Line-In Latency/Delay Disable PLAY:5


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Hey Sonos Engineers!

I know this has been touched upon. I previously submitted this request to support and they encouraged me to share here to keep the conversation going.

Is there any chance we could implement a soft switch for line-in audio to bypass the computer for "delay disable" functionality.

I understand and appreciate the reason for the delay.

However, I'm running turntables through a mixer and into the line-in of the PLAY:5. Can't teach my son to mix records with that delay, and since we're set-up in a communal space, my wife is not too keen on bringing out the old mix monitors. Can you dig it?

Can we figure out a way to manually disable the delay on an individual speaker basis?

Otherwise love the gear!

Thanks!

Here's quote from customer support. Hope it isn't too heavy handed or out of school to post:

"I'm not on the development team, but I personally think that it wouldn't be too hard to implement some kind of soft switch to bypass the computer altogether and pipe line-in audio directly to the amplifiers (something like a computer-controlled solid state IC relay network)."

108 replies

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Thanks for the reply buzz.

I understand that there is a 70ms delay. I understand that there is no option to defeat this. Just inquiring as to whether this can be an added feature in the future.

As I mentioned in my post, I was informed by someone at SONOS that adding a "delay disable" feature wouldn't necessarily have the negative impact you refer to in your reply, or require a complete redesign. Are you a SONOS engineer? Was this information I received incorrect?

Whatever SONOS may have been designed for, it is marketed primarily for home use. For me, my home use is, at times, a live DJ environment. I have read that the delay is for speaker syncing. Do you know if this is correct? I live in an apartment. In my uneducated opinion, the distance between all the SONOS speakers, in all the different rooms of my home is so small, that no delay (or very, very little) for syncing purposes should be necessary.

I am attempting to use SONOS for this application, because I own, use, and love SONOS speakers for all my other home audio needs, and this additional application (turntables & mixer) is one of the ways I play music in my home, and I would love to be able play mixed, vinyl, line-in audio throughout my home just like I play digital audio from my phone, buuuuuuut without the delay. (So wireless connectivity, is the short answer.)

Thank you for the work around suggestion. You're right. I can just do the mixing in the headphones. But for me, without getting into too much detail, that would limit my interactivity/approach/enjoyment.

The work around I'm considering now, is to feed my entire home's SONOS system the mixer/turntable audio through the line-in on the PLAY:5, AND use hard wired monitors for "mix monitors", and mute the PLAY:5, on account of the delay. Thus having a 70ms sync discrep between the hard wired monitors in the "DJ" room and the speakers in the rest of the home. Not ideal, but a start. We'll see...

Thank you again for the response and the work around suggestion. I know its an ask. I just wanted to put it out there to gauge how big of an ask it really is.

PS - Not for nothing, the attached picture is from the SONOS homepage. Not sure the usage context I'm supposed to infer, but that sure looks like a DJ environment to me.
Userlevel 1
I've recently purchased several Sonos devices including a Play:1 & a Play:3 (I then upgraded to a Play:5). While I really do love the sound quality, I feel like I've been a little duped by Sonos. I got a Play:5 specifically because it added the flexibility of a line in, but only after plugging in my TV do I find out there's a noticeable delay (I have already adjusted to uncompressed audio as the guides have suggested, BTW). Is it really so much to ask for something like a "standalone" mode? I get that the delay is necessary for sending the signal out to other devices, but the speaker would not have to be streaming to other speakers on the network in this case.

I realize Sonos would likely dismiss this as being "niche" and not worth the effort. But it's really hard to commit to keeping this very expensive speaker when it is unable to perform a basic function like outputting audio without a delay. At the very least, Sonos should reconsider the wording in their official Line-In guide here: https://sonos.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1091/~/using-line-in-on-sonos#compression "A benefit of using Uncompressed is that there will be very little delay from the source and the audio." It would've been nice to know before my purchase that the "very little delay" is not quite little enough to be unnoticeable.

I found this video to be pretty accurate in demonstrating the Play:5 delay. It may not be a huge delay, but personally it's enough to make it quite unacceptable for video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvkxLnaYFYI
Userlevel 3
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Being able to use the Play:5 as a regular, latency free powered speaker from the Line-in is an obvious use case that many people would find useful, and would improve the product. I think it would be welcome and overdue addition to the feature set.

Add me to those hoping for a low-latency line-in option!

My Setup:

  • PLAY:5 connected to computer (line-in)
  • Playing Piano on the computer via Keyboard (MIDI-Connection)
  • The delay of 75ms sucks hard when learning to play piano with a software

Please Sonos, this is a legit use-case!

Userlevel 1
@JohnB I understand the Play speakers are largely only promoted as being for streaming music. However, if I am researching their products that include a line-in on their own support site, I would expect the "bonus for legacy audio devices" aspect to be made clear. Their official Line-In guide is here https://sonos.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/1091/~/using-line-in-on-sonos#compression and specifically lists television as a legitimate reason to use uncompressed audio with line-in. For example:

[quote]Use Uncompressed if:

* You want to reduce the lip sync delay for video or a television.[\quote]

A simple disclaimer that the delay may still be noticeable even when uncompressed would be helpful. If their own guide lists TV as a viable line-in source, they can't blame me for not knowing a Playbar is the only "real" option for TV. I put a lot of time and research in before making this purchase and it's disappointing that the use of a TV (which was a big selling point) is now out of the question.

+1 for the direct line-in with 0 delay for isolated use. 

I will chime in as a customer who is interested. It seems likely to me that anyone using the product with a line-in could benefit from having a latency free option that doesn't distribute on the network. An obvious advantage is anyone using a playbar with a TV. If you don't have surround or a sub, why not kill the latency? I also want to use a Play 5 as part of my sonos network, and also use it to output the sound of an electronic drum kit where the latency makes that not a possibility.
I can't believe how much resistance there is between fellow Sonos customers.

I too bought Play 5 to listen to music in my living room and to watch TV. Little did I know I'll get the lag when watching it.

So yeah, I too would like a setting to disable the lag when I'm watching TV and not broadcasting to other speakers.

The 75ms delay when using line in has just stopped me from buying a pair of Play5’s. Absolutely gutted :(

We purchased a Sonos Beam and Sub (which we love) towards the end of last year with intention of adding the Play5’s for a bit more versatility around the house, including mixing records from my DJ setup when the mood strikes. 
 

Ive been fiddling with hi-fi and audio products for a good part of 25 years and this is the first time I’ve come across a product with a direct line in which suffers from this type of lag (even the salesman who sold me our other SONOS products was surprised to hear this was true) Although highly disappointed, I am glad I discovered this before dropping another £1k on these speakers. In fact, it’s kind of hard to justify the rest of my SONOS setup now and will probably be spending the rest of weekend researching alternatives; THIS SUCKS! 😭

The 75ms delay when using line in has just stopped me from buying a pair of Play5’s. Absolutely gutted :(

We purchased a Sonos Beam and Sub (which we love) towards the end of last year with intention of adding the Play5’s for a bit more versatility around the house, including mixing records from my DJ setup when the mood strikes. 
 

Ive been fiddling with hi-fi and audio products for a good part of 25 years and this is the first time I’ve come across a product with a direct line in which suffers from this type of lag (even the salesman who sold me our other SONOS products was surprised to hear this was true) Although highly disappointed, I am glad I discovered this before dropping another £1k on these speakers. In fact, it’s kind of hard to justify the rest of my SONOS setup now and will probably be spending the rest of weekend researching alternatives; THIS SUCKS! 😭

Oh man I’m exactly in the same situation. Beam and Sub for home theater, and now wanted to extend for the real musical experience and connection my DJ setup with two Play5. What did you come up with by searching for an alternative?

 

Btw even tried the monitor setup, but the delay is too much for a normal living room, this gives a huge sound mess.

Nobody wants it to "sync with other devices" -- we just want it to OPTIONALLY play without a delay. Sheesh. The Airport device I have connected to it is already doing the sync-ing with the other Apple Products.

Sonos specifically markets to guys like me who use Apple Products -- co-branding with Apple Music, instructions for how to connect an Airport Express etc. etc.

Anyway, this thread was originally started to express the desire to do this. You're not really a part of this. 😉
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Perfect if the 5 were a standalone speaker. But it is not. The delay is to allow the speaker to communicate with other speakers.

It's a hardware that is being run by software. If I don't need it to communicate with other speakers in particular scenario, you can easily cut half of the measures that were put in the software to make it work in sync. That would reduce, if not eliminate the latency.
It reminds me of Xbox One early days when it refused to work without an active internet connection even with the single player games. Microsoft realized the issue and fixed it. Sonos just doesn't want to bother. And I can't blame them - it's all business. Just don't insist that it is theoretically impossible with the existing hardware.
I really don't think it would take a lot of engineering since you just have to get rid of additional protections and let it pass through as is without considering sync, latency, and other limitations. I assume it's a marketing resistance from Sonos that is concerned about a possible decline in sales of other products that are able to do that. Do you believe it is a hardware and not a software bottleneck to allow Playbar do this but not the Play:5?
There's no 'bottleneck'. Sonos is designed as a networked music system, for which a measure of buffering is required to prevent dropouts when playing in sync across a multi-hop wireless network. In the case of PLAYBAR, it can afford a tighter buffer (30ms instead of 75ms) because it's tethered to its bonded satellites via dedicated 5GHz links.

Sonos is not designed to be computer speakers. Could the latency for standalone operation be reduced? Potentially. Would it 'take a lot of engineering'? We cannot know (and I've lost count of the number of 'it must be only a few lines of code' claims). What we can say is that, whatever the software development effort, it would require the full QA process come what may, it could risk destabilising the existing audio pipeline in the players, and it would be a significant distraction from other more lucrative feature developments. All for a use case for which Sonos is not designed.
Userlevel 4
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For the sake of adding another voice in favor: I am not buying a Play:5 because of the line in latency, even though I'd love to extend Sonos to the office. I had assumed the line-in could go direct, without Sonos latency, when used as a standalone unit. Glad I searched for this first.

For me, the compact, high-quality play:5 is ideal for a medium sized home office. But not if it means having two sets of speakers occupying the space: one for the Sonos network and another to connect directly to a TV or computer. Low, direct-input latency is necessary for anything other than playing an album, like sound from a TV, messing with garageband, playing with a keyboard, amateur audio mixing, cutting a large audio file into separate parts, or even video editing home video.

Why buy a nice compact speaker for a office or bedroom when it's going to necessitate a separate wired system right next to it?

Maybe we're a small subset of users, so Sonos is unwilling to do it. That's fine -- I'm just one customer. But it's just a design/business decision. Audio equipment is normally designed for a source input to route around certain features as necessary. My main integrated amp routes sources around the equalizer by a switch. Line inputs on amps routinely route around effects features. And, of course, Sonos already allows you to set compressed or uncompressed, which in essence routes around compression. This function would just route the line input source direct to amp, skipping the network. It wouldn't take a focused effort, just implementation of a basic internal function.

One vote here for allowing Play:5 (and Connect:Amp) to operate as a standalone unit. The setting options would be: Automatic (default) Compressed (higher latency, better network), Uncompressed (lower latency, worse network), Standalone (zero latency, no network)

Not a big deal.

Except to those that don't know about this and stumble into consequent issues with sync. And any unforeseen consequences on doing this on other synced/grouped players in the home are of course a VERY big deal to the market at large.
My bet is on Sonos foregoing the market of those that needs this feature for the gain of not rocking the stable boat of multi room audio. Even more so when their declared focus is on voice control/streaming services.
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Not a big deal.

Except to those that don't know about this and stumble into consequent issues with sync. And any unforeseen consequences on doing this on other synced/grouped players in the home are of course a VERY big deal to the market at large.
My bet is on Sonos foregoing the market of those that needs this feature for the gain of not rocking the stable boat of multi room audio. Even more so when their declared focus is on voice control/streaming services.


Fair enough to everything in that second paragraph.

On the first, I just frankly don't understand this concern at all. It's a really straightforward function that would remove the Play:5 from the group while in standalone mode... it wouldn't exist on the Sonos network. What happens when you unplug a device and use Sonos elsewhere? And who is going to set their Play 5 to Standalone mode and then freak out confused why it isn't streaming with the house?
I just bought a Play:5 and am trying to decide between keeping it and buying more, or going the Chromecast route (probably using JBL Playlists and the forthcoming Google Home Max).

If I could have them do part-time duty as part of a larger network of Chromecast speakers (including legacy speakers, e.g. outdoors), that would be fantastic, but of course we ran into this delay issue as soon as we tried it. I think it would be completely consistent with the rest of the Sonos UI for it to seamlessly "do the right thing" -- when you have a *single* speaker driven by line-in, minimize the delay, when playing to multiple speakers, add the delay. There wouldn't need to be any option exposed in the UI. With the proposed improvement, the Sonos would be just as good as all our other random speakers when driven by a Chromecast Audio, rather than unusably inferior to those speakers in this use case.

It sounds like the forthcoming Airplay 2 support may provide another way to do have Sonos play together with non-Sonos speakers, which is exciting.
It isn't designed for mixing. It is a multiroom home hifi system. How much it costs is irrelevant. In a much used analogy on here, the fact that a Ferrari is useless off road doesn't make it a bad car, overpriced, or lacking a feature it should have.

I think you guys shouldn't just focus on the mixing idea. Sure, it's quite uncommen for a use case... BUT... I personally bought the Play5 to connect it via Line-In to my computer. Gaming, watching videos, editing... NOT POSSIBLE. The Line-In was the reason for the Play5 in the frist place.

There has to be a way to direct the sound signal immediately to the speaker without delay IF you dont want to stream to other speakers too.

SONOS should warn about the delay when advertising the Line-In Option. Otherwise other people with the same idea get dissapointed. Like me.


Please help & sorry for upping the old post.
I’m thinking about using the suggested method of converting the analog rca signal from my mixer to digital optical and put that into the sonos playbar. I read this introduces a 30 ms latency. I have a few questions about your experiences:
  1. is this a maximum latency or is this latency always present?

Minimum actually. There's an adjustment which can add to this figure if required.

I like your comparison with the horse trailer, so why have they put a trailer hook on the Ferrari, which you cannot use propperly?

 

They haven’t.  You mistook a buffered for multi-room line input as a trailer hitch. In short, Sonos in no way advertises itself as a real time performance type speaker.  Nowhere does it say it is suitable for DJ’ing, PA, or live music.  So not only does the Ferrari not have a trailer hitch, nowhere in the Ferrari literature does it say a trailer can be pulled.  

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It's never going to happen. It is such a niche feature for a limited audience and would require so much work that it's never going to reach anywhere near the top of the Sonos to do list.

The same answer was given when this thread started a few years back and nothing will change that unfortunately.

I’ll add another request for the low latency line-in option. My use case is similar to a previous poster - small home office with line in from PC. My preference is for my Sonos to handle both “business and pleasure” - streaming music normally while I work (latency unimportant), and as PC speakers for gaming/youtube after hours (require low latency). Ideal setup would be line-in to one play 5 that links with another play 5 and sub in stereo pair configuration over low latency 5GHz dedicated network link similar to Playbar/surrounds. It is frustrating to find out after purchase that the line-in delay makes this less than optimal as a solution.

To quote Sonos marketing:

“Everything works together, and Sonos works with all your favourite services so you can listen to what you want, where you want, how you want.”

Perhaps this should read:

“Everything works together, and Sonos works with all your favourite services so you can listen to what you want, where you want, how you want - unless you want to use Sonos for PC gaming, Youtube streaming, DJ turntables, electronic drums….”

Sonos is not really the flexible solution it claims to be in marketing. It is a very reliable and stable experience within the bounds of its core use case - wireless multiroom streaming - but is too rigid in its design to be the complete home solution claimed in the marketing.

I'm going to add another bump to say I'd like this. For the same reasons as the OP. I'm also going to give my 2 cents.

I know SONOS likely won't do this, so I'm looking at other solutions. But I figured, I can request it.



I own a SONOS beam, and when i use it with the line in from the TV it stays almost perfectly in sync. Or at least close enough for me. If there is a 30 ms delay, I hardly notice it, and it is WAY better than the 70 ms delay on the rest of my speakers. However, the beam stays out of sync from the rest of the house when using the line in, because the rest of the house is on that 70ms delay. All of this makes sense so far to me. The delay to keep the house in sync is perfectly acceptable.

I think the ask, is that the play 5 be able to, locally, by itself, when not pushing out to the rest of the house, be able to have a reduced delay for a standalone mode. I would buy a play:5 tomorrow if that were the case. As it is, I have a dj controller that is hooked up to some really really terrible, old computer speakers. But there is no delay on them. All of the rest of my house speakers are Sonos.

The beam works with little delay. This same functionality for the play:5 would be great. If it gets grouped with other speakers, it can switch to the 70 ms delay. That would be fine by me. When my beam is grouped with other speakers, it shares their delay and that makes sense.

This would be no more confusing to consumers than it currently is, because as it currently stands, the average consumer doesn't deal with this issue. And when they do, as this thread shows, they run into confusion. This would eliminate some of that confusion, and to the rest of the people that don't want this functionality, it simply would not affect them.


I wonder if I can figure out a way to feed my DJ controller into the beam. Does anyone know how well that solution may work?

As a former 70s disco DJ  I too would love to live mix using Sonos wi fi system. The delay makes that impossible. I believe the answer simply is for Sonos to update it’s software to incorporate Bluetooth  (in addition to the wi fi and  hired wired options). Alternatively, a streaming app, such as DJ Algorridm could possibly explore a software update as well to be compatible with So is). I think the better answer is for Sonos to take the step to enable Bluetooth as does Bose and practically every one of Sonos wireless audio competitors. 
Kudos  otherwise to Sonos for great audio performance 

Sonos does support Bluetooth, on the Move. One does actually need to have the requisite hardware, which the other players lack.

But regular Bluetooth wouldn’t help your use case. The default SBC codec typically has 100+ms of latency. 

Sonos simply isn’t designed for DJing.

and it’s 2020 you thought they would solve this simple problem by now. they just don’t give a damn about the live music producers. 

 

i love your speakers sonos but this delay thing sucks.

your engineers can’t handle local mode?

we can just have both speakers setup in local modes and hook it up with left and right channel as stereo, i don’t think this is too much to ask

 

 

You are correct.  They don't care about live music producers because their speakers simply were not designed for live music producers.  There are plenty of other purpose specific speakers, amps and/or PAs out there designed for live performance, why would one waste their time on one that is not even designed for that purpose?

 

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