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.


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Due to the intimate physical contact with the ears and ears are different from head to head, headphone and earbud systems can sound quite different from each other, regardless of the electronic connection method to the system,

Also, they are very different electronic paths when comparing a USB connection and an analog connection and plenty of room for mischief along either path.

Bottom line: Only you know what sounds “best” (to you).

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Absolutely. It is personal experience. It could be that the USB route simply works better  on my system than an optical connection but then as Sonos doesn’t offer a USB output that is not an option. 

i can completely believe that some people are entirely satisfied with the Sonos sound and the hifi systems they have heard do nothing for them or are not worth it. I’m merely suggesting that different systems sound different and some people may enjoy the sound of different systems more. 

My headphones are notoriously revealing and simply don’t work well with Sonos but completely believe that Sonos may be perfectly acceptable as a hifi source for other people with other systems. What I don’t believe based on my experience is that Sonos is the best hifi source for all people for all systems and the world ends with Sonos. I’m struggling to think that you could claim that for any product. There are other options which some other people may prefer.  

What I don’t believe based on my experience is that Sonos is the best hifi source for all people for all systems and the world ends with Sonos.  

Whilst some people here have in the past made what have, IMHO, been highly exaggerated claims for Sonos sound quality (including their own CEO at one stage), Sonos have now said that they don’t consider their kit to be of audiophile quality.

It’s very good indeed for the price, and if you’re an Apple user then Trueplay can (for some people) make a huge difference to the sound quality.

Headphones can, by their nature, be very revealing and it’s not that realistic to compare in ear sound to free air sound.

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I’d agree with all that. I certainly don’t feel missold by Sonos and still think that it does what it is intended for very well. There are some claims on here though which I was previously inclined to believe that in  practice I have found to be missleadingly over the top which isn’t helpful. It actually does Sonos a disservice by seeking to claim it is something that it is not. The reality as with most things is somewhat more balanced and nuanced so I am merely seek to provide an alternative view as a counterpoint. 

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a while back i posted on this forum re distorted output from  my Connect.
i was even tempted to get a Port to see if that resolved the problem, but was assured it would not.
i even ordered a simple DAC and used the digital output from the Connect, still lot of distortion on certain tracks.
i got help from Sonos Support.

after a LOT of investigation turned out a setting in the phone app (that i had no idea about as i mainly use the desktop app) solved a lot of my problems.

under the Settings > Products > Select relevant Product > Volume Limit,

set this to 80% as opposed to 100%, it means i can still use the Variable Line Out, and i no longer experience the distorted output that was causing so much annoyance.

has massively opened my listening experience, headphone listening is no longer exhausting.

maybe this would help some of the folks who have mentioned distortion when using Variable Out from their Port/Connect ?

certainly a lot cheaper and easier than building an alternative system.


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That is a constructive suggestion but it just highlights that there is a problem with the Port and it ideally needs an upgrade. I don’t think Sonos should be applying DSP to something that is meant to be a hifi source. Sonos should not be painful to listen to on headphones

. The Port is a tricky one as it sits between their main convenience mass market and the hifi component market where it compares poorly. . While there are some Sonos users in denial who claim nothing sounds better than Sonos i have never come across a hifi user with Sonos that claim there is a more convenient product than Sonos.

Ideally as someone with a foot in both camps I want the convenience of Sonos with the sound quality of hifi. I don’t doubt that Sonos is technically capable of producing such a product but it just isn’t there market so unfortunately I will just have to look elsewhere. 

Sonos doesn’t apply DSP on the digital output when volume is set to Fixed. The unit behaves just like any other digital source, such as a CD player.

When volume is set to Variable then, for obvious reasons, Sonos must take steps to avoid clipping on the S/PDIF (which really would warrant the otherwise hyperbolic term “painful”).

Is the soft-knee limiting a bit aggressive? Possibly. Keeping volume below ~85% avoids it. Alternatively use Fixed digital out, or the analog outs. Despite the snobbishness about Sonos audio quality the DAC is the very respectable AK4490EQ which shows up in many reputable brands. 

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Sure but it does on the optical output which is not ideal. Appreciate every DAC does but not ideal for a hifi set up that you get the very  Sonos processed sound iwhich is designed for its own products but isn’t ideal when being used as a source for other speakers  

Yes the switching to fixed is a helpful suggestion which I appreciate and  is fine for my ok speakers but the sound quality is still so poor it hurts my ears on headphones  And what ever it is doing that doesn’t mean it should be necessary to move from the convenience of variable to fixed  

im haven’t said the dac is poor.  It just isn’t great. I have various dac options and when I blindly switch been sources I come to the same option and it isn’t Sonos. 


it is nothing to do with snobbery. It is about sound quality. With Sonos it is painful and not enjoyable to listen to. on my headphones. With a cheaper USB connection. it is enjoyable and not painful to listen to. That is what matters.  I know this is difficult for the deniers to accept but just maybe the Sonos port is not the best sounding option and just maybe it consistently gets poor reviews because it isn’t the best product in the line up. Just possibly some pother products sound better for some people in some situations and give them more enjoyment  


what is snobbery would be to suggest that it is worth spending money on Sonos ibecause it is better than some other eg Bluetooth products but that there is no other product that could just possibly be a better option for some people in some situations  


Port doesn’t have an optical output. 

The data from the coax output in Fixed volume mode is not processed. It’s taken from the output of decoder.

I don’t have the means to diff the Port digital output against a WAV input, but long ago someone did this for a ZP80 and found them to be identical. I can’t imagine why Port wouldn’t be similar.

If you like what your USB connection is doing for you that’s fine. Perhaps you simply prefer the processing that’s going on in the phone.

I didn’t enjoy the Port’s variable digital output via Schiit into my HD650s as much as taking the analog out from the Port straight into the head amp. Each to their own.

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Sorry I meant analog output. I understand that digital sound not processed but what ever it is doing to it in variable mode isn’t good 


USB is a digital connection so it is my headphone DAC which is doing the processing. For whatever reason it has solved the problem I had listening with Sonos as the digital source. 

Exactly each to their.own.  I use Sonos as my surround sound and I’m perfectly happy with it and have no interest in a specialist system as I’m not a film buff so I completely understand if someone says they are completely satisfied with Sonos and don’t see value in other systems. Generally I like Sonos. but I personally prefer the sound of my hifi system and it Just doesn’t work for me as my headphone source. 

USB is a digital connection so it is my headphone DAC which is doing the processing.

USB transmits whatever it’s been handed by the phone/app. Whether you like it or not this will have been processed, possibly through sample rate conversion and EQ. It’s okay to like what your phone is doing.

I can adjust my phone to sound pleasant over Bluetooth (aptX or LDAC). I also tweak the EQ on the Port that feeds my head amp.

For many years as an ‘audiophile’ I wrestled with component/cable matching between ‘HiFi’ devices that lacked EQ/tone controls, in order to try and get an acceptable sound. Life’s too short.

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Sure my DAC is taking whatever the digital signal is from the source just as my DAC is taking whatever digital signal is coming from Sonos. Whatever it is doing the cheaper USB cable option sounds way better and is no longer painful to listen to on my headphones compared to previously using Sonos as a source. I never touch EQ on a hifi as I don’t like a processed sound which is why the Sonos sound isn’t my personal preference for focused listening. 

You appear to be in denial that your USB option could already be processed, on the source device. It’s just that you seem to prefer that form of processing, which is okay.

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Could well be. Not saying it isn’t. I’m only saying that it is a digital signal from the source to the DAC just as Sonos passes a digital signal from the source to the DAC.  Every digital music source is ultimately processed at some point starting with the orginal recording. What I am saying is whatever it is doing it sounds way better than Sonos and is no longer painful to listen to. 

Given the state of the world your repeated use of the work “painful” in connection with a mere audio product is verging on trollishness. 

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I’m not trilling at all. I’m am merely pointing out that listening to Sonos on my headphones was hurting my ears so I could not listen for very long as someone else also suggested was a problem with Sonos sound to illustrate that Sonos just might not be the best option for everyone in every situation. 

what is trolling is the constant denial and repetitive attacks from a few individuals on anyone who might suggest that other options just might have a better sound quality for some people is some some circumstances and god forbid if they mention the word audiophile. 

i like Sonos. The convenience is excellent just not the sound quality for me.  I have eight units.The only one I don’t use regularly anymore and would replace is the hifi component.  Sonos and streaming got me back into music.  I just don’t think it is the be all and end all and just because I find it painful to listen on my headphones is just that. 

I fundamentally agree with Sonos own view of its sound quality so that is hardly trolling. It anyone is trolling it is those repeatedly disagreeing with Sonos. 

Given the gross results you are reporting with PORT, it is likely that there is a level or impedance mismatch on the analog side or a codec issue while processing PORT’s digital output. It is also possible that there is a different codec path for your USB output.

While there can be subtle differences between the sonics of high quality kit, we are not debating about rebranded vinegar trying to pass as wine.

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It is ok as a digital source for my ok hifi speakers so not an issue. For whatever reason it really doesn’t work with my headphones. Using a USB cable sounds good so problem solved with limited additional expense as far as I’m concerned.

It does mean I’m tethered and reliant on source battery so I will buy another hifi. streamer transport at some point. Ideally that would be Sonos if they produced a product as the OP suggested otherwise I will just buy something else. Not an issue now that I have finally solved the problem. But the suggestions on here that there couldn’t ever possibly be anything better than Sonos didn’t help me solve the problem which is why I want to highlight that Sonos might not be the best option for everyone in every situation. That is all. 

There was never a suggestion that Sonos was the be-all and end-all, but the notion that it could be “painful” was repetitive and tiresome hyperbole unless, as buzz suggests, there was some kind of gross fault or mismatch in the signal path.

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Oh come on. There is regular negative attacks on hifi and the word audiophile tends to induce frothing at the mouth from some!

I don’t know why. I would put the headphones on and it would sound ok but i was disappointed if i was honest and then after a couple of songs I would have to take the headphones off because my ears hurt. It does sound like the “jitter” issue that someone mentioned above where it does sound ok but you can’t listen for long. Maybe it is to do with the coax versus USB path. Whatever the components did not work together.

My hifi DAC also didn’t work as it simply wasn’t powerful enough to match the impedance requirements of the headphones so getting an appropriate matching headphone DAC/Amp solved that problem and then the USB cable completed the picture. I didn’t pay enough attention to the needs a good source and amp in the reviews. But now with a good recording and the chain sorted it has that wow factor which I was hoping for and didn’t have before. Now I am regularly enjoying long listening sessions which I wasn’t doing with Sonos as the source. Typically when I’m thinking a recording sounds really good it is 24 bit but that could just be a better original recording. My take away is that the components need to be “matching” and for some systems Sonos may well be fine for but for others not so I would agree with the OP in my experience. . 

Delusional audiophiles are SO much fun, lol. :D

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thank you for proving my point.

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Delusional audiophiles are SO much fun, lol. :D

And there it is...

I don’t know why. I would put the headphones on and it would sound ok but i was disappointed if i was honest and then after a couple of songs I would have to take the headphones off because my ears hurt.

The point that people are making is that unless there was some mismatch or fault then it’s very unlikely that the sound would be ‘painful’. Whilst I have expressed concerns over the years about relative sound quality, I have never had cause to call sound from a Sonos unit ‘painful’.

The fact that this is only being seen in one specific  case - i.e. your particular headphones with your particular kit/usage/musical taste implies that there was a problem of some sort - we have no way of knowing what that may have been.

I share your dislike of the general mocking of ‘audiophiles’, but that’s not what we’re talking about here.

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Im not saying that Sonos is painful to listen to on speakers just on my notoriously revealing headphone as I had to take my headphones off after a short period because my ears were hurting as some others have suggested. USB cable sounds a lot better and can listen as long as I want. I don’t know why just that Sonos doesn’t work as a source for my headphones. That is just my experience on my equipment.

I can completely accept that other people don’t feel the need for anything other than Sonos but clearly some people can’t  accept that someone else may prefer something other than Sonos as a hifi source. Unless they have heard my system then I don’t see how they can judge and even then it would only be a personal experience as mine is. . I am only saying I find Sonos painful to listen to on my headphones hence Sonos may not be the best option for everyone in every circumstance. It is hardly blasphemy but clearly.it is for some.

So based on my personal experience with my equipment I can see where the OP is coming from. I would buy a Sonos digital only out hifi component which can play all files and has a full range of inputs and outputs with a comparable spec to various other hif streamers on the market as I appreciate the class leading convenience of Sonos. I suspect it won’t happen as it is not the Sonos market focus and will have to look elsewhere.