to me that anyone using the product with a line-in could benefit from having a latency free option that doesn't distribute on the network. An obvious advantage is anyone using a playbar with a TV. If you don't have surround or a sub, why not kill the latency? I also want to use a Play 5 as part of my sonos network, and also use it to output the sound of an electronic drum kit where the latency makes that not a possibility.

Arrgg.  I just brought home a Sonos amp to drive a second set of monitor speakers in my studio, and use the line in as a drum/bass monitor during rehearsals.  70 ms = unusable for any live performance.  I appreciate the reasons for the design but it is not something I would have anticipated.

Userlevel 4
Badge +1
For the sake of adding another voice in favor: I am not buying a Play:5 because of the line in latency, even though I'd love to extend Sonos to the office. I had assumed the line-in could go direct, without Sonos latency, when used as a standalone unit. Glad I searched for this first.

For me, the compact, high-quality play:5 is ideal for a medium sized home office. But not if it means having two sets of speakers occupying the space: one for the Sonos network and another to connect directly to a TV or computer. Low, direct-input latency is necessary for anything other than playing an album, like sound from a TV, messing with garageband, playing with a keyboard, amateur audio mixing, cutting a large audio file into separate parts, or even video editing home video.

Why buy a nice compact speaker for a office or bedroom when it's going to necessitate a separate wired system right next to it?

Maybe we're a small subset of users, so Sonos is unwilling to do it. That's fine -- I'm just one customer. But it's just a design/business decision. Audio equipment is normally designed for a source input to route around certain features as necessary. My main integrated amp routes sources around the equalizer by a switch. Line inputs on amps routinely route around effects features. And, of course, Sonos already allows you to set compressed or uncompressed, which in essence routes around compression. This function would just route the line input source direct to amp, skipping the network. It wouldn't take a focused effort, just implementation of a basic internal function.

One vote here for allowing Play:5 (and Connect:Amp) to operate as a standalone unit. The setting options would be: Automatic (default) Compressed (higher latency, better network), Uncompressed (lower latency, worse network), Standalone (zero latency, no network)
Userlevel 1
The latency issue on the line in is just ridiculous, I am absolutely gutted after buying my play 5 purely for the line in (a feature bizarrely missing from the play 3), I am now unable to use my turntables which was the whole reason I bought this setup. Surely there must be a way to disable this when in standalone mode 😞
Userlevel 1

There’s probably nothing that has not been said already. But I’m going to chime in anyhow.

I would also really like the no-latency standalone mode. The implementation could be very transparent: no delay on the line-in when not paired, the usual (configurable) 75ms~2000ms delay when paired with any other speaker. That would allow users of TV’s, computer speakers & DJ gear to use their great Sonos speakers to double as direct play speakers and completely replace the legacy systems. This would increase their footing in the industry they actually focus on: To be the prime audio system for the entire home. (Voice assistant, multi-room, streaming, local libraries)

Of course, the way wifi and streaming works, you can not remove the delay in all scenarios. That’s a fact of physics. But that does not mean other customers should vote against this idea while a lot of other users would love to see it. This is a great chance for Sonos, not a threat.

Please let the amount of votes & replies on this thread speak for itself.

I just bought a Play:5 and am trying to decide between keeping it and buying more, or going the Chromecast route (probably using JBL Playlists and the forthcoming Google Home Max).

If I could have them do part-time duty as part of a larger network of Chromecast speakers (including legacy speakers, e.g. outdoors), that would be fantastic, but of course we ran into this delay issue as soon as we tried it. I think it would be completely consistent with the rest of the Sonos UI for it to seamlessly "do the right thing" -- when you have a *single* speaker driven by line-in, minimize the delay, when playing to multiple speakers, add the delay. There wouldn't need to be any option exposed in the UI. With the proposed improvement, the Sonos would be just as good as all our other random speakers when driven by a Chromecast Audio, rather than unusably inferior to those speakers in this use case.

It sounds like the forthcoming Airplay 2 support may provide another way to do have Sonos play together with non-Sonos speakers, which is exciting.