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Using Sonos Amp as front speakers for 2nd room?

  • 22 August 2022
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Hey all, thanks in advance for any help/advice/pointing out errors in my thinking.

I have a Home Theatre (HT) setup in my 4m x 8m family room/kitchen space. It consists of an Onkyo 5100 wired to pre-existing built in front and surround speakers with a decent center channel and power sub, which I don’t want to replace. All those speakers are in the 4m x 4m family room side. I have a Sonos Move in the kitchen side of the space which is used for music and Alexa functionality - set timers, add things to grocery list, etc. 

I’m about to upgrade the kitchen and want to tie the two sides of the room together, with a Sonos Amp replacing the Move, so that I can a) listen to the same music through the HT setup or b) get the HT audio playing on the kitchen side. Eventually I’d like to add speakers outside which can do a) and b) as well. I’ve read a lot on this forum, the Sonos product instruction and installation guides and other sites but I’m still not sure if I can get it to work as desired.

To start with I purchased a Port. The line out goes to the Onkyo’s aux input and that works great - playing anything on the Port wakes up the Onkyo, it can sync perfectly to the Move in the kitchen and the Sonos One pair in the living room and music sounds great.

The line in for the Port was trickier. The Onkyo has powered and unpowered zone 2 outputs, but using either of them causes the unit to set its sound output to stereo only. Obviously I want full surround sound when watching movies, so that wasn’t acceptable. To get around this, I did some research and ended up adding a Line Out Converter (LOC, commonly used in car audio) in parallel to the speakers attached to the Onkyo’s powered front speaker terminals. That worked as desired, and connecting the output of the LOC to the Port’s line in gave me the front channel audio that I wanted.

I set the Port to autoplay on the Move in the kitchen, and at first everything seemed great. Whenever any audio came out of the Onkyo to its front speakers, I heard it in the kitchen. I could use Alexa voice commands to pause or resume the sound from the HT. But I quickly realized that even with the audio delay set to 75 ms, I was aware of the kitchen speaker sounding like an echo while watching anything on the HT.

Here’s my question - can I put an Amp in next to the Onkyo, connect the LOC outputs to its line in, set it up as “front speakers” and then wire it to my planned new speakers in the kitchen to prevent the delay? Would I still be able to play music across all my Sonos devices including that Amp, so that the kitchen gets synced audio, or does setting up an Amp as front speakers affect that functionality?

(Sorry this got long but with the delay in getting an Amp these days I want to really validate my plan before locking it in to the kitchen redesign)

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Best answer by melvimbe 22 August 2022, 20:47

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Here’s my question - can I put an Amp in next to the Onkyo, connect the LOC outputs to its line in, set it up as “front speakers” and then wire it to my planned new speakers in the kitchen to prevent the delay?

 

 

No, you’ll have the same delay for  aux/line in source for the Port, Amp, or Five.  However,  the HDMI-ARC input on the Amp will play audio immediately without delay, as it’s designed to work with the TV, not for multiroom audio streaming.  There are a couple ways you could hand this.  If your Onkyo sends audio to the TV, and your TV is HDMI-ARC capable, then you can connect the Amp to the TV.  You could also get a device that convert audio over HDMI to HDMI-ARC (like HDFury Arcana).  or you could get an HDMI splitter with optical audio output to send to the Amp.  Lots of options with different costs and benefits. It will not be perfect sync, but closer than what you currently get.

Please note though that the Move will always be delayed for TV audio, unless it using bluetooth connection.  Also, the Amp doesn’t have an audio output to send to your TV like the Port does.

 

 

 Would I still be able to play music across all my Sonos devices including that Amp, so that the kitchen gets synced audio, or does setting up an Amp as front speakers affect that functionality?

 

 

Yes, but as mentioned above, if you want to play Sonos streaming sources, you will still need the Port feeding your Onkyo

 

(Sorry this got long but with the delay in getting an Amp these days I want to really validate my plan before locking it in to the kitchen redesign)

 

I’m not familiar with the ONKYO, but many Home Theater receivers have a slight processing delay for analog inputs. Sometimes this can be defeated with a “direct” (or similar) processing option.

I’m not familiar with the ONKYO, but many Home Theater receivers have a slight processing delay for analog inputs. Sometimes this can be defeated with a “direct” (or similar) processing option.

Unfortunately the delay in this case is definitely coming the Port to Move connection, not the Onkyo itself. 

When using the ONKYO or TV as the source for Line-In you will encounter the 75ms latency. In the case of Line-Out, it will be time aligned with MOVE when PORT and MOVE are members of the same Group.

Here’s my question - can I put an Amp in next to the Onkyo, connect the LOC outputs to its line in, set it up as “front speakers” and then wire it to my planned new speakers in the kitchen to prevent the delay?

 

No, you’ll have the same delay for  aux/line in source for the Port, Amp, or Five.  However,  the HDMI-ARC input on the Amp will play audio immediately without delay, as it’s designed to work with the TV, not for multiroom audio streaming.  There are a couple ways you could hand this.  If your Onkyo sends audio to the TV, and your TV is HDMI-ARC capable, then you can connect the Amp to the TV.  You could also get a device that convert audio over HDMI to HDMI-ARC (like HDFury Arcana).  or you could get an HDMI splitter with optical audio output to send to the Amp.  Lots of options with different costs and benefits. It will not be perfect sync, but closer than what you currently get.

Unfortunately some experimentation has revealed that the Onkyo 5100 can be set to include audio data on the HDMI out at the same time as driving speakers, but the content device attached to the Onkyo (appleTV) throws HDCP errors and refuses to play anything. So all digital audio data ends once it hits the Onkyo. I have 4 source devices, so I can’t just extract audio from their HDMI data before it arrives at the Onkyo or use the Onkyo’s second HDMI output as a source for an Arcana - there isn’t any audio to extract.

I think I have 2 alternatives at this point. The simpler one is to spend money - convert the LOC line level signals to HDMI (easy, < $50) then connect to an Arcana (overkill, $250). Is there a cheaper way to get RCA jack line level signals into the Amp’s HDMI port? 

The more complex option is rewire the entire system so that my Hue HDMI Sync box acts as an HDMI switch for the 4 input devices, HDMI output from that goes to TV, TV optical out goes into the Onkyo and TV HDMI ARC out goes into the Sonos Amp. I don’t even know if the TV (LG B8) will output audio on HDMI-ARC and optical out at the same time.

Hmmm. Hopefully my going through this will benefit someone else with a similar setup in the future.

 

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