The Sonos Brexit and pragmatic ways past it - ADVANCED APPROACHES


A little over a week ago, I started a thread to engage with like minded people here: those that felt the way I did, as explained in my opening post there. That thread was titled: “The Sonos Brexit and pragmatic ways past it” and I intended that to be the last thread I open on this site.

A link to that thread:

https://en.community.sonos.com/controllers-software-228995/the-sonos-brexit-and-pragmatic-ways-past-it-6836056

That thread has grown beyond expectations. While everyone on it has contributed to keep it profanity free and largely rant free, with an occasional nudge by @Edward R in that effort, just by virtue of its length, it has become unwieldy as all long threads become. And it has many days to run, because the Sonos Brexit event, and the release of detailed information about it by Sonos, are both at least three months away.

I therefore thought that it made sense to break my promise to myself - No More Threads - and make just this one exception to it, by opening this thread. It is meant to discuss such approaches and options that may be employed by advanced users that are comfortable going well beyond plug and play options in pursuit of ways past this Sonos Brexit with or without incorporating any Sonos product in it. The original thread linked above may then be used for options that probably a majority of Sonos users will be able to employ - the plug and play kind of options towards the same objective. Which are those that employ off the shelf third party devices that are self contained, such as Echo Dots as an example, where the only wiring, if needed, is external - a stereo wire running between Sonos and non Sonos devices. And which do not involve any coding or any attempt to get under the Sonos hood. Or which involve server like devices that need a complex set up to get it to work with Sonos. In brief, something that non geeks - and I am one of those - will be able to cope with, belong to the original thread, while the complex options belong to this thread, as its title suggests.

There is no set in stone dividing line between the two approaches and none is needed. I am sure that community judgement can be relied on to keep the two threads distinct, linked by a common ethos, in a way that both end up being more useful than one thread will be.

I will visit this thread, but here I do not expect to further any discussion forward significantly - that will be beyond my abilities. So, lurking mode here, most if not all of the time. And if I find anything useful here that makes sense to the original thread, I will steal with no compunctions!

So, well before Sonos forks out legacy and modern systems into two, a fork to serve all that will be effected by the Sonos fork.

I apologies for the clunky title, which is an outcome of the original thread being blessed with a clunky one.


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Likely a very good place for those with experience or interest to share thoughts about more complex, hybrid and varied solutions and approaches including the like of  Raspberry Pi or Roon and other similar, varied setups as incorporated with Sonos (or even not). I’d like to hear any interested chime in and sound off as needed/wanted.

Seeing as the previous thread became quite large I thought I’d simply post my janky little diagram of how I’ve incorporated a Bluesound Node 2i into a bit of hybrid setup, that post being buried amongst the pages. I auditioned and thought about different devices and paths forward and in the end a “legacy” system seemed the right choice for me given the information we now have.

In my main listening area the Bluesound Node 2i is the primary streamer and also receives audio via optical input from my smart tv (both for music as well as a soundbar alternative as i’ve never care much for soundbars and like simplicity). The analog output from the Node is fed to my receiver AUX, and the receivers output is fed to my now-legacy Sonos Connect via Tape-out and looped back to it’s Tape monitor. My Connect is now set to fixed-volume, allow all level change to be done via the Node (or the receiver if need be) and the audio can then be sent to the rest of my Sonos wireless zones in perfect sync with the main when I flip the Tape-Monitor switch on the receiver. This also allows me to send my turntables audio out to Sonos in the same manner, without needing to have the Connect in-line with the turntable itself. I only use the Sonos controller to set speaker groups and room leveling in this case, and the Node 2i (or turntable) is in control of the content and master volume. I can also just use the Sonos controller by itself for everything if I like (and I do) for the time being and into the future for as long as my streaming services used remain working within the legacy environment. If one of the them doesn’t in the future, it’ll be no great inconvenience to simply stream from the Node 2i instead.

I also want to add that using the Node 2i opens up the ability to send audio via Bluetooth and Airplay2 (the latter I could already use if sending to my single Sonos One in the kitchen). It supports aptX but I currently have no aptX capable devices but I’m sure I will whenever I next replace my phone. Regardless the point being that I recently started using Qobuz for my main streaming and the desktop app experience for Qobuz is outstanding, second only to Roon. That desktop app allows for Bluetooth “exclusive” modes (Airplay in the same manner) which bypasses the computer’s kernel mix and provides direct audio from the application without any computer system noises which is wonderful as well as sounding better. Just wanted to share that because I’ve found the Qobuz desktop experience to be so wonderful but wouldn’t have used it much otherwise. 

That’s enough description. Crappy little diagram is attached, if it helps anyone else out there. Would love to hear about other alternative/hybrid setups for “moving on” within the legacy announcements (preferably without rants or complaining or ruminating otherwise about the situation - that’s well covered, with good cause, elsewhere).

 

 

Just a comment on the above diagram.. for this situation, you could have done a trade of the Connect for a Sonos Amp, which looks to be cheaper than the Node 2i after trade in discount. The amp could connect to your TV with optical and your phono through RCAs (assuming your player doesn’t need preamp).  You could also get rid of the receiver, as the amp can power those.  I’m not trying to knock your solution as it make sense if hi rez, bluetooth or something else bluesound can offer is important to you.  Just pointing out an alternative.

Is Quboz better through bluetooth over directly streaming to a Sonos device?

Just a comment on the above diagram.. for this situation, you could have done a trade of the Connect for a Sonos Amp, which looks to be cheaper than the Node 2i after trade in discount. The amp could connect to your TV with optical and your phono through RCAs (assuming your player doesn’t need preamp).  You could also get rid of the receiver, as the amp can power those.  I’m not trying to knock your solution as it make sense if hi rez, bluetooth or something else bluesound can offer is important to you.  Just pointing out an alternative.

Is Quboz better through bluetooth over directly streaming to a Sonos device?

Great points for someone else in a similar (not uncommon) scenario. For my part, that receiver is one my favorite pieces and I love the warmth of it in combination with a number of speakers I’ve had over the years; it’s going nowhere. :)

Also, my table does require a phono stage. The hi-res capability and bluetooth options are just gravy.

@melvimbe  Qobuz via regular Bluetooth in my short experience seemed equal to direct from Connect (if taking hi-res out of the equation) - I noticed no real difference. But honestly that’s after just a single night at low volumes and with no real critical comparisons whatsoever between the two.  I mentioned it mostly for usability - the SQ was very good to my ear last night while I was listening, but it was simply remaining within the lovely audio sandbox that is the Qobuz desktop app that was so enjoyable. (This as opposed to listening via Sonos controller or BlueOS natively - though the native BlueOS did seem to have a good bit more clarity and headroom, but again, that was only from a very brief comparison.)

@melvimbe - incidentally, for any interested in the Sonos Amp configuration you mentioned, does the new Sonos Amp support IR Learning for volume control via remote, or are you limited to app control? (That was one of the features of the Node 2i that drew me to it over Connect in the end for my setup.)

 

Edit - I answered my own question. I see that it DOES support IR learning, which is great. (In going back over the Amp specs I’m reminded how much is missing that I expected to find/looked forward to in the Port when it was announced/release, particularly HDMI ARC.)

Nonetheless, for my part, given the support announcement (and bent of this particular thread for that matter) I’m happier to not have the Amp, though a simplistic and elegant setup in many ways, as part of my setup if only for the lack of options thererin that a receiver otherwise supplies (putting aside my love of many old analog receivers specifically)…
But moreso I am not in love now with the idea of a Sonos component becoming even more integral to my entire audio setup for for future-proofing reasons. I’m much more comfortable with Sonos remaining in a supporting role rather than a front-and-center one. 

With streaming services more and more the music source, is this thread a good place to discuss their sound quality differences - real or perceived?

Ditto for bluetooth in general?

Great points for someone else in a similar (not uncommon) scenario. For my part, that receiver is one my favorite pieces and I love the warmth of it in combination with a number of speakers I’ve had over the years; it’s going nowhere. :)

 

You do realise that this warmth, if not psychological, is distortion?:-).

Not that I am against the sentiment expressed. 

By the way, think of a visible Echo Dot or Port, playing music with active well veneered Hi Fi speakers from Dynaudio or ATC or Dali. Then think of the same source, hidden away, streaming to a recently manufactured valve amp that has a bunch of EL34 or KT88 valves glowing on top, driving the passive model of the same speaker - in both cases at night in a quiet room with the lights low.

Which one would sound better?!

PS: also no argument if you need the extra features in a receiver - the tape out/monitor in as a classic example. Or the phone socket with a ground terminal.

But moreso I am not in love now with the idea of a Sonos component becoming even more integral to my entire audio setup for for future-proofing reasons. I’m much more comfortable with Sonos remaining in a supporting role rather than a front-and-center one. 

 

Just my opinion, but I’m not that comfortable with bluesound, due to the age and size of the company and the fact that they are currently facing a lawsuit from Sonos.  I understand why people have concerns about investing in Sonos, but for those that want to drop reliance on Sonos, I would be pushing more towards an Amazon or Google solution.  Besides the size of the companies involved, you’re just not investing that much for it to matter too much.

@melvimbe : I agree; unless there is a cheap Bluesound device, you are just exchanging one frying pan for another. If not going from the proverbial pan into the fire.

Great points for someone else in a similar (not uncommon) scenario. For my part, that receiver is one my favorite pieces and I love the warmth of it in combination with a number of speakers I’ve had over the years; it’s going nowhere. :)

 

You do realise that this warmth, if not psychological, is distortion?:-).

Not that I am against the sentiment expressed. 

By the way, think of a visible Echo Dot or Port, playing music with active well veneered Hi Fi speakers from Dynaudio or ATC or Dali. Then think of the same source, hidden away, streaming to a recently manufactured valve amp that has a bunch of EL34 or KT88 valves glowing on top, driving the passive model of the same speaker - in both cases at night in a quiet room with the lights low.

Which one would sound better?!

PS: also no argument if you need the extra features in a receiver - the tape out/monitor in as a classic example. Or the phone socket with a ground terminal.

Of course I do. :)  If, also of course, by “distortion” you mean the literal sense of the word, causing innate colouring and not necessarily degradation. It is certainly not psychological, except for “that sounds better” and “that doesn’t sound as good” is happening in my head. :)

And to that end, for MY part, my old Fender Bassman 135’s tubey goodness (an extreme example) always took the cake compared to other more “accurate” amps,  or modeling (read “DSP” in these applications) that entered the output further down the chain (or before with newer amps). As with those music scenarios where one fit the bill to my ear across the most number of sources (e.g. guitars and pedals), I’ve settled on a few receivers over the years to do the same, no DSP (and minimal EQ) required.

But also to this end… I’m no extreme audiophile either and I don’t introduce analog or digital enhancing units into my setup for the sake of simplicity. I’m a “good enough” listener comparatively… but a “that’s not good enough” listener in the eyes of plenty of less musically oriented friends and family, e.g. plenty would consider my approach too casual, and plenty more see it as obsessive. Whatever. :) hahahah

But moreso I am not in love now with the idea of a Sonos component becoming even more integral to my entire audio setup for for future-proofing reasons. I’m much more comfortable with Sonos remaining in a supporting role rather than a front-and-center one. 

 

Just my opinion, but I’m not that comfortable with bluesound, due to the age and size of the company and the fact that they are currently facing a lawsuit from Sonos.  I understand why people have concerns about investing in Sonos, but for those that want to drop reliance on Sonos, I would be pushing more towards an Amazon or Google solution.  Besides the size of the companies involved, you’re just not investing that much for it to matter too much.

I understand that sentiment. But they’re owned by Lenbrook andare the sister company of NAD which has been around for decades. I’ve no more worries about Bluesound than I do Sonos at this point to e honest. Perhaps fewer. As to legal issues, they can all work that out as best they see fit and I’ll respond accordingly down the road.
To that end, specifically in the case of Bluesound and to @Kumar ‘s point about frying pans… it’s only a single component I’ve added and I’ve zero plans to jettison Sonos and acquire more Bluesound units into my environment (at this point)… hence the “hybrid”, or diversifications. That and I’m far more comfortable overall making a small investment into a company’s product that has deep audio ties as opposed to deep information-technology ties.

On the other hand, this may well be an opportunity for some to return to classic HiFi, even to valve amps, tubes rolling and all. With sterile looking smart front ends that are cheap, hidden away like a poor relative that is in residence! The HiFi may be of different types based on the room. The living room one may have lots of eye candy to impress the hell out of every one, the bedroom one a lot more subtle. 

All integrated in some way for multi room music play when needed, and with a server based solution for Nas sourced music in all rooms. 

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I’ve just finished setting up a O2 Joggler touchscreen device:

(stock image as I can’t access my smartphone!)

 

 

This provides a controller for Logitech Media Server (also installed on the Joggler) which displays the various player/speakers (including Sonos, of course) in my system.

O2 Joggler - rare as hens’ teeth.  Price varies between 15-75 USD when available on ebay

Usb memory stick - 5 USD

Software - free

I haven’t attached the Flirc IR dongle as yet which adds remote control of the touchscreen.  

@melvimbe : I agree; unless there is a cheap Bluesound device, you are just exchanging one frying pan for another. If not going from the proverbial pan into the fire.

More to the point, from my perspective, the cheaper options available that accomplish the same thing come with an exchange of one type of fire for another. There’s no perfect solution.

I’ve just finished setting up a O2 Joggler touchscreen device:

(stock image as I can’t access my smartphone!)

 

 

This provides a controller for Logitech Media Server (also installed on the Joggler) which displays the various player/speakers (including Sonos, of course) in my system.

O2 Joggler - rare as hens’ teeth.  Price varies between 15-75 USD when available on ebay

Usb memory stick - 5 USD

Software - free

I haven’t attached the Flirc IR dongle as yet which adds remote control of the touchscreen.  

Interesting. I’ve never even heard of that thing.

Going back to Amazon/Google over other streamer solutions, that is likely the cheap stop-gap but it doesn’t sit well with me. There is no DLNA or local library support otherwise. As well, the Echo for instance will always be tied to the Amazon Music platform first and foremost, and though some other streaming platforms are supported that can always change at the whim of Amazon.

I like hardware agnostic alternatives far more, similarly to how I feel about Roku for television streaming - they seek to be as platform-inclusive as they can be without tipping one way or another as opposed to app support within Samsung Tizen or LG WebOS, etc. (or Apple Music on an iOS device for that matter).

This give you album art for Nas play? My echo show 5 looks very similar, but not for Nas play, it does not do that.

@chicks has some cool ideas/pictures for this thread! Invited to share, please:-).

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This give you album art for Nas play? My echo show 5 looks very similar, but not for Nas play, it does not do that.

Do you mean the Joggler?  Yes, album art displays (as does streaming metadata, eg. radio streams such as NDR1.

The underlying software is called JiveLite/Squeezeplay - similar solutions are available using raspberry pis and a 7’’ screen.

 

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LMS streaming Qobuz album to Google Nest Hub  (sorry about the quality!):

 

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… and listen-again (Book at Bedtime first broadcast at 22:45 on Monday 3 Feb on Radio 4): - as seen via the Sonos PC controller

 

 

I have a Echo Show 5 wired to Line in Jacks of a Connect Amp; and it shows artwork for all music played from Amazon and Apple Music.

In my NAS, all my CDs are ripped in folders, that also has the album art as a folder.jpg named jpeg. Plus there are iTunes downloads where the album art is embedded into every track’s data. When I play from the NAS via Sonos, I can see album art for both on my Sonos controller apps.

Does anyone know a way for the Echo Show to first access or be supplied music from the NAS, and will it then show album art? Even if that way involves kit with open circuitboards - as long as I don't have to use a soldering iron:-).

And now my posts here are getting red flagged for moderation….

A technical question in it by the way, not even a whiff of being a rant.

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