Apple GarageBand Latency, Would Amp Solve?

  • 18 December 2022
  • 26 replies

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Just started with Apple GarageBand music production software. Bummed to learn that I can’t use my Submini and pair One SLs as my “studio speakers” because of Airplay latency. 

If I connected the Mac Studio via HDMI to Sonos Amp to then play through to the Submini/pair One SLs, would that solve the delay problem? 

I’m thinking it would not, because even from the Sonos Amp, I’m then dealing with “streaming” via wifi and I’ll have the same delay.

Any ideas? Thanks!

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SONOS is not designed to be used as “studio speakers”. If your computer offers an HDMI-ARC output, this connection path to AMP will reduce, but not eliminate the latency.

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Oh, understood @buzz. Thanks for your time and input!

Just have a sunk cost in the Sub-mini / One SL pair at my desk, where I’m futzing with GarageBand and trying to bend Sonos to the studio production use case. Wasn’t anticipating moving into GarageBand when I got the Submini and One SL pair.

I got the Sonos Amp and with the RCA Mac/Out - Amp/in I was able to eliminate the delay in S2. Haven’t tried HDMI yet (Mac Studio has the port), as I was thinking the analogue signal path would give me the best shot.

One thing I don’t understand is that in the “Music Production” Sonos Room (Amp, Submiini and pair One SLs) S2 only adds the One SLs as “surrounds” leaving the EQ L/R balance not working. Why isn’t S2 adding them as a stereo pair, as that is how I have the Sonos Amp settings, set up.

In my previous Sonos Room “Desk” (One SL pair and Submini), they were added as a stereo pair in S2 and the L/R balance worked as did Trueplay. Evidently, Trueplay is not supported in this Sonos Amp configuration.

I’m psyched that this works, as I can keep my form factor at my desk and not have to get into a wired set up (even if it did cost $1,400-ish, lol). 

Now, I’m wondering if there is a less expensive way than sticking a $700 box (Sonos Amp) between my Mac and the Sonos speakers?

I think the difference is that AirPlay 2 doesn’t allow for adjusting delay, whereas, the Sonos Streaming protocol does, in S2.

I’m able to group the “Music Production” Room with another Sonos Room in Roon Labs, too - both using Sonos Streaming and not AirPlay 2.

Totally psyched!

The SONOS latency is an issue only when you are attempting to synchronize live with recorded, HDMI with analog, or online. An additional 75ms latency to a decades old recording is not significant.

A SONOS “Room” is a single speaker, pair, or surround components. A SUB can be part of a Room. If speakers are “Bonded” as a  surround system, they become part of the surround Room and cannot be separately addressed. Room names must be unique.

Latency through the HDMI-ARC is 30ms to surround speakers and 75ms to Grouped speakers. Minimum analog input latency is 75ms.

I’m not much of an Airplay user, but I can imagine that there is some latency.

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If speakers are “Bonded” as a  surround system, they become part of the surround Room and cannot be separately addressed. Room names must be unique.

@buzz - thanks again for all the input!

How do I get S2 to add the One SL pair as stereo speakers and not surrounds as detailed in the “Desk” room above; and not in the manner S2 adds them in the “Music Production” room detailed above? This seems automated and I don’t think I have a choice. It’s how S2 is adding them in the Room with the Sonos Amp.


If the ONE SL’s are Bonded as surrounds, outside of the surround room context they cannot be individually addressed.

First, remove the ONE SL’s from the surround room. Now, you can set them up as a stereo pair and give them a unique Room name. The initial Room name might not be to your liking, but you can change this to another unique name.

This new Room can be Grouped with other rooms and audio in the Group will be time aligned, unless Grouped with the surround Room. The surround system Room latency will be 30ms, but the Grouped Rooms will be at 75ms. You can adjust the audio delay in the surround room to somewhat compensate for this -- at the expense of lip sync,


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Ok, got it on the One SLs. How do I remove the Amp from it’s room to start all over? 

Ultimately I want to end up with a Room comprised of (don’t care what it is called):

  • Sonos Amp
  • One SL pair (stereo not surrounds)
  • Sub mini

Thanks @buzz!

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Also, would the older and much less expensive (used unit) CONNECT amp do the same thing as the current Sonos Amp - for my use case? - inputting the Mac computer audio via RCA and streaming to two Sonos Rooms comprised of the below components?

  • Room 1: Arc, Sub3, One SL pair
  • Room 2: Sonos Amp or CONNECT: Amp, One SL pair, sub mini

I realize I’d probably lose the HDMI signal path with the legacy amp.


Unless the ONE SL’s are part of a surround Room, this cannot be done. You’ll have four Rooms. These Rooms can then be Grouped in any combination.

A very old CONNECT:AMP is not S2 compatible.

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Got it on legacy Amp; thanks!

this cannot be done


Let’s just focus on Room 2:

  • Sonos Amp, One SL pair and Sub mini
    • This will always be put together, by S2, with the One SL pair as surrounds, then?

Thanks again for your time/expertise on all of the @buzz 

It’s your choice. The ONE SL’s are not automatically configured as surrounds.

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It’s your choice. The ONE SL’s are not automatically configured as surrounds.

Sorry, I’m not being clear. What I’m saying is that in the Room with the Sonos Amp, S2 only gives me the option of adding the One SL pair as “surrounds”, this after I’ve taken them out of their previous room. One other variable: I had to “hide” the the separate One SLs “from the app” by signing into my Account (in case this is relevant).

There is no choice being presented.

Seems like eliminating the One SL pair and the Sonos Amp from my system and “adding a product” might be the way to go. I’ll have to Google how to delete products from my system.


Thanks, @buzz 

Don’t Factory Reset any SONOS units without further consult.

Go to Settings —> System —> [ROOM name] and remove the ONE SL’s from the surround Room. Now you will have the AMP and ONE SL’s as three separate Rooms. Next, Bond the two ONE SL’s together as a stereo pair. This will leave you with an AMP Room (with or without a SUB) and a ONE SL Room. If you want to play the same source in both Rooms, use the Group feature.

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Ah, I see. The key is not sticking them all in the same Sonos room and using the group feature. Forgive my density in not getting this @buzz. I’ve been stuck in the “Room” form factor, as I’ve never used the Group feature.

Understood on not resetting!

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@buzz -works like a charm for all my use case applications (GarageBand and all computer output, and Roon Labs output to multiple Roon zones/endpoints.)! Really appreciate your patience in explaining this repeatedly to me Buzz!


What I love about the Group feature, is I can add the Sonos “Amp” room (I have only the Amp in that Sonos room), when I need it, otherwise the One SL pair and sub-mini are their own room (Desk), trueplayed, L/R balanceable and available for streaming from that room solely.

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Hey, @buzz - perhaps a stretch here, but do you have any idea how to get my Mac to recognize the Sonos Amp as an audio output via the HDMI connection between the two? The Mac HDMI port is not ARC or eARC; is that the problem?

Mac Sound preference do recognize my two monitors as HDMI outputs (they are being connected to the Mac with HDMI (Monitor) to USB C (Mac) and both monitors show up as an HDMI sound outputs as result. I guess the Mac thinks the monitors have speakers, which they do not.  Also, there are regular, thought very quick and hardly noticeable, audio gaps via RCA. I was hoping HDMI might solve these.

Does this question make sense as asked?

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 Also, there are regular, thought very quick and hardly noticeable, audio gaps via RCA.

Increasing the delay ms in S2 from 75 to 150ms via RCA has gotten rid of the “glitches”.

Only HDMI-ARC and HDMI-eARC are supported. This is not an oversight, this is how the standards work. Audio travels differently over HDMI. There are end runs on this, but they require a “box”. If your Mac provides an optical output, there is an inexpensive SONOS dongle that can connect AMP.

Wiring more of your devices to the network will improve data flow. The network is struggling with something, that’s why you need the 150ms.

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I figured I needed ARC or eARC (audio return channel) in the Mac’s port as you had referred to it what way in one of your first responses here.

Interesting, however, that the monitors are recognized as HDMI sound sources and the Sonos Amp is not, and doesn’t show up when connected via HDMI, similar to the Monitors: I wonder why that is?



The monitors are HDMI “sinks”. ARC is not an HDMI sink. One reason is that ARC does not support video.

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I’m not following your last, but accept that I cannot output sound to the Sonos Amp, via HDMI. : )

Thanks, @buzz 

My reply was clumsily worded. I wish SONOS had not named their device “ARC”. I suppose that someone thought this would be a clever wordplay — suggesting that “ARC” could be connected to HDMI-ARC, but “ARC” works best when connected to HDMI-eARC.

The reality is that there are two sets of pins used for audio — depending on transmission direction. One set for simple source devices and another for TV’s that are sending App audio back to an A/V receiver. The chipsets at both ends of the connection need to sort this out. If the operator elects to use a TV App, the A/V receiver must switch from sending audio to the TV to receiving audio from the TV. And, some ARC devices, such as “ARC” will send back status info (over yet a different set of pins).

“ARC” attempts to be plug-n-play. I think that it would be confusing if an option would be hidden somewhere to switch audio pins.  It’s certain that someone would get this wrong and we and SONOS support would have many discussions about this. Plus, someone would want to play audio CD’s on a DVD player that required selecting commands from an on-screen display.


@buzz it’s even worse. There’s a difference between Arc and ARC. The first is the name of the Sonos speaker, the second is the abbreviation for Audio Return Channel.  Talk about confusing!

Yes, and to some extent my posting tradition is not helpful because I like to upper case SONOS model numbers. This was very constructive when describing how to connect a SONOS CONNECT to an amplifier, not so much when discussing Arc and ARC, or in my case “ARC” and HDMI-ARC.

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I’m clear on ARC=audio return channel and basically how an ARC or eARC port is needed in the receiving device.

What I didn’t get about @buzz sequence, was why my monitor is able to use macOS sound ouput via HDMI and my Sonos Amp cannot function similarly? It was the, “...monitor acts of is a sink...” portion of Buzz’s text.

I’d really like my Sonos Amp to use the HDMI port as a “line in”, instead of the RCAs. I guess you can only bend a use case to far, in that I get Sonos is not designed for music production playback.

Still the RCA line-ins are working well for my Sonos One SL pair/sub mini acting as my “Studio Monitors” with 150ms audio delay dialed up in S2.

It would cost at least $699 to get a 2.1 wired set up for my production studio, and then I’d have an additional pair of two speakers and an extra sub’s form factor to deal with at my desk, lol...

ARC is HDMI-ARC or HDMI-eARC only.