W4S Connect Modification worthwhile???

  • 8 January 2017
  • 14 replies

Hello. First post. Would appreciate some advice as I'm having difficulty finding anything online about this that isn't excessively technical. I'm streaming tidal via Sonos Connect, Sonlink arcam DAC, Arcam AR29 amp and KEF LS50s and Monitor Audio BXw10 sub with decent quality cables and stands etc. Would the modified Connect make an improvement in sound that would justify the expense?

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14 replies

First off, how is the CONNECT attached to the network? It's reported that some of these aftermarket mods can compromise wireless performance. Some users have also found that the unit runs hotter than normal.

Personally I'd be a bit sceptical about spending a small fortune on a warranty-destroying modification. Ages ago IIRC the jitter (from a ZP80 I think) was measured and found to be in the inaudible range. And any decent DAC will reclock the signal anyway.

Of course if you buy the mod the effect to you personally will be "like night and day", because that's how expectation bias works. 😉 Whether it's objectively changed anything to the sound which reaches your ears will be open to debate.
I've worked in the music industry for more than 20 years so am all too familiar with bias!!! The money wouldn't be a huge issue for me if I thought I'd get an improvement in sound, I'm just finding it difficult to get clear info.Connect is connected to router by a cable.
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I am one of the CONNECT users ratty refers to. I experienced both the issues he referred to, but my ZP90 could be wired if need be. What really concerned me was the temperature of the W4S modified ZonePlayer. I felt I would not sleep easy or feel comfortable going out with it left switched on. YMMV, but I opted to return it, losing a fair bit of cash as a result.

On a more positive note, I am convinced it did make a real difference to the audio quality, something I cannot match with my bog standard CONNECT replacement. But while my CONNECTs are both slightly warm on their top surface, nothing to worry about.
Thanks gents. One more question. Would a modded unit support MQA on Tidal/Sonos?
Would a modded unit support MQA on Tidal/Sonos?
Nobody knows whether (a) any Sonos unit would be capable of software MQA decode, (b) MQA would permit it commercially, or (c) Sonos would be minded to even attempt it. They've said that, whilst there's just possibly an argument for greater bit-depth, they can't see the logic of higher sample rates.
All things considered I think my money might be better spent elsewhere at least for now. Thanks.
I have the Cullen Circuits Modified ZP 90. It is night and day difference from the standard ZP90 (I have both). If you have a high end system it is well worth it. Still needs to connect to a good DAC to take full advantage.
I am interestef to know how the modification works. What does it modify? As i use a digital out from the Connect, all that Sonos is doing is passing on bits. The sound quality is entirely a function of my hifi. What is the modification supposed to do?
What is the modification supposed to do?
IIRC these mods claim to reduce the output jitter, and some upsample. Since (a) ZP80 (yes, that old one) was once measured as having 'low' jitter and (b) a decent DAC will re-clock and upsample anyway, I'm struggling with the 'night and day' bit.
I remember someone on here claiming a night and day" difference after setting their Spotify to higher bitrate. It was then pointed out that that had no impact on Spotify through Sonos.
The wonders of placebo. As our friend Kumar sometimes remarks, a drop of adult beverage can have a similar effect on the brain's music appreciation.
...all that Sonos is doing is passing on bits.

Unfortunately not. Sonos makes three changes to the bit stream (even with fixed volume):

1. 1dB soft-knee compression which affects all signals in the loudest 3.5dB.
2. volume normalization using mp3 tag ITUNNORM (also applies to ALAC files)
3. the negative waveform signal is in error by one step (i.e. 1 in 32768)

There's a thread discussing this here.

Cheers, Peter.

Unfortunately not. Sonos makes three changes to the bit stream (even with fixed volume):

Sonos HAS muddied the waters here, but how much of this change is audible in a controlled test is still an open question. But the muddying of the waters is enough to have audiophilia nervosa raise its head.

Of course, in the context of the thread, in terms of whether a Connect mod is worthwhile, this is probably not relevant. And I still maintain that spending the money on some decent single malt, turning down the lights, and enjoying the music with no sleep lost over voided warranties is a better way to go. The only real tweak needed may be a bump up of the volume control to compensate for the slightly lower signal voltage from the analog outputs of the Connect compared to that from most CDPs/DACS.

YMMV, obviously.

And I doubt that with its focus on play units, streaming services, voice control and home automation integration, Sonos cares much about this issue now.
Thanks @Peter Mc. Yes I have been aware of that thread since your original post. And kudos to you for identifying this. But the issue has never really troubled me. and as @Kumar suggests, I felt "just passing on bits" was close enough for the issue on this current thread.