Some questions about my planned whole home audio Sonos setup

  • 16 December 2007
  • 7 replies
  • 1434 views

Userlevel 2
Hello all,

Very excited about using Sonos for my whole home audio extravaganza.

Background

    My home has some rooms pre-wired for sound and I'm installing in-ceiling speakers in them.

    The speaker wires all originate behind the cabinet of my family room entertainment center and an ethernet connection is available there too.

    I am buying a new AV Receiver for the cabinet (Denon 3808 or Onkyo 875)

    I will have 4 zones originating in the fam room cabinet: the family room itself and 3 other zones.

    I will have some ZP100s in other zones, so should have sufficient wireless coverage.


Questions
1) For the family room cabinet: Should I purchase 3 ZP100's and 1 ZP80? Or can I purchase 4 ZP 80's since I will have the AV receiver available?

2) I read through old posts and it appears I can either daisy chain the ZP100's or connect them to a network switch and in turn to the ethernet jack. Just wanted to confirm that the preferred approach is to connect each Sonos unit directly to the network switch.

3) Does anyone have a recommendation for a good gigabit switch with 6 or more connections?

4) I currently have a gigabit network that uses jumbo frames to speed file transfer with my NAS device. I have heard that in order to use jumbo frames, all devices on the network must be gigabit-compatible. Will the Sonos system prevent me from realizing the speed gains of jumbo frames on the gigabit network?


Ok, thanks everyone.

7 replies

blantana,

SONOS is not compatible with jumbo frames.

You can chain the ZP100's any way you like, however, since they are not gigabit units, take care not to connect any ZonePlayers upstream of any device that needs the gigabit speed. You could argue that connecting to a local gigabit switch will result in higher throughput, but on lightly loaded home networks, that last few percent of potential performance is not an issue.

There are advantages and disadvantages to using a ZP80 rather than a ZP100 connected to the home theater receiver. Obviously the ZP80 is smaller and cheaper and the ZP80 offers the digital output. The down side is that you will not have all of the benefits of the SONOS handheld controller because the SONOS controller and the receiver's controller must both be used and, to some extent, there will be a war between the volume controls. You can end the war by fixing the ZP80's output, but you will continue to use two controls to operate the room.

My preferred setup is to use an automated speaker selector switch to share the front speakers with the SONOS and the receiver. The SONOS is the default amplifier and when the receiver switches on, the front speakers are transferred to the receiver. (plug a modular power supply into the receiver's switched power outlet) Operation is transparent and one can pickup the SONOS controller and immediately play music. Even Aunt Tilda will be able to operate the SONOS.
Userlevel 2
Great buzz and thank you for taking my aunt Tilda into account. We like to keep her happy -- she is very high maintenance.

A few follow-up questions:

1) Any loss in sound quality between using the Sonos amp vs. the Denon AV receiver? Or, does the quality of the speakers have a much bigger impact than the amp?

2) The modular power supply connects to the speaker selector?

3) In terms of automated speaker selector, I checked some older posts and found the the Niles ABS-1 Speaker Switching Device. I'm assuming center channel would stay connected directly to AV receiver. How would I handle my subwoofer?

4) Another confirmation: So to enjoy Sonos audio in the family room I would just need to make sure the AV Receiver is off. If I ever wanted to play a CD through the Sonos system, I would need to make sure the CD player also has outputs going to a Sonos box instead of just to the AV receiver. I hope I would rarely be faced with the need to play an actual CD though!

Your recommended setup could be a nice power-saver. Not sure what the energy consumption of an AV receiver is at rest, but I would think it is pretty high. This would let me not have to leave it on all the time, but still have instant access to music in the fam room. nice.

Regards.
Somewhat more expensive than a SPK-1, the SAS-1 will switch speakers and line level. The line level would be the subwoofer input. While you could use a single power supply for this arrangement, two power supplies is easier to understand.

The SPK-1 is cheaper, but will not switch the subwoofer. Strictly speaking, you do not need to switch the subwoofer, but operation is more foolproof if you switch. You could plug the ZP100's subwoofer output to the left subwoofer input and the receiver's subwoofer output to the subwoofer's right channel input. Note that, if you use this scheme, Aunt Tilda will need to remember to Pause the SONOS or the SONOS bass will sneek into your home theater presentation.

Yes, the power supply plugged into the receiver's switched outlet will trigger the changeover.

With my scheme, system operators don't need to know anything about the mechanics. If the receiver is OFF, operators can simply pickup the SONOS controller and start playing music. If they turn ON the receiver, the speakers will transfer and the room is ready for the theater.

You are on your own to decide if the SONOS amplifier sounds better or worse than your receiver's amplifier. In my opinion the SONOS amplifier will stand proudly against anything in or near its price class.

In general, you can use a simple Y-connection to connect the CD player to the SONOS and your receiver. I warn that there can be problems with this arrangement when the receiver is turned OFF. Without having my hands on the Denon unit, I can't tell you if there will be trouble, but it will not be subtile. Basically, you'll need to try the arrangement. If your receiver is on the wrong side of this issue, you will experience gross distortion when the Denon's power is OFF. There are solutions, but I am not aware of any inexpensive off the shelf solutions. I make up little networks to solve this issue using a few cents worth of parts, but this may or may not be something that you should attempt.

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In any case you'll need to struggle a bit to get the subwoofer levels set such that both the SONOS and your receiver send the proper signal level to the subwoofer. Since the SONOS subwoofer output is not adjustable, you need to adjust the Denon's subwoofer output level to match the SONOS subwoofer output. If the Denon adjustment range is too short, change the subwoofer's input level control and try again to match levels. Eventually. you'll be able to find a winning combination.
Userlevel 2
Very helpful.

Buzz, I like the fact that you focus on solutions that offer the user the most seamless experience possible.

There is often a tendency among enthusiast communities to wring every bit of functionality and efficiency out of a device -- often at the expense of simplicity for any other users. The result is that the solutions created are extremely powerful but require steep learning curves to use.

Thanks.
blantana,

Thanks for the complement.

This stuff is supposed to be fun. How can it be fun if the user can't operate the system?
Userlevel 2
By the way, I saw in an older post that you recommend speaker volume controls in every room. Curious as to why.
blantana,

Since speaker efficiency and room size can vary -- along with the current activity, some means should be provided for individual room adjustments. Otherwise, some rooms will be too loud and some will be too quiet and the "correct" volume balance can vary from time to time.

If you are using a single ZonePlayer per room, no additional speaker volume controls are needed. When multiple pairs of speakers are connected to a single ZonePlayer, I recommend individual controls for each pair of speakers.

Having the controls in each room is a convenence, it avoids having to travel to a central location simply to change the room's volume.

Over the years I have used and I have observed others use systems without individual room controls and the system enjoyment is much lower when individual room controls are missing. Over time the system becomes more of a chore than a joy to operate.

There is a quantum jump in enjoyment when SONOS is introduced because control is attached to the person, not the room or a central stereo. There is no going back -- the bar has been raised.

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