what is current limit on songs?

  • 10 February 2006
  • 29 replies
  • 5159 views

Userlevel 2
Where do things stand as far as the ceiling on number of songs Sonos can index/play? Has that number moved up from 40,000? If not, will it?

thx

29 replies

Userlevel 2
can someone from sonos please answer this question? is there any plan to bump up the 40K track limit? it has been asked a couple of times with no definitive answer. thx.
Userlevel 2
I really hope that this limit of 40,000 songs can be raised. It's the only thing holding me back from buying this product. 40,000 may seem like alot, but for someone who has been buying CD's for 20 years and grabs plenty of mp3's of of the net it's really nothing. It's about 3,300 albums. And I'm interested in keeping albums in tact, not just grabbing 2 or 3 songs off of each of my albums. This is a major road block in this product in my opinion.
Userlevel 1
I too have held off because of this 40,000 track limit (which is actually less than 40,000 depending on how much tag information is in each track). I've got to believe that the limit is based on the amount of memory in the controller. I've suggested to Sonos that they redesign a memory card into the controller. Add in a Compact Flash, Secure Digital, heck even a Memory Stick slot and remove this limitation for good. Unfortunately my suggestion seems to have fallen into the old circular file...
Userlevel 2
Thanks for the suggestion.

My apologies if we dont acknowledge every suggestion... if we did you'd get a lot more acknoweldgements and a lot less product development, which wouldn't make anyone happy.

Best,
graham
Userlevel 1
Graham,

Thanks for the reply. Is my assumption correct: is the 40,000 song limitation simply a matter of the amount of memory in the controller? If so, then what are the chances that a memory card will be added to the controller or a new controller will be available with more memory? I know Sonos is not in the habit of discussing future features, but you may be able to tell us whether enough people have asked for this feature to warrant your investigation of it... I'd really prefer a memory card option because as soon as you double the memory to lets say 80,000 tracks, someone out there will say "...I can't use it because I have 100,000 tracks...".
Userlevel 4
Badge +2
Graham,

Thanks for the reply. Is my assumption correct: is the 40,000 song limitation simply a matter of the amount of memory in the controller? If so, then what are the chances that a memory card will be added to the controller or a new controller will be available with more memory? I know Sonos is not in the habit of discussing future features, but you may be able to tell us whether enough people have asked for this feature to warrant your investigation of it... I'd really prefer a memory card option because as soon as you double the memory to lets say 80,000 tracks, someone out there will say "...I can't use it because I have 100,000 tracks...".


Yes, you are partially correct.

All your music files need to be indexed. These indexes are stored in memory on the zone players, not the controller. There is a limit on the amount of memory in the ZPs and therefore an upper limit on the size of this index. The more tracks, the larger the index requirement.

The index stores tag information like artist/title/genre etc and also playlist contents.

To increase the index size, will require additional memory space to be created by either increasing available memory or compressing the index file further...which could slow the system down.

No index is stored on the controllers.

discoduck1975 - You may have been "buying CD's for 20 years", which incidentally makes you the earliest adopter of CD technology that I know and also a very rich 11years old, but it doesn't mean that we appreciate music pirates on here. Downloading mp3 music off the net is illegal and results in the 'good guys' amongst us being hampered by crappy copy protection solutions to try and stop people like you.

Sonos isn't a cheap product and therefore only really appeals to people who have money. People with money usually buy their music so changing the product to assist music pirates isn't really in their best interests.

40,000 tracks may only be about 3,300 albums but, for those of us buying CDs for 20yrs, that represents around $/£30,000 of investment or $/£1500 per year.

Go on, just for fun...how many tracks didn't you buy? :rolleyes:
Userlevel 2
Ben, I think it is extremly stupid to tell an audience of music enthusiasts (who else cares about a sonos, squeezebox, etc) that having more than 3.000 albums is a clear evidence for beeing a music pirate.

Looks like you are not familiar with the details of national copyright laws in eu countries. By the way, in Germany it is absolutley legal to make private copies from CDs of friends (as long as the CDs are not copy protected). This means, three friends with 1000 CDs each can easily get an archive of 3000 CD copies without violating any laws. May be you don't like this, but it sometimes helps to make yourself informed before calling other people pirates.

also erst denken, dann schreiben!
but for someone who...grabs plenty of mp3's of of the net it's really nothing.

Docbee - Case closed.
Userlevel 2
Ahh I see, the 40k song limit is a design feature of the sonos system to support the fight against "music piracy"... I have never seen it this way... LOL

I think this deserves some honors from the RIAA. Do they have a product of the year category to nomninate it for? 😛
Userlevel 2
I'd settle for a little lag, if the index could be placed on my NAS. That way the consumer is limited by only his/her own disc space.
Userlevel 2
I guess it is the old problem of figuring out when enough is enough! Keeping a product price within limits is always a challenge and memory requirements need to be adjusted to meet the needs of the majority of users; I make no doubt Sonos has achieved this goal.

I for one like to pay for what I need, and although memory is inexpensive, it is unlikely to be advantageous for Sonos to market a product that can cater to far more data than the average user needs. Not for nothing does Dell allow a user to select the memory they want in their computers; Apple, Gateway - all likewise. One can purchase what one needs and no more.

Of course one can subsequently upgrade purchased memory, and I think this is possibly the best path for Sonos. A small cover in the base of each ZP with a couple, or maybe just the one, SDRAM or DDR slots behind it; not sure about performance requirements. The product would be sold as it is today with today's limits and for end-case users a memory upgrade can be effected simply by upgrading the SIMM or DIMM or whatever. This can be done economically, safely and without exposing the innards of the box to the elements.

Of course the problem of incompatible units now would exist for people who have the older ZPs and then buy new ones in which they install increased memory, but this might be solved in software. The old ZPs would hold as much as they could and the newer ZPs would hold the lot! The software would favor the new, large-memory, ZPs for directory searches and fall-back to the old (or new with no memory upgrade) if none of the large-memory new ones could be found on the network. In this case the user would not have all tracks available until at least one new large-memory ZP was on-line. This would also enable compatible software for those of us with older systems or new ZPs without a memory upgrade.

I make no doubt that the minds that envisaged a system as excellent as Sonos will come up with a solution.

However I must ask this next question as it has been bugging me: What is the purpose of having availability to forty-thousand or more individual music tracks? I assume one listens to the music and needs to decide WHAT to listen to at any one time, it would seem quite a task to select from such a collection if the collection is to be representative - if it is not, then the part that is never played can be dropped or archived. What sort of genre does such a collection cover, is it simply everything available and amassed purely for the joy of collecting? DisoDuck1975 claims he "grabs plenty of mp3's of of the net," but to what purpose? Do you have vast great play-lists that target - what? How much time and what tools does one use? iTunes has a reputed limit to 32K tracks so does one keep multiple libraries?

My collection, of which I am quite proud, is minuscule compared to these figures; forty-thousand is more than enough for us! We have a large collection of Blues and jazz going back decades, we are building up our tape and LP digitized collection and all of our preferred CDs are on-line. It covers just about all types of music there is. We have a great many that are NOT on-line and never will be, these are bad recordings or recordings I do not like or have replaced with a better version, I will not listen to the bad version so I see no point in having it as part of my Sonos collection. These CDs, LPs and tapes eventually find their way to charitable institutions, or simply the garbage.

Lawrence
Userlevel 2
Hmmm... For a sense of scale, 40,000 tracks (at ~3.25 minutes each) is about 90 days of continuous listening, or a full year of unique, non-repeating music 6-8 hours per day. Holy crap.

At 26,000 tracks -- mostly ripped from our CDs, tapes, and LPs -- we have a pretty large collection that keeps surprising me with things I've never heard, or heard and forgotten, but I continue to rip LPs from my old collection (about 500 down, about 1500 to go). I average about an album a day, long term -- that's about 10 tracks. So at that rate (adding one new album to the collection per day) we've got about four years to go before we run into the 40,000 song limit.

We may feel differently when we get there, but for now it seems that there's no human reason to need to index more than that -- one simply can't truly appreciate that much music at once. A radio station or a company might need to index more -- but how could you possibly make use of that much music at once, except perhaps to brag about it?

On the other hand, several fixes spring to mind. If the Sonos team's answers are correct, the limit is due to the system storing the complete index in the master ZP. Short of adding more indexing RAM (is it flash RAM?) to the ZP, one ought to be able to simply distribute the DB across multiple ZPs. A system that can stream music uncompressed from station to station shouldn't have much trouble farming out DB queries across itself. Even allowing for some overhead, that should give over 30,000 song indices per zone player.

Hardware solutions: Sonos could expand their product line by releasing a high-end "ZP120" (or something) with 4x the flash RAM, to serve as a master zone for extreme collectaholics -- but is there much market at that size?

I don't know the internal database structure but if it isn't SQL it should be: SQL engines are screamingly fast and isolate the complexity of a DB back-end into, well, the DB back-end. SQLite rocks and is public-domain. If the database is SQL, then it would be a simple fix to make remote queries to a network-attached SQL server rather than to the ZP's memory. Sonos could even sell a combined NAS box and SQL server to round out the system -- it would be just a commodity linux machine, put in a style-coordinated case and sold at a high % markup, but it would sell because it would eliminate a whole collection of hassles setting up a home system. And with three 500-GB hard drives (or, next year, two 750-GB hard drives) it could hold and index 150,000 tracks -- that should be enough to hold folks a few more years...
Userlevel 2
I would expect that the memory issue was factored into the design of the ZP80 and that it has more memory installed as a result.
Userlevel 4
Badge +2
I would expect that the memory issue was factored into the design of the ZP80 and that it has more memory installed as a result.

As far as I am aware, the track limit will not be raised by adding a ZP-80 into your Sonos setup.

To speak against a suggestion earlier, I would not accept any 'lag' by storing the index on my music share.
Userlevel 2
And even at our paltry level of a collection we are constantly remembering songs we had previously forgotten - Peggy Lee's "Is that all there is" was yesterday's. Sure enough, it was there. That's the beauty of this system, rapid access to anything and play it pretty much anywhere! However, if I had even half of the 40K track limit I would be contantly wondering what I have and most of it would never be listened to!

One thing I am doing though is NOT busting up most LPs into tracks, I guess this is saving tag room. We have a lot of opera and I am simply storing it as half an LP with a single index. I am busting up tapes into tracks, and some of the other LPs, but I find I like to listen to great chunks and half-an-lp-at-a-time works well for us. Audacity makes splitting stuff up very easy though, perhaps I should! Well, it'll give me something to do when I am old and ancient.

SQL is a query language though Zowie, I would assume that Sonos uses low level queries in a well defined flat file DB, not sure they would need an SQL engine, their structure is pretty well defined and quite simple. I'm the one who might want to use SQL to query the collection, find out how many I have of this, duplications of that, and so on. iTunes does not really provide this, Media Rage on the Mac does a bit of it.

My concern over a distributed DB would be what would happen if any given ZP is turned off, but perhaps that never happens in the real world - certainly has not in my house. I like the idea of a ZP120 for the power-user, or "power-collector" maybe!

The more I use Sonos though the more my curiosity is peaked on what is going on in its innards - sure would love to know some of those technical specs. Perhaps they have an east-coast division which could use some consulting services!

Lawrence
Userlevel 4
Badge +2
a 'ZP-120' is an interesting suggestion but is somebody really going to pay extra $$$s to be able to play music that they never paid for in the first place? If they had the money, why didn't they pay for the music?

(apologies to anybody who has legitimately paid for 40k+ tracks)
Userlevel 2
(apologies to anybody who has legitimately paid for 40k+ tracks)

Thank you.
Userlevel 2
First of all, I want to say that I think 40,000 is a lot of tracks, probably more than I'll ever have -- or anybody else will ever have. That's like many thousands of albums. But okay, it still IS a limit, and it's going to affect some people for real. And what I don't really get is why it's there in the first place.

Here are some rough calcs... Let's assume Sonos uses internally a UTF-8 encoding (full Unicode charset, 1 byte for all common English characters).

Then let's be VERY generous and assume approximately 50 characters EACH per song name, artist name, album name, and genre (which is ridiculous, but I'm generous).

Then let's even be more generous and assume zero compression, even though album names alone could obviously be compressed out of there to ~1/15 of the space.

So that's about 200 bytes of information for each track. 40,000 tracks means you'd still only need around 8 MB of memory to store tag information. And let's say you've hired some really dim programmers (seems unlikely based on all the other software from Sonos, but let's just assume) who store the entire thing four times over, each time indexed by a different one of your fields. So that's still 32 MB.

The thing is: you can get 128 MB of flash memory wholesale for under $10, and we're talking about $400-$500 Sonos hardware units, so this obviosly isn't a memory issue unless they made some really strange design decisions early on.

And since you rarely "Update Music Index", and that is a manual process that is fairly slow anyway, it's not likely that the issue is with sending all that tag information around the network all the time.

So can anybody comment on why there's even a 40k track limit in the first place?

I ask purely out of curiosity. I have about 600 CDs (about 30% of the way through ripping them, yay for me!), so I'm not in any immediate danger of bumping into the limit, but I'd love to know why it's there, as it seems to obviously be turning *some* people off from jumping onto the old Sonos bandwagon. Anyone???

-=og=-
Userlevel 2
To put this in perspective, I am sure that there are many people out there that have a very large CD collection which is "legitimate."

I too have been buying CDs since 1986. The first I ever bought was a U2 CD. Since then, I am sorry to say that my wife and I have easily accumulated several thousand CDs. Yep, all purchased with hard earned cash.

Part of the appeal of Sonos is that it allows us to consolidate and more easily access and manage a very large collection. The 40K limit is something we can live with for now, and in the future if that's the way it has to be, but we will definitely start poking at the ceiling as we continue digitizing our collection.

Anyway... I know it's hard to believe but there are people who simply opt to spend a large portion of their $ on music. I don't know what % of the Sonos market fits this pattern, but we're out here. I would imagine there is some correlation between someone being willing to lay out a lot of money to set up a large Sonos network and someone who might buy more than 40K tracks.

I didn't mean to start a controversy by asking this question, nor am I testy about the answer that we should probably not expect the celing to increase. I love Sonos and it is a nice addition to our music listening experience. If the market demands this, I'm sure Sonos will respond with some type of relief.
Userlevel 2
and grabs plenty of mp3's of of the net it's really nothing.

In discoduck1975's defense I'd like to say that technically you don't know if he's pirating based upon his statement. Using Napster or iTunes could constitute this, and of course those methods are legal. I'd also like to add that if a band (typically a small one on an indie label) decided to allow anyone to freely download their album via MP3, that's legit as well.

Of course, I could be totally wrong. But hey, let the dude reply with his defense before someone else calls him an MP3 pirate.

Aside from discoduck1975's comments, I see this "memory cap" on the Sonos ZPs a major issue in regards to getting users with very large collections to buy Sonos. It would seem like you could only take compression of the music db so far until you kill performance, or simply run out of memory on the ZP. But thinking about upgrading memory on the ZPs as a business case, I wonder if Sonos is considering this move. In other words, I wonder if the costs to upgrade the memory on the ZPs gives them enough of a return to satisfy the number of large music collectors that are considering Sonos.

My $0.02.
Userlevel 4
Badge +2
In discoduck1975's defense I'd like to say that technically you don't know if he's pirating based upon his statement. Using Napster or iTunes could constitute this, and of course those methods are legal. I'd also like to add that if a band (typically a small one on an indie label) decided to allow anyone to freely download their album via MP3, that's legit as well.

Of course, I could be totally wrong. But hey, let the dude reply with his defense before someone else calls him an MP3 pirate.


You can't buy mp3 files on iTunes, at all. The same applies for Napster as far as I know.

The duck bloke is welcome to reply, the thread is open, but the silence is deafening 😃
Userlevel 2
RO53BEN, "MP3" is a generic term like Kleenex and TiVo. Yeah, I know if you buy music on iTunes it's probably .AAC or .MP4 file format. And I have no clue what format it is on Napster. It's all music...potato, potato.

But yeah, the silence is driving me mad!:p
Userlevel 4
Badge +2
RO53BEN, "MP3" is a generic term like Kleenex and TiVo. Yeah, I know if you buy music on iTunes it's probably .AAC or .MP4 file format. And I have no clue what format it is on Napster. It's all music...potato, potato.

But yeah, the silence is driving me mad!:p


Sorry mate, here in the UK we have Tissues and PVRs. Oh, and digital music 😛

The sooner mp3 isn't a generic term, the better...it just confuses the consumer.

Now I'm off to hoover 😉
Userlevel 2
Well, it seems that 40K is not just a Sonos limit - take a gander at http://www.olive.us/p_bin/?cid=01_06_musica, neat device but check the limit!

Wouldn't say mp3 is generic, it's pretty well defined like jpeg, html, vindaloo. Still, a point well made.

I grew up in the UK, Sussex, London, Ramsgit - still speak the Queen's English, proper like - but what's a PVR?

I quite hoovering yonks ago - I vacuum, still sucks though.

Lawrence - Har har. Where's that bottle?
Userlevel 2
Ben, staying of topic with you, I have also referred to music downloaded as mp3's in the past...though I don't anymore, and that was a legitamate format to download legally paid for music.

I thinks it's pretty shitty to call someone a thief with no proof, especially a "professional"? moderator?

BTW, representatives from your sonos team recommened downloading from allofmp3.com which has been shown not pay all necessary loyalties in most countries, and your reps knew where I was...they seem to encourage piracy that you seem to be so against.

..........remember, innocent until proven guilty

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