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Sonos Connect. Still worth buying???

  • 25 March 2018
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I’ve just bought a pair of One’s & am enjoying them as my dining room set up in stereo. I find the sound acceptable for casual listening.
I’ve got a classic Nad 3020 amp & monitor audio Rs1’s in the living room. I love the sound of this set up. Is hooking up a connect to these a better option than say buying a Play 5? Sound quality is very important to me but I’m not running audiophile quality equipment. How does the connect sound? Any input appreciated.
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Best answer by jjayf 28 March 2018, 12:38

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I have my Connect hooked up to my marantz pm6003 and diamond 10.1s, so not exactly audiophile levels but I adore the sound that comes from it, I have a first gen Play 5 and it doesn't come close to the quality of the hifi and Connect in my opinion. The newer Play 5 is supposed sound a lot better, but I can't see it beating your system plus a Connect.
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The CONNECT sounds very good -- at least as good as any other audio source playing the same content (*). I have one of mine connected into an old Arcam Alpha 8 amplifier and a pair of Tannoy M20s, and it sounds great. I'd have no hesitation in buying a CONNECT over a single PLAY:5 in your situation. A stereo pair of PLAY:5s would sound better, but at a higher cost and without the reuse of your existing equipment.

(*) You will see comments on this forum about the CONNECT not being 'audiophile grade', etc. These comments are audiophool nonsense.
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Thanks Mark. There’s quite a few available on eBay atm. They seem to hold their resale value pretty well if bought second hand. Maybe I’ll dive in & give one a go. If I don’t get on with it I can always re-sell.
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Thanks Mark. There’s quite a few available on eBay atm. They seem to hold their resale value pretty well if bought second hand. Maybe I’ll dive in & give one a go. If I don’t get on with it I can always re-sell.
I bought all three of mine on eBay at about 60% of their new cost. All were boxed, like new, and work perfectly. YMMV, of course, but I'd say it's worth a try.
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Thanks pwt. The ‘audiophiles’ are the ones putting me off!! Loads of people destroying the connect on forums etc. But also lots of people very happy. I can see from your set up that you probably have a similar ear to myself so your input is especially appreciated.
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I see you also have the connect amp. Better to go with a connect & the Nad do you think?
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I see you also have the connect amp. Better to go with a connect & the Nad do you think?
Yes. I'd keep the NAD in service, provided it goes loud enough for you. The only thing you lose with the CONNECT over the CONNECT:AMP is that you'll still have to manually switch the amp on and off.
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Thanks Mark. There’s quite a few available on eBay atm. They seem to hold their resale value pretty well if bought second hand. Maybe I’ll dive in & give one a go. If I don’t get on with it I can always re-sell.

Best Buy usually has Open-Box on their website for $289 as well. I'll be using up all my BB rewards to grab one soon.
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In in the Uk. So no best buy’s here I’m afraid.
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I have a Connect hooked to a very nice 5.1 setup in my main room and a Play 5. The sound from the Play 5 is nowhere close to the many thousand dollar 5.1 setup but I listen to the Play 5 multiple times per day and the 5.1 box hasn't been powered on in over a month.

I do use the RCA line-out on my Connect fairly often though, I hook an RCA to 3.5 converter to it and drive my wired headphones. Someday I'll replace the adapter with a Bluetooth transmitter when I find BT phones I like.

So I'd say a connect isn't a bad option for you but if you get a Play the convenience is going to spoil you.
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Hi all, just to update this thread. I picked up a Connect unit on eBay yesterday. It should arrive Thursday. I’ll let you know how I get on. Thanks to all for your valuable input.
The ‘audiophiles’ are the ones putting me off!! Loads of people destroying the connect on forums
It is their loss; the Connect is as audibly transparent as any other digital source. The only reason to not invest in one in your case would be if the 3020 was on its last legs - always hard to know, but if you have access to repair shops when needed, that too is not an issue.
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There is no comparison to my Connect/Yamaha Adventage system with digital enhancer. It sounds amazing. I use the optical connection and allow the receiver to convert and enhance which makes a difference I believe. I’m so happy with my system it’s ridiculous.

Yamaha Adventage 9.2.2 and connect in the main room with outside front zone 2. Yamaha RXV 7.2.2 and connect in the garage with outside rear zone 2. Sonos one in the kitchen, Sonos play:1 in bathroom, Sonos play:1 in the hallway.

Both receivers are network enabled and the garage is also Bluetooth. The flexibility of this system is incredible. I have streaming capabilities throughout the entire house and both front and back yards, and I can play media from any source to one or all locations simultaneously.

Even though my receivers are independently network enabled, I use Sonos primarily as the main source because it bundles everything together nicely.
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I have two Connect's, They're great for adding to an existing setup. I would not say they are the last word in absolute quality, but then Sonos have never claimed they were. As noted, they have a digital output option which allows you to connect them to equipment that does a better job of A/D conversion, however, if used in a multi-room system, only the analogue outputs from the connect are guaranteed to be in sync with other Sonos components such as Play speakers. You'll notice a slight delay from the Connect in party mode through the digital outs. Nothing to stop you connecting both, as the last word in quality probably doesn't matter for grouped room music.

Arcam used to make a dedicated DAC for the connect called Sonlink that sat under the connect and improved the sound quality, it might be worth searching one out on the bay. I had one and it definitely improved the quality.

When paired with a streaming service like Qobuz which does CD quality, and then fed to a high quality DAC the Connect gives the convienience of the Sonos system in a high quality environment for much much less than many high end sources, so I think it still has a place and mine still gets used, albeit through a much better DAC unit.

It's only drawback is the lack of support in the Sonos ecosystem for higher resolution audio, but as said, paired with a streamer that can do that, you get the best of both worlds, Sonos ease of use with streaming and search, and great SQ from all sources.
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Thanks Ian, I tend to agree totally with this. Mine arrived yesterday & I’ve had a good listen today & tbh The Airport Express I was using previously had a much more ‘open’ & pleasing sound.
If I’d paid £350 for this I would be very disappointed indeed.
I had done a fair bit of research before buying & picked up an Arcam Rdac from eBay at the same time.
The sound through the Rdac is better than the audio outs on the Connect alone but surprisingly I still much prefer the sound through the Airport Express.
I can tell that the sound could be improved considerably with the correct Dac though.
The convenience of being able to play the same audio in the living room, dining room & kitchen is enticing though.
What Dac are you currently using?
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I'm running the connect through a Naim ND5 XS streamer. My local library is effectively doubled catalogued, once in Sonos, and then again through minimserver running on the NAS. That allows me to also keep the hi-res audio away from the Sonos system, which doesn't play the files anyway. I buy mostly through Qobuz as for the higher res stuff they let you download lesser formats as well, so use those for the Sonos share.

I also run a connect into a Marantz AV amp with just a pair of Monitor Audio speakers in the study.

I have Play:1's, 3's and the original 5 too in other rooms, and good as the Plays are for what they are, they don't compare to a proper system. They are though very convenient and much easier to setup in most rooms, and for me it's that flexibility that makes the Sonos system worthwhile.
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Ha, just googled the Naim. Think that may be a little over budget for me. I bet that sounds absolutely amazing! I bought the Dac second hand. The guy I bought it from said he’d only run it for about 50 hours max. I’m going to leave it running for a week & see if it sounds any better. I’d really like to keep the connect as I really like the App & the flexibility of the systen.
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If you really like the flexibility of it then that's reason enough to keep it, sit back, and just enjoy listening to music. That's the great thing about these systems, you can just listen to what you want and change tack with the content as much as you like.

Sorry... the optical for the airport is for output.... ignore previous comment about using it... 🙂
The only scientific way to establish that the Connect DAC is audibly inferior to any other, regardless of brand name or price point, is by a controlled level matched listening blind test. Which no one has done or ever does; in its absence, there are a lot of subjective opinions tossed around, mostly influenced by psychological factors or variation in sound levels as low as 0.1 dB. Those that buy an expensive DAC cannot help hearing differences to justify the spend to themselves. That is human nature at work.

And just as subjective is this opinion that I found based on my admittedly imperfect blind listening tests. No audible difference between the Connect DAC and one in a Marantz KI Pearl SACD player, both playing via Quad 99/909, into Harbeth C7 Speakers.
This needs a postscript, because of a small "problem" in the Connect; the analog output signal voltage is slightly lower than that of most CD players and DACs - 2 volts against 2.2/2.4. How this affects the sound quality heard and the easy fix follows:

The human hearing/brain are such that music heard at sound levels that are lower by as little as 0.2 dB, even 0.1 db is not heard as lower volume, but as lower sound quality until the difference become a lot larger. Thin sounding, lacking presence...all the usual pejoratives are perceived just because of this little difference. This little nugget is well known to all salesmen of stereo kit - the well trained ones of high end kit, at any rate. Which is why the controlled blind test has to be done using instruments to exactly match the sound levels of the two alternates being evaluated.

If therefore the Connect is wired to the set up I referred via both analog and digital outputs, with analog outputs going direct to the Quad preamp, and digital ones going to the Marantz and thence to the Quad, switching back and forth in the sources on the Quad has it receive a slightly lower voltage from the Connect, automatically leading to slightly lower sound levels from the Harbeths, at the SAME volume control setting on the Quad. No prizes then for guessing which sounds inferior. But the easy fix I referred to is bumping up the volume controls just a tad where the Connect analog output is being used. Approximating exactly what would be done in a blind test.

And I am not just a Sonos fanboy. If I was, I would not say this: the DAC in the Chromecast Audio, that costs 10% of the price of the Connect, has a DAC that is audibly just as good as that in the Connect, or as that in the USD 2000 Marantz player. So if one can live with the feature set of the Chromecast, there is no need to buy the Connect. As to the Marantz, along with CDs and SACDs, it now obsolete because what it plays is obsolete media.

What can muddy the waters here is that many external DACs are sold with filters that also shape the sound, like the EQ settings on the Connect do. But for an apples to apples comparison of just DAC performance, these have to be disengaged on both sides. Such external DAC may still prevail as a purchasing choice, if its filters do more to shape/customise the sound than the EQ of the Connect can. But then what is prevailing isn't the DAC, but the extended range/sophistication of the filters.

With these bolt on filters out of the frame, in today's audio kit, a DAC is a DAC is a DAC. Just a cheap commodity.

Finally, that sound from audio kit, other than some brands of new speakers, changes or improves over time is a myth. What happens is that the brain adjusts to the new sound signature, leading to the improvement of the kit illusion. The rest of the improvement heard is psychological as well - Confirmation Bias at work.

Reinforced by one common trait in audiophiles - they desperately want to believe all the marketing that has driven their spend. Or to be able to continue with the hobby of churning their equipment, using music as just a test signal.
Well... I have my Connect hooked to a $99 Sony amp, which powers the speakers in my bar and on my patio. Is the sound perfect? For me it is, so I couldn’t be more thrilled with the performance of the Connect, which to me is nothing more than the vehicle to drive the Sony, which handles the sound. And again, for my needs, its perfect. Don’t know what Kumar is saying above, but I’m not hearing any of that. 😃
Lol. Because you are, sensibly, more interested in the music.
Decades ago when I was playing in bands and mixing sound and recording it all made sense and was important. It’s great to read, but really unnecessary for me these days. Loved the posts though.
Decades ago when I was playing in bands and mixing sound and recording it all made sense and was important.
A much better reason than mine; for over a decade, I was just an audiophile. No complaints, the equipment hobby was fun and healthier than crack or blue crystal, but it had little do with music.

It is nice to have outgrown that though. A lot more music that sounds just as good, and I can have better holidays with the money saved.
I was on a kick years ago of ripping my CDs primarily to FLAC. Then one day I got to listening to it’s 320 kbps MP3 counterpart and comparing. No discernible difference to my ears. None. Converted the FLAC to 320 MP3 and enjoyed the extra TB of real estate on my NAS.