Support high resolution files



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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.
In my case, you are right. I use Sonos but I am, more and more, seeking hires solutions so that I can play SACD, DVD-A and Blu Ray etc., Indeed, I have an Oppo player on its way to me right now. But I'm frustrated about all of the HDtracks music that I have stored in two formats, the original hires and a down-converted ALAC version that will play through Sonos. I'm going to keep storing the higher res stuff in the hope that Sonos or someone else comes up with a reasonable solution to the conundrum. Maybe I should switch to an Airplay system but then Netflix, my computers and my music all have to compete on my home network - sounds like a formula for disaster. If someone came up with a solution, even though I think it good, I'd leave Sonos immediately.
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Just want to give head's up on the "hi res not being mainstream" mistake. Actually, DVD audios (yeah, for whatever that counts 😉 ) can go up to 192/24 2.0, or up to 96/24 5.1. For Blu Ray, most audio is 96/24, and since HDMI 1.3 venue, most movies appends a lossless audio stream, like DTS-HD Master and the likes, that supports up to lossless 192/24 5.1. We are very very far from supporting this on Sonos systems, including the new bar, which merely decodes Dolby 5.1 and stereo PCM @ 48KHz.

I rip my vinyls for my own personal enjoyment at 96/24. My principle is I might not have the ears anymore to see a major difference, other people might, so while I'm ripping, why not using the best quality possible. I actually record at 192/24, then post-process, slight declick (if required) and slight denoise, maximize the volume according to every side or full album if it's consistent, then save as lossless 96/24 (my cartridge has discrete response up to 30KHz, so quantized 96KHz file will give me most of the full spectrum, with little quantization errors). I won't do it two times, so I prefer to do it once only, and I won't do it as a way I'd regret it later on. Alas, my files are not playable by Sonos.
I also don't believe Sonos is staying put on high resolution. I would think to believe they've seen the limitations with their latest incursion in 5.1, and I'd guess it's not an easy problem to solve, to keep the compatibility as well as having 2-4-6x more bandwidth being used per stream when sometimes the devices are having issues merely playing the compressed files themselves due to wifi usage in modern housings.
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The near term future is DSD, and that is literally light years ahead of 24bit/192kHz. Sonos is not even 24bit/192kHz. Very sad indeed.
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For Sonos not to provide quality is pathetic. How does this make me feel? I feel like Sonos believes that their equipment is "good enough" and everyone should be happy with average Joe "C" student performance. The future is DSD, which light years beyond 24bit/192kHz. Sonos is not even 24bit/192kHz.
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For Sonos not to provide quality is pathetic. How does this make me feel? I feel like Sonos believes that their equipment is "good enough" and everyone should be happy with average Joe "C" student performance. The future is DSD, which light years beyond 24bit/192kHz. Sonos is not even 24bit/192kHz.
You're repeating yourself :)

But DSD is NOT light years beyond 192/24, just different. And DXD is light years beyond DSD, technically being used as source for the best DSD out there. Usually, mastering occurs at 96/24, 176/24 or 192/24. There's no device that will natively take DSD to be used in all mixing tracks, so your DSD is actually usually a converted 192/24 or DXD.

That said, I would be happy having DSD, DXD, 192/24 and DSD Master, Dolby HD and the likes being decoded by Sonos. Somehow, I wouldn't hold my breath yet for these to happen 🙂
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For Sonos not to provide quality is pathetic. How does this make me feel? I feel like Sonos believes that their equipment is "good enough" and everyone should be happy with average Joe "C" student performance. The future is DSD, which light years beyond 24bit/192kHz. Sonos is not even 24bit/192kHz.
Sorry, hit send too quickly before completing post.

Agreed that DXD at 8.5 is light years beyond DSD at 5.6. Yet, there are more DACs and sources available for DSD vs. DXD. Unfortunately, you are correct on not holding your breath.

Most people are only just realizing that their compressed audio with earphones sounds better with Dr. Dre headphones. I don't think that I will live long enough for the demand pendulum to swing back to quality great realistic sounding audio systems.

Like you, I won't hold my breath waiting for Sonos or the audio industry, which is in a tailspin . . . I will limit my need for breath holding to my 2-3 G turns and braking in my RF95 Van Diemen FC car. 

g
Userlevel 2
For Sonos not to provide quality is pathetic. How does this make me feel? I feel like Sonos believes that their equipment is "good enough" and everyone should be happy with average Joe "C" student performance. The future is DSD, which light years beyond 24bit/192kHz. Sonos is not even 24bit/192kHz.
I have a Prius, my breath will not hold for any speed, but I'll drive coast to coast for tiny amounts of money.

However, my vinyl equipment WILL make me hold my breath 🙂 I'm using Sonos as fixed digital out, and I'd love the system to support 96/16 at least, I'd be the first one to want that. IMHO, if they'd at least play 192/24 and downsample everything to 48/16 or 44/16, for me, it would be a major step forward, I'd be very happy.
The link from hne is a thoughtful, referenced article that explains concisely why 'hirez' is a non sequitur.  Science works by considering the evidence and synthesizing an opinion on what is most likely to be 'true' given the evidence.  The evidence is that there is no reason for anyone to listen to 24 bit 192Khz files, nor for Sonos to support this format (which, if anything, would sound worse on their equipment).  If people don't agree with the evidence provided in the article, they should argue logically on the grounds of contradicting evidence (I suspect their is none).  Anything else is just hand-waving, and should be ignored by Sonos et al.
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What surprises me the most is the silence from Sonos and John M, the official rep.

I hear a huge difference on 24-bit FLAC vs 16-bit FLAC on my Sonos system.
The 16-bit will play the music.
The 24-bit will not play and gives an error message.

That is the most important difference. It doesn't really matters that you would need very high end equipment and ears to be able to hear the difference on the two flavours of FLAC.

What is surprising is that the Sonos won't even just transcode or downsample the FLAC so I at least get music.

It's not a discussion about being able to enjoy 24-bit on a Play:1, it's about getting music or silence.

-Anders
I've just read the posts from a year ago until now and am shocked that SONOS hasn't chimed in with at least an explanation of why they don't plan to support hi-rez. I've invested heavily in SONOS and assumed (shame on me) that a seemingly technologically advanced company such as them would support the biggest thing in audio since the CD.  I guess they're not as advanced as I thought.

I suppose SONOS has its place; it's fine for casual listening on the patio or the kitchen, but when I want to listen to music, I want hi-rez.

As has been stated before, several companies have the vision to fulfill our needs.  Sony's entry into hi-rez hardware is particularly significant, I think, since they own a large portion of the music that's out there.

SONOS should wake up and smell the coffee before they are forced to go the way of the VCR.
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For me (as starter of the topic) this request is not about audio quality, nor the merits of high bitrates, this is about audio file format compatibility, and that Sonos does not play my files.

I want Sonos to play all reasonable music file formats, especially the ones in my library.
FLAC is a very popular format, high bitrate FLAC is a sub-variant, I want Sonos to play it.

I'd like to keep this topic on file format compatibility, where there should be no reason for Sonos to not support the file format, played at whatever quality / fidelity / bitrate possible.

Using Sonos hardware for high-fidelity / high-bitrate playback belongs in a different request, and should not be used to shoot down or discredit this request.
For me (as starter of the topic) this request is not about audio quality, nor the merits of high bitrates, this is about audio file format compatibility, and that Sonos does not play my files.

I want Sonos to play all reasonable music file formats, especially the ones in my library.
FLAC is a very popular format, high bitrate FLAC is a sub-variant, I want Sonos to play it.

I'd like to keep this topic on file format compatibility, where there should be no reason for Sonos to not support the file format, played at whatever quality / fidelity / bitrate possible.

Using Sonos hardware for high-fidelity / high-bitrate playback belongs in a different request, and should not be used to shoot down or discredit this request.

Sonos does not support every format, nor every sub-format variant that exists.

It never will, and it is frankly ridiculous to expect it to. There are hundreds of variations out there, and even a standard PC won't play them all without installing addtional software. Apple Macs, for instance, don't play FLAC of any sort, and they have have massively greater resources than a Sonos player.

For instance:
WavPack
TTA
RAL
OptimFrog
LPAC
LA
APE
WMAL
multi-channel file formats of any sort

These are all entirely valid music file formats which Sonos does not decode in any way (even in standard CD full-resolution format) yet alone for hyper-resolutions. To play any music in one the above formats on Sonos requires the file to be transcoded to something more standard.

That's exactly the same with hyper-resolution FLAC.

There's easy ways to create Sonos-compatible versions of these files which retain the superior mastering qualities of the original. Downsampling FLAC files is not too difficult (it's considerably easier than trying to convert an OptimFROG file to FLAC) and, run as a batch job, could probably convert even the most enthusiastic audiophile's complete collection in one go overnight. Downconverting such files is less hassle than ripping a CD!

And to those who stubbornly refuse to consider doing this with the cry of "why should I?", you should also ponder the similar question: "why hot dogs come in packages of ten and hot dog buns come in packages of eight." (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0245803/quotes).

And, personally, I would rather have files which are reasonably optimised for my system than ones which are 4 times the size (containing 75% non-audio padding) for no real benefit, as these would chew up the bandwidth of my network unnecessarily, and place additional load on both my NAS and my music players.

For similar reasons I (and many others) downsample FLAC to MP3 for portable music players in order to optimise the space on the SD card (I can get around 5 times as much music on my device) on the basis that mass market portable devices aren't capable of fully resolving lossless CD yet alone hyper-resolutions (even if they can technically decode them).

Ultimately it's up to you, but most reasonable people consider this sort of activity as part and parcel of managing a music collection.
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If there is good reason to record in 192/24, then there may be good reason to listen in the same mode, maybe not.  The reason for recording at hi rates apparently has to do with the distortion to the sub 20kHz information from information recorded above the hearing range.  192 just allows for better filtering above 20kHz.  That's a valid reason for 192/24 at least at a recording console, etc. 

But, what about playback?  Once recorded, the information can perhaps be delivered for conversion at a lower bitrate as there is no more extant distortion above 20kHz in the file.  I don't know.  BUT IT WOULD BE NICE FOR SONOS TO PLAY MY FLAC FILES BECAUSE I LIKE FLAC FILES BETTER THAN MP3 ETC.  THAT SHOULD BE ENOUGH REASON.
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For me (as starter of the topic) this request is not about audio quality, nor the merits of high bitrates, this is about audio file format compatibility, and that Sonos does not play my files.

I want Sonos to play all reasonable music file formats, especially the ones in my library.
FLAC is a very popular format, high bitrate FLAC is a sub-variant, I want Sonos to play it.

I'd like to keep this topic on file format compatibility, where there should be no reason for Sonos to not support the file format, played at whatever quality / fidelity / bitrate possible.

Using Sonos hardware for high-fidelity / high-bitrate playback belongs in a different request, and should not be used to shoot down or discredit this request.

You seem to miss the point that this request is from users that WANT Sonos to play highres FLAC without the need to jump through hoops.

Unless you represent Sonos, you are not at all contributing by telling us how, in your opinion, we are wrong.
Userlevel 2
For me (as starter of the topic) this request is not about audio quality, nor the merits of high bitrates, this is about audio file format compatibility, and that Sonos does not play my files.

I want Sonos to play all reasonable music file formats, especially the ones in my library.
FLAC is a very popular format, high bitrate FLAC is a sub-variant, I want Sonos to play it.

I'd like to keep this topic on file format compatibility, where there should be no reason for Sonos to not support the file format, played at whatever quality / fidelity / bitrate possible.

Using Sonos hardware for high-fidelity / high-bitrate playback belongs in a different request, and should not be used to shoot down or discredit this request.

You are right. Many formats exist. And I wouldn't expect Sonos to support every single format existing out there (Midi files would be quite interesting 😉 ). Even WAV is technically simply a container, you can put midi inside WAVs, supporting every single WAV format is nearly impossible.

You are also right on the fact that not everything is supported everywhere. The fact that Apple doesn't support FLAC is misleading though, as Apple is a leader of the pack, and they are the trendsetters. Not Sonos. So technically, it would be more important to support what Apple supports than FLAC in itself. Sonos needs to follow people's trends, and the HD trend is getting there. Even the great majority of Blu Rays are 96/24 5.1 and up, and we're talking about movies and TV series, where audio is a second class citizen. Just the accumulation of activity on this thread shows you how the trend is developing.

Where you err is by saying there's never any consumer need whatsoever for higher resolution files, and every extra bits is mostly random padding, and downsampling is merely a technical operation that won't change audio quality. You need prerequisites: a good source, good mastering, good lossless format to transfer audio, good DAC, good (pre/)amp, good speakers/headphones. Then, you will have a chance to reap benefits. But I can say really quickly when a vinyl was recorded verbatim from a CD. Technically, I just have the aliasing artifacts from the CDs and have the noise floor from vinyls, two wrongs for the price of one, and I'll tell that in less than 10 seconds. Would the format be that high, I shouldn't be able to tell, but I am.

iTunes is doing a good job on downconversion. I have most of my files as ALAC (44/16, 96/16, 96/24, 176/24 or 192/24 depending), and I can say to iTunes to recompress my files to MP4 44/16 or 48/16 192KHz automatically when they are transferred to my fruity devices. I don't miss the extra quality one second on my fruities, but miss it on what you refer as ultra-fi, and I merely had one checkbox to check.

And alas, I agree with you, it should be up to me, it's just not ... because Sonos will show 96/24 in the library, but will skip the files instead of playing them.
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Bottom-line:

I believe that we are all asking for the same thing . . . superior quality audio from Sonos, i.e. the greatest common denominator vs. the lowest common denominator. Everyone (myself included) on this thread is BEGGING Sonos to improve the quality of their delivery.

The worst thing that ever happened to recorded music is compression, because millions substituted quantity for quality with compressed music which is now referred to as "audio." Background noise stuff. Forget any audio compression. Given the cheap storage solutions of today, there is no reason to use compression. Less in recorded music is more.

Sonos must provide the technology and capacity to reproduce audio in any uncompressed format at the highest quality levels. Sonos "alludes" to being an audiophile product, then they need to step up and meet the bar. Sonos are you listening? Or are you tone deaf? Which is it?

g
For me (as starter of the topic) this request is not about audio quality, nor the merits of high bitrates, this is about audio file format compatibility, and that Sonos does not play my files.

I want Sonos to play all reasonable music file formats, especially the ones in my library.
FLAC is a very popular format, high bitrate FLAC is a sub-variant, I want Sonos to play it.

I'd like to keep this topic on file format compatibility, where there should be no reason for Sonos to not support the file format, played at whatever quality / fidelity / bitrate possible.

Using Sonos hardware for high-fidelity / high-bitrate playback belongs in a different request, and should not be used to shoot down or discredit this request.

I was quite specific when I said that for most consumers, 75% of the file is inaudible padding, because most consumers have normal hifi systems, like Sonos Play 5 speakers, and use these in normal, untreated rooms where the background noise even in the quietest homes, on the quietest days, completely masks any differences in bit-depth.

It is simply not possible to hear the differences that these hires formats make on conventional hifi systems like Sonos speakers. If you think you can, then you have made a fundamental error in your comparison.

It's easy to prove by checking the specifications of most hifi systems and comparing them to the CD redbook format specifications. Bear in mind even CD quality audio has a dynamic range of up to 120dB, which is probably enough to capture the thermal noise in the components of the studio Analogue to Digital converters. 120dB, for instance, is well beyond the dynamic range of the majority of even high-end hifi equipment: even 16-bit resolution captures detail that cannot be heard on normal hifi systems, in normal houses. Any additional bit depth beyond that is, effectively padding. Similar arguments apply to sample frequency.

And that's ignoring the audio characteristics of most listening rooms which are far from ideal, and age-related degradation in everyone's hearing which means you are blessed as an adult if you can hear much above 17kHz.

So my argument here is not that the extremely subtle differences between full-resolution CD format and ultra-resolution formats are totally inaudible under all circumstances***, but that they are demonstrably inaudible in the vast majority of real-world cases.

*** Although even on really high end systems and acoustically isolated rooms, the claims of audibility are implausible and no proof has yet been given to support them. 
Please sonos, let us know if there are plans to support hi-res audio files.  If something isn't done soon with the sons platform, i'll be dumping all of my sonos components and moving on to a product line that truly appreciates audiophile quality
What surprises me the most is the silence from Sonos and John M, the official rep.

I hear a huge difference on 24-bit FLAC vs 16-bit FLAC on my Sonos system.
The 16-bit will play the music.
The 24-bit will not play and gives an error message.

That is the most important difference. It doesn't really matters that you would need very high end equipment and ears to be able to hear the difference on the two flavours of FLAC.

What is surprising is that the Sonos won't even just transcode or downsample the FLAC so I at least get music.

It's not a discussion about being able to enjoy 24-bit on a Play:1, it's about getting music or silence.

-Anders

They have marked the idea as Not Planned, how much more could they say? It is pretty obvious this function is not coming. If you wish hires support in a streaming system, you must look elsewhere, because Sonos has officially stated they have no plans to support it.

Bottom-line:

I believe that we are all asking for the same thing . . . superior quality audio from Sonos, i.e. the greatest common denominator vs. the lowest common denominator. Everyone (myself included) on this thread is BEGGING Sonos to improve the quality of their delivery.

The worst thing that ever happened to recorded music is compression, because millions substituted quantity for quality with compressed music which is now referred to as "audio." Background noise stuff. Forget any audio compression. Given the cheap storage solutions of today, there is no reason to use compression. Less in recorded music is more.

Sonos must provide the technology and capacity to reproduce audio in any uncompressed format at the highest quality levels. Sonos "alludes" to being an audiophile product, then they need to step up and meet the bar. Sonos are you listening? Or are you tone deaf? Which is it?

g

They have listened, and they have emphatically said no. Time for the very vocal, but equally very small, minority who wish this functionality to move on.
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The whole point is that I should not have to convert my collection to a format just so that Sonos can play it, especially when my other players have no problem with these files. This is not about audio quality, not about new hardware, this is about audio format compatibility, and using an updated FLAC code library.
I agree. What this is also about, is whether Sonos listens to the needs of owners and potential owners of their product. Nearly every competing product does support hi-res formats in some way - even the free ones. It would be very easy for Sonos to support downsampled hi-res FLAC files.

Expecting listeners with these files to maintain two separate databases demonstrates an arrogance on their part that keeps me from recommending the system to others. Sonos apparently doesn't realize that non-audiophiles often ask their audiophile friends for advice setting up music systems.
Please sonos, let us know if there are plans to support hi-res audio files.  If something isn't done soon with the sons platform, i'll be dumping all of my sonos components and moving on to a product line that truly appreciates audiophile quality
Since this idea has been marked with a status of Not Planned, I believe they already have let us know they are not planning to support hires files. I don't know how much clearer they can state it.
Userlevel 1
And that's a reasonable request, although I would point out that you have purchased music in a non-standard format that actually isn't that widely supported (most portable players won't support it, for instance). Perhaps you should campaign some of these vendors to make these superior quality masters available in more standard formats. Regardless, it's still a reasonable request, even if your unwillingness to convert files to a more standard format (which, by the way, all your other music players will also play) probably isn't enough to compel Sonos to embark on a significant and costly development exercise. My point is it is diluted by all of the irrational, made-up nonsense about hires being a significant segment of the market and Sonos losing market share by not supporting it (not from you, but from others).
Hi-res FLAC is a standard format, and is widely supported. iTunes doesn't support it because they are hoping to make money on their own competing format. Sonos doesn't have a good business reason to deny this support. It would be very easy for them to play these files at downsampled resolution - most similar companies would have added this support long ago.

Sonos is unnecessarily creating an opportunity for their competition by dismissing the needs of their quality-oriented customers. Not giving us what we want now speaks volumes about how Sonos will treat us as this market evolves.
And that's a reasonable request, although I would point out that you have purchased music in a non-standard format that actually isn't that widely supported (most portable players won't support it, for instance). Perhaps you should campaign some of these vendors to make these superior quality masters available in more standard formats. Regardless, it's still a reasonable request, even if your unwillingness to convert files to a more standard format (which, by the way, all your other music players will also play) probably isn't enough to compel Sonos to embark on a significant and costly development exercise. My point is it is diluted by all of the irrational, made-up nonsense about hires being a significant segment of the market and Sonos losing market share by not supporting it (not from you, but from others).
Were Sonos to support hi-res FLAC, life might be easier for us and it might become more complicated. I'm as self-interested in the format expansion as the next person. Throughout the holiday, I've struggled to get my Oppo BDP 95 to speak with an external NAS drive containing hi-res files. The Oppo has an outstanding DAC and if I can get the two devices to speak with each other, I'll have a satisfactory solution to the Sonos problem. If Sonos supported FLAC, I could see a whole other bag of worms opening with file and format incompatibilities, bandwidth constrictions etc. Their reticence to get into this market ( which is still a niche) is frustrating but understandable. I also understand Apple's reticence to expand format compatibility. It has little or nothing to do with them making money off their own format. If that were the case, they would at least provide downloads in their own ALAC format - and they don't. I think that Apple has the same reticence as Sonos. An expansion into ALAC will put strain on bandwidth and there is still just a micro market for it. On the other hand, Apple is the market leader. If they ran a lossless campaign and provided ALAC downloads, you can bet your last dollar that Sonos would follow. The seamlessness between iTunes and Sonos is far too tempting a morsel for Sonos to give up on. On the further hand, you may have noticed that Apple now provides downloads that are labeled, "Mastered for iTunes", while still at 16 bit 256 Kbps these files are pretty good. Apple's engineers more than likely believe (and they may be scientifically correct) that there is little to no audible difference between their product and hi-res material. Frankly, I can't say with certainty that they are wrong. When I listen to my Oppo SACD and blu ray disks, I cannot say with a certainty that the better sound is not being created by the implementation of the onboard Sabre DACs vs the Sonos DAC. Indeed, when I run the Sonos through my Sabre equipped Audiolab M-DAC, I'm hard pressed to tell the difference between hi-res FLAC and the Sonos. My wanting Sonos to include hi-res FLAC may have to do more with the fact that I'm an inveterate tinkerer rather than obtaining a demonstrably better output.
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My final thought:  Hires is "Not Planned."  We are all on notice that this is not happening.  I have to put on hold my next Sonos purchases, extending the system further in the house (another room and a soundbar) as there is a likelihood now that I will have to re-tool to play hires in the future.  I doubt there are many of us as Sonos clearly believes that their mainstream middle market is wide open and unsaturated and they want to be the "popular" multi room system provider, not the "high end" audiophile provider, and I can understand the decision.   By the time mainstream moves to hires, Sonos will have reaped enormous profits from their marketing posture and probably be in a different product line by then altogether.  Just like early Apple and early IBM PC, the unexpected competition could come from "knock offs," straight duplicates of Sonos and this may be a problem for Sonos eventually.  I think a knock off could upset Sonos's plans considerably as anyone could start a "SoundOff" line of hardware and proprietary wifi.  Then -- Sonos will scramble for market share and anything can happen.  For now, I will not expand Sonos in the  home.