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Sonos support for Hi Res Audio



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Never got the audiophile thing especially when it came to inserting paper into books to make odd number of sheets and buying a special brush for LPs or the green marker rubbish on CD edges.

When I worked at Sky we were on the early days of moving to HD picture content, no change in the voice stream. One of the most frequent observations made by the audience research questionnaires was that the sound quality had improved too.

Until I got a garden den and full Sonos kit the best place for me to listen to my music was my car. Had subs, loads of multi way speakers all in the wrong places, but it sounded great, and still would had i not got my Sonos kit. If I went back to that being my prime listening it would doubtless sound fantastic again after a while and a few new albums.

IMHO sound quality reached it's zenith some time ago for human ears. Picture still has some way to go though.
Gee, a high end audio sales person whose career depends on continuously selling equipment to the small, yet fickle audiophile market states that 24/92 will become the new audio standard? Gee, not only is that predictable as the tides, but it is the same idea that has been predicted since 1998, and has yet to come true.

Also, to the OP: We are patiently awaiting the results of your golden ears in a double-blind test of hires against 16/44.1 from the same master. Certainly you've scheduled this already, given the millions of doallrs you could reap if your claim is true?
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When I worked at Sky we were on the early days of moving to HD picture content, no change in the voice stream. One of the most frequent observations made by the audience research questionnaires was that the sound quality had improved too. .....

IMHO sound quality reached it's zenith some time ago for human ears. Picture still has some way to go though.


Love the first part of your comment! There are many such examples in other business models.

... and I love everyone's comments in this thread - great discussion..

Drawing back to the conversation of decking out your home with a full kit that you want to last for 10 years...longer if possible...

I agree that I think the HiRes *may* become a marketing hype that could drive some developers to go down that road... "be seen as the gold standard".... but as we've been discussing, I keep coming back to how I see people buying TVs... You've seen them in "Best Buy", or whatever electronics store, 1/2 inch away from the screen to even discern the pixel density... "Wow this is so clear!"... when they will only ever watch from 6 feet away...

Aside from a few higher-end audio-focussed retail locations with high-end listening rooms, there is no comparable for the audio consumer. You can't "get to within 1/2 inch" when it comes to audio. You obviously can't shut out the terrible background noise in these box retail places... So when the only way you can hear a difference in sound between materially different kit (let's just say Sonos and Bose today for example) ... is take it home.... and at home, like bockersjv's example of his car... it will sound great unless you buy BOTH and bring BOTH home to compare... which I don't see many people doing (likely many on this board would exceptions to this) In that environment, doesn't the HiRes discussion only ever matter to far less than 1/2 of 1% of consumers? I think so.

I think that means "the best" audio kit for *my* hypothetical new home for the next 10 years could not meaningfully differentiate itself by HiRes, or certainly not that on its own... Yes, listening to different kit matters, but the listening experience matters more than the specs on a box... then I think User interaction experience, access to content, ease of use... I know these drove my purchasing experience for MY current home... Sonos was awesome, but also easy, and incremental (I could buy it as I went without a 10K outlay all at once), and appears to be future looking, and continued to support product from their past (not on version 3 of a wireless architecture and kit severing ties with the past versions.)

I'm convinced I can happily recommend Sonos... And I think I'll be able to for a long time... And more money for "better" **sound** I personally couldn't justify... even if I could get "to 1/2 inch away" - that isn't my house. I listen in a real environment with a real furnace, and a real refrigerator, and running water at times, and a few clocks (which sometime remind me of record pops..), and I want to enrich my home with music, not isolate everything for music.
I listen in a real environment with a real furnace, and a real refrigerator, and running water at times, and a few clocks (which sometime remind me of record pops..), and I want to enrich my home with music, not isolate everything for music.
Even with isolation, the ambient noise floor in a quiet room of the kind audiophiles dedicated to listening is quite high, as much as 35dB. So a lot of fine detail gets buried even in that floor, which is also a problem for music with quiet passages if the normal to loud ones are to not be painfully loud. So the point you make is a good one, to be kept in mind in not going overboard in the search for sound quality improvements beyond a point. Why bother if the improvements will not rise above the noise floor?
Note too that the Hi Res bandwagon has not been able to pick out differences in well structured blind tests even where headphones are employed - that comfortably meet the 1/2 inch standard you refer to.
[quote=Kumar][quote=kdehaven]
The thing to remember about KoB is that there are so many versions/masters of it, that it can vitiate the results unless you are listening to the same master each time. You want to make sure that all tests are from one mastered source to have a test with just one variable; multi variable tests are pointless.
The other thing to remember is that 0.2dB sound level differences are enough to have the louder sounding version exhibit the kind of adjectives you use to describe the better sounding music. And matching sound levels down to less than that needs instruments; it can't be done by ear.

Agreed. Yesterday, we only had a small time window and limited source material which is why we scheduled a more detailed listening session. Both of us decided to take the challenge of the blind testing to see if our ears are worth millions of dollars or not. If we can consistently hear differences in the varying formats, then we agreed to split our new found wealth 50/50.

To the point made earlier that Sonos may not be the right fit and, vice versa, that is always the tradeoff made by companies and customers. My decision 5 years ago to heavily invest in Sonos equipment was based on the options at that point in time. Today, those options and market conditions have changed/evolved so my current purchasing decision will be based on what is the best available solution for my needs and tastes.

Unfortunately, some of the defensive responses in this thread have affected my opinion of Sonos being a progressive supplier worthy of my hard-earned money. In my original post, I was looking for a response on the company's future direction not a lecture on what I can or cannot hear by people who: a) do not know me nor my talents and; b) presume its impossible for me or anyone to have such skills. Maybe I do, maybe I don't - its none of your business...

To those who wrote the defensive responses, if it was your intent to potentially impact Sonos' revenues, congratulations.

To those that wrote the constructive and insightful responses, thank you, as you have provided much perspective on the topic. Much appreciated.

Finally, history is fraught with great solutions that did not evolve and went away. I sincerely hope Sonos evolves and remains a highly successful company.
"Talents"? The X-Men are calling. 😉
Even with isolation, the ambient noise floor in a quiet room of the kind audiophiles dedicated to listening is quite high, as much as 35dB.

That's quite a noisy room - I'm getting 33-35db in the room that I'm in at the moment, with a washing machine going in the next room, a couple of fridges and a Play 5 playing some light classics... Our quieter room seems to measure between 25db and 30db - and even that doesn't sound that quiet - i.e. I'd expect a dedicated audio room to do quite a bit better.
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A long, long time ago I had a cassette player. It came with the usual almost free earphones. I bought some cheap, but reasonable earphones and the sound quality improvement was immense; listen to that wow and flutter too.

Are the hi-res requesters suggesting that Sonos equipment is of sufficient, or better, qualty that would enable the difference to be heard? What have those who can tell the difference listened to their revelation upon. Is it comparable?

Betamax and VHS were desperate must haves as nothing like it existed before. Sony, because they yet again want to rule the world, played silly beggars. The rest got fed up and so VHS was dominant in the domestic arena whilst Betamax took the professional side. Lots of money to be made.

Again with CD, lots of money to be made on a completely new multi-purpose medium. Record companies, again squabbling like spolit brats, were forced into Orange book by the computer industry who knew what the next best thing was.

DVD to replace video tape. Lots of money!

CRT to plasma to LCD and beyond - again completely new and lots of money to be made. Domestic TV screens dramatically increasing in size due to availability and price.

Home audio...erm...erm...zilch other than delivery of music.

Meanwhile wireless, fast internet connections, mobile phones and tablets eliminating the need for fixed physical music delivery systems in tandem with availability of streaming and purchase of ephemeral digital media changes consumption irrevocably.

Sonos? Brilliant muti-room, multi-user wireless system which fits into the current environment perfectly. And likely the near future environment too.

Home audio...fixed...still zilch innovation.

Mesh networks? Will these replace the need for CAT cabling in the home?

IOT is still thrashing about like a disgruntled just landed shark with no coherent standards or systems. When that gets itself sorted out into a single hub, like your router, to which everything connects and plays relatively nicely together it will remain a wish list item.

Voice control. Not for me whilst it persists in going via the internet but I will get an Alexa puck to control, hopefully, my Sonos in the kitchen - only option at present because the switches that will do what I want to involve buying yet another damn hub.

i see Sonos being around for a good while yet. Who knows, maybe in future they may want to licence their technology to other manufacturers. The competition would be good for all.

In my original post, I was looking for a response on the company's future direction not a lecture on what I can or cannot hear by people who: a) do not know me nor my talents and; b) presume its impossible for me or anyone to have such skills. Maybe I do, maybe I don't - its none of your business...


Facts don't matter? You must be a Trumpette, lol.
In my original post, I was looking for a response on the company's future direction not a lecture on what I can or cannot hear by people who: a) do not know me nor my talents and; b) presume its impossible for me or anyone to have such skills. .
The problem is that you are not doing what you are saying you were looking for; the title of your thread, and your posts point only to Hi Res as the future direction; this thread has become worthwhile only because of others that explored other future avenues.

Unfortunately for you, in this forum Hi Res is widely acknowledged to be a red herring flogged to the death if I may mix metaphors. And anyone that claims special hearing skills is going to be severely challenged because in the entire history of audio, no one has been able to sustain such claims in a well structured test of what is heard, that rules out any factor other than what the ears convey to the brain. You may well be the first black swan, but if you want to claim that here, prepare to be severely tested until you come up a credible claim to be one, or are dismissed as a troll.
"Wow this is so clear!"... when they will only ever watch from 6 feet away...

Digressing completely, but in my small dedicated to movies room, I watch movies on a 50 inch plasma screen from about 7 feet away; about the ideal distance for the screen size to get most from the technology. Sound is from a HiFi speaker pair driven by a stereo amp and I have no desire to do more in that room.

Now if I had to use a 4K screen, I would perceive its benefits only if I was able to be even closer to the screen, but there would too much swiveling of the head all the time from left to right and back during a movie and this would be a true pain in the neck. So in my use, I'd say that the saturation point has been reached where video resolution is concerned.

Audio is a different matter; further resolution beyond 16/44 is not audible even if all room effects and ambient noises are eliminated via the use of headphones, a stage reached a long time ago. Or to put it better perhaps, anything on that front that can be achieved via higher than 16/44 can also be done in 16/44.

Seems to me that the future of home audio improvement is in areas like better/consistent mastering, content delivery and how the content use is enabled and controlled in the home. And we would be better served on the sound quality front by improvements in play unit sound quality, including better room response DSP to overcome room/placement challenges; Trueplay version 2.0 and so on. That would be more useful than playing the numbers game beyond 16/44, although a lot easier to do, I reckon; much of that tech is baked into the off the shelf available components.
"Wow this is so clear!"... when they will only ever watch from 6 feet away...

Digressing completely, but in my small dedicated to movies room, I watch movies on a 55 inch plasma screen from about 7 feet away; about the ideal distance for the screen size to get most from the technology. Sound is from a HiFi speaker pair driven by a stereo amp and I have no desire to do more in that room.

Now if I had to use a 4K screen, I would perceive its benefits only if I was able to be even closer to the screen, but there would too much swiveling of the head all the time from left to right and back during a movie and this would be a true pain in the neck. So in my use, I'd say that the saturation point has been reached where video resolution is concerned.

Audio is a different matter; further resolution beyond 16/44 is not audible even if all room effects and ambient noises are eliminated via the use of headphones, a stage reached a long time ago. Or to put it better perhaps, anything on that front that can be achieved via higher than 16/44 can also be done in 16/44.

Seems to me that the future of home audio improvement is in areas like better/consistent mastering, content delivery and how the content use is enabled and controlled in the home. And we would be better served on the sound quality front by improvements in play unit sound quality, including better room response DSP to overcome room/placement challenges; Trueplay version 2.0 and so on. That would be more useful than playing the numbers game beyond 16/44, although that is a lot easier to do, I reckon; much of that tech is baked into off the shelf available components.
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Seems to me that the future of home audio improvement is in areas like better/consistent mastering, content delivery and how the content use is enabled and controlled in the home. And we would be better served on the sound quality front by improvements in play unit sound quality, including better room response DSP to overcome room/placement challenges; Trueplay version 2.0 and so on. That would be more useful than playing the numbers game beyond 16/44, although a lot easier to do, I reckon; much of that tech is baked into the off the shelf available components.



Not to draw the analogy too far, but I totally agree with you.

The broad changes to screens with colour (see that Canadian-ism there 😉 ) enhancement, motion enhancement, etc... that has much more to provide as improvement than would ever be attained by pixel density...

Back to audio, I can see as home audio system continue to improve I think we will start to be able to see benefits of better mastering and certainly the manner of content delivery and control will be material developments.

(As a side note: I do think home audio system will continue to improve dramatically. Systems like Sonos that allow fantastic quality to be attained, but that can be built incremental and not require a massive costs up-front are excellent examples of how the future can develop.)

I think Sonos will be in the game for a long time... and truth is - the future looks bright!

I think Sonos will be in the game for a long time... and truth is - the future looks bright!

No reason why it should not be so; and I can't think of any company that started in the field of Home Audio in the 21st century that has done as well as Sonos has till now and that is no mean feat.

Facts don't matter? You must be a Trumpette, lol.


Yes, we should blindly accept things, which are impossible due to known physical and biological science, without any scientific proof whatsoever. Not only that, but when the OP makes extraordinary claims about their own hearing being better than has ever been seen in the history of man, we have no right to question those claims because even though he himself willfully offered them up in a public forum, they are "none of (our) business".

You really couldn't write this stuff if you tried.
This has been an interesting and, unusually civil, discussion...

I feel it's important to acknowledge a few points (although for most of the participants I hardly need to):

1. These are user forums. There should be no expectation that a Sonos representative with responsibility or influence over the company's product development or marketing will weigh into discussions such as these. Forget it, it's not going to happen. These discussions are between us users.

2. Equally, it's also unlikely anyone influential in the development of future Sonos products nor market will read this at all, or if they do, will read it for anything more than entertainment. Frankly, they know more about the market than we do, and a few individual's opinion is irrelevant when you have access to mass-market data, surveys, etc. Also, frankly, there's nothing new being discussed here.

3. None of us can predict the future with any certainty.

That being said, I'm always happy to get involved in this sort of discussion and throw in my 2 cents, especially when the discussion is as open and respectful as it largely has been (aside from the veiled threats by one member directed towards another member who dared question their extraordinary claims).

Is there merit in discussing the market opportunity for certain features, even if those features may be pointless or redundant? Yes, I think there is. Clearly people will buy equipment on features, if they believe those features to be beneficial, and whether or not there is any proven benefit. There are plenty of examples of multi-million dollar markets where the products are pointless or vastly overpriced, and yet people still buy them. Herbal remedies and high-priced audio cables spring to mind.

A company that ignore such trends, even if they don't believe in they hype behind them, is foolish.

However, as has been pointed out before, despite the various and varied attempts by media and equipment companies to push hires audio over the last couple of decades, it's never managed to capture the imagination of the general public and I see no sign of that changing. In fact, it's got to the point where even some mainstream publications who would normally be happy to promote the latest bit of technological snake-oil are questioning the benefits. And the gravestones of prior attempts give further reason for people to be sceptical. I just don't see "hires audio" sticking as a desirable concept amongst the mainstream. That tick box is something they don't seem to care about, and IMO that's a good thing.

I think voice control will be a slow burner. I don't think it will be anything like as big as a lot of people think, but I think it may settle into common use in certain cases or amongst certain types of people.

Regarding networking equipment, I agree that most home routers are poor quality and that often impacts Sonos installations adversely. I've complained about this for years. But I don't see much that Sonos can do about that. I see some improvements on the horizon, although I also worry that with better routers and better wifi will come increased lock-in to vendor ecosystems.

Frankly I'm personally more concerned with the cluster**** that is security in the home router and IoT space (In this respect Sonos seems to do quite well and certainly has a good track record). I work in networking and I wouldn't personally let any router from the likes of D-Link, Belkin, Netgear, etc. near my network on the basis I don't want my network hacked.

(Or, at least, I would install a functional and secure router OS like DD-WRT, Tomato, Cerwrt, etc. on it first).

I do agree with kumar about the listening experience, and I think we have reached the limits of what we can do with media, but that there are still some gains to be had with speakers, acoustics, DSP, etc. I'm not sure about video.

I do think the stated goal of many audiophiles to make your living room sound like a live performance is overhyped and overstated: only in a fairly small number of cases is live music audio as pristine as some like to imagine. In most cases you are in an acoustically sub-optimal venue, and position in that venue, and having to deal with audience noise and compromises in the audio set up designed to accommodate everyone in the theatre.

IMO a technically better experience can be had from watching the filmed version of the concert: the audio is better, and the view is almost always far better. This is especially the case for large venues.

But we don't go to live music events to get the best technical result. We go because there is something magical about seeing musicians play live, about being part of an audience of people who have connected with the artist in some way, even if you are at the back of a stadium and the artist is a dot on the stage. There is something wonderful about "being there" that no technology is close to fully capturing and recreating.

I also agree that filling the house with music is a wonderful thing and a true benefit of Sonos and systems like it.

I'm sceptical about the claims of hifi stores because, in general, their primary (and often only skill) is sales. It's also almost universally their only concern. If they weren't selling hi-fi they would be selling used cars, or real-estate, or recruitment services, etc.

Also I believe the music industry is as concerned about selling media (as in physical media and file formats) as they are about selling music. A new media format gives fantastic opportunities to increase sales by reselling the same content over and over again in a different packaging.

As for Sonos's future? Well, it's difficult to come up with sensible predictions. I see many recent competitors to Sonos who are actually offering something equivalent, but few of them seem to have any significant benefits over Sonos, and some have a disadvantage (like a track record of obsoleting products and leaving customers stranded). In stores I see people expressing more interest in Sonos than other brands, and the influx of new competitors seems to have caught the attention of those who wouldn't have considered streaming audio in the past. IoW the market is growing and Sonos doesn't seem to be getting left behind.

My one concern is Google: they seem to be doing quite nicely with their casting technology and at a price point considerably lower than Sonos and others. Yes there are limitations with their ecosystem, but there are also some things they do that Sonos can't. OTOH, Google Cast may serve as a stepping stone to more robust technology such as Sonos. I guess we shall see, and without seeing Sonos's sales charts, it's difficult to know if there is an impact or not, and what that impact is.

Cheers,

Keith
Excellent summary, Keith.

One thought that comes to mind on reading this is the opportunity that exists for Sonos on the audio for video front. For pure audio, Sonos can - objectively assessed - be as good as the best audio systems out there even if one has to resort to Connect to do so where extreme power/room size conditions are present. But on the sound for video, the play bar is a compromised solution in comparison to the best HT sound available. A solution that together meets both objectives would be of interest to those that are interested in both high quality of music and high quality sound for video, coming from one installation. And with more and more integrated home electronics, that ought to be a growing need.
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But on the sound for video, the play bar is a compromised solution in comparison to the best HT sound available. A solution that together meets both objectives would be of interest to those that are interested in both high quality of music and high quality sound for video, coming from one installation. And with more and more integrated home electronics, that ought to be a growing need.


I agree Kumar, The playbar is good... and the PlayBar and SUB together are, IMHO, very good... but not so amazing for HT. I would like to see a "PlayBar Elite"... or "PlayBar2", or "PlayBar 120"... whatever they need to call it...

Some of the potential specs:

Supports up to 7.1 channel audio,
Handles DD+ ,
Allows for an HDMI input (this is kinda a given for the above if I understand the limitations of the Optical Output format...)
12" wider for better L/C/R separation for the front audio and to align with the larger and larger and larger panels sold today.


Any other requirements Anyone else think it would need to have?
Anyone else think it would need to have?
Take the case of a top line HT install: it can also do high quality audio from a 2 channel source via 2.1 mode, employing the widely spaced front speakers for stereo imaging, anchored by the Sub for bass. The downside of course is all the wiring and the lack of direct integration into a Sonos home audio solution, so one way to specify the need is to ask for a solution that does away with the downsides while retaining the sound quality of the HT install for both audio and TV.
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SHARKB8T wrote:
Anyone else think it would need to have?

Wide anti vibration feet to grow the sound stage and triple shielded optimized power cable for that extra bit of depth 😃
triple shielded optimized power cable for that extra bit of depth :D
But if the cable costs less than $1k it clearly doesn't warrant the slightest consideration.
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Per meter, obviously.
Given that it is a wireless system, how about Sonosnet 3.0 that does air ionisation for a purer signal that yields a holographic sound image?
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Oh... and an LED ambient colour programable lighting with essential oil nebulizer or course for relaxing and de-stressing...
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Vacuum piping with its own gravity core between the units so the wireless signal travels un obstructed.