The current Port hasn’t been out on the market that long, but wondering out loud if it makes sense for the next gen of the Port to include an HDMI or HDMI-eARC port to output atmos/spatial audio. Perhaps even able to input via HDMI or HDMI-eARc atmos/spatial audio.I guess in a more general sense, I want the Port to be atmos/spatial audio capable. Here’s more specifics of the features/scenarios I’d want to see.
If you have an existing 3rd party setup for a atmos capable home theatre setup, than a Port:Gen 2 could be used as a atmos music streamer for your setup. As far as I know, there aren’t any other streaming boxes that really do this just for audio. This feels like a natural upgrade for the Port and stays true with original reason the Port was created in the first place.
When grouping Sonos rooms right now, the group plays to the lowest common denominator. In other words, if you group an Arc room, pair of Era 300s, and a Port...you’ll get stereo. Upgrading the Port to be atmos capable allows that group to play atmos music.
This feels like a natural upgrade for the Port and stays true with original reason the Port was created in the first place. The rest of this goes a bit beyond and maybe too much to ask.
I want the Port to be able to downgrade an atmos audio signal to stereo signal. That would allow the Port to output to a non-atmos capable system and be grouped with atmos capable Sonos rooms. This may not really be possible though as atmos tracks don’t exactly downgrade to stereo well, if I understand it all correctly. It would also require some processing that could cause sync issues.
As a corollary to the above, if the Port can downgrade atmos to stereo, then it could be used to allow grouping of atmos capable Sonos rooms with stereo capable Sonos rooms, where you get the best audio in every room. No more settling for lowest common denominator. Again, syncing could be a concern.
Going a step further and maybe a second device altogether, what if the Port had HDMI and/or HDMI eARC input as well? If you have a 3rd party atmos system as output, then this would just be a passthrough, while sending atmos audio to other Sonos systems in your house. I don’t really know that this would be that useful of a feature though. . There isn’t a lot of atmos content via HDMI that isn’t coming with video. And home theatre content in atmos is odd without a video screen (since audio comign from a Port in your group...if you follow me). It would be a reason to use a Port for input rather than another device with bluetooth or aux input capabilities
And….if unlike previous versions of Port and Connect, it has a 5Ghz radio and can be bonded with other Sonos speakers to form a single room...it could be use as a sort of hub for home theatre setup. Port can take in audio from a TV and send it to an Arc/Beam/Ray/Amp for a more wireless setup. Probably not that useful for many, but could help with aesthetics. Most importantly, allow it to send audio to a pair of Era 300s for front audio channels, and a pair of Era 300s for rear, both covering height channels, and subs of course.
That may be asking too much, and maybe Sonos has other ideas. It may be too flexible, pushing the price up and support costs up. It would make the Port a really valuable asset for not just integrating 3rd party systems, bridging gaps between streeo and atmos audio, as well as another way to do wireless home theatre.