Question

Another Unhappy and Frustrated Sonos User: Playing Macbook Audio through the Sonos System?

  • 4 September 2016
  • 52 replies
  • 4820 views

Hey Sonos,

Two weeks into using my Sonos Play 3 Speaker I am finding it increasingly frustrating that I can't use my Macbook Pro laptop as the audio source. Not only is the functionality between the Sonos Desktop App and the Speaker rubbish (I'm continually coming up with roadblacks and "Sonos can't connect to the Macbook" messages) there seems to be no easy way of streaming the Macbook audio directly to the speakers ie. using the Play 3 as a Desktop speaker. Not all of us want to simply use iPhones and iPads with the Sonos system, we would love to be able to stream music directly from our laptop and desktop computers!

Even after spending hours using 3rd party software to try to connect them (eg. SonoAir) I continually come up with issues. And I have to applaud these 3rd party designers because at least they are doing something about resolving the issue (which is more than I can say about you guys at Sonos!)

The Sonos system has the potential to be a great piece of technology, I just don't understand why Sonos isn't doing anything about making the product the best it can truly be. After spending $450 on the Play 3 I'm really disappointed in this side of its functionality, I feel like spending a few weekends in Electronics stores telling potential buyers why they shouldn't bother with any Sonos products until Sonos recognises this issue and makers a proper attempt at explaining why it's not being solved or at least why it can't be solved.

Regards

Lyndon

Should Sonos Speakers be able to be used as a Desktop Speaker


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52 replies

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Lyn


Sonos isn't for you. Return it to where you purchased it. Explain that, despite spending your hard earned money, you didn't bother to research it's capabilities and request a full refund. Hopefully you'll get it.

Lesson learnt

And, by the way, NO. I do NOT want my Sonos speakers to be PC or Mac speakers. Not with my browsing habits anyway!!
This thread has inspired me. First, I'm sueing Sonos because they don't play cassettes, 8-tracks, or Edison wax cylinders, yet they claim to play "all the music in the world" (actually, it's all the music on earth, but don't let that stop me, I'm on a roll). Then i'm going to sue Kelloggs because they told me Frosted Flakes are part of a GRR-RREAT breakfast. Then Keebler, because I know those cookies aren't REALLY made by elves. I see $$$$$ baby!
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Wait... are you saying Sonos doesn't pay the rest of you to post on here?

I'm a single mom getting $1750 USD a week working from home just 2-3 hours a day! 😃
Laurent,

I don't think there was any intention to denigrate the request of the OP. However, the design of the Sonos system makes them peculiarly bad for the choice of a computer speaker, which tends to need zero latency for things like games, videos, etc. Many PCs don't come with a digital audio output, so doing what Sonos did with the PLAYBAR/PLAYBASE twins, using a digital input to reduce encoding of the signal just isn't a simple thing. Most computers have an analog output, via a headphone jack. So there's 2 different processes that Sonos would need to do in order to get it to play. First, they'd have to run it through a DAC, to get it from analog to digital, and then they have to buffer the data, so that it can be sent around the entire Sonos ecosystem and be played by all speakers simultaneously. These two processes make it practically impossible for the Sonos ecosystem to be used as a computer speaker.

Now, that being said, if you're not interested in lip-sync, or game sync, then a PLAY:5 can be implemented with the line-in function using a cable between the headphone jack on the computer and the input on the back of the speaker. In fact, I do this, so that I can listen to TuneIn Premium streams (baseball and football mostly) while watching TV. But when I choose to play a game, I'm not going to use the Sonos system, as it's got too much latency.

Now, if Sonos was interested in dropping their advantage of being a "whole home music system", I suspect it would be easy for them to release simple pass through and wired speakers like many others do. But what differentiates Sonos is that "whole home" aspect, which has the cost of adding latency to any analog input.

Without an entire redesign of Sonos' philosophy, it just isn't easy for them to put out computer speakers. They carefully (IMHO) don't advertise themselves as that. It's our own prejudices that make us think "a speaker is a speaker", which, in this case, Sonos isn't. It happens to be a series of computers that are designed to play music in synchronization across a network.

I'm sorry that you feel like there was negativity. This certainly isn't the first thread about this, nor likely the 20th, or 30th. I haven't bothered to check, but it has indeed been covered many, many times. Many of us who respond to these threads tend to be terse, because we know we've covered it before, and it's easier to be short than it is to take the 10 minutes it's taken me to craft this reply.

At the end of the day, what this community wants, in my opinion, is for people to understand how the Sonos ecosystem works, and what advantages and disadvantages there are within the system. But the fact remains that Sonos (or any other product) isn't perfect for all applications.

Thanks for wading through this.
Has never once been an issue for me, or anyone who understands Sonos isn't a bluetooth speaker.
Lyndon, to be more constructive, le me point out why your options don't make sense. You seem to be confusing two things:
1. Sonos isn't a computer speaker. It isn't designed to be, never has been and never will be. Most of us who buy Sonos know that and didn't buy it for that. It's not an "issue" and doesn't need to be "solved".
2. However, Sonos can play audio files stored on a computer, such as in iTunes, including iTunes playlists. So the alternative to it being a computer speaker is not just play from phone. If you are having problems setting that bit up, come on here and ask for help, don't just rant.

So can we help?
Yes, it's an analog input, stereo. Any input from any device with analog out can be routed from this input to any or all Sonos speakers/connects.
Anyone saying "you didn't buy the right speakers" are CLEARLY paid by SONOS to discredit non-satisfied customers on this forum. I have a pair of 2 Play:5s and they are THE MOST FRUSTRATING speakers I've ever used. I'm attempting to play 100% local data and they simply suck. Period. They cut out over my very strong, very secure wifi network and decide when they want to play (which is generally never). For $1000 per pair they should be (please read this SONOS people) intuitive, and painless...period. Your speakers constantly are "unable to play" because they can't find a track I've loaded and re-indexed over and over...again with 100mbps wifi system. Get your act together or you'll lose yet another customer that was willing to pay a high price for quality sound....but simply can't deal with how terrible your interface is. It's literally the industry worst.
Wait... are you saying Sonos doesn't pay the rest of you to post on here?

Ummm....if I told you, I'd have to kill you:-).
People that are polite in their posts usually get the quickest useful attention and these are also usually more receptive to make use of the advice tendered. It also helps to post in the right threads, even if that means a new one needs to be created.
Lol. Also, if you want to see terse, check out the discussions on Hydrogen Audio. I am not endorsing that style here because unlike there, most people posting here are neither audio enthusiasts, nor audiophiles needing, at times, some very terse rejoinders of the kind you see there. In comparison, we are genteel.
Your question doesn't even make sense. Those are not alternatives.
Sonos can play audio files stored on a computer
OP probably wants to have the computer wirelessly push music to Sonos, including that from internet streams such as YouTube etc., which Sonos isn't designed to do. Sonos can pull such music as is stored on the computer HDD and I suspect he knows that by now.

The rant is to just let off some steam from an ill advised purchasing decision made, which will be aggravated if the unit cannot be returned and exchanged for a blue tooth speaker.
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The question doesn't make much sense, but are you mistaking Sonos for a portable speaker?

Sonos is a "music system" that uses your laptop as the source for music files, i.e. it looks at your drive and plays the files. It only plays compatible files, like MP3's etc. If you are trying to get it to play sounds from games or apps, then it will only do that if you use the line in connection on the speaker from a headphone jack or line out on your laptop, but why would you do that when that is the job of a Bluetooth speaker?
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Ah...the rant of the day...(sorry for being crude, but I just saw a virtually identical post on a different board)...

Sonos is not a direct-attached computer speaker
Sonos is not a Bluetooth speaker
Sonos is not an AirPlay speaker
Sonos is not a Google Cast speaker
Sonos is not a portable speaker

If you want/need any of the above...DO NOT buy Sonos. If you want a stable, reliable, always-on, controllable from any device, expandable, etc. SYSTEM, then get Sonos.
The only solution I know of would be to use airsonos, a third-party open source command line tool which you can find on github.

It activates each sonos speaker on your network as an airplay speaker while your computer is still running. It is far from a perfect solution though, there is a delay between 2-3 seconds with sound being routed through your computer before getting to the speakers and so makes using it as a speaker for videos useless but if you're just wanting to stream youtube music it might work if you can't return to get more appropriate speakers.
Lyn_The_Little,

I will not be taking your survey because there should be at least one more option: "none of the above".

Personally, I don't want my computer, phone or pad playing music. With a SONOS system I can start some music, then shut down the computers, pads, and phones because they are only controllers and don't need to play anything. Once the controllers give the SONOS system a list of things to do, the controllers can be shut down. If I'm developing an application, the computer, phone, or pad might crash or I might want to reboot the device. With SONOS on the scene the music continues regardless.

I think that you would be more comfortable with an AirPlay or Bluetooth device, rather than SONOS.

Yours is a long standing request. Here is a long, sometimes heated discussion. I know that there is a general belief that anything is possible in software, but the bottom line in this case is that a strictly software solution is not practical. You already have some experience with this because you have tried some of the 3rd party attempts that are not entirely satisfactory. It is not the case that these 3rd party developers are lacking skills.
adamc2700 - I think Airsonos and Sonoair are related products - and he's tried Sonoair.

With a SONOS system I can start some music, then shut down the computers, pads, and phones because they are only controllers and don't need to play anything. Once the controllers give the SONOS system a list of things to do, the controllers can be shut down. If I'm developing an application, the computer, phone, or pad might crash or I might want to reboot the device. With SONOS on the scene the music continues regardless.

I think that the OP, who seems to have left, wants all of the above as well as what he isn't getting.
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New here, currently researching sonos as a replacement for conventional separates system....so, question is can I stream spotify playlists, and how is that done? I am thinking of getting a pair of play 5s and a play 1 to move randomly around the house s and when I want it, the 5s will sit mostly in the lounge instead of my Hegel/ATC setup. I've got all of my CD ripped in FLAC onto my laptop, and use same device to stream into the Hegel DAC, so I am presuming that the sonos system can stream the FLAC files from my laptop, but how does Spotify work? I've got Premium, and use connect, most of my playlists are synced onto my android phone and tablet, but quite often I'll use my laptop to control Spotify.
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New here, currently researching sonos as a replacement for conventional separates system....so, question is can I stream spotify playlists, and how is that done? I am thinking of getting a pair of play 5s and a play 1 to move randomly around the house s and when I want it, the 5s will sit mostly in the lounge instead of my Hegel/ATC setup. I've got all of my CD ripped in FLAC onto my laptop, and use same device to stream into the Hegel DAC, so I am presuming that the sonos system can stream the FLAC files from my laptop, but how does Spotify work? I've got Premium, and use connect, most of my playlists are synced onto my android phone and tablet, but quite often I'll use my laptop to control Spotify.

We started talking in a different thread, so lets continue there. But just so anyone who finds this thread knows the answer:

You add Spotify Premium accounts to Sonos through the Sonos software and it'll have access to your account(s) and play music right through the Sonos software. You can also add shares from your local music library like those FLAC songs and they'll be available so long as your computer is on. We recently announced that we'll be working with Spotify to add direct streaming through the Spotify app as well. That isn't available yet but we will share more as the development progresses.
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Apologies for starting multiple threads, but one point for this one; what SQ does sonos stream Spotify, and can this be manually selected? Is it possible to stream Spotify offline files from a phone or laptop?
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Apologies for starting multiple threads, but one point for this one; what SQ does sonos stream Spotify, and can this be manually selected? Is it possible to stream Spotify offline files from a phone or laptop?

Always the highest quality available for the tracks, and no, offline tracks won't stream to Sonos as the players are going to try and find the tracks automatically through the internet, they don't check your computer or phone for them first.
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So if no Internet no hi fi. Hmm that's a major drawback.
Technically, no.

One device, be it a speaker (often called player in some people's parlance) or a Boost or Connect, as long as it's connected to a source (read PC/Mac), will create it's own wifi called Sonosnet, a mesh that runs between all speakers. Then, anything that is on your source (PC/Mac) will play on any speaker. However, if you're playing something streaming from the internet, then you will need to have one device connected to the internet. That can indeed be your source (PC/Mac), which would then share the internet connection across the connection to the Sonosnet, and then any of your players (speakers) would be able to access the stream.

But it really is a wifi system. I suspect 90% of customers use the streaming functions, rather than local data, although I could be wildly wrong about that. But if you want to use any of the streaming connections like Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music, TuneIn, etc, then you'll need some sort of connection.

Most of what I listen to happens to be in my local iTunes library, stuff that I've ripped from my CDs. But sometimes I use TuneIn Pro to listen to Giants games (Baseball, not American Football), and I do use my Mac to stream out the headphone port to my Play:5 to listen to the local broadcast, to hearken back to your previous questions/thread.

I've never used search here on this board, since I read all threads, or at least most of them, but there are a few threads I've seen about people wanting to use these speakers in caravans / RVs, and there are certainly ways to do that. I travel to Thailand and India frequently, and use the same solutions that are mentioned in these threads (search for Travel Router) to have a speaker in my hotel rooms.
But let me clarify one statement. The speaker will play anything on your source that is Sonos friendly, i.e. plays through the app. Your player will not play system sounds, or YouTube, or anything else that normally comes out of your PC speakers. That can be rectified by using the headphone out we've been discussing, but some people note that there's a slight delay in the signal due to processing from analog to digital, which I think is around 70 milliseconds. So perhaps watching YouTube might be challenging if you're sensitive to that, but for me, listening to radio (baseball games), it's no issue.

Someone may have to correct me, though.