Why is Connect more expensive than Play?


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I just got my first pair of Sonos units - two Play:3's for the kitchen and bedroom and I absolutely love them. I'm not a huge audiophile, but the convenience and total plug 'n play nature of Sonos is what attracted me to it.

Of course the next thing that occured to me was how to get this connected up to my stereo.

What I don't understand is why the basic Connect is $349 while the Play:3 units are $299 each. I mean if anything it seems like a Connect is just a Play:3 without the speakers and amp? Why does it cost so much more for fewer features? Seems like the guts of the connect should be a $99 unit - I meant he appleTV is $99, and it does way more (At least in terms of technological capability - video/etc) than the connect.

To be honest I've been drooling over Sonos for years - and I know the quality is very high, but the expense of the units has always put me off. It wasn't until the Play:3 that I felt like there was enough bang-for-the-buck to justify diving in... I'm probably going to get at least 2 or 3 more Play:3's for elsewhere in the house, but it's going to be hard to justify the Connect until the price comes down further. It's still cheaper to just put a Play:3 in the same room as my stereo - it's small and powerful enough to just sit near my existing speakers.

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179 replies

Welcome to the forums.

It's too temptingly easy to compare "cost" with "price". Yes, the build cost of a CONNECT may well be similar to or less than a Play:3 (give or take the odd drive unit, Ethernet switch, ADC, S/PDIF output etc) but like it or not Sonos will price products at a point which the market will bear.

One could argue that the Play:3 may be pitched low to woo a new class of customer, whereas the CONNECT would be purchased by those wishing to link Sonos with existing - perhaps expensive - HiFi equipment. In the latter case $100 either way may not be a major issue.
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I agree totally. Having worked in a busy hi Fi environment, I've seen manufacturers lower their prices and basically devalue their own product. Sonos have got it right.
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seriously? Thanks for the condescending reply. I understand market dynamics...

I don't however work in a busy Hi Fi environment where a few hundred here and there is not insignificant. I live in a house, with a family, with a budget.

I don't want to feel like I'm overpaying... and all you've convinced me is that yes, Sonos is ripping people off because people are willing to pay $349 for something with less capability. I can see the attitude here is going to be "But sonos can do whatever they want because their products are so good and the market will bear it!" - I respectfully disagree with their pricing choice, I think it's lame.

But to get back to the realities of the product: When you mentioned the ethernet switch, I took a closer look at the pictures and I see now that this behaves as an ethernet switch and has audio in... those aren't huge features, but at least there's SOME value-add. Not $50 + the value of an amp and speakers though, at least to me.
Thanks for the condescending reply.
It wasn't intended as such.

I respectfully disagree with their pricing choice, I think it's lame.

Take your case to Sonos, or simply vote with your feet and walk away from the purchase. This is a user forum so don't expect Sonos representatives to chime in with a defence of their pricing strategy.

Yes, Sonos products are not cheap. Some of them, such as the soon-to-depart CONTROL/CR200, are arguably over-priced for what they do. But until a serious competitor comes along and does what Sonos does they have a first-mover advantage. A good many of us here think that despite the initial price Sonos represents value for money, especially considering the life span of the product and the continuous cycle of free software upgrades.
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It wasn't intended as such.In fairness, maybe he wasn't referring to you?
I know where the OP is coming from - I have a CONNECT and do see it as a very overpriced wifi and ethernet 'box' with audio output to my amp. It's very small and very light - and they must make a fortune on it. However, I bought it and paid the money - so who's right really - they obviously sell....
seriously? Thanks for the condescending reply. I understand market dynamics...

Sorry, I do not see condescension in either of ratty's or Kenners' responses. Both appeared quite fair, and point out valid pricing/marketing issues.

I don't however work in a busy Hi Fi environment where a few hundred here and there is not insignificant. I live in a house, with a family, with a budget.

We all have budgets. Circumstances differ as to what one feels is 'fair' or 'too much'.

I don't want to feel like I'm overpaying... and all you've convinced me is that yes, Sonos is ripping people off because people are willing to pay $349 for something with less capability. I can see the attitude here is going to be "But sonos can do whatever they want because their products are so good and the market will bear it!" - I respectfully disagree with their pricing choice, I think it's lame.

If that's your opinion, then don't buy the product. It's your choice. Nobody is holding a gun to your head to make a purchase.

But to get back to the realities of the product: When you mentioned the ethernet switch, I took a closer look at the pictures and I see now that this behaves as an ethernet switch and has audio in... those aren't huge features, but at least there's SOME value-add. Not $50 + the value of an amp and speakers though, at least to me.

Another reality of Sonos is that to get a comparable whole house product, one would need to go to a semi or full-custom setup that would cost 5-10 times the amount of Sonos. Even then, it might not have the multi-room sync'd music and/or multi-room individual music.

Personally, I feel that the price of Sonos is quite fair for what it does. If one is just looking for an internet streaming boombox solution, then Sonos will appear quite overpriced to those users. There may be cheaper alternatives.

As the Play:3 works well for you, I can see why the the higher priced Sonos units may put you off. Conversely, I see little need for a Play:3 in my own home. I use several Play:5's to 'round-out' whole-house music while the Connect and Connect:Amp drive the better speakers.

Since you understand market dynamics, you must realize that if Sonos was making excessive profits (especially with a 'simple or cheap' product), other companies would be quickly entering their market space. As several companies have tried and failed to usurp Sonos' marketshare, it leads me to believe that there are some quite large hurdles to overcome. These barriers to entry may be technical, legal (patents), financial, or multiple combinations.

As for Sonos pricing, it's not the cost of producing the second (or 10,002nd) unit that drives the price, but the cost of getting that first unit to the market. Possibly, the Play:3 benefited from the development of the previous ZonePlayers and can be delivered at a lower price point.

Moreover, I suspect that Sonos is using the Play:3 as a loss-leader (like the Kindle Fire) to get more customers into the Sonos universe.

Once again, that other 'Sonos Killers' have come and failed, seems to speak to the point that Sonos is most likely well positioned, price-wise.

If you really intend to tilt at windmills, then please have a go at the DeBeers company. I'd really like to see diamonds come down to their true market price based on their actual existence rather than their artificially limited availability. 😉

Best of Luck
I think that the PLAY:3 price is low balled to increase market penetration. As unit volume increases, the manufacturing costs will decrease and allow some profit. SONOS used this strategy on the original ZP100 which was initially priced very low, considering the manufacturing costs. The ZP100 was priced at a fraction of the cost of anything remotely competitive in terms of function. This was a gutsy, high risk strategy that worked.
I think that the PLAY:3 price is low balled to increase market penetration.


Yup. (thumbsup)
I'd also say that the connect seems pricey. But, as others have, I bought one (and 4-5 other P5s/P3s).

The weird thing from my perspective is how it sticks out like a sore thumb aesthetically in my very humble stack of home audio/video gear. That little white box just doesn't seem to fit into the "high end" enthusiast space the way one poster implied.

The other thing I've seen posted around other forums and reviews is that the Connect is a "weak point" in the Sonos proposition as it is perceived to be too expensive for the value. I actually wondered (and posted) about whether a Play5 wouldn't be a better value with the headphone output.

I'm keeping my Connect.
My Connects (actually, one is an old ZP80) are not visible. If I didn't tell you where it was you'd have no idea it was there.
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@NoBoB

I'd like to do the same but aren't yours getting hot of hidden? Mine are already hot, I can't imagine what would it be if without any air circulation.

thanks of your feedback
They're not enclosed. One hides behind my satellite DVR, which sits fairly high up; the other sits in a little wicker basket (an idea I got from this forum) with a little artificial flower arrangement shielding it from view.
The weird thing from my perspective is how it sticks out like a sore thumb aesthetically in my very humble stack of home audio/video gear. That little white box just doesn't seem to fit into the "high end" enthusiast space the way one poster implied.
Of my four ZP80s the only one with any aesthetic significance sits happily on the floor beside active speakers hooked up by chunky optical cable.

I actually wondered (and posted) about whether a Play5 wouldn't be a better value with the headphone output.

There's no comparison. The headphone output is, well, for headphones. It's been noted for having a fair level of hiss, which is the last thing you'd want when connecting to decent poweramps. Oh, and the P:5 has no digital outputs whatsoever.
Userlevel 2
I Think the Connect has a good value when compared to any midrange cd-player.
(But I would not mind if they where a lot cheaper… 😉 )
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They're not enclosed. One hides behind my satellite DVR, which sits fairly high up; the other sits in a little wicker basket (an idea I got from this forum) with a little artificial flower arrangement shielding it from view.

-thanks-
I Think the Connect has a good value when compared to any midrange cd-player.
In terms of digital output compare it instead to a 'high-end' transport. A secure lossless rip via Sonos (in Fixed Volume mode) should yield a bitstream as good as any CD transport's real-time error correction.
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Got to agree with alecf. The price of the Connect is riduculous. If the pricing really is a marketing ploy then it is as ill judged as it is greedy.

Most people I know have some sort of multi purpose system in their living room; a surround sound AV linked to their TV and games consol. Price the Connect at a reasonable level and everyone I have discussed this with would be coming on board.

Once "connected" they would inevitably be adding at least one (probably more) play 3 or 5 units.

I have 2 x play 3 but will vote with my wallet and will never get a Connect at the current price level. I steam to my AV amp (7.1 and still cheaper than a Connect!!) via airplay and I am more likely to expand that system than to invest in more Sonos kit at current price levels.

Sonos need to get real - every other High Tech toy I have brought has dropped in price as adoption rises.
Userlevel 2
Never say never Diceman.

I was unsure about adding a Play to my Hi-Fi and expected to need to add an external DAC to get a decent performance. I was wrong. I also use a dedicated Graham Slee headphone amp and Sennheiser HD 650 headphones. The sound is very impressive with great detail and presence.

(mods please note that other manufacturers supply equivalent products and this is not intended to be an advert ;))

Ask your local stockist to lend you a Play to do an A-B comparison with your current setup. Why don't you roll the dice and report back.
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I'm personally glad it's pricey and not everyone has it.
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I couldn't honestly say any Sonos gear is cheap, but then neither is Apple. Connect has been around a while, so there are a few second hand ones floating about, which is how I bought mine :)

I already have an Airport Express, which wirelessly bridges my network into my AV cabinet (Over 5Ghz N which works brilliantly). However, I don't use Airplay as I find the Apple way of doing audio lacking. I do use an AppleTV (running XBMC) for video though.

Sonos is far, far better for music and I love my Connect.

Bought a Play:3 and would buy a Play:1 (bedroom radio thingy I just made up) at the drop of a hat, although no doubt it would be £150 more than I"d want to pay!!
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I remember back when we had to use the $349 ZP80 (Connect) as a bridge, before the bridge was released. When the bridge came out it was $99 and it made me happy. Later the price dropped by half, me happier. Now add in all the new PLAY:3, PLAY:5, Sub and free controller apps and somehow the price of the Connect doesn't really bother me. I usually add a Connect into a clients home theater when doing an entire home and no one ever complains about the price, of anything. They just LOVE LOVE LOVE their new Sonos system. If someone wanted to save money on a Connect I'd recommend eBay. Lots of good second hand components there.
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It seems to me that the Connect is priced for high-end systems. If your stereo costs a thousand or more, the incremental cost of the Connect is relatively small.

I don't think the Play3 is a loss leader. If it were, then the price would be much lower. Also, once you have a Play3, what more are you going to spend? You're not going to replace a Play3 with a Play5 if you already have a Play3. If they lost money on each one, there'd be no way for Sonos to be profitable.

The Play3 is going to be the workhorse of their products, driving the most units since it is the cheapest product you can get to enter their universe. For them, that's where the profits are going to be. It might be priced to move, but it will still be profitable.
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at the moment i have a airport express that connects my nas/itunes to my stereo. i was thinking about adding a corresponding sonos device, so that i can use sonos for every room. but i don´t see a reason to spend additional 400 eur for the connect- and i am satisfied with the sound i get from airplay. as i have to manage playlists in itunes, i will stick with the airplay solution, until i see why the connect makes more sense and is worth the extra expense- so i vote with my feet 😉
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@NoBoB

I'd like to do the same but aren't yours getting hot of hidden? Mine are already hot, I can't imagine what would it be if without any air circulation.

thanks of your feedback


My ZP80 is also hidden inside a TV unit with a closed flap. On the back is one hole where the cables go through. It has been running 24/7 for the past 5 years or so. It is quite hot when you touch it - but has been running without any issues whatsoever.
The weird thing from my perspective is how it sticks out like a sore thumb aesthetically in my very humble stack of home audio/video gear. That little white box just doesn't seem to fit into the "high end" enthusiast space the way one poster implied.

Yes, I'm not keen on the aesthetics, either - a 'standard' format in black would have been much more acceptable personally - but then everyone's different.

Regarding the price of a connect, in many ways they're good value for money. I take the points about comparison with the amplified models, but like others feel that the Play:3 is currently more of a 'loss (or at least low profit) leader'.

Component cost and manufacturing costs come into it, but software support must also be an expensive part of the overall package. I haven't seen anyone else producing a similar quality package for similar money. I only have a ZP90, feeding my AV amp. OK, I chose to use a NAS as well, but it could have worked on any wired PC/laptop.

So for about £260 I have a very good streaming system that most people find really easy to use via a number of popular devices - I call that excellent value, personally.