Connect vs Port vs Bluesound sound quality?

  • 24 January 2020
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34 replies

Userlevel 3
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The views on Sonos also depend on an element of faith as music is subjective. 
 

i asked Hi-Fi dealer how to spend a tax rebate for my headphones and Sonos connect system  He recommended upgrading the headphone amp but not the connect or DAC and was ambivalent about cables. There is a dramatic difference between headphones and the new amp made a dramatic difference as my other headphone amp simply wasn’t powerful to drive high impedance headphones.

There is no doubt that different DACS also make a notable difference as can clearly hear difference between different filters and blindly changing between filters always end up with same filter which is the same as most people. But between different DACS it does become subtle and personal preference. 
 

i still can’t tell the difference between Sonos connect and CD through same DAC and high end headphones. You do have to switch to fixed output from the Connect digital output as the variable output sounds clearly distorted on headphones. 
 

No doubt there is marketing and real difference. No doubt amps DACS and speakers/headphones make real noticeable sifferences some subtle and some dramatic but only you and your wallet can decide whether those differences matter. Sonos certainly sounds a lot better than my TV sound system and by the same token my Hi-Fi system sounds a lot better for music but for sure the differences wouldn’t be worth it for other people. Your financial circumstances also impact your perceptions. 

Userlevel 3
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Just tried playing same song from Apple, Apple Lossless CD ripped file, Amazon lossy from Sonos Connect digital output versus CD through same high end headphone DAC/amp and headphones. Subjective but I couldn’t hear any noticeable difference between Apple lossy and lossless and Amazon lossy files. I thought the CD might have sounded marginally better but nothing I could pick in blind test. The DAC filters made a subtle but notable difference. The quality of amp and headphones made a dramatic difference.

So personally I conclude that the impact of your digital source is negligible. The impact of your DAC is subtle but noticeable if your system is transparent enough. Amps and headphones/speakers do make a dramatic difference though with the amp it was more about matching power rather than sound quality. It took a lot of reading and listening to get there so hopefully helpful for someone. 

I found this thread because I was looking info for the new port, I am laso thinking of upgrade my old connect.
 All is very subjective, your listening room will influence at least 50% of the sound you will hear,
If you want to really hear the diff 24/92 vs CD you need to source to be recorded in high definition also, and still the diff will be minimal or none if the room is not acoustic treated, like for many of us common mortal people.
I think the port beeing a new product will sound better (more modern electronic) that the connect (I have a connect), in the S2 you can stream now 24/92 also so no advantage vs bluesound now.
I think the Bluesound is crazy expensive, if I would change my sonos setup (I have 3 more speakers also) would be for a yamaha multicast system in that case, but for now I ll stick with the sonos setup I have.

 

Userlevel 3
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Im pretty locked into Sonos and don’t regret that generally. However it is difficult to listen to Sonos after listening to my Hi-Fi headphone system as the Hi-Fi sound is in a different league. The problem with the connect and Port is they compare very poorly to other streamers such as bluesound note in terms of capabilities and price. The connect and port make no sense at all unless you are locked to Sonos 

 

Sonos is an excellent life style product but you have to accept that it is not designed sold or marketed as a Hi-Fi product and it does not have the sound quality or functionality of a hi fi product  I’m sure they are perfectly capable of making a product to compete with the bluesound note and numerous other streamers but that is not where their market is  if you just want a Hi-Fi streamer go else where unfortunately 

 

 

it is not designed sold or marketed as a Hi-Fi product 

 

 

I can understand saying that it is not sold/marketed as a HiFi product - somewhat. But to say it is not designed as a HiFi product is a meaningless statement because there is no well accepted engineering definition of what is a “HiFi” product, anywhere in the world. 

What sonos gives you is multiroom, if you dont need that then any streamer will be better and cheaper, a raspberry pi will have better signal output from its dac-HAT component for example.
I have my connect coax out going to a decent DAC that is also a preamp, and I think the sound is really nice.
I have also a not so expensive Class AB amp that sounds great, but if I put a CD I think the sound is slightly better but nobody else will notice that anyway at home.

The speakers that you place in diff rooms are not HiFi and I use them as background music son there is not need to spend a hell lot of money there, I rather to have my main system sounding good to me.

If I would switch to another multiroom system I would look at yamaha multicast.  But Ilike simplicity I dont need alexa and those extra things, I just want to listen to music.
 

Userlevel 6
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What sonos gives you is multiroom, if you dont need that then any streamer will be better and cheaper, a raspberry pi will have better signal output from its dac-HAT component for example.

 

I agree for the most part. I own a Port for about 2 months. I also own a Pi with Hifiberry Hat. I can't say if one sounds better than the other but can say the Port cost ~$400 more. 

I don't think there is anyone defending the ridiculously high price of a Port, by claiming that it does more on the sound quality front than a USD 25 Chromecast Audio puck as just one example. Or, as another, my raspberry PI wirelessly streams ripped CDs from a USB stick inserted into it to a Echo Dot, that is wire connected to the jacks of a Connect Amp. Even something like this also sounds just as good as my Connect.

On the other hand there is Bluesound that is even more expensive as are other streamers that are multiple times more expensive than the Port that also don't do more than all of the aforesaid on the sound quality front. But the higher price deludes people into thinking they sound better.

The problem is that clever marketing has brainwashed people into thinking: Expensive = High End = HiFi. Which is the most commonly understood definition of the word “HiFi”. And of course, there is no engineering definition of that word, so it is a carte blanche for snake oil peddlers in the HiFi industry.

Userlevel 6
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I don't think there is anyone defending the ridiculously high price of a Port, by claiming that it does more on the sound quality front than a USD 25 Chromecast Audio puck as just one example. Or, as another, my raspberry PI wirelessly streams ripped CDs from a USB stick inserted into it to a Echo Dot, that is wire connected to the jacks of a Connect Amp. Even something like this also sounds just as good as my Connect.

 

Pointing out the cost of the Port wasn't the point, this is Sonos community, we've all accepted the price point to play. The point was that the pi is so cheap in comparison.