Would You Buy an Ampless w/Digital Out "Zone Player Pro"

  • 27 September 2005
  • 73 replies
  • 12240 views

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This topic has been beat to death on this forum. I am hoping this thread generates enough interest to at least peak the interest of the money makers at Sonos and hopefully this or a version of it is put into production.

A "Zone Player Pro" would be Ampless and have One (1) Coax and One (1) Optical Digital Outputs in a standard 17" Audio/HT component case.

Forget any and all other requests, for now, such as rackmount, color, additional features, or a Price Reduction. Lets assume it will cost the same as the current Zone player $499, anything less would be a bonus.

Simply put, do you want and would you purchase a "Zone Player Pro".

Would You Buy A "Zone Player Pro" Ampless w/Digital Out


73 replies

Userlevel 2
Digital out is a must have.
An ampless option should be available too.
This months Stuff Magazine rates the Hermstedt Hifidelio as the winner against the Sonos and other products. Having used both products I can say that I prefer the Sonos System however the Hifidelio does offer some great functionality (alternative) that is missing in the Sonos system.
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On a side note...if any Sonos people read this..its nice to see an SB company doing well. Its my hometown! I hope Rincon has been firing on all cyclinders and the crowds are lite!! 🙂


There is a freight train of a WNW coming in that should light things up for the first half of the week. ... lite crowds at Rincon? you've been gone a while. 😉

have fun,
-graham
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The SONOS is very good, but not world class. Keep in mind that you didn't pay a world class price.
Your point is well taken, Buzz. Even with the slight tradeoff in audio quality, I still love my Sonos. My friends and family like it too, so much so that my sister and her husband just purchased the introductory bundle.

However a digital output could bring the system to a new level for us audiomaniacs.
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I've read through all these posts and the way I see it is, the easiest way to accomplish the Digital out is to leave the amp in the ZP, add the digital out, and allow control of the amp output (turn on and off via controllers). No redesign needed, a little software tweaking and there done. As far as rack mounting goes, most rack mount systems provide sheves to place non rack mount devices. I don't have a need for digital out (not yet) or rack mounting, but I am not against the improvement of this already great product.

I'd have to agree mostly with TCassio's first point. No need for a separate product simply to support S/PDIF. Most audio ASICs already expose the digital interface; it's just a matter of spinning the board design to support the connector to expose the interface at the back of the ZP. Cost reduction for de-featuring the analog amp is probably marginal and I'd rather have the option to remote a parallel set of speaker level outputs to another room than save ~$50 or so. Most REAL cost savings will come from market acceptance and economies of scale from high volume manufacturing. As an example, the Controller relies on an relatively expensive Xilinx FPGA chip as typically found in low volume high-end consumer electronics. Eventual replacement with a custom ASIC design will drive cost out when volumes justify the upfront cost of that approach. Only with volume can Sonos get the ZP closer to the sweet spot pricing for broader acceptance. So those interested in an ampless version mainly for cost reasons should focus on spreading the word on how good the system is to others!🆒
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Not sure if anyone from Sonos has commented on this topic (haven't read all the posts on this topic), but from Tom Garcia's review on ecoustics.com:

"For the audio purist, it would be advantageous to have a digital output to maintain a direct digital stream to their processor. After visiting Sonos’ facility and speaking with several of their engineers and representatives, I was informed that they are actively pursuing new products that will address many of the issues discussed in this section."

http://www.ecoustics.com/avrev/sonos
I'd also join the warranty voiders to get a digital out. There is a discussion on this board that points to the necessary chip, but not how to hook it up. Any electronic engineers?

Otherwise I'll just wait, one room is still sonos-free (I only need 1 with digital out)

I agree with buzz, the amp is really good for the price.

edit: Here's the link to the hacker's thread:
http://forums.sonos.com/showthread.php?t=578
[ ... ]
Has anyone else has noticed the same deficiency in sound from the Sonos compared to the original disks?


The SONOS is very good, but not world class. Keep in mind that you didn't pay a world class price.
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My reasons for wanting this feature may be different than some of the others who have posted on this subject. Previously I did not think it was so important to have a digital output, but I have since changed my mind. After comparing the sound from the original CD to the FLAC version from the output of the Sonos on the same system, the CD sound is always much better (much more full, dynamic, and deeper bass). The only explanations I can think of are that the D/A converter in the Sonos is not as good as found in a decent CD player, or possibly there is not enough gain from the Sonos. In either case having a digital out to the D/A converter of my choice should yield a big improvement. By the way, I am making the assumption that the FLAC files are bit-for-bit identical the CD tracks. If anyone has figured out a way to modify the existing Sonos to get a digital out, I would love to hear from you. I understand this would void the warranty, but I will take the chance 😉 Has anyone else has noticed the same deficiency in sound from the Sonos compared to the original disks?
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110% agree on digital out!!!

and adding digout w/o an amp SHOULD lower the price. The amp would be a waste in a room with digout. Please don't 'just' add digout to the existing product.

I'd still buy the amp version for rooms w/o an existing system.

I think audiofiles would be pleased with the ampless/digout version and would commit to the sonos system for rooms requiring the amp version...eg the kitchen, patio, etc. The remote is awesome and the wireless mesh a nice bonus.

However, until then, I require digout and will be purchasing a Squeezbox while beefing up my NAS storage. I'll wait to see if squeezebox adds a better remote (ala sonos) or if Sonos adds ampless/digout before committing to either system for my whole home.

On a side note...if any Sonos people read this..its nice to see an SB company doing well. Its my hometown! I hope Rincon has been firing on all cyclinders and the crowds are lite!! 🙂
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The only reason I haven't gone for the Sonos system at this time is the absence of th every features you're all advocating.
I've read through all these posts and the way I see it is, the easiest way to accomplish the Digital out is to leave the amp in the ZP, add the digital out, and allow control of the amp output (turn on and off via controllers). No redesign needed, a little software tweaking and there done. As far as rack mounting goes, most rack mount systems provide sheves to place non rack mount devices. I don't have a need for digital out (not yet) or rack mounting, but I am not against the improvement of this already great product.
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I am hoping Sonos will make a device like we are asking and I will be first in line to buy it.
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Got everything in a rack and all digital. Have to say form factor and no digital out are the only things keeping me from replacing my Audiotron and even my media center PC hooked to my TV. I hate having to fire up the TV to pick music and your controller look great.
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Sonos has me hooked with their amazing controller, no doubt about it. But with a mid to high end pre/pro feeding my multizone audio system, I just can't see running my music collection through the Sonos D/A converter. So yes, a digital out is a necessity before I'll consider the product. I can take or leave the amp.

One more thing on the wishlist would be adding IR capabilities for basic functions such as source select and volume to the controller. With IR sensors in different zones, you could then use one remote for everything. Slick!
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Given the elegance of this product I would expect more from Sonos than “just” an amp less model. The more of these things I install, the more I really appreciate the design and the reliability. How often is it anymore that you literally just plug something in and it works? So yes I expect an amp less model and so much more from Sonos. They have set the bar pretty high and I hope they set it again with the next gen.

ps. For me its more about multi zone in one box. 😃
Userlevel 2
I don't have a sonos, but am now in the market for something to replace the dead roku.

I'd buy an ampless version with digital out in a second. Roku out, sonos in, awesome remote control! I'd appreciate the lower power draw and less heat emission too. Digital out is icing for me.

This is my first post and I registered just so I could toss in my two cents. I approve this message. 🆒
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You get an infrared remote, without display.


@Avee: there will also be a remote control with built-in display, i saw it @IFA in berlin. but it's absolutely not comparable to the great sonos controller thingy 😉
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I would be very interested in an amp less ZP player. The distributed sound systems that I install consist of a mix of wired and wirless ZPs but most of my customers also have a number of AVRs (new and old) around the house that they want to tie into digital music streams for stored music tracks, playlists or Internet radio. I know that I could increase my Sonos business by a third with an amp less ZP and gain more customer loyality by protecting their investments in AVRs that they have around the home.

The major problems that I have with the existing ZP is the size, cost and heat. I think that the amp less ZP should be a small as possible (5 port network switch or WAP) and as low cost as possible ($100 +). I would prefer to have the digital and analog out, but if I have to I can work with just and analog line out.
It has no internal amp, it's a different concept, based on a standard stereo setup. The satellites would also need a stereo or active speakers. You get an infrared remote, without display.

So the audiophile customer who just wants his music digitized and accessible from multiple rooms in high quality, could be interested in this.

The audiophile customer who wants a slick whole-house system with central control (like me), needs a sonos with digital out. So I'll keep on waiting.

Come on Sonos, it can't be that hard . . . Tell me where to solder the thing on to the PCB and I'm your customer. If you're not going to put it to market, maybe "some user";) can post a mod anonymously . . .
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Do you know the Hifidelio? All it lacks in comparison to a Sonos is the slick control concept, and synchronous play. It supports Wlan satellites, has digital outs, and is said to have very good audiophile qualities.

In the US, it is also sold as the "Musica"
http://www.olive.us/p_bin/?cid=01_06_musica


I saw this a while back, looks interesting. It does support synchronous playback with the Sonata gadget but I think Sonos has a much better UI. Not much info about the internal amp either.
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Sure - One of my ZP does not have speakers attached to it (no need).

Depends how much though...
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Sonos takes their sweet time with everything, but from what I've seen and played with, they can take all the time they need.

It took how many months for this cradle to go from announcement to near release? I know there isn't a date yet, but that thing has gotta be near done. So thinking like this, people started asking about a digital out around Jan/Feb. It didn't get a lot of hype til April/May, so by my best guess, they'll have something for us next year. It takes time to plan, design, test a new product. Especially something like a new Sonos player.

So, by that reasoning, if you can wait til April of next year, we may see something, or at least hear something. Sonos would be on crack to not at least make an announcement by then. These Sonos users are crazy 😉.

So, can ya wait? I can, and will. Full support Sonos!

-jibbajabba
Userlevel 2
Do you know the Hifidelio? All it lacks in comparison to a Sonos is the slick control concept, and synchronous play. It supports Wlan satellites, has digital outs, and is said to have very good audiophile qualities.

In the US, it is also sold as the "Musica"
http://www.olive.us/p_bin/?cid=01_06_musica


Wow, never heard of that one. Hot industry. New products keep popping up. Hope someone gets it right soon. All the musica needs is a graphical interface, expandable storage and it would be quite a nice product.

I'm still hoping Sonos has been listening and has a trick or two up their sleeve in the near future.

Phil C.

LET ME BE EXTREMELY CLEAR ON THIS... I REALLY DO NOT WANT TO BUY THE ESCIENT, I REPEAT, I DO NOT WANT TO BUY ANOTHER PRODUCT. I WOULD MUCH PREFER TO SPEND MY MONEY ON A SONOS SOLUTION BUT THERE ISN'T A SONOS ALTERNATIVE FOR ME TO PURCHASE OR THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF ONE.


Do you know the Hifidelio? All it lacks in comparison to a Sonos is the slick control concept, and synchronous play. It supports Wlan satellites, has digital outs, and is said to have very good audiophile qualities.

In the US, it is also sold as the "Musica"
http://www.olive.us/p_bin/?cid=01_06_musica
I need the digital out. I can't believe that a system which will cost me thousands hasn't got this simple output.

After all, the Sonos is aiming at people who do spend loads of cash on sound equipment, I bet 'cha most of them have a d/a converter available that is better than the Sonos can ever provide in a $500 box.

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