The Sonos Brexit and pragmatic ways past it


I will start this thread with a few caveats:

First, this thread is not for rants. There are plenty here for those, and there is no bar on opening new ones.

Second, the thread is directed for the subset of users that have a large investment in legacy products, and are content to see their Sonos systems as music systems that offer stable streamed music from either a NAS or from the net, and have no expectation of more bells and whistles - just that things continue to work as they are working today. I happen to be in this boat as well, as someone that has three out of six zones running very well on legacy products that I simply cannot afford to jettison until the hardware dies.

Third, this thread is based on facts, some of which have been coming to light only over the last 48 or so hours. It is therefore incomplete to an extent, and may even be wrong in places. Feel free therefore to clarify/correct/add as necessary - and I specifically invite @Ryan S  to do so. But, no rants please - they have a place, but this is not it.

All that said, this is the solution I intend to proceed with and recommend here:

Opt for a legacy system operation in May, that will run legacy and modern products, exactly as these run today; no faffing around with two networks. No more enhancements, but expecting Sonos to honestly fulfil their recent promise of all bug fixes that the legacy products can accommodate. Ditto for what needs to be done to accommodate changes driven by at least the mainstream service providers.

By a happy coincidence, all legacy products have line in jacks. So if something even happens at the streaming service end that cannot be accommodated in legacy products, I am confident of finding some device that can be wired to the line in jacks of these, that will still allow streaming from the culprit service to work including in grouped mode with all other products in the system.

The streaming from the local NAS will not have any issues in this mode, other than hardware failures including that of the NAS, and a key assumption here is that NAS changes will not need a Sonos software update.

Although Sonos has said that new products can be added to such a system, I do not see how this is possible once new products come installed with versions that are beyond the frozen legacy system one. Unless Sonos is not going to sell any new products in future with versions beyond the 2020 legacy one - I doubt that. And once a product comes with the latest version, adding it to a legacy system without rendering legacy products inoperable is going to be tricky because it will involve first separating the one system into two; I also admit to being a little fuzzy with this bit. In my case, this is all moot; I have no need for another zone. As an aside, I am someone therefore that is not of much interest to Sonos!

I also assume that if anyone at any time in the future wanted to jettison legacy products for any reason, all they will need to do is leave all such products powered off, invoke updates and the result will be a Sonos system updated to the day they do the invocation. The concern here for me is different - I need to have an ironclad way of NOT updating my system before I am ready to separate or jettison legacy products, and this needs more insights into how things will work on this front in future.

I am pretty sure that this way ahead will work in my use case and I suggest it will also work for many that are heavily invested in Sonos legacy products, that do not want to write it off or to trade up to new products just to retain all existing functionality.

Yes, it involves losing future enhancements/features, but once we accept that these essentially are music boxes that will keep doing all they do today, that should be an acceptable trade off, I suggest. It is to me, for sure.

So this way, this event will be just a minor inconvenience, and I expect to be able to use all my existing products till the hardware fails.

What this event has convince me though is to now look at/recommend smart systems that are truly modular in the sense that the smart bits can be periodically replaced at low cost, while the core “dumb” electronic hardware can be of such build/after sales support, that it justifies the higher investment in the consequent price, if better sound quality is also needed than what the smart front ends can alone provide. But that's for the future.

 


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After I wrote the first post I discovered that my remaining 3 zones served by play 1 units aren't going to remain modern for much longer, with the play 1 containing a mere 64 mb of memory, just marginally better than the 32 in the units jettisoned at this time. And as opposed to the 1024 mb contained in the One units, so the temptation for Sonos to use this idling hardware by jettisoning the play 1s shortly after May or in the next “news” cycle must be strong.

All the more reason then for me to successfully pursue the approach I have set out in this thread.

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After I wrote the first post I discovered that my remaining 3 zones served by play 1 units aren't going to remain modern for much longer, with the play 1 containing a mere 64 mb of memory, just marginally better than the 32 in the units jettisoned at this time. And as opposed to the 1024 mb contained in the One units, so the temptation for Sonos to use this idling hardware by jettisoning the play 1s shortly after May or in the next “news” cycle must be strong.

All the more reason then for me to successfully pursue the approach I have set out in this thread.

The play 1 is still sold by Sonos and Ryan still states that Sonos will support products for at least 5 years after they stop selling them. So here's hoping they stick to that. 

 

Cheers

The play 1 is still sold by Sonos and Ryan still states that Sonos will support products for at least 5 years after they stop selling them. So here's hoping they stick to that. 

 

It is no longer as simple as that, going by what happened with the Connect Amp - although this was sold by Sonos till 2019, they are pulling support on those made in 2015 and before that saying that these have a much smaller memory than the ones made after, so the earlier ones, though carrying the same name and looks, will no longer get support.

My concern is something similar happening for my 2014 make play 1 units with their relatively very small memory of 64 mb. And I don’t see the play 1 on the Sonos products listed on their website and I think they stopped selling those in 2019 as well. So if they do the same thing they did for my Connect Amp, there go my four play 1 units.

Hence the concern. Once bitten, twice shy.

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Sonos maybe able to sell to legacy customers, by the user downloading software to the device at instalation, either current or legacy….maybe

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I have concerns about “they’re just music boxes and will continue to do what they do now”. They’ll probably play from your NAS forever, and most Internet radio will probably be fine too. However, Spotify, Amazon, Deezer etc could, at any time, make a change which Sonos will not deliver to legacy systems (either because they don’t want to, or because the legacy devices can’t properly support it).

I also have problems with Sonos stance here - if a legacy device can’t actually stream (say) Spotify, then fair enough - but it should be possible to use it as a fully supported, updated and working “extra speaker” for another (modern) Sonos device. But that’s not being offered right now.

Whilst I think they should be offering that as a way out, it actually won’t help me on this occasion (although might do when my Play:1s go legacy in the future).

I have a legacy Connect:Amp is currently connected to 4 ceiling speakers in the kitchen. It works fine, but it’s not great at higher volumes and it lacks sub (ceiling speakers struggle to do sub, and mine aren’t the best in that area either).

My plan is currently:

  • Buy a Yamaha connected amp to replace the Connect:Amp. A similar spec device comes in at half the list price of the new Sonos Amp.
  • Eval Yamaha as a competitor (they seem to review about the same, although their phone app doesn’t review very well)
  • Probably use the trade-in to buy a Port, and use that as the sound source for the Yamaha amp (unless Yamaha turn out to be awesome).

This means:

  • We keep “sonos everywhere” and multi-room etc. Ultimately, nothing really changes.
  • I get to properly eval Yamaha, and they get time to support Amazon Music (which they say they’re working on).
  • If Sonos pull any more of this sort of stuff, then I can switch any other devices to Yamaha quite easily, yanking out any Sonos which is then legacy, and keep multi-room in the process.
  • Potentially stick a sub in the kitchen using the sub-out of the Yamaha amp (which incidentally, I could do with the new Sonos Amp too)

So in short, I’m not going to ditch Sonos entirely, in fact, I’m not really leaving at all. But I’m very much going to insulate myself from any future foul-ups, or indeed an entire implosion at Sonos (if by some miracle what’s going on right now doesn’t turn out to be a “Gerald Ratner”).

 

So in short, I’m not going to ditch Sonos entirely, in fact, I’m not really leaving at all. But I’m very much going to insulate myself from any future foul-ups, or indeed an entire implosion at Sonos (if by some miracle what’s going on right now doesn’t turn out to be a “Gerald Ratner”).

Neither am I; I can't afford to leave Sonos en masse. But I refuse to have to do this hoopla ever again because of Sonos or any other smart speaker maker. So, I will also have my migration plan to cheap throw away smart front ends, as Sonos hardware dies, wherever I need the smarts. Since I have the 3 legacy zones all blessed with line in jacks, I don’t even expect the kind of hiccups in streaming that you alluded to; even today these units have Echo Dots/Show wired to them that will work regardless of any Sonos issues in future.

What I do not want - and I can’t really see it happening - is a Sonos implosion that destroys these migration strategies.

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I’m going DigiOne Allo.  It’s a raspberry pi server.  Will have a large upfront cost for the software side to run things, but I gain non-proprietary and high res playback.  So I do win something out of it.

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Kumar, this is the best thread yet since the announcements. Thanks for stepping out, brother. 

Respect.

@RickInHouston1 :Good for you. In my case, just the sight of a unit with an exposed circuit board makes me nervous - I am no techie:-)

@spydrwebb : happy to help. Beyond a point, ranting serves no one.

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I’m going DigiOne Allo.  It’s a raspberry pi server.  Will have a large upfront cost for the software side to run things, but I gain non-proprietary and high res playback.  So I do win something out of it.

What software are you buying for your RPi server?

I have a question that I cannot see answered, or if it has been, I’ve missed it (entirely possible).

 

Some time ago on my “legacy” system I lost the ability to stream from my iPhone directly to my system. I the future legacy landscape that is promised, if I add in a new product in ‘legacy’ mode, will I be able to stream with Airplay to the grouped speakers or not?

 

Great thread by the way, best I’ve seen yet. :)

 

Cheers

Simon

I have a question that I cannot see answered, or if it has been, I’ve missed it (entirely possible).

 

Some time ago on my “legacy” system I lost the ability to stream from my iPhone directly to my system. I the future legacy landscape that is promised, if I add in a new product in ‘legacy’ mode, will I be able to stream with Airplay to the grouped speakers or not?

 

Great thread by the way, best I’ve seen yet. :)

 

Cheers

Simon

 

Since you can do this now, and the current functionality is what will become “legacy” in the future, I can’t see why not. 

Agh cool, I din’t know for sure that popping a more modern device in amongst my system would allow Airplay or not. Presuming the speakers all need to be grouped for this to work?

 

Cheers

Simon

Yes, to that device. To get the AirPlay 2 stream to play on other devices, you would indeed ‘group’ them. 

I do this rather frequently ;) 

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I will freeze my Sonos installations in May, to permit my complete Sonos systems to continue to operate as one, per one of the key original selling points of the Sonos system (‘whole house music’). I’ll keep these systems running, even if I eventually have to use AirPlay and/or Line-In for everything, as streaming services become incompatible with the Sonos firmware.

I will make no further Sonos purchases. Whole house audio systems are not a throwaway purchase.

A minor point, but I don’t want to have to switch off iOS automatic updates for all of the 100+ apps on my iOS devices, just to prevent the Sonos app from updating. Sonos needs to provide a legacy iOS app, separate to the one which is acquiring new features.

Frankly, though, if Sonos is losing customers like me, they’re in really deep trouble.

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I have a question that I cannot see answered, or if it has been, I’ve missed it (entirely possible).

 

Some time ago on my “legacy” system I lost the ability to stream from my iPhone directly to my system. I the future legacy landscape that is promised, if I add in a new product in ‘legacy’ mode, will I be able to stream with Airplay to the grouped speakers or not?

 

Great thread by the way, best I’ve seen yet. :)

 

Cheers

Simon

Hey Simon, consider that  in the future Apple could roll out an Airplay 2 update to your Apple devices that could impact your ability to use them with your airplay2 compatible Sonos devices in legacy mode. 

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My current plan is to run as legacy for as long as possible and then use the line to one of my play 5’s for any music over the internet when services start to fail.

I haven't tried but I am assuming/hoping I can just group the line in player with other units and play as I would normally.

Options are either amazon or google,  as I have an echo dot in a hallway I will probably stick that in a play 5 for now and see what I think to quality.

I do have some concerns given the cynicism of the current sonos position.  For instance will you be able to add to a legacy system or if your everything falls over altogether will you be able to create a legacy system from scratch. 

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Thanks for the helpful post. I have 8 Connect:Amps for whole house audio. Does anyone know (@Ryan S) if Sonos has or will commit to maintaining basic functionality as long as the hardware is operational? More specifically, the ability to connect a cheap audio streamer to the line input, and play that input *with the ability to group zones*.  (I’ve only used line input on a single zone so I don’t even know if grouping is a current function using the line input as audio source)

Sonos would not have to ensure that 3rd parties software is compatible. All they have to do is make sure is future versions of the Sonos interfaces (iPhone, Android) still communicate with the device and maintain this functionality. I don’t want an app update on my iPhone bricking the Connect:Amps.

Furthermore, if the hardware dies, the ability to replace with a modern sonos AMP and maintain the above functionality (would a new device require a firmware downgrade?) I don’t need bells and whistles or voice etc, I just need to be able to internet stream to multiple zones. I could maybe handle swapping out my connect:amps with the newer amps if the hardware dies slowly one by one over the course of 5-10 years. But the financial and environmental cost of doing that all at once not an option, especially if the hardware is perfectly functional.

Thanks for the helpful post. I have 8 Connect:Amps for whole house audio. Does anyone know (@Ryan S) if Sonos has or will commit to maintaining basic functionality as long as the hardware is operational? More specifically, the ability to connect a cheap audio streamer to the line input, and play that input *with the ability to group zones*.  (I’ve only used line input on a single zone so I don’t even know if grouping is a current function using the line input as audio source)

Sonos would not have to ensure that 3rd parties software is compatible. All they have to do is make sure is future versions of the Sonos interfaces (iPhone, Android) still communicate with the device and maintain this functionality. I don’t want an app update on my iPhone bricking the Connect:Amps.

Furthermore, if the hardware dies, the ability to replace with a modern sonos AMP and maintain the above functionality (would a new device require a firmware downgrade?) I don’t need bells and whistles or voice etc, I just need to be able to internet stream to multiple zones. I could maybe handle swapping out my connect:amps with the newer amps if the hardware dies slowly one by one over the course of 5-10 years. But the financial and environmental cost of doing that all at once not an option, especially if the hardware is perfectly functional.

 

If you stay on legacy software, are not using outside music sources, and only streaming from your local library or a Line-in, your system should work just as it does today until the hardware fails.

I will start this thread with a few caveats:

First, this thread is not for rants. There are plenty here for those, and there is no bar on opening new ones.

Second, the thread is directed for the subset of users that have a large investment in legacy products, and are content to see their Sonos systems as music systems that offer stable streamed music from either a NAS or from the net, and have no expectation of more bells and whistles - just that things continue to work as they are working today. I happen to be in this boat as well, as someone that has three out of six zones running very well on legacy products that I simply cannot afford to jettison until the hardware dies.

Third, this thread is based on facts, some of which have been coming to light only over the last 48 or so hours. It is therefore incomplete to an extent, and may even be wrong in places. Feel free therefore to clarify/correct/add as necessary - and I specifically invite @Ryan S  to do so. But, no rants please - they have a place, but this is not it.

…..

 

 

Great thread, Kumar. Needed.

You and I and many are in this same boat and your thoughts and conclusions mirror my own over the past 2 days. I intend to leave my “legacy” system in place as well. I’ve been looking into a number of options that will feed the line-in of a now-legacy Connect to provide future operability, albeit a bit kludgy with two apps being required for many operations, but c'est la vie.  I’ve been examining most closely the Bluesound NODE 2i and the Ayrlic S50 Pro as options for such a streaming service gateway, which would as well provide other modern tech enhancements and connection options, most of which are strangely absent from the new Port (which is out of the question anyhow since this device will need to be autonomous and silo’d away my legacy Sonosnet). I’ve also been considering moving to the Tidal service for streaming (though a part of me abhors that idea) only because it’s natively supported within PLEX which I use extensively.

There is a path forward, not an ideal one, but a liveable one.

We do have options.

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I was thinking about the issue, it doesn’t impact me directly as I traded out all my old gear but maybe things that might work for others.

How about a non-legacy Connect connected to a legacy connect via the RCA jacks. One as part of the legacy system and one on the non-legacy system?

You’d have to group the legacy gear to the legacy Connect using a controller on the legacy side but then you could do everything else from the non-legacy side as long as the legacy Connect was grouped with what you are listening to.

With all the screaming I’m going to be watching for used gear at fire-sale prices and may well snap something up for the few places I don’t have Sonos now. Oh, and anybody letting a Sub go cheap! That is first on my list!

I’m resisting looking at Sonos stock as hard as I can, really don’t want back in the market for individual stocks at my age but if it gets too tempting I may bite. Spouse and primary tax preparer may skin me if I don’t turn a fat profit.

How about a non-legacy Connect connected to a legacy connect via the RCA jacks. One as part of the legacy system and one on the non-legacy system?

You’d have to group the legacy gear to the legacy Connect using a controller on the legacy side but then you could do everything else from the non-legacy side as long as the legacy Connect was grouped with what you are listening to.

With all the screaming I’m going to be watching for used gear at fire-sale prices and may well snap something up for the few places I don’t have Sonos now.

Excellent lateral thinking there; unfortunately the music from the two systems so grouped will be out of sync. And when grouping isn't a need, faffing around with two systems in one household will get irritating over time. Which is why I think that any two systems idea is not a viable solution; it negates the  multiroom concept which is a major Sonos USP. As to buying used gear, another excellent idea, provided you know how to avoid getting devices marked for recycling.

@Loose Moose : Sonos has said that legacy system capability to work with local NAS will not degrade over time; it will only end when the hardware fails. Based on that it is reasonable to assume that capability to accept inputs to the line in jacks will also continue to work as now, without degradation.

@Snikom : With reference to your comment: My current plan is to run as legacy for as long as possible and then use the line to one of my play 5’s for any music over the internet when services start to fail. - that is exactly what I plan to do, and I see no reason for this to not work. For your play 5, replace my Connect/Connect Amps, that’s all.

Thank heavens for the line in jacks and the happy coincidence that the three legacy units being left behind all have these, to allow them an anchor into the real world. Now, if the play 1 units had been the first to go...I even have a topic here that I started a couple of years ago on how useful line in jacks are and why the play 1 missed being a truly great product because it lacks these. And that was way before this event.

At this time, my only concern after May will be to ensure that I don’t inadvertently wreck my 6 zone system by letting an update to the play 1 units slip through. Indeed, I would now be happy if my play 1 units also join the legacy list, so I don't have to worry about that happening because my legacy units happened to be powered off; all would be legacy.

@chickentender :Of course we have options and more may emerge by May - both short term ones and those that can be longer term ones to ensure we are not bitten again.

Moving on: I see a subtle but significant change in the Sonos messaging, forced by the firestorm. The first announcement essentially said that those that don’t want to stay with Sonos by jettisoning legacy products, can choose to not stay, but with a system that will degrade over time where streaming service functionality is concerned, even where said system contains modern products.

Now the messages coming out proclaim that things are not as dire as that for those that choose to stay back - Sonos will do all it possibly can by providing us with bug fixes, and even updates necessary to maintain streaming service functionality, to the extent permitted by the memory available in legacy devices. Even with that last qualification, this is progress:-). The proof of the pudding will be in the eating of course, but the statement of intent is a welcome first step.

One can now keep hoping that more adverse reactions will lead to the next step - that for those that stay back, modern products in legacy systems will keep marching ahead, albeit with features that will not be available to the legacy products - but grouped multi room play across the entire system will be possible. If Sonos were to find a way to get to this place, there will be no legitimate reason for any complaints.

A case then, for the protests to continue; outside of this thread though:-).

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What’s truly crazy is that the new feature they’re screwing us all over for is voice control, and I don’t even want that in my system - I’d actively disable it.  Do they really think people want to scream at their Sonos gear to change songs or search while playing something?  They already got the home automation crowd upset at them for buying Snips and then shutting it down.  Now they’re doing their best to get all their existing customers boycotting them by forcing Snips into all the audio playback equipment in market, and that’s how we get here, today.

 

I know I can’t continue to recommend Sonos gear anymore, and I’m not buying new equipment for existing systems, either.  If they’re going to play this game, buying Alexa or Google smart speakers is far less expensive.  We’ll see how Sonos stock does after they actually EOL existing equipment.

 

Once my existing systems stop working, I’ll be going back to old-school multi-zone amplifier setups, and just tack on generic dumb wireless speakers for where I can’t wire.  Such a shame...

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Excellent lateral thinking there; unfortunately the music from the two systems so grouped will be out of sync. And when grouping isn't a need, faffing around with two systems in one household will get irritating over time.

 

@Kumar: Why would they be out of sync?

Sonos cannot be expected to have updated 3rd party music services in all of their devices in perpetuity. Hardware permitting, I do expect my connect:amps to work with their line inputs as long as Sonos is solvent, as you indicated is a reasonable assumption given their comments. So what I will need, at some point in the future, is a new internet audio streaming device that I can hook up to my connect:amps via the line input. Today I tried that using my Echo Dot & Amazon Music. It works, but it is cumbersome and functionality & services are limited.

So now I’m thinking along the lines of @Stanley_4: what about hooking up a (non-legacy) Sonos Port to one of my legacy connect:amps. The Port can handle all the streaming/music services, and the connect:amps can handle the grouping & amplification. The only output of the Port would be to the connect:amp and would not need to be synced with any standalone Sonos speakers. Seems like this would be a reasonable solution, at least in my scenario with 8 connect:amps. Sonos still gets me to spend an extra $400 (at a time of my choosing), but I don’t have to buy 8x Sonos Amps to replace my legacy hardware. @Ryan S: will this be an option?

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Good Discussion. Thanks for starting the thread.

I am definitely going to stay Legacy.  I am still locked down to 8.4 and have had no issues at all so I am confident that the system can run for years on a Legacy version. I planning one more software update to prep some spares I have collected. Maybe sneak some bargains in the used market.  I will lock it down again untill the dust settles. As Streaming services drop, I will find a way to add devices to the “line in” as needed. Inconvenient, but workable.

I have the fortune of full control and automation of the system using Homeseer, so tasks can be automated and maybe homeseer will become a more important part of the control instead of the Sonos App. There has been plenty of 3rd party integrations that have taken off in the last 5years using the UPNP control and I don’t think Sonos can afford to mess with this. (ie, SmartThings, Control4, Crestron, etc).  A Hardwired Multi Zone Amp/Speaker setup will be my next whole home music system.

The question for me is, how long will Sonos keep the Legacy Software version available for New purchases?  If they make the “Legacy Mode” available on new items , I may purchase some more Sonos product, since they will work with what I have.  Once I can no longer add/group devices to my current system, I will lock things down and wait patiently wait for hardware to die. I’m confident I should get 3-5 years out of this system yet. Plenty of time to wire the house for dumb amps and speakers at the core.

Just another “First World Problem”.  Not going to blow a fuse over it, instead I will turn it into another fun integration project.  My “ZonePlayers” should not have kept functioning this long anyways.

 

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