New Sonos Amp compare to “Hifi” amp

  • 20 January 2019
  • 27 replies
  • 2410 views

I’m curious if any of the members have owned “Hifi” amps and have switched over to the new Sonos Amp.


How does the Sonos Amp perform? I own vintage Mcintosh amps in two setups currently.

Thanks for you opionions. Sorry if this has been discussed, new member here.

27 replies

Userlevel 7
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Welcome to the community. My only experience is listening on my old Pioneer HiFi from the 80's as far as HiFi equipment goes. I couldn't compare it to the amp as I didn't do an A-B on the same speakers, so for me, it's difficult to say. I'd like to hear what others think as well.
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I have a pretty good setup and recently slotted a Sonos Amp into my system replacing an Exposure 15 integrated amp and I think the Sonos sounds great. I primarily listen to vinyl from a Linn LP12 but this amp has also improved my enjoyment of Spotify over the Apple Airport Express I was using with the previous amp. This amp is a lot better than the reviews I’ve seen give it credit for. I think it needs to run in with music for several hours before judging its quality. I have the tone controls set flat.
Since the Connect Amp is as good as any 55 wpc HiFi amp, I don't see why the Sonos Amp should not be so as well, including compared to HiFi amps that are in its power league.
I don't think there is any such thing as running in a digital amplifier, but leaving that aside....

I recently bought a Sonos Amp, and it didn't quite meet my (probably unrealistic) expectations. I had hoped it would simplify my life, and cable spaghetti, by replacing my Beam (+Sub) for TV sound and my HiFi amplification (DAC/pre-amp and two power amps) for music.

It didn't do it for TV, but I think that was just because I didn't really like my HiFi speakers for the TV sound, partly because of positioning issues. I wouldn't make too much of that - it was my circumstances.

For music, I thought the sound quality was great for the money, but didn't thrill me in the way that my existing setup had.

It is perfectly possible that I heard what I subconsciously wanted to hear - that my much more expensive amplification was 'better', whatever that means. Or maybe it's just that I am used to a particular type of sound. There wasn't a huge difference and I would not discourage anyone from buying the Amp. It just didn't work out for me, judged against what I consider a high standard.

FWIW that's a Cyrus DAC-XP+ DAC/pre-amp with two Cyrus 8 power amps. All was played through PMC floorstanders.
I have a pretty good setup and recently slotted a Sonos Amp into my system replacing an Exposure 15 integrated amp and I think the Sonos sounds great. I primarily listen to vinyl from a Linn LP12 but this amp has also improved my enjoyment of Spotify over the Apple Airport Express I was using with the previous amp. This amp is a lot better than the reviews I’ve seen give it credit for. I think it needs to run in with music for several hours before judging its quality. I have the tone controls set flat.
Glad it’s working for you. Nice simple setup with your Tannoys! My Mcintosh integrated is still dropping a channel randomly. It’s a labor of love owning vintage gear.

The Sonos Amp offers everything I’m looking for, and for the price point I’m going to give it a try sometime soon.

There aren’t many reviews on the new AMP so I appreciate your feedback. I have read some dial back the treble. I have horn loaded speakers so my fear was the Amp being overly bright.
I don't think there is any such thing as running in a digital amplifier, but leaving that aside....

I recently bought a Sonos Amp, and it didn't quite meet my (probably unrealistic) expectations. I had hoped it would simplify my life, and cable spaghetti, by replacing my Beam (+Sub) for TV sound and my HiFi amplification (DAC/pre-amp and two power amps) for music.

It didn't do it for TV, but I think that was just because I didn't really like my HiFi speakers for the TV sound, partly because of positioning issues. I wouldn't make too much of that - it was my circumstances.

For music, I thought the sound quality was great for the money, but didn't thrill me in the way that my existing setup had.

It is perfectly possible that I heard what I subconsciously wanted to hear - that my much more expensive amplification was 'better', whatever that means. Or maybe it's just that I am used to a particular type of sound. There wasn't a huge difference and I would not discourage anyone from buying the Amp. It just didn't work out for me, judged against what I consider a high standard.

FWIW that's a Cyrus DAC-XP+ DAC/pre-amp with two Cyrus 8 power amps. All was played through PMC floorstanders.
I would be using this setup for strictly streaming music. No vinyl or TV. It’s not my “reference” stereo so I am expecting to trade a little fidelity for convenience and reliability. Thanks for sharing your experience. Nice gear btw.
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Regarding running in or breaking in an Amp.

I have an early NuForce IA-7 integrated amp that I still use in another room. I recall the manual stating it required breakin. Here’s a bit from a review in Absolute Sound of a NuPrime amp similar to the NuForce amp. The amps are both Class D.

“NuPrime recommended 100–150 hour break-in time, so I gave the IDA-16 at least 200 hours of break-in before listening critically. Right out of the box, the IDA-16 sounded OK, but somewhat lifeless; however, after break-in it sounded a bit more dynamic, and the treble, which had been disappointing in some switching amplifiers I’d tried, became delicate and detailed.”
Regarding running in or breaking in an Amp.

I have an early NuForce IA-7 integrated amp that I still use in another room. I recall the manual stating it required breakin. Here’s a bit from a review in Absolute Sound of a NuPrime amp similar to the NuForce amp. The amps are both Class D.

“NuPrime recommended 100–150 hour break-in time, so I gave the IDA-16 at least 200 hours of break-in before listening critically. Right out of the box, the IDA-16 sounded OK, but somewhat lifeless; however, after break-in it sounded a bit more dynamic, and the treble, which had been disappointing in some switching amplifiers I’d tried, became delicate and detailed.”


That's typical nonsense from one of the way too many "high end" audio magazines. They HAVE to say something, so they just make stuff up.

The ONLY important thing about an amplifier is that it measures well into a realistic load. Sonos specs for it are excellent, so it should measure very well into a realistic load. Sadly, Stereophile is about the only magazine that still measures anything at all, and I doubt they'll measure the Amp. It's not expensive or pretentious enough.

However, amplifier design is extremely mature, there really isn't much a real engineering team can do wrong, unless they're incompetent (sadly, many "high end" "designers" are).

Class-D amp chips are sold by just a few vendors; their current designs will provide excellent performance. You might be surprised to look inside some very over-priced "high end" amps to find the exact same chips as the Amp inside.
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The recommendation is from the manufacturer’s owners manual, the reviewer was just stating what the manual said and his ears heard. There are parts in a Class D amp like capacitors that need to form/breakin before performing their best.
There are parts in a Class D amp like capacitors that need to form/breakin before performing their best.
Um, no.
Sadly, Stereophile is about the only magazine that still measures anything at all, and I doubt they'll measure the Amp. It's not expensive or pretentious enough.

However, amplifier design is extremely mature

Back in the day, Stereophile did measure the Connect Amp when it was called a ZP and found nothing about it that was non HiFi. I can't see why Sonos would not have used the mature skill it has demonstrated to have in the Sonos Amp product, and reports from users here that are aware of the usual audiophile traps have reported nothing about it that is non HiFi either.
There are parts in a Class D amp like capacitors that need to form/breakin before performing their best.
I am always amazed at the legs these myths have. I have heard stuff like this said even about speaker cables. And in the digital age, about iPods and their earphones.
It is true that kit sounds better over time, but what is called burn in/breaking in is simply the brain getting used to the change in the sound it hears from new kit, and then developing a preference for it.
The reality of this can be shown up in a few minutes by that most hated by audiophiles test - a blind AB/ABX test; since they will never take the trouble of doing such tests, the myth continues.
It’s not my “reference” stereo so I am expecting to trade a little fidelity for convenience and reliability.
You should be happy to know that there will be no audible trade off. I found none when my Connect Amp took over amplification duties on a drop in basis - done in the past by solid state amps made by "HiFi" makes like Conrad Johnson, Quad and other similar.
However: if your reference stereo uses amplification that is introducing mild distortion by having tube/valves, of the kind that you are now used to hearing and have started liking, this will not be provided by Connect Amp or the new Sonos Amp.

The other reason for the music sounding different would be a different speaker in a different room compared to your "reference" set up; nothing to do with the amp change, but these differences can have a huge impact on how the music sounds.
The recommendation is from the manufacturer’s owners manual, the reviewer was just stating what the manual said and his ears heard. There are parts in a Class D amp like capacitors that need to form/breakin before performing their best.

This is the type of nonsense I heard when I worked in a mid-to-high end electronics store back in the 90's. Purely by coincidence, the "break in" period was exactly the same number of days as the "no questions asked" return period. Also purely coincidental is the fact that sales bonuses were partially based on the lack of returns.
There are parts in a Class D amp like capacitors that need to form/breakin before performing their best.
I am always amazed at the legs these myths have. I have heard stuff like this said even about speaker cables. And in the digital age, about iPods and their earphones.


It is at least consistent to say they require burn-in... I mean - IF a cable required burn-in (and I'm not saying it does), then what would be happening there would also be happening absolutely everywhere that you are passing a signal through.

As for whether burn-in is required... I take a pragmatic approach. I don't do anything special, but I do leave equipment running as much as possible in the first few days - e.g. leave it running quietly overnight- something that is easier when you are talking about a streaming source that can run for hours without interruption.

Whether it makes any difference to the sound - or how you perceive it - is somewhat irrelevant. You buy equipment to use it, and leaving it to run is only going to cost a few pence. And it isn't going to do any damage to it. Although if something does happen to go wrong - well, you've found that out early and can deal with it.

You know how long you've got to return a purchase, and if it doesn't meet your requirements in that time, send it back.
Leaving aside the burn in arguments, I don't see the point in leaving any kit running unattended; the warranty period gives you enough of music listening time to throw up a defective piece before that period expires, so why waste even a small part of a finite service life in having the kit play unheard?
The Sonos is designed to be "on" all the time anyway, and this kit should have a lifespan of many years in normal circumstances. Playing a few hours unattended in the first week or two isn't going to make much difference, unless there is a fault. I would rather discover that fault in the first couple of weeks, especially if I had bought from a retailer, rather than direct from Sonos.
Actually disappointed at the direct comparison to my hifi amp. The sound is clean enough, but lifeless and the bass doesn't shake the house like we're used to. Progress huh?
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I’d break it in with music before judging it, mine is sounding great!
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Actually disappointed at the direct comparison to my hifi amp. The sound is clean enough, but lifeless and the bass doesn't shake the house like we're used to. Progress huh?
Not exactly dripping with insight 🙂 What’s the comparison amp, what speakers, what music sources, at what volumes? What does ‘lifeless’ mean?
Actually disappointed at the direct comparison to my hifi amp. The sound is clean enough, but lifeless and the bass doesn't shake the house like we're used to. Progress huh?

Interesting, I'm finding the bass particularly to be an improvement in my system. Maybe it has something to do with the characteristics of your speakers?

One thing to check is to go into the EQ settings in Sonos. As well as loudness, the "sub" controls are also enabled by default. It's possible that the amp is set up to direct some of the bass signals to the sub output.
Actually mea culpa time. Did some research on iphone settings, now delighted with the sound I'm getting from Amp and trusted old, floor-standing speakers! Happy to admit when wrong/dumb....
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Andy, glad to hear you sorted out the sound. What settings on your iPhone did you change?

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