We need Audiophile Edition version of Port


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First of I want to say that I have been using Sonos products since 2009. Besides Sonos, I had a lot of gear but none of it could match Sonos's ease of use and sound quality (for the price). I have to come clean and say that I am used to using Sonos everywhere and I love it. 

As an audiophile, I was looking to replace my aging Sonos Connect with Port and realized from all the reviews that it does not have a better digital output. This was a show stopper for me and it is a show stopper for all audiophiles out there. 

You are missing a very important niche of the market. It is taken by Raspberry Pie implementations and Bluesound and Aurelia, not because they have better software or support for services, but because they have a better digital output. That is it. Nothing else. Everyone I have talked to said they like Sonos but the digital output is jittery. I have tried a lot of solutions and even they sound better than Connect over coax they are all not easy to use, do not have support for the majority of services, etc… I meet old people putting Raspberry Pie solutions together and struggling with boards and power supplies and software issues just to get good digital output. Audiophiles are people willing to spend a lot of money on a good streamer. 

Wired 4 Sound managed to mod Connect into a damn good streamer. There is no reason you can do it too! 

Sonos has the best software and the rest of the products are great but you are missing the main link with audiophiles.

Sonos Port Digital or whatever you want to call it

No audio inputs or outputs. Audiophiles will not use them. They suck compared to $$$$$ priced amps. Just Digital Coax and maybe, just maybe, optical output.

Get power supply clean and stable, maybe even consider having standard power cable, get rid of jitter, use high-quality SPIDF connector…

Make Sonos digital output sound great and you will sell a bunch. 

I will buy it first if you manage to do it for $899 or less.

I sure hope that someone from Sonos will take this seriously.

If anyone agrees with me please leave comments so we can get Sonos attention.

Cheers!


108 replies

Userlevel 4
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Why is a separate DAC even necessary with a Port.  Just plug the line output into your preamp, much simpler less hardware and wire.  Is not the DAC a mature technology?

Why is a separate DAC even necessary with a Port.

For an equipment hobbyist, that tinkering is a necessity to keep the hobby going, with the amount spent on the external DAC varying according to budgets. Mature tech is an obstacle to this tinkering so, ergo, it isn't mature yet. Been there, done that. With external DACs costing up to USD 1500.

I have two old Connects that have worked fine with both variable and fixed outputs and since both options sound the same I prefer using variable for the remote volume control it confers. I have never heard the Port, but I suspect that even the issue with the variable outputs has not yet been picked out by anyone in a blind listening test with accurate level matching.

Userlevel 5
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My experience is similar to Kumar’s. I’ve recently switched from a small setup of old ZP90’s (Connects) to a small setup of Ports. I’ve noticed no significant deterioration in sound quality - even though both ZP90’s and Ports are set to “variable” rather than “fixed” output (because I want to be able change the volume in each room from the app, rather than going into each room to do so).

In both setups I’ve been using a good-quality external DAC and power amps (by Cyrus, retail cost around £5000 total) and decent midrange (£4000) speakers, so if my ears were golden enough I ~should~ be able to hear a difference.

Having said that, I believe that a typical person’s audio memory lasts for a matter of seconds (7 seconds is the figure that I can recall) so if any change takes longer than that, the listener probably won’t be able to detect changes in sound quality with any accuracy. Needless to say, the update of my system from ZP90s to Ports took longer than 7 seconds, so perhaps I’m not really qualified to comment...

 

Having said that, I believe that a typical person’s audio memory last for a matter of seconds ( Needless to say, the update of my system from ZP90s to Ports took longer than 7 seconds, so perhaps I’m not really qualified to comment...

Both good points (although my memory of the research suggests that this time is less than 7 seconds) and give an insight into why setting up a robust level matched blind test is not easily done at home. Which means unfortunately that the field is left wide open to every kind of subjective comment that there can be about comparative sound quality. For kit from amps to DACs. Or even speakers in some cases.

However the specialist media has the resources to run these tests in a proper manner, but their reason for shirking from this is because 90% of what they write would then have no cause to exist, undermining their existence.

So, the merry go around goes on for those that get on it.

I am not one that rules out the effect of subjective influences on the listening experience, but I happen to think that Sonos users would be better served with a HiFi speaker that looks the part more than the 5 unit does. Or even the One, for that matter. Blessed with a well crafted veneered cabinet, both would look “HiFi” and therefore sound better to many users, more than any “audiophile” edition of the Port - which is already too expensive for what it does. Of course only as long as said user was able to overlook the Sonos name on it, which audiophiles look down upon as being too cheap to sound good to their imagined golden ears. So maybe this won’t work either!

PS: One byproduct of this thinking is the paradox that audiophiles think that the Port is too cheap to be able meet the standards set by their golden ears, while most Sonos users think that it is way too expensive for what it does.

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The thing that Sonos brought to me was streaming music via Spotify and playing internet radio.  I started with a Play 3 in my kitchen purchased mainly for my wife who was using a small crummy Bluetooth speaker.  My multi-room hi-fi was too confusing and too much of a hassle for her to use.  

When the Sonos Amp came out I purchased one to replace the integrated amp I was using on my three season porch which was hooked up to a pair of speakers, a TV and the main system’s preamp.  It worked great with the TV, turning on when it sensed audio from the TV, allowing me to use the remote from the tv to adjust the volume.

It also worked well with my main hi-fi system I had setup in the basement.  As soon as the needle dropped onto the record the amp would wake up and start playing at a preset volume level.  I was also able to eliminate some devices that were in place in the line connection to deal with ground loops as my old integrated amp had grounded plugs.  

The third bonus was how easy it was to control and stream Spotify from my iPad.  I went from streaming 5 percent to now 75 percent after replacing another integrated amp in my living room with a second Sonos Amp.  The speakers in that room is often grouped with my Play 3 when my wife and I are sitting around the kitchen table.  Being able to add the Play 3 and balance the volume supplements the sound coming from the main speakers in the living room.

The Sonos Amp drives my monitors just fine and the sound I get from my records is undistinguishable from my all analog rig in the basement.  I get much enjoyment from Spotify and find myself spending more time actively listening and exploring music via my main monitors in the living room all from my iPad.

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My experience is similar to Kumar’s. I’ve recently switched from a small setup of old ZP90’s (Connects) to a small setup of Ports. I’ve noticed no significant deterioration in sound quality - even though both ZP90’s and Ports are set to “variable” rather than “fixed” output (because I want to be able change the volume in each room from the app, rather than going into each room to do so).

In both setups I’ve been using a good-quality external DAC and power amps (by Cyrus, retail cost around £5000 total) and decent midrange (£4000) speakers, so if my ears were golden enough I ~should~ be able to hear a difference.

Having said that, I believe that a typical person’s audio memory lasts for a matter of seconds (7 seconds is the figure that I can recall) so if any change takes longer than that, the listener probably won’t be able to detect changes in sound quality with any accuracy. Needless to say, the update of my system from ZP90s to Ports took longer than 7 seconds, so perhaps I’m not really qualified to comment...

Im interested in what you have said here. I'm trying to rationalise giving up my other streamers/transports for the ease of using sonos but I cant help feel that I will be short changed on SQ but your probably right after several seconds I wont remember and then its just a case of putting it out of my head. I wish sonos would offer a desktop solution as I'm trying to come up with a good home office solution. I currently use a pair of play 1s which sound fine/ok near field but i have no way of getting pc audio etc into them. Its this solution I want to get the sq right with whatever i do as its where i will do a lot of listening in a nearfield environment and its where I think I'm most likely to feel short changed on sq if it was an issue.

This is a great subject and is very open ended, especially if you are trying to take queues from an “audiophile” perspective. First let me say that while I do consider myself a gear head, I am totally a music lover from birth. My wife really dislikes the term Audiophile as it is pretentious and over used, so I do not use it describing myself as I love music first and listening platforms second.
 

Back in 2014 I started into the world of streaming and pretty much only used AirPlay to a home theater receiver or tv. When I discovered Sonos, I went all in and bought several Sonos speakers & components . I found it was pretty much stupid proof from set up to everyday use. I also decided to run a connect through a lower mid entry Dac into my McIntosh system. Personally I found the sound to be quite good, even streaming subscription Pandora as a main source for radio like experience, and Spotify for playing and discovering music. 
 

As time has moved forward and the technology for higher quality streaming became a reality I wanted to move up to higher quality due to thinking it’s what my big system needed, plus being around other gear heads telling me you will never get true hi res or “audiophile “ quality music. Well I pretty much decided that for my mid fifties ears, I am good with what I was getting from my connect. With the introduction of S2 my Connect that I’ve been using over the last years was no longer being supported with updates, I looked to maybe go a different route than Sonos. Blue sound node is what I was thinking of. I spent countless hours reading the reviews and how for the money it was an incredible unit to go with, especially as I had purchased a better Dac for my system. I ordered the node, and the day it came, I decided I didn’t have the WiFi bandwidth to support the node via WiFi and I do not have access to go wired, plus with all the negative reviews on the app and such, I just thought it wasn’t worth the hassle. I went to my local audio store and picked up a new port and connected it to my Dac along with my old connect to compare the two as I had read that the sound was better on the connect than the newer port. I switched back and forth and had my wife do a blind listening test, and we both found the port to sound better. 

I stream a lot, even probably more than I use my turntable or CD player as I love the ease of playing what I want at the touch of a screen. 
 

To the original post, do I wish that Sonos made a higher end streamer? Maybe, but to many audiophiles it would still not be enough as there is the golden ear issue that so many swear they can hear the difference, and if they can, more power to them. Personally, I really love Sonos and I totally respect the company for not bricking older products and continuing to come up with new and better products and upgrades. 
 

 

 Well I pretty much decided that for my mid fifties ears, I am good with what I was getting from my connect.

Congratulations on getting to where most of us get to by that age! And I don't think that we get there only because of impaired hearing.

 I currently use a pair of play 1s which sound fine/ok near field but i have no way of getting pc audio etc into them.

One way to do this is via a old but working on S1 Connect - it ought to be cheap. Wire the PC audio to the Connect Line in jacks, and set these to autoplay to the play 1 pair. There will be a lag, but that should not matter for pure audio. It is also likely that lip-sync issues will not arise on YouTube videos and the like, but this is something that can't be assured.

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I have a port connected to a Denafrips Ares 2 external DAC connected to a rogue sphinx integrated amp.

I recently, noting its strong return policy, tried ain ifi ipure2 between the coax and the ares 2. This device claims to both galvanically issolate the signal (removing power supply noise and such) and reclocking it. 

I was commited to trying it and sending it back if I did not hear a dramatic improvmenet. Suprisingly, I did. The dynamic range (especially the base) and the imaging improved quite a bit. I was so startled I contacted IFI to see if they were applying a DSP or something else. They said nope. I then contacted Denafrips, and they said if the jitter of the signal was reduced it would help the sound quality, even though the DAC also does some reclocking. Since they also sell expensive devices to reclock as well, they obviuosly think such is possible. 

At any rate, if you are looking to improve the signal from a port into an external DAC, the IFI is  worth a try. Just make sure to buy from a place with a solid return policy. YMMV.

I still dont know if the improvement comes from reducing jitter/reclocking, or the galvanic issolation, but I’m not removing it! The improvement was way better than any other tweak (interconnects, etc), I’ve ever tried, at least in my setup. 

 

You are missing a very important niche of the market. It is taken by Raspberry Pie implementations and Bluesound and Aurelia,

The Bluesound Node 2i actually has a lot of performance issues, far more than the Port.  However, Bluesound pays royalties to Sonos for infringing Sonos’ patents, so I’m sure Sonos doesn’t mind the competition.

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Personally I think Sonos missed the boat with the Port when they didn’t make it like the Amp, but with a digital/analog outs instead of speaker outs.  Same features as the Amp, just replace the amp with digital outs. 

Personally I think Sonos missed the boat with the Port when they didn’t make it like the Amp, but with a digital/analog outs instead of speaker outs.  Same features as the Amp, just replace the amp with digital outs. 

???

 

 

Userlevel 4
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Amp has a digital in.  And can be used with a TV setup to provide 4.1 sound (phantom center).

Amp has a digital in.

Amp has an HDMI-ARC digital in, DD5.1 home theatre decode, dual radios, and support for dedicated HT satellites. A different product positioning from Port entirely. 

Userlevel 4
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Amp has a digital in.

Amp has an HDMI-ARC digital in, and DD5.1 home theatre decode. A different product positioning from Port entirely. 

Yup, and I wish Sonos positioned Port just like an Amp but without the amp. But they didn’t!  Oh well.

Amp has a digital in. 

So does the Port, via UPnP or any of the dozens of Sonos-supported services, including your own music on a NAS...

Amp has a digital in.

Amp has an HDMI-ARC digital in, and DD5.1 home theatre decode. A different product positioning from Port entirely. 

Yup, and I wish Sonos positioned Port just like an Amp but without the amp. 

To feed what downstream equipment? Over what type of connection? 

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Amp has a digital in.

Amp has an HDMI-ARC digital in, and DD5.1 home theatre decode. A different product positioning from Port entirely. 

Yup, and I wish Sonos positioned Port just like an Amp but without the amp. 

To feed what downstream equipment? Over what type of connection? 

 

Dac/preamp that can do crossover and room EQ in the digital domain like a MiniDSP SHD.  Then feed a power amp, speakers, and subs.

Port can already do that, but having a digital input and rudimentary home theater decode (like the AMP) would let me feed my TV to it and not have to mess with a big AVR at all.  If I swapped for a Port + preamp setup, I lose the ability to add 2 Ones for surround sound.

Not a big deal and I’m sure I’m a corner case.

 

The Bluesound Node 2i actually has a lot of performance issues, far more than the Port. 

I haven't read the link, so bear with me - are these issues OTHER than ones relating to unstable wireless music play of dense HD streams?

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I would love an audiophile port as Sonos ease of use is excellent and I believed all the claims on here that Sonos could deliver quality digital output. Unfortunately Sonos as hifi components consistently get a poor reviews for a reason as I recently found out. Replacing Sonos with another digital source has made a night and day difference to my hifi. A great lifestyle product but severely restricts the sound quality on good hifi to the extent the sound is so distorted it was physically painful to listen to. Replacing Sonos with a far cheaper option of a USB cable has solved the problem and greatly increased my listening pleasure.

 

I still wish that Sonos will bring out a quality hifi source as I’m a Sonos fan but I’m not holding my breath as while I’m sure they have the technical capability it is just not  their market which is fair enough. 

Replacing Sonos with another digital source has made a night and day difference to my hifi.

Uh-huh. :rolling_eyes:

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I would say really enjoying my hifi headphones because they sounded so clear revealing and natural and wanting to listen to them every day after switching to an alternative source is a night and day difference.

Switching from variable to fixed volume as recommended on here certainly removed a lot of the Sonos distortion but still on Sonos I could only listen to my headphones for a short period as they hurt my ears.
 

My headphones really started to sing and become really enjoyable and made me realise why they had such a good reputation when I switched from Sonos. With Sonos they were disappointing and unpleasant to listen to. I would say that is a night and day difference. 
 

I have 8 Sonos units as I think they are an excellent life style product but they are not hifi and simply not suitable for a revealing pair of headphones. Just as previously my previous amp was simply not powerful or good enough to drive them.  
 

Some people seem to believe that Sonos is way better than other music systems  but that there is nothing better.  For a lot of people that may well be true and Sonos is a lot better than basic systems. but personally I get a lot more pleasure from a less processed sound which is more natural. I’ve no doubt that doesn’t do anything for a lot of people but for some it does. It is merely  personal preference and what people are willing and able to pay. Clearly Sonos get that right for a lot of people as it is a mass market product but it is not hifi which is fine as it doesn’t claim to be.

But there are a lot better and cheaper or similar priced options as I found out when I listened to my ears rather than people who refuse to accept that there could be hifi sources that sound better than Sonos. Personally I don’t believe that there are other systems that sound better than mine. Whether they are worth it is another personal question. 

 

But there are a lot better and cheaper or similar priced options as I found out when I listened to my ears rather than people who refuse to accept that there could be hifi sources that sound better than Sonos. Personally I don’t believe that there are other systems that sound better than mine. Whether they are worth it is another personal question. 

You have set yourself up for a similar challenge after someone else discovers that their system sounds better than yours.

 

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Sorry that was not clear or what I meant to say.  I strongly suspect that there are other headphone systems that sound better or different to mine and they may also well be cheaper. I got a special offer and could not test due to lockdown.  They are a lot better than my other headphones/earbuds though but was underwhelmed until I switched from Sonos to a USB cable. 
 

I’ve tested lots of different earbuds and dac options though and they all sound very different and either really enjoyed or didn’t. The earbud I most enjoyed was not a hifi brand and not the most expensive hence why I think different music systems sound different and the most expensive is not necessarily the best. I don’t enjoy Sonos as a hifi souce. I do enjoy the sound from the cheaper USB cable option. . That is a night and day difference for me personally. 
 

im just saying diffferent systems sound very different to me and that Sonos as good as it is is not the be all and end all system for everyone for every situation. Different people just have different preferences. 

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