Using the app as a TV audio receiver no latency headphone jack

  • 27 February 2017
  • 12 replies

Hello all. Brand new to Sonos so forgive the ignorance. So far just the play bar and the sub (primarily because we are moving into a shoebox apartment in NY). Which brings me to the question: Can my wife and I independently use our iPhones to listen to TV audio through headphones via the app? I've been going crazy trying to find a solution for listening to the TV via earbuds as my wife and I both hate on ear headphones. Yes, I know bluetooth aptx units, but at least right now bluetooth has a latency of some 40ms, which will drive me insane. I'm a filmmaker and notice any off sync immediately. RF headphones like the Sennheiser 120s have extremely low latency, but they're on ear phones (too claustrophobic). The RF earbuds all seem to be stethoscope style (with a weighted control knob pulling them down). There's a set of truly inear wifi buds from KOSS (the Stiva), but they're $500 and KOSS has always been crap and they claim a 3 hour battery, but it's likely more like half that. What I'd love to be able to do is have my regular wired earbuds plugged into my iPhone and thereby the Sonos app--so that I have a remote wifi connection with no latency--and can control the volume (and EQ) without it effecting the source, so my wife can adjust her volume/EQ independently as well. Is this something I can do with the app and/or is it in the works?


Best answer by jgatie 27 February 2017, 14:38

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No. That isn't possible. You should investigate headphone/TV solutions ignoring Sonos.
No, the app is a controller only. The audio itself does not even pass through the app, it is fetched by the Sonos hardware and played directly from the source. It would take a Herculean effort to redesign the system to run audio though the controller, for no direct return on investment (some would even say creating a player out of a phone/tablet will eat into sales).
Shoot! I thought I finally had the perfect solution. Thanks! And thank you, Stuart, I have been investigating headphone options, but as I noted, there just aren't any (yet, that I can find) that are in-ear solutions. At least not to my specifications (i.e., independent volume control; non-bluetooth/minimum latency; not the stethoscope style; etc). I'm even looking at RF stage monitoring systems for musicians (like the Audio-Technica M3 system). Or the TP WIRELESS 2.4GHZ system that's actually intended to hook up external surround sound speakers, but also has an earphone jack (like, I believe one of the Sonos PLAY satellites, which may be the endgame). It's so frustrating. It's like all of the components are there, but too much is being made of bluetooth and the latency problems (as well as audio compression) are just not there yet. The TP system has a latency of 1 ms, while most aptx is 40ms. I know most people don't see it, but I do and it absolutely drives me crazy. Anyway, thanks again!
aptX Low Latency is ~40ms (with near-CD qualiy ADPCM). PLAYBAR is ~30ms. How come the latter doesn't drive you crazy too? It's hard to believe that 10ms is the killer, especially given the poor lip-sync on a lot of broadcast content. 10ms equates to 10 feet.

I like to get things as good as I can too. Taking an S/PDIF into an aptX LL transmitter could well give you some flexibility in delay adjustment in the TV. For example some Samsungs allow you to pull the S/PDIF output ahead of the picture. Then simply hook an aptX LL receiver to your choice of earphones.
I didn't reallize the Sonos had 30ms latency! We just bought the system and have not yet had it installed. I bought it because a friend had it and wouldn't stop raving about it and insisted that there was no latency (nor did I notice any at Best Buy when I went in to check it). Good to know! When I tested a pair of bluetooth aptx enabled headphones at another friend's house (he did not have Sonos), I noticed the latency and then did research on aptx and assumed it was the aptx, but now I'm thinking it may have just been my friend's system or something unique to his set up. Thank you for the update! That will considerably improve my chances of finding the right set up!
The regular Bluetooth SBC codec has a latency of ~220ms; aptX is ~70ms; aptX Low Latency is ~40ms. Your friend probably had plain aptX headphones. There are very few with aptX Low Latency built in at this point. You'd need to use a separate receiver.

Note that the latest CSR chipset for aptX Low Latency falls back to plain aptX if a transmitter has to service two receivers at once. If you and the wife both wanted to use earphones this could be an issue.

PLAYBAR's 30ms is to permit resilient sync between the PLAYBAR and bonded satellites (surrounds, SUB). Although these are tied to the PLAYBAR via dedicated 5GHz links they use asynchronous packet transport like everything else on the network. A minimal (30ms) buffer is required to prevent packet jitter causing starvation and audio dropout. For most mortals 30ms is not noticeable. 😉
Fantastic, thank you! It's been a nightmare of conflicting and incomplete bits of information online (per usual), so these details help considerably. I may just go with the Sennheiser RF units to avoid all of this, but again, neither my wife or I like the over the ear style phones. Anyway, thanks!
Sennheiser FM headphones are a bit old hat, but as you say they have low latency despite the occasional bit of interference. I used RS85 units for years until they finally broke.

aptX Low Latency works just fine and with a standalone adapter you can pick and choose your headphone wearing style. Add a headphone amp in between if desired.
But no matter what (at least for now), I won't be able to use low latency aptx with two headphones from the same transmitter, so I would need to split the audio from the TV and connect two separate bluetooth transmitters, correct? Or would they interfere with each other (and/or significantly diminish the sound quality due to splitting)? It seems like the simple things are always the most complex. 🙂
TaoTronics claims to have a bluetooth transmitter/receiver unit that can support low latency aptX in dual mode (or, rather, a person in the Amazon comments section claims this is the case). Anyone had any experience with TaoTronics? They also have a pair of low latency earbuds that are evidently highly rated, so this could be the answer. Thanks!
That TaoTronics Bluetooth 4.1 transmitter/receiver says "Note: aptX Low Latency does NOT support Dual Pair mode.", which comes as no surprise since all those clones use the same chipset (and possibly even the same PCB).

As for the earbuds, be sure to check they're Low Latency not straight aptX. At a casual glance on I couldn't see any Low Latency ones.
Great. Never trust the internet 🙂. Thanks