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Sonos Connect. Still worth buying???

  • 25 March 2018
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The problem with feeding the Sonos digital out to a dac (as noted above) is the introduced delay that results in sound being out of sync with other sonos speakers. Depending on the dac, the problem can be increased.

Have fun :-)

This is news to me; there was no such delay in the DACs I used for testing. Had that been the case, the DACs would have been a lot easier to rule out via a very much shorter test than the one I ran. Sync issues with other speakers means the test would have ended as soon as it left the starting gate because out of sync music would not have been acceptable to me with group play abilities important in my use.
But if it is so, this fun is available only those who have the time, inclination and perhaps even the money necessary to cycle different DACs in search of the elusive SQ improvement chimera to ensure that they are not introducing sync issues while doing so. But credit to Sonos for leaving open the avenue to have such fun?
The problem with feeding the Sonos digital out to a dac (as noted above) is the introduced delay that results in sound being out of sync with other sonos speakers. Depending on the dac, the problem can be increased.

Have fun :-)

This is news to me; there was no such delay in the DACs I used for testing. Had that been the case, the DACs would have been a lot easier to rule out via a very much shorter test than the one I ran. Sync issues with other speakers means the test would have ended as soon as it left the starting gate because out of sync music would not have been acceptable to me with group play abilities important in my use.
But if it is so, this fun is available only those who have the time, inclination and perhaps even the money necessary to cycle different DACs in search of the elusive SQ improvement chimera to ensure that they are not introducing sync issues while doing so. But credit to Sonos for leaving open the avenue to have such fun?


The tiny delay I mentioned is actually not a problem. It is only barely perceptible (just) once I place a sonos One right next to the main stereo (fed by Connect). It it so tiny that I consider it a no-issue at all. Once the sonos one is moved to another room then all issues (however tiny) disappear.

Dacs with RAM buffers though (eg Naim and Chord)... a different story.
Best
I was referring to the latter lot; how to know for sure if any DAC in question has that issue before it announces that it has one in the test?
I was referring to the latter lot; how to know for sure if any DAC in question has that issue before it announces that it has one in the test?

Good point Kumar, it would be really great if a potential buyer was warned in advance. While both Naim and Chord discuss the use of RAM buffers as part of their topology, it is not easy to find and know about it. I certainly learned the hard way a few years ago when i purchased an expensive chord dac to use with my sonos connect. Big Echo... instant grumpy face. Fortunately I was able to take it back.
Fortunately I was able to take it back.
Fortunately is right, and this is a welcome new learning for me too, to point out to others here in future that ask about whether this fun is worth the effort.
Many people that go down this road may even not know all that RAM buffers do, beyond getting carried away by the spiel about them in the context of sound quality improvement claimed by reclocking.
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Kumar, your argument regarding Sonos play:1 pair and sub being of equaled sound quality at a less price point is not valid, at least not in my case.
My connect cost around $500.00 CA. A pair of play:1s and a sub here would cost around $1,300.
Although I do not have this experience, I can not believe that a pair of play:1s and a sub could sound any where near as good as my 7.2 receiver with channel separation and digital compression enhancer.
Also, a very large part of my music experience is high end outdoor speakers zoned out from my Sonos connected receiver. Loosing that functionality and paying $1,300 for less sound quality is not a good choice. The connect was a clear easy and cost effective choice to add flexibility to an already really great system.
I’m my case I was looking for a way to fill in some areas of the house not zoned for music. I deep researched a bunch of options and weighed the pros and cons of each, not the least of which was cost. I almost went with Yamaha musiccast, but Sonos work with Apple Music won me over.
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Thank you Yainnis, a very detailed & contructive post. I have fed the Connect through an Arcam RDac & do prefer the way it sounds through this. You are correct that it does introduce a very slight delay but it is not noticeable enough to really be a distraction to me. The improvement in sound it brings to my ears is worth it. At low volumes it sounds great. It’s just it gets a bit messy to my ears when you want to crank it a bit more. Which as I’m now 46 happens less & less these days!
Someone offered me a Play one for nothing last night! Means I can now have connect in the living room, a pair of Ones in the dining room & a play one in the kitchen. That pretty much seals the Sonos deal for me!
That pretty much seals the Sonos deal for me!
Just curious: did you do the Connect changes we discussed a couple of days ago, as a way to see if the perceived poor sound quality of the Connect compared to AEX is addressed by these?
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I haven’t had time as yet. I didn’t really need to. The AEX sounded better in my initial tests but I want the functionality that the Sonos brings. Regardless of how the AEX sounds it’s not reliable enough for me. I listen to a lot of internet radio & the AEX was forever losing connection to my phone. Hence the jump to Sonos for a bit of stability. I’ve just tried to get used to the way the Sonos sounds over the weekend. I really want to keep & enjoy it! Thanks for the advice though.
Fair enough, and that confession may help others in the future that are in similar dilemmas because I am reasonably sure that those steps would have eliminated any audible sound quality differences from the Connect and its DAC.

I did notice the AE sounded perhaps just a little different, however -- a difference similar to activating the Loudness settings on the CONNECT, but not as pronounced. Which made me wonder whether the AE is applying some kind of modest EQ adjustment deemed by Apple to sound pleasing, while the CONNECTs are delivering a neutral sound (with Loudness off).

Closing the loop on this:
Reported measured signal voltages of the AEX analog outputs were 2.1289 volts for the left channel, and 2.1200 volts for the right. Given that the Connect spec is 2 volts, this difference is the closest candidate for the quoted.
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Given that the Connect spec is 2 volts, this difference is the closest candidate for the quoted.
At least one ZP80 had its analog output measured at 2.12V [1]. The CONNECT may be different, of course.

My test was casual and very subjective, and I could easily have been fooled by not getting the volume quite right. You are saying we are certain that the AE does not employ any sound shaping at its analog output, so volume matching is indeed a likely candidate for the difference (if there even was one). The main purpose of the test was to determine (to my satisfaction, at least!) whether the CONNECT sounded any worse than the AE, or my external receiver DAC. For me, it does not.

[1] https://www.stereophile.com/content/sonos-zp80-zp100-wifi-music-system-measurements
You are saying we are certain that the AE does not employ any sound shaping at its analog output, so volume matching is indeed a likely candidate for the difference (if there even was one).
No, not certain; I am only saying that sound shaping for what is a dual use audio socket meant to supply home audio systems and not headphones, is very unlikely. And my ears confirm this from its sound.
No argument about the rest of the quote.
An interesting insight just now from a translated from Chinese book I am reading, that had me immediately think - James Randi!
" Who are the frauds that practice pseudoscience most afraid of? Not of scientists; the best scientists can be fooled by pseudoscience and some even devote their lives to it. But pseudoscience is afraid of one particular type of people who are hard to fool: stage magicians. In fact many pseudoscientific hoaxes were exposed by stage magicians."

James Randi, for those who haven't heard the name, is a stage magician who became Audiophile Public Enemy Number One, when he announced the one million dollar Randi challenge to debunk all the fairy dust surrounding exotic audio cables.

Good scientists will of course also support the science that says that for all the fancy talk that audiophiles surround their cables with, an audio signal is just an electric current, and commodity copper cables of adequate thickness are all it takes to move it around in wired kit, with screening for low voltage signals. And they need not be specified to be OFC to the nth degree, as exotic audio cables often are, but that is pseudoscience at work:
"The high-end speaker wire industry markets oxygen-free copper as having enhanced conductivity or other electrical properties that are supposedly advantageous to audio signal transmission. However, conductivity specifications for common C11000 Electrolytic-Tough-Pitch (ETP) and higher-cost C10200 Oxygen-Free (OF) coppers are identical. Much more expensive C10100, a highly refined copper with silver impurities removed and oxygen reduced to 0.0005%, has only a one percent higher conductivity—insignificant in audio applications." From Wikipedia.

But the good scientists are also too busy pursuing more important things than wasting their time on this extremely trivial subject and the nonsense that is spun around it.

All that surrounds the Connect in its DAC not being audiophile grade is just another manifestation of the above. Or, for that matter, that which surrounds the USD 35 Chromecast Audio, where the quality of its DAC is concerned.

Audiophiles even invest time and energy in "proving" that double blind tests do not apply in their little world.