Support high resolution files



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The more comments on this topic the better, so I decided to write one as well. The fact that 24-bit FLAC support is not coming to the current Sonos hardware is probably because the hardware does not support it. Otherwise it would have been supereasy to implement support with a firmware upgrade, right? Please correct me if I'm wrong. Therefore I would like to make a suggestion to Sonos: develop a couple of models for your product line that CAN playback 24-bit high-resolution audio files. Be it either separate models aimed at high-end lovers or upgrading your current line-up with better chipsets. My guess is that the first option is smarter to keep the prices low on the existing models with the "old" codecs that only support 16-bit. To be honest here: I am waiting for Bluesound to upgrade the firmware of their streaming products to support Spotify. When Bluesound has implemented that and it's working fine, I will sell my Sonos ZonePlayer and get a Bluesound Node. I have waited long enough.
The contents of that link are laughable. Next you'll try to convince me to lower my computer monitor to 16 bit because you can't tell the difference between RGB 224,128,0 and RGB 225,128,0. Just the same, when you listen to the music, the detail comes out and is indeed noticiable within the audible sound spectrum, just as you can tell the difference between 16bit and 24bit video signals. Sonos needs to include support for high-resolution audio if they want to be regarded as better than a multiroom iPod.
Even if some of you are professional musicians, with perfect pitch (this is a 1 in 100,000 trait), can you actually tell the difference between streaming standard FLAC and streaming 24 bit FLAC?  With very high end equipment, I certainly can't.  I suspect this discussion is, dare I say it, very academic.
Even if some of you are professional musicians and/or have perfect pitch (a 1 in 100,000 trait), can you really tell the difference between streaming standard FLAC and 24 bit FLAC?  I have very high end equipment, and I certainly can't.  I think this discussion is, dare I say it, very academic.
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Even if some of you are professional musicians, with perfect pitch (this is a 1 in 100,000 trait), can you actually tell the difference between streaming standard FLAC and streaming 24 bit FLAC?  With very high end equipment, I certainly can't.  I suspect this discussion is, dare I say it, very academic.

The academic part is where people can or cannot tell on the difference between a 96khz and a 44khz, or a 16 bits vs a 24 bits. I also would rightfully give you their speakers and amps, while being very good, are probably not able to provide quality enough to play it back at 96/24, and I would assume their conversion chips are not able to cope with higher resolution files, so even the digital out might be a lost cause (alas). The reality part is I have to go through MAJOR loops in order to have my iTunes collection with a lot of 96/24 and 192/24 and 96/16 and 176/16 and other resolutions, all faithfully played by my computer for my high end sound system, my computers speakers and my other portable devices (they automatically get downconverted at transfer) and a second version of all the high res files I need to create for Sonos only while removing the 24bits from the share. With proliferation of high resolution files sites, it's about time it's supported! Like I previously said, I would understand if it's not supported for real playback at said resolution, but if it's at least downconverted automatically for playback, that would be awesome.
I purchased a Play3 the other day based on hifi press reviews that I had read, and the fact that it would be able to play back the flac files I'd created when ripping my CD collection. I still buy CDs because the quality is higher than the equivalent downloaded in MP3/4 format. That was certainly the case until recently when I read a piece re HD track downloads in a national newspaper. At last, from a quality perspective, purchasing music downloads now made sense to me (whoop!) Having discovered their existence, I've since purchased a number of studio masters online from Linn Records and HDTracks.

So, needless to say, it came as a bit of a disappointment to discover shortly after installing the Play3 that Sonos is not that "hifi" after all, in that it does not playback high bit rate flac files. Sonos markets itself on quality, and certainly their kit is high quality, and judging by the speed of response to a tweet of mine, their backroom operations also follow through on the quality front. A pity then that the Sonos software falls short on the quality front. I fail to understand why I can listen to my high bit rate music streamed from my NAS to my amp, a ye olde PC running Winamp, or my Samsung phone. But not a Sonos "hifi" component. Disappointing.

Hopefully at some future point Sonos can ensure that they keep on top of the pile and truly lay claim to being able to stream all the music in the world by providing an update to their software that will be 24/96 playback compatible. Fingers crossed.
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High res files are a significant and growing part of my collection. Not being able to hear those albums on my Sonos system is a pain.

I can use JRiver Media Center to play all these files, including DSD, and even THROUGH my SONOS - so the idea that Sonos can't support it is laughable. They are downsampled of course, but that's a lot better than not playing at all.
This is a much better link as to why hi-res is desirable and that it does make a difference http://www.overgrownpath.com/2013/08/how-classical-music-was-covertly-dumbed.html 
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I just thought I'd pitch in. The way we solved the problem with HD audio is really quite simple if slightly spaceconsuming. We have all our music stored centrally, in its original format (all the way up to 24/384) and pristine condition for backup purposes, and use dbpoweramp to convert this music to suitable formats onto other disks. We have metadata stored in a database, to make changes easier across versions, but that is merely a nice-to-have. There are other ways to solve that problem. Files that are converted are placed in four different locations; one for 24/92, one for iTunes one for Sonos and one for portables (car and walkman etc). Whenever we get a new record, it is thrown into the pot and batch converted. We have Sonos in 5 rooms serving synced music 95% of the time, iTunes for syncing with iPods and 3 Squeezeboxes (one of which has been demoted to the garage and another used for special purposes in my music study). We have solved the 24-bit limitation in a very simple way. The power DAC we have in the living room can handle 4 digital sources, so we simply attached our Transporter alongside the Sonos Connect. Whenever I get that tickling sensation, I just switch and play the Transporter instead. In situations like that I don't need to sync anything anyway - just have complete silence everywhere else in the house. So instead of replacing one system with the other, we let them complement eachother, exactly like a CD player doesn't [necessarily] replace a turntable.
I don't think this is "solving" the problem.  In effect you are simply living with the problem, creating  two sources and pathways instead of one.  This is exactly SONOS's answer to HiRes complainers:  Do your audiophile stuff separately, apart from Sonos!  Well, yeah sure that's always possible.

As it is, Sonos is forcing audiophiles to choose between convenience and connectivity and a higher level of fidelity and, speaking for audiophiles  (and notwithstanding all the nonsense about what ears can or cannot perceive), the higher level of fidelity will win every time and our decisions will disfavor Sonos.  We are higher profile among the "listening public" than you average kid listening to mp3s on the street and our opinions and advice are more respected.  Sonos really has to address us or face a shifting market share in even the short term.  Sonos must be tops in all things audio to become the absolute standard at what it does.  
I see many threads from SONOS user to this issue, but I only see one comment from SONOS with the information (1 years ago) that they don't have any plannings to support HR Audio.

Dear friends ---- SONOS is out of the market if they don't react to the many inquries. It's unbelievable that nobody from SONOS gives any feedback.

The time of mp3 is over (thanks heaven), and we make a "time jump" into a new area, and that not just since yesterday. Today we talk of mobile player like Fiio X3 (24bit/192khz), Astell & Kern AK 120 which support also DSD format, and many other HIFI components (I only name some: Sony HAP-S1; Pioneer N50 or Marantz NA 11S1, and SONOS talks about 16bit, unbelievable.

I am considering to remove the SONOS System an look fo another solution. I have a company which produce HR Audio, and I always promote SONOS products to my customers. I don't think that I will do this in the future, if SONOS don't will change their philosophy in technical innovation.

It's a shame, as in General I think that the SONOS concept is a very good solution, but only if HD Audio is included.
 
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My local dealer have stopped pushing Sonos now, and instead suggest Bluesound. I´ve started selling my Sonos stuff and replacing it with Bluesound since it support hi-res FLAC. Also I find the DAC much better on Bluesound than Sonos (if you use digital to your amp, then that´s not important of course). Bluesound have replacements for Connect and Connect AMP, but not yet the Play´s. For those without NAS, they have the Vault which is nice too,
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After seeing your post, I took a look at Bluesound's website.  It looks great.  Interestingly, I just read a review that loves their product, but thinks their marketing needs help, to paraphrase, they basically promote as Sonos done right.  Product line does look like Sonos on steroids with 24-bit 192k support.  The NAD and PSB connection certainly is enticing.
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I should add that Sonos app is a bit easier to use than Bluesound´s, but they have improved a lot recently (from what I read). So my take is that it´s more likely Bluesound will improve their app than Sonos to add support (even if they downsample) to play 24-bit.
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With the recent launch of Bluesound, I absolutely hope that Sonos will reconsider their position and provide hi-res support. Otherwise I might consider switching to Bluesound
I checked the Bluesound website and think they may have something but they have no idea how to reach a user without the tech talk.  Also, I do not find any price list or MRSP.
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People have been asking Sonos to implement hires for at least 5 years with claims that lack of support will somehow result in them being excluded from the market. Years later, and these deluded predictions have yet to be proven even remotely true and yet still they continue to be glibly made. In that time Sonos has significantly grown it's market share whilst the only main competitor that does support hires (Logitech) has retreated from the market. Based on this real-world data, it seems support for hires is NOT the thing to do in order to grow your market. It's clear the people making such irrational warnings are talking utter rubbish! Realistically the requirement for hires is niche: for every person that feels it's important there's probably 100,000 or more who either don't care or know enough to understand the audible benefits are, at best, negligible (and, potentially, hires formats can damage your audio). For those that want to take advantage of the very real benefits of the superior mixing and mastering that is available on many tracks marketed as "hires", you can perform a one-time conversion them to a format Sonos can play and retain the full audio quality.
You are looking in the rear view mirror.  The future belongs to HiRes as surely as LP's gave way to CD's.  All the cheapie handheld players and headphones will be attached to hires files in the future.  MP3s died the instant storage got dirt cheap.
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People have been asking Sonos to implement hires for at least 5 years with claims that lack of support will somehow result in them being excluded from the market. Years later, and these deluded predictions have yet to be proven even remotely true and yet still they continue to be glibly made. In that time Sonos has significantly grown it's market share whilst the only main competitor that does support hires (Logitech) has retreated from the market. Based on this real-world data, it seems support for hires is NOT the thing to do in order to grow your market. It's clear the people making such irrational warnings are talking utter rubbish! Realistically the requirement for hires is niche: for every person that feels it's important there's probably 100,000 or more who either don't care or know enough to understand the audible benefits are, at best, negligible (and, potentially, hires formats can damage your audio). For those that want to take advantage of the very real benefits of the superior mixing and mastering that is available on many tracks marketed as "hires", you can perform a one-time conversion them to a format Sonos can play and retain the full audio quality.
You are looking in the rear view mirror.  The future belongs to HiRes as surely as LP's gave way to CD's.  All the cheapie handheld players and headphones will be attached to hires files in the future.  MP3s died the instant storage got dirt cheap.
This forum is typical of most forums in that it's populated by over the top enthusiasts. When HD Tracks and J River start advertising in People and Time magazine then Sonos will probably take notice. Until then High Res is barely even a fringe market. High Res on a Play 3? Laughable. The limitations will be the speakers and amplifier. Not even close. I've got Vandersteen 5A's with a Benchmark HGC2 and Audio Research amp. When I compare SACD's to my ZP90 playing my CD's through I Tunes there is barely a difference. That's more than good enough for way over 99.9% of the folks out there. The difference on a Play 3 or 5? You must be kidding. I understand your passion, I've spent more money on room treatment than most people will ever spend on equipment, but Sonos will be fine without high resolution. In fact I think they'll be better without it there's any chance it will reduce the ease of use of the system. There are easy ways to add High Res to your main rig. Having it on Play 3's or 5's is like having Z rated tires on your Corolla. Can't hurt. Won't help.
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Mike, The point is for many not to get the full benefit of HiRes on a Play1/3/5, but at least it should play out something, transcoded or not. On the AMP and Connect, many system would benefit from HiRes support already. -Anders
This forum is typical of most forums in that it's populated by over the top enthusiasts. When HD Tracks and J River start advertising in People and Time magazine then Sonos will probably take notice. Until then High Res is barely even a fringe market. High Res on a Play 3? Laughable. The limitations will be the speakers and amplifier. Not even close. I've got Vandersteen 5A's with a Benchmark HGC2 and Audio Research amp. When I compare SACD's to my ZP90 playing my CD's through I Tunes there is barely a difference. That's more than good enough for way over 99.9% of the folks out there. The difference on a Play 3 or 5? You must be kidding. I understand your passion, I've spent more money on room treatment than most people will ever spend on equipment, but Sonos will be fine without high resolution. In fact I think they'll be better without it there's any chance it will reduce the ease of use of the system. There are easy ways to add High Res to your main rig. Having it on Play 3's or 5's is like having Z rated tires on your Corolla. Can't hurt. Won't help.
I think this is missing the point slightly. I agree that you wont be able to hear the difference on a Play 3 or 5. I too have a high end main system where the difference is discernible but I don't want to have to duplicate my music by down sampling my hi res files just so I can play them on my Play 5 in the bedroom or kitchen.
I do fully agree as I don't want to re-encode all my high res files ! No matter whether people think they need to tell us that they and maybe even we can't hear the difference ....
This forum is typical of most forums in that it's populated by over the top enthusiasts. When HD Tracks and J River start advertising in People and Time magazine then Sonos will probably take notice. Until then High Res is barely even a fringe market. High Res on a Play 3? Laughable. The limitations will be the speakers and amplifier. Not even close. I've got Vandersteen 5A's with a Benchmark HGC2 and Audio Research amp. When I compare SACD's to my ZP90 playing my CD's through I Tunes there is barely a difference. That's more than good enough for way over 99.9% of the folks out there. The difference on a Play 3 or 5? You must be kidding. I understand your passion, I've spent more money on room treatment than most people will ever spend on equipment, but Sonos will be fine without high resolution. In fact I think they'll be better without it there's any chance it will reduce the ease of use of the system. There are easy ways to add High Res to your main rig. Having it on Play 3's or 5's is like having Z rated tires on your Corolla. Can't hurt. Won't help.
You are right. For 99,9% the standard playback will be ok. But don't forget - from this 99,9% approx. 50% have problems with their ears. They have listen for to long to mp3 audio. This ears are demaged for ever, you can be sure.
I don't know if you ever seen a spectral diagram of a 24 bit/192 khz audio file. You will find sound information above 18.000 hz. Question: Why must I see something what I don't hear, this is not necessary. Answer: Wrong - big mistake. 
On all frequencies important sound information will be carried, to have finally a complete natural audio signal. For example; on the high frequencies much of the air will carried, that gives the listener a much more open sound field. By the way, this was the reason that you can't convince Analog lovers to change their equipment to CD player. The sound of a CD was simply to harsh - no room, no air. The music industry has recognised this very quickly in developing DVD-Audio and SACD. Unfortunatley at the same time the mp3 nonsense started. The darkest time in audio playback, which use the same philosophy, what you don't hear, must not be recorded - and cut all frequencies over 15.000 hz. Many thanks my friends from Fraunhofer - this was a real mistake.
I work day by day with HR Audio, and playback on Studio equipment. Also I use for standard playback a "normal" HIFI System, and we made some "blind test's" with standard CD's and HR Audio. Every listener, whether Studio professional or  "only" music lover, could preceive the difference, and the sound plus of 24bit / 192khz files.
It's a shame if you invest in expensive equipment, if you don't can hear a difference. You spent money for "nothing". I am with you, that this is not necessarily noticeable on a SONOS 3 / 5 speaker system. But honestly, who will listen HR Audio on a SONOS 3/5 System ? I use my SONOS System only with the 'connect' device, and here I await high resultion Audio streaming, and not Audio from yesterday. 
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People have been asking Sonos to implement hires for at least 5 years with claims that lack of support will somehow result in them being excluded from the market. Years later, and these deluded predictions have yet to be proven even remotely true and yet still they continue to be glibly made. In that time Sonos has significantly grown it's market share whilst the only main competitor that does support hires (Logitech) has retreated from the market. Based on this real-world data, it seems support for hires is NOT the thing to do in order to grow your market. It's clear the people making such irrational warnings are talking utter rubbish! Realistically the requirement for hires is niche: for every person that feels it's important there's probably 100,000 or more who either don't care or know enough to understand the audible benefits are, at best, negligible (and, potentially, hires formats can damage your audio). For those that want to take advantage of the very real benefits of the superior mixing and mastering that is available on many tracks marketed as "hires", you can perform a one-time conversion them to a format Sonos can play and retain the full audio quality.
Mike --  Many Sonos users I am sure have at least one implementation which is audiophile, like your own, and then perhaps Sonos 1,3 and 5's or other higher grade playback strewn about the premises.  Sonos playback powered speakers are not the heart of Sonos.  The heart is the proprietary wireless streaming and the ZP's (now "connects") and the quality of these connections is the issue, not the speakers hung on them.  Furthermore, recent tech history demonstrates that what was "laughable" at one time can be, in short order, the virtual standard.  Automobiles were once laughable after all.  If the 99% ruled the roost, we'd still be using horse and buggy.  The audiophile fringe points the way and the 99% will be longing for 2496 as soon as they figure it out.  Who is going to meet this demand?
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This forum is typical of most forums in that it's populated by over the top enthusiasts. When HD Tracks and J River start advertising in People and Time magazine then Sonos will probably take notice. Until then High Res is barely even a fringe market. High Res on a Play 3? Laughable. The limitations will be the speakers and amplifier. Not even close. I've got Vandersteen 5A's with a Benchmark HGC2 and Audio Research amp. When I compare SACD's to my ZP90 playing my CD's through I Tunes there is barely a difference. That's more than good enough for way over 99.9% of the folks out there. The difference on a Play 3 or 5? You must be kidding. I understand your passion, I've spent more money on room treatment than most people will ever spend on equipment, but Sonos will be fine without high resolution. In fact I think they'll be better without it there's any chance it will reduce the ease of use of the system. There are easy ways to add High Res to your main rig. Having it on Play 3's or 5's is like having Z rated tires on your Corolla. Can't hurt. Won't help.
IMHO that's a fringe application. I've seen Sonos being used in stores, in places where you need music everywhere. It's seldom for audiophile usage. I got multiple Sonos in my house, but only one could really truly show a 24/192 differentiation.

Why I love Sonos? Convenience. Easy to install. Works. Why I want Sonos to have _at least_ 96/24 automatic transcoding to 44/16? Again, convenience so most of what I purchase in HD stores works.

According to the :3 iFixit, the sound output processor is working at 96/24 internally (as well as 192/24 in input), so it would realistically be possible to have it spew 96/24, which, like you pointed out, would be kind of moot on a :1, :3 or :5, but would have its uses on the Connect.

Although I do have some, I could understand a 200 something MHz processor is not powerful enough to decode 192/24 or more in real time. But if they are able to decode 48/16 MP3, FLAC/ALAC are much less processor intensive to decode, so I would believe they'd be able to decode 96/24 FLAC/ALAC/WAV. Alas, the recent :3 is probably not be representative of the older previous Sonos systems. So there might be an "advanced" option, where some older Sonos would not be able to cope the new frequency. So the 96/24 option might be some kind of hit and miss, couldn't be enabled by default, and MIGHT work.

There's the networking to consider too... I have some doubts about their 11Mbps network being able to handle efficiently (nearly) uncompressed 96/24 too. Assuming a 3Mbps stream, it would take quite a strain on the device. I would again assume such stream might not work out-of-the-box unless connected through an Ethernet wire, and kept away from meshing as the device would be quite busy.

Still according to iFixit, the chip is theoretically able to provide N network. That's on new Sonos again, so there might be a possibility for many devices to get a safe G 54Mbps network instead while because of interop with older devices, it would need to get to 11Mbps. But again, "for advanced users only", it might be possible.

All in all, Sonos might be in for a bit here ... it might be technically feasible, but would remove all that interop and easy-to-install we love from Sonos.

One of the solutions I suggested was for them to create a software you could install on any Mac/PC (or a new Bridge box version) that would allow such complexities to be hidden. The software would convert up to DXD streams if needed to 48/16 in real time, thus making people able to actually stream these puppies on their Sonos without knowing about transcoding, and if the conditions are met (No meshing, one single device, device on same Ethernet, device able to play @ 96), that device could get the full res version from the software. It'd still be a hit-and-miss, but it'd be plug and play. Heck, if I had time, I'd create a makeshift software myself, not that complex, you create a network stream service and send out the files in a transcoded format Sonos would love. I alas just don't have time to write that.
I think Sonos is more concerned with getting mainstream customers than catering to the lunatic fringe, and I consider anyone who would write into a forum about high resolution music files to be part of that group, including myself. There are plenty of vehicles for listening to hi res. Sonos is just not one of them. If your main concern is to not re-encode files for listening to whole house music simply listen to the same tunes on MOG or another music service. I'm not trying to be difficult but there seems like lots of ways to skin this cat. 
This forum is typical of most forums in that it's populated by over the top enthusiasts. When HD Tracks and J River start advertising in People and Time magazine then Sonos will probably take notice. Until then High Res is barely even a fringe market. High Res on a Play 3? Laughable. The limitations will be the speakers and amplifier. Not even close. I've got Vandersteen 5A's with a Benchmark HGC2 and Audio Research amp. When I compare SACD's to my ZP90 playing my CD's through I Tunes there is barely a difference. That's more than good enough for way over 99.9% of the folks out there. The difference on a Play 3 or 5? You must be kidding. I understand your passion, I've spent more money on room treatment than most people will ever spend on equipment, but Sonos will be fine without high resolution. In fact I think they'll be better without it there's any chance it will reduce the ease of use of the system. There are easy ways to add High Res to your main rig. Having it on Play 3's or 5's is like having Z rated tires on your Corolla. Can't hurt. Won't help.
I'm not disagreeing that high res files can sound better. Just that until it's really mainstream, that means iTunes in my opinion, it's a non-starter for companies like Sonos. They are not a high end company. They're closer to Bose in what they're trying to accomplish. That's not a bad thing. It just is what it is. They're just trying to bring multi-zone audio to the masses. I'm all for that.