Sonos not decoding music at full Hi rez - Shame !

  • 27 September 2023
  • 21 replies
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I think this topic may have been raised about two years ago but wonder if anyone has any further updates.

I have a high rez subscription to Qobuz but am disappointing to find out that any music file from Qobuz that is not native 24/48kHz will get truncated to 16/44.1 kHz file stream.  I understand this is to do with backward compatibility with older speakers on the S2 platform.

As I don’t have any speakers older than 2 years , it’s a real bummer..

 

No problems with non Sonos equipment I have which decodes at the native resolution beautifully. Would love Sonos to enable this to add to all the other positives in owning their speakers .

 

Anyone has any further insider updates on this ?


21 replies

Userlevel 7

Can you hear the difference between 24/48 and 16/44.1 on your Sonos speakers?

I have a high rez subscription to Qobuz but am disappointing to find out that any music file from Qobuz that is not native 24/48kHz will get truncated to 16/44.1 kHz file stream. 

Not so. 

https://support.sonos.com/services/qobuz

Stream high quality audio directly to your Sonos system (up to 24 Bit/48 kHz FLAC)

 

It’s certainly true that Sonos doesn’t support higher sampling rates, but the ‘Hi-Res’ 96kHz and 192kHz content on Qobuz -- which typically sounds better because of its careful remastering -- will also be available in 48kHz.

 

Can you hear the difference between 24/48 and 16/44.1 on your Sonos speakers?

 

Of course not.  Nobody can.  Anything 48 adds over 44.1 is above 22.05 KHz, where only dogs and bats can hear it. 

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Yrs I can unfortunately.  Am a recent convert to Sonos speakers and use it mostly for listening to stuff for flexibility.
 

But I do have specialist high resolution audio gear which to my ears   shows audio quality differences noticeably . 

I also have some professional gear which feeds headphones and, well, it can sound very good indeed. 

Until we understand whether Sonos does sample rate conversion internally and which reconstruction filters it applies all this discussion is a bit academic really. Sonos speakers are great for what they do. 

I recommend you stick to your specialist audio kit for the finer detail.

Yrs I can unfortunately.  Am a recent convert to Sonos speakers and use it mostly for listening to stuff for flexibility.
 

But I do have specialist high resolution audio gear which to my ears   shows audio quality differences noticeably . 

 

No, you can’t.  Because if you could, you would be the very first person in the history of the world to hear anything over 22.05 kHz.  

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Fair dues .. you are entitled to your opinion .. I have mine .. let’s leave it at that ..  

 

im not talking about whether I can hear beyond 22kHz which I can’t but you are missing the whole point  about high resolution . I won’t  go into detail about more data of the signal is captured at high resolution..  there are lots of places you can read about it . 

 

My point is having paid for a service , it’s a shame Sonos feels it needs to limit what their speakers are capable of decoding .. 

Fair dues .. you are entitled to your opinion .. I have mine .. let’s leave it at that ..  

 

im not talking about whether I can hear beyond 22kHz which I can’t but you are missing the whole point  about high resolution . I won’t  go into detail about more data of the signal is captured at high resolution..  there are lots of places you can read about it . 

 

My point is having paid for a service , it’s a shame Sonos feels it needs to limit what their speakers are capable of decoding .. 

 

I’m sorry, but your opinion is mistaken.  Sure more data is certainly captured, but it is all data above the threshold of hearing.   Trust me, I have read about it, in great detail and even studied the math.  More data does not mean “thinner slices in time”, that is a myth.  Nyquist-Shannon states unequivocally that the only thing which is added by increasing sample rate is to increase frequency response to ½ the rate.  Since 44.1 will exactly sample all data under 22.05 kHz, the only thing increasing the sample rate will do is include frequencies over 22.05 which no person can ever hear.

The fact is, there are no jaggy stairsteps like in the audiophile press.  In fact Sony got sued for advertising that high-res audio is like smaller steps, and were forced to remove their ads.  

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Let’s agree to disagree to the hearing aspect .. .. I’m reiterating that  Sonos is short sighted in not letting their newer products work to their full potential due to legacy issues ..
 

 

Let’s agree to disagree to the hearing aspect .. .. I’m reiterating that  Sonos is short sighted in not letting their newer products work to their full potential due to legacy issues ..

 

If you disagree, tell me where I am wrong.  Tell me how raising the sampling rate gives more data in the audible range.  Show your work. 

Userlevel 7
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Hi @Audiomad 

Welcome to the Sonos Community!

To get things back on course, I’ll just interject here with a little thing I learned today:

https://support.sonos.com/services/qobuz

https://www.qobuz.com/profile/externals

I hope this helps.

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Thx for the links Corey but I have come across these before .  
 

A press article referred to in the original query raised here two years mentioned that if the original source material is anything other than 24/48kHz, then  everything is downsampled to the CD standard of 16/44.1 kHz on Sonos  .  Sonos doesn’t mention this unless it’s not true . 
 

The article  also mentioned that roughly only about 2 % of tracks fall into the 24/48kHz category . This may or may not be different now.

 

The Sonos app doesn’t show the details of the recorded streams  of the tracks although the Qobuz app does .  It would be nice to see this info pulled in from Qobuz in the Sonos app. 
 

interestingly , I occasionally also use an app ( Phonos universal) in a windows environment to control the Sonos speakers . 
 

This app also displays music data and from the brief checks I’ve made , seems to agree with  what the articles said…. Namely  only native 24/48kHz tracks are played at high Rez.. all others even if high Rez  recorded at 88.1 or 96 or even 192kHz are all down sampled to CD standard . 

Userlevel 7
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Hi @Audiomad 

Ah - I understand you now. Apologies. I misread your initial post.

To be honest, it sounds as if things are working as intended - to play 24 bit audio on Sonos, it must be 48kHz. I can’t comment on what percentage of music on Qobuz matches that format.

I’m with the others on this, however - 88.1, 96 and 192kHz only make sense in a recording studio and not for final delivery. Especially when streaming.

The Sonos app doesn’t show the details of the recorded streams  of the tracks although the Qobuz app does .  It would be nice to see this info pulled in from Qobuz in the Sonos app. 

I can treat this as a feature request, though it has been requested before and may well already be planned - I don’t know.

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Hi Corey - will have to go with what it is .. I’m sure the hardware in Sonos can decode whatever is out there ..

 

A question about Atmos music .. I have a couple of ERA 300s only for music .. have tried Apple Music tracks on trial .. hit and miss .. some sound outstanding .. others so so..

  Qobuz appears to be heading towards THX as their possible surround music format instead of Atmos .. 

 

Do you have any info on this ? 

 

 

 

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Hi @Audiomad 

I have not heard any mention of THX - not that I would likely to be told ahead of time. Basically, I have nothing to share on that.

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Thx .. will have see what unfolds ..

In one sense can see why streams might be locked to 24/48kHz … as Atmos music is ..

Userlevel 7
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Hi @Audiomad 

Thx .. will have see what unfolds ..

Pun intended? 😂

In one sense can see why streams might be locked to 24/48kHz … as Atmos music is ..

It’s best to look at it from a bandwidth point of view - 192kHz sampling rate will require 4x as much data to describe as 48kHz, with no perceptible increase in quality. This kind of increase in bandwidth is bound to cause unnecessary trouble when it comes to multiroom playback over WiFi with all kinds of interference around from all kinds of modern devices limiting performance - it would just cause too many problems for too many people, and for no good reason.

While I don’t think it’s fair to compare the mathematics of sampling a pure sine wave to those of sampling complex sounds, I think there is a degree of diminishing returns. Although no-one can hear above 20-22kHz, I think it’s conceivable that there could be a perceptible difference to be heard when higher frequencies could constructively or deconstructively interfere with lower, audible frequencies, which is presumably why 48kHz is a common sample rate as opposed to just 40kHz, which is not. When it comes to 96 or 192, however, I think those are just used in case of possible digital manipulation by filters later in the mastering process - it makes little sense to actually deliver these rates as end-products. I think you could even go so far as to say 192kHz might only really exist for the scientific community; if you’re going to slow down recordings of - I don’t know - ultrasonic bat calls or something, it would make sense to have the initial increase of sampling rate so that the slowed version is still high-fidelity. There’s no law that says all the expensive, studio-quality samplers have to be used for music, but I’m sure some more music-orientated buyers will get them just because the numbers go higher.

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You made some excellent points there Cory. Thx for that . 
 

Unintentional pun indeed ! 
 

I can quite happily  live with 24/48 … alas we yet don’t have a means where anything from a streaming service can be delivered to a Sonos device without it being truncated straight to a CD standard other than 24/48..
 

Totally get real world reality of bandwidth limits , interference etc if wireless is the only way to get Sonos connected .   
 

Perhaps I’m fortunate that most of my Sonos products ( statically located ones ) are hard wired via the Ethernet . 
 

Also I do have none Sonos gear that can decode whatever Qobuz has in native form in a more traditional system.   I guess these two systems cater for different audiences in terms of function and functionality. 
 

I guess by hooking up with Qobuz and Atmos music .. “audiophile” credentials are being set and may start to attract those to Sonos who normally wouldn’t have considered them as options .  
 

As it’s  a growing market you can now see traditional hifi oriented companies offering one box streaming devices that can cater for hi rez music . 
 


 

 

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I also have some professional gear which feeds headphones and, well, it can sound very good indeed. 

Until we understand whether Sonos does sample rate conversion internally and which reconstruction filters it applies all this discussion is a bit academic really. Sonos speakers are great for what they do. 

I recommend you stick to your specialist audio kit for the finer detail.

Only just seen your reply…  Have to agree now .. two different purposes… Corry’s reply was pretty clear.. it’s a balancing act of what most people want and need … some owners not the slightest bit interested in all the hi rez stuff… what they are getting now is pretty fine to them …

 

Incidentally got a reply back from Qobuz… It’s down to Sonos’ API as to how it manages what it receives from the Qobuz universe… things may change if customers what it..

Userlevel 1
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Let’s agree to disagree to the hearing aspect .. .. I’m reiterating that  Sonos is short sighted in not letting their newer products work to their full potential due to legacy issues ..

 

If you disagree, tell me where I am wrong.  Tell me how raising the sampling rate gives more data in the audible range.  Show your work. 

Move on like the OP has asked

Userlevel 1
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I think this topic may have been raised about two years ago but wonder if anyone has any further updates.

I have a high rez subscription to Qobuz but am disappointing to find out that any music file from Qobuz that is not native 24/48kHz will get truncated to 16/44.1 kHz file stream.  I understand this is to do with backward compatibility with older speakers on the S2 platform.

As I don’t have any speakers older than 2 years , it’s a real bummer..

 

No problems with non Sonos equipment I have which decodes at the native resolution beautifully. Would love Sonos to enable this to add to all the other positives in owning their speakers .

 

Anyone has any further insider updates on this ?

I tried Hi-Res a few  years ago but eventually came to the conclusion that my ears just could not hear the dfference but that is me and my ears and may not be the same for anyone else. I like the sound of Sonos and love the new Era 300. I do hear the difference between my Alexa speakers and Sonos. The quality of Sonos is excellent. I started listening to music around 1970 and have a great stereo setup for my vinyl which I still play a lot but love the convenience of Sonos. Also I love playing soundtrack music like John Barry and Hans Zimmer and that sounds excellent on the Era300

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