spotify quality over sonos speakers

  • 8 September 2017
  • 37 replies
  • 13913 views

Badge
Hello, I am considering buying Sonos speakers (like Play 1 pair and sub) and one of the main uses will be to play Spotify. I am wondering about the sound quality over sonos speakers. I currently have a decades old home stereo that sounds decent enough with cds, but sounds not so very decent playing spotify, and even though spotify is set to the highest bitrate (I'm playing it directly wired to the "aux in" over a high quality cable from my iphone). I'm no audiophile, but am guessing that this may have less to do with something wrong with Spotify and more something to do with mixing new and old (and not so great) technology.

So what I'm wondering is the sound quality users are getting out of Spotify Premium over Sonos speakers. Also what app are you using (i.e.: Spotify Connect or Sonos)? I read somewhere on this board that Spotify Connect was limited to a low bitrate, but I'm assuming this problem has been fixed.

This topic has been closed for further comments. You can use the search bar to find a similar topic, or create a new one by clicking Create Topic at the top of the page.

37 replies

Badge
I will add the caviot that I’m of course only speaking for my setup and my ears. I can’t quantify why it is the case, but for whatever reason my wife and I are hearing differences on many tracks. The good thing is, as described above, it solved itself when we started using the “lossless” high res versions of Deezer and Tidal.
Enjoy your listening! 🙂
Userlevel 7
Badge +20
Ok, one song that was particularly awful on Spotify over our Sonos speakers was Lauren Hill’s Everything is Everything. It just sounded disjointed and off, like something missing from the low to midrange that no amount of fiddling with Sonos settings could help.

Thanks! I'll give that one a try. I have that locally in lossless form, as well as available from Spotify.

(Some time ago, when I first acquired some of my Sonos kit, I did a little very informal testing of Spotify versus my locally owned lossless versions of the same tracks. I concluded that I could not discern a meaningful difference, on a well-configured pair of PLAY:5s and a SUB -- i.e., I would not be able to tell you which was which in blind comparisons. This appears to be consistent with scientifically conducted studies of ~320kbps compressed sources versus lossless from the same tracks, but I don't claim to be an expert.)
Badge
Ok, one song that was particularly awful on Spotify over our Sonos speakers was Lauren Hill’s Everything is Everything. It just sounded disjointed and off, like something seriously missing from the low to midrange.
Badge
Hi @Belly M, @Victoriabc: could you name a few specific tracks that sound bad to you on Spotify? I'd like to do some comparisons of my own. Thanks.
It’s not that they all sound bad, but many don’t sound as rich. Individual instruments often sound more full and distinctive. Voices less reedy. I especially noticed the difference in songs I had only heard on Spotify. There were qualities to some song I didn’t know were there. I could recommend a few songs and artists, but I think it might be better to try to listen to whatever music you know really well on both sources, and see what your ears tell you! Then we can compare “notes” ? Ha!
Sorry my subscription to Spotify is no longer, for me pretty much everything sounded poor. After listening for a while I get fatigue and find I have to switch to another source (normally go to ripped cd,s on my NAS) 30-60 mins is the max I can cope with.
Userlevel 7
Badge +20
Hi @Belly M, @Victoriabc: could you name a few specific tracks that sound bad to you on Spotify? I'd like to do some comparisons of my own. Thanks.
Sonos automatically plays Spotify at the highest quality. However if you use Spotify connect then you have to set it in the app you use.
Badge
Hi SJW, yes you might be right. I’ll let someone else answer this definitively as I’m brand new to Sonos—I just got my Sonos speakers three days ago! I realize that I had only set my Spotify account to extreme in the Spotify app, and didn’t consider that Sonos might have been playing Spotify in its native resolution. If Sonos can only play Spotify in low resolution, that would seem like a major mistake on their part.
Userlevel 7
Badge +15
You can't choose a quality for Sonos Spotify can you?
Nope, can't do that either: all we get is Apple and Google Play. Little to choose between the two except for UI differences.
Badge
After a day of listening to the same song over multiple streaming services I fully agree with J Daniel that it is more than subjective. My wife was going to send the speakers back until we found the high resolution formats of Tidal and Deezer. She said that, while still using Spotify, our new sonos system “sounded worse than our old 90’s stereo playing cds”. I fully agree with her. There must be something technical going on about the type of compression Spotify uses (even with quality set to “extreme”) than bit rate alone.

It’s too bad you can’t get lossless strraming in India yet Kumar, but maybe you can get a free trial of Spotify and compare it to Apple for everyone in the same position as you.

If money wasn’t an object, after a day of searching songs we’ve found thst—while it’s usually the other way around—Tidal has a few tracks not on Deezer, and we would purchase both. 🙂
Userlevel 1
Badge +2
I suspect that this topic is more complex than any of us might fully understand, and not simply related to resolution, but also the peculiarities of data compression - mixed in with many other factors 😉 However, in my case, with my Sonos units, my room, and with the source material that I have been listening to, there is a definite difference - and it’s not just psychological (which these things sometimes can be). So you might have some fun listening comparisons to get your teeth into when the service comes to India 🙂 Hope you enjoy your research!!
Ok, got it; so it is CD quality.
But I must point out that I have a lot of ECM music, jazz mostly, in both lossless ripped from CDs and bought on iTunes in 256kbps formats. Both deliver sound of the usual high ECM standard and I can't hear any differences. I haven't done much comparing of ECM produced music streamed via Apple Music sound against these, but I doubt there will be a difference; there is certainly no technical reason for there to be.
I will give Deezer Elite a spin when it is available and see what I find.
Userlevel 1
Badge +2
https://support.deezer.com/hc/en-gb/articles/115004589249-Deezer-HiFi-FAQ

Quote from this page: ”High fidelity audio is music encoded in FLAC (16-bit, 1,411Kbps).”
Not directly linked to the OP but I have been with Apple Music Premium for a long time and have been very happy with it BUT, waiting for the upcoming Alexa integration as I fear I will have to dump Apple and move to Spotify Premium to be able use it with Sonos/Alexa. Hoping with fingers crossed that Apple Music with be able to be accessed via Alexa, but don’t have much hope.

Yes this is an unknown quantity, give it a few days and hopefully this will be addressed.
Userlevel 4
Badge +13
Not directly linked to the OP but I have been with Apple Music Premium for a long time and have been very happy with it BUT, waiting for the upcoming Alexa integration as I fear I will have to dump Apple and move to Spotify Premium to be able use it with Sonos/Alexa. Hoping with fingers crossed that Apple Music with be able to be accessed via Alexa, but don’t have much hope.
Yes; in that case, is there any way to know the streaming bits information for Deezer? For Apple it is 256kbps, that is known.
Userlevel 1
Badge +2
It’s not always the masters. I have chosen some pretty rare, specific recordings - for example a friend of mine is a recording artist, I have compared his albums on Apple Music and Deezer - and in the case of these albums, we know for sure that only one single master has been made available to all of the streaming services. Deezer sounds better with these particular albums. Interesting huh? 🙂
Once it is made available in India I shall. I wonder though how much of the result is by better selection by the service of which master to carry for streaming. Apple Music has so many masters/versions of the same CD/songs, one doesn't know which to select to yield best results.
Userlevel 1
Badge +2
Yes.

Of course differences are more less noticeable depending on quality of source material, but generally the effect is less compression in the mid-range - i.e. a less grating, tinny sound. More natural, easier to listen to, and more open with better dynamics. Summary = a more comfortable sound.

Differences even more apparent on Play:5 comapred to Play:1 pair (I find the Play:5 to sound a little more conpressed in the mid-range than the Play:1s anyway - with Apple Music and Spotify).

I’m in Poland, so the cost of the service is less than elsewhere, but in my case at least - I’d say the sound quality improvement certainly justifies the money.

PS. I will keep my Apple Music subscription, and Deezer of course, but I will scrap Spotify now.

Trial it to see what you think. You can easily resign from a subscription before they bill you for the first time if you want. Good luck 🙂
Did you notice any sound quality differences?
Userlevel 1
Badge +2
I just signed up to Deezer HiFi as a result of this thread. Very good! I prefer the user interface to Apple Music too. Thanks guys 🙂
Just thought I’d specifically add a big thank you to Belly M above for pointing me to Deezer and Tidal at their top tiers, this was the answer I needed.

No, thank you for trusting your ears... now I know you are in Canada you may want to audition Bluesound 😉
Badge
Just thought I’d specifically add a big thank you to Belly M above for pointing me to Deezer and Tidal at their top tiers, this was the answer I needed.
Badge
Thanks for the tip. I’m trying out Deezer elite right now too and it has just as good (lossless) sound as Tidal and a lot more music!! Here in Canada some Tidal music is grayed out so it can’t be chosen, and a whole lot just doesn’t show up that is on Deezer, especially world music. I’ll very likely be subscribing to Deezer too. 🙂