Why is there input delay on line-in and digital inputs?

  • 13 December 2022
  • 34 replies
  • 9842 views

So, I know this topic has been discussed a gazillion times already. But I’m really getting upset by this. Why does there have to be a delay when using Sonos (Five or Amp for example, I’ve owned both) in standalone mode? 
 

8/10 times my usecase for Sonos is casual listening via streaming services. But 2/10 times I want to use Sonos for live instrument playback. Such as a drum machine and other stuff I own. Or for desktop/youtube playback. 

I’ve spent literally hours searching for the best speaker setup for casual multiroom usage and some small birthday dancing and an input for live instruments. It exists, but I’d have to leave Sonos and go for Denon. But I would rather not.

 

The minimum of 50-75ms delay in standalone usage for the Sonos Amp and Five is completely unnecessary. It forces me to have an extra pair of Yamaha hs7 at hand, while I’d rather get an Sonos Five instead.

 

I know the arguments of people defending Sonos:

  • Sonos is not made for that usecase
  • The delay has to be there per design and cannot be removed
  • Removing the delay would add complexity and not be user friendly
  • Only a very small portion of the users would use this

but this is simply not true

  • Denon heos/Home allows for standalone use with AUX input and only adds delay when grouping for stereo or other rooms. 
  • If Sonos is not made for external instruments, why have a line in? If you want line in only for streaming purpose with delay, there is a Sonos Port for that.
  • It’s super user friendly actually to have no delay in standalone mode. It would solve all lip sync threads from people who only have 1 device. Also, as soon as other speakers are added you simply add delay. Like Denon does, no questions asked.
  • It would add usecases to expand the userbase actually. Right now it’s a small portion of the SONOS users. But how about everyone who does not buy sonos because of this? Those voices are unheard and who knows how many people they consist of 🤷🏼‍♂️ 

Martech 1 year ago

@Martech - I do get why you want this.  I just think you are destined for disappointment.  But who knows?

I have just registered the fact that you also mention digital inputs.  The delays here should be smaller than for analog inputs - to the point of being unnoticeable.  Has that not been your experience?


As far as I know there will always be a minimum of 50-75ms delay. Correct me if i’m wrong. HDMI is supposed to negotiate with your television to achieve ‘lip-sync). And I must admit, it took me a few days to get used to ‘lip-sync grade delay’. In the beginning I would notice, but after some time I didn’t bother anymore. 

But for live instruments (keyboard, drum machine) where you have to time your input based on the sound, a delay of 50ms+ is to high. 

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34 replies

@buzz I get what you say. Of course, my Yamaha Monitor speakers are built for my live music usecase. So now I have sonos in my living room, and yamaha’s at my desk. You could argue this is the best setup.

Sonos is intended for multi-room usage after all. And I totally understand there has to be a delay to make this work reliable. Nevertheless, when only using one speaker (or 2+ when using Sonos Amp with wires speakers in 2.1 setup) connected via digital or analog input, there is simply no need for delay. The delay can be added as soon as needed: when streaming from or to other (grouped/stereo) speakers. For example: the sonos amp in 2.1 does not need any delay. As soon as you add rear speakers or group it with an other room. Then yes, you need the delay for it to function. 

 

Stop referring to a “digital input”.  The only Sonos devices with digital inputs are soundbars made for TV.  The others (Port, Amp, Five) are all analog inputs.

As to “The delay can be added as soon as needed: when streaming from or to other (grouped/stereo) speakers.”, you do know you can switch from a single speaker to a group of up to 32 speakers with a tap of the controller?  So how are you going to magically add a 75 ms buffer to that “standalone” stream without stopping the music?  The music playing seamlessly when grouping and ungrouping is part of the Sonos experience, stopping the music to build up a buffer is not.  

Stop referring to a “digital input”.  The only Sonos devices with digital inputs are soundbars made for TV.  The others (Port, Amp, Five) are all analog inputs.

As to “The delay can be added as soon as needed: when streaming from or to other (grouped/stereo) speakers.”, you do know you can switch from a single speaker to a group of up to 32 speakers with a tap of the controller?  So how are you going to magically add a 75 ms buffer to that “standalone” stream without stopping the music?  The music playing seamlessly when grouping and ungrouping is part of the Sonos experience, stopping the music to build up a buffer is not.  

I specifically refer to my Sonos Amp which DOES have a digital AND analog input. It’s called HDMI and there is also a HDMI to optical dongle. And since the Amp is cleary made for a Hifi experience, why not offer Hifi-like 0 delay experience. 

And to answer your question: when I group I have to hold the play button and it takes ~2 seconds and and a confirmation ‘bleep’ before the device starts playing. So I guess it would not be that big of a problem that IF a standalone device is playing at 0 delay (because it’s plugged in via an analog or digital input), it would simply play a 75ms ‘bleep’ to confirm and to masquarade a pause. Heck, you wouldn’t even hear it if you are in a other room pressing the group button on a other device.

 

And to get back to a proposed solution using a Five; Since there have been no answers, I think no one knows if the Play:5 / Five standalone ‘workaround’ by disabling network connection actually works for everyone, or if it was just a bug.  

I specifically refer to my Sonos Amp which DOES have a digital AND analog input. It’s called HDMI and there is also a HDMI to optical dongle. And since the Amp is cleary made for a Hifi experience, why not offer Hifi-like 0 delay experience. 

And to answer your question: when I group I have to hold the play button and it takes ~2 seconds and and a confirmation ‘bleep’ before the device starts playing. So I guess it would not be that big of a problem that IF a standalone device is playing at 0 delay (because it’s plugged in via an analog or digital input), it would simply play a 75ms ‘bleep’ to confirm and to masquarade a pause. Heck, you wouldn’t even hear it if you are in a other room pressing the group button on a other device.

 

That’s a function of the long press on the play button, not the actual grouping.  If you group via the app, as most do, grouping is almost instantaneous and there is no ‘bleep’.  

 

And to get back to a proposed solution using a Five; Since there have been no answers, I think no one knows if the Play:5 / Five standalone ‘workaround’ by disabling network connection actually works for everyone, or if it was just a bug.  

 

It’s been answered before; the Five will have the delay regardless of the network connectivity.  The person claiming otherwise was just wishful thinking.  

Bottom line, if you need live performance type response, Sonos is not fit for purpose.  Find something else. 

 

Stop referring to a “digital input”.  The only Sonos devices with digital inputs are soundbars made for TV.  The others (Port, Amp, Five) are all analog inputs.

As to “The delay can be added as soon as needed: when streaming from or to other (grouped/stereo) speakers.”, you do know you can switch from a single speaker to a group of up to 32 speakers with a tap of the controller?  So how are you going to magically add a 75 ms buffer to that “standalone” stream without stopping the music?  The music playing seamlessly when grouping and ungrouping is part of the Sonos experience, stopping the music to build up a buffer is not.  

I specifically refer to my Sonos Amp which DOES have a digital AND analog input. It’s called HDMI and there is also a HDMI to optical dongle. And since the Amp is cleary made for a Hifi experience, why not offer Hifi-like 0 delay experience. 

 

 

If you’re going to split hairs, it’s an HDMI-ARC connection, not HDMI.  It’s using an HDMI cable but a source that outputs audio over the HDMI standard won’t be read by the Amp, It has to to output over the ARC channels.    And since HDMI-ARC was clearly designed for AV setups, and with view exceptions, only TVs generated the signal, it’s quite a stretch to claim that it’s to be used for straight audio sources.  Yes, you can use an optical dongle, but that was created for legacy TVs that are not HDMI-ARC compatible.  The fact that you this source is labeled as TV and can’t be renamed emphasizes this point.  Again, you might be able to use the Amp for unintended purposes, but that that doesn’t suddenly make it an intended purpose.

 

And to answer your question: when I group I have to hold the play button and it takes ~2 seconds and and a confirmation ‘bleep’ before the device starts playing. So I guess it would not be that big of a problem that IF a standalone device is playing at 0 delay (because it’s plugged in via an analog or digital input), it would simply play a 75ms ‘bleep’ to confirm and to masquarade a pause. Heck, you wouldn’t even hear it if you are in a other room pressing the group button on a other device.

 

 

This is not a feature I would want instead of current functionality, and not something I would ever turn on.  I don’t want a moment of bleeps or silence every time I change the groupings in place.  As well, how would it handle the case where you go from a group to a single player.  Do you just skip 75ms of the audio?

 

 

 

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I replaced my Sonos S1 system last week, which previously consisted of 3 Sonos Connect and a Sonos Connect AMP with Sonos Port and Sonos Amp. 
Why I did that I wonder now - maybe I just wanted to continue to support Sonos as one of the first users.
So now I have a new Sonos Amp in my home office. Here, my typical usage looked like connecting via line-in to the audio output of my notebook.
I played music mostly through the Windows Controller app and for video conferencing I use the line-in signal.
This worked wonderfully with the old S1 Sonos Connect Amp, but is NOT possible with the new device. 
The audio delay described here is a game stopper here. So this is what I spent thousands on - cool.

I replaced my Sonos S1 system last week, which previously consisted of 3 Sonos Connect and a Sonos Connect AMP with Sonos Port and Sonos Amp. 
Why I did that I wonder now - maybe I just wanted to continue to support Sonos as one of the first users.
So now I have a new Sonos Amp in my home office. Here, my typical usage looked like connecting via line-in to the audio output of my notebook.
I played music mostly through the Windows Controller app and for video conferencing I use the line-in signal.
This worked wonderfully with the old S1 Sonos Connect Amp, but is NOT possible with the new device. 
The audio delay described here is a game stopper here. So this is what I spent thousands on - cool.

 

The Line-In delay has been present since the very first ZP100 rolled off the assembly line back in 2005.  There is no difference in the Line-In delay from then to now, or from S1 to S2.  

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@jgatie - Thanks for your answer, which motivated me to dig a little deeper into the Sonos device settings. Here I saw that there was a default value for the signal delay of 2000 ms - no idea why this is the new default value - but I was able to solve my problem very easily by lowering this value to 70 ms. Now everything works like before!

Thank you very much again!

Just adding my own feedback regarding line-in delay.

I have a bunch of Symfonisk speakers to listen to music.

I also have a couple of synthesisers that I toy around with. Those synths sit in my living room, and they need their own speaker, becasue the Symfonisk doesn’t have line-in. That speaker sits directly to the side of one of the Symfonisks.

On top of my Symfonisk speakers not working with my synths, they also don’t connect with my Samsung TV.

Yesterday, I purchased an Era 100 to replace one of the Symfonisks and plug to my synths. But this morning I discover there is that 70ms delay issue.

So, the price I pay to get a wireless speaker system is quite high, because I cannot use these with my TV or music instruments. By that, I mean that just to get things wireless, I need to re-add wired speakers to my TV or synths. At this point, I’m considering selling them and getting a wired system only, which will enable me to get everything to work.

Honestly, I don’t know what Sonos is thinking. As much as I’m probably one of few users wishing to use my Sonos speakers with my music instruments, I sure can’t be the only one wanting to use them with my TV? I’d assume 90% of Sonos/Symfonisk customers would want to use their TV with their speakers.

With regards to a line-in option with no delay: would it be impossible to add a simple software switch in the app, which would enable users to choose between:

  • line-in playback to the entire Sonos system, with delay
  • line-in playback to only that specific speaker, without delay

This switch would trigger the signal being either processed through the Sonos networked system, or directly connected to the speaker’s amp.

It’s true that not many users would need such feature. Probably less than 5%. But if addressing that needs requires little investment, why not do it? Small profit/benefit, but also small investment.

Sonos has done magical things since the company started many years ago.

But there are fundamental hurdles to a truly good experience, such as TV connection, or line-in.

Again, there are probably rich Sonos customers who may have the cash and the room to purchase all the speakers they need - but I feel like Sonos is failing a huge portion of their existing or potential user base.

I would bet that a huge portion of their customers always find themselves having to purchase wired speakers in some places, because Sonos just doesn’t do certain things.

 

Sigh.

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