No subwoofer bass with the ZP90?

Userlevel 2
Hi all,

I am loving my Sonos system and have used it for quite a while. Lately, I was cranking up the volume on my Denon 1909 receiver that's plugged into my ZP90 and noticed that I'm not really getting much bass (if any) from the subwoofer. The subwoofer is plugged into my receiver via an RCA cable, and RCA as well from the receiver to the ZP90 unit. I do hear deep low level frequencies from my surround speakers, but just no real deep bass from the subwoofer. I know the subwoofer is plugged in correctly cuz when I play games from my PS3, it registers the bass just fine. I initially thought maybe the song wasn't low enough, but when the same song is played on my ZP120, it doesn't have any issues with bass either as it is plugged directly into another subwoofer.

Do I have to use a digital cable to get the bass or something? Or perhaps is there something wrong with my setup? I did look at the Denon display and it did show the subwoofer being on, so I'm not sure what is going on. I hope I'm just missing a silly thing.

Any help is much appreciated... thanks!

9 replies


There is no intrinsic reason why the bass output should be so different.

Always be careful with your conclusions while comparing audio components. Are you using exactly the same speakers and subwoofer, in the same speaker locations when you compare the ZP120's output with your A/V receiver's output? Is your body in exactly the same room location for each comparison? Another consideration is that A/V receivers have level controls for each speaker. In particular, there is a level control for the A/V receiver's subwoofer output. There is no such control on the ZP120. In addition, there are a number of adjustments and effects and "memories" offered in the A/V receiver that can effect the bass level.

When comparing the A/V receiver to the ZP120 make sure that all of the A/V's surround processing is turned OFF.

In all cases you should make sure that the tone controls are set to flat. In the ZP120 and ZP90 go to each ZonePlayer's Equalizer settings page and Reset All. Defeating the tone controls in an A/V receiver can be somewhat difficult because they can be hidden. The individual speaker level settings can set the subwoofer level, effectively acting as another bass control. Further, different settings on an A/V receiver might be saved in memory for each input -- the tone control settings for the PS3 input could be different from the ZP90's input and, each time you select a given input, that input's default settings may be pulled from memory. This memory feature could cause all of your tone control elimination efforts to be reset each time you change A/V receiver inputs.

Bottom line: There are a lot of moving parts to this comparison. Unless you control all of these parts, the comparison is invalid and one cannot prove that something is broken or not.

Depending on your preferences and sensitivities on a audiophile plane, the amplifiers may sound very slightly different, but from your description there is a gross difference that I will attribute operational issues.
Userlevel 2

Thanks for your response. Yeah I do realize there are a lot of variables that are involved. I am using the same speakers for both room setups. The only difference is that one of them has a receiver and one of them don't. The ZP's equalizer settings are all defaulted as well. I do believe that you're right in that it has to do with the level control for the subwoofer output. I used the receiver's automatic calibration tool to set up the sound levels for me since their interface isn't really that user friendly. I'll see if there's a way to navigate it and manually set the subwoofer's volume level. Maybe it's as simple as that...

Userlevel 2
Is the input you are using on your amp set to stereo output? On my Denon 3805 I use the CD input and that defaults to stereo. If you do want it to output to the subwoofer as well you will need to tell the amp that you don't want plain stereo I think.

My amp has a display which shows you which speakers it's driving on each source.
Userlevel 2
I think the key issue is that once a subwoofer cable is connected to the ZP120, all frequencies below 110Hz (I think - I don't have the manual here, could be 110 as well) are sent to the subwoofer.

If you go via ZP90 into another amp, you can usually define this crossover frequency manually. Active subwoofers generally have a knob where you can define the crossover frequency (remember, they get the full mono audio signal via the subwoofer cable and have to "filter out" the high frequencies).

So for a really comparable setup, you have to make sure that
(a) you active subwoofer's crossover frequency is set to 110 (?) Hz (please get the correct frequency from the SONOS manual)
(b) your Denon's crossover frequency should be set to the exact same frequency.

Of course, you should also use decent-quality audio cables to connect your ZP to your receiver...
The ZP120's crossover is fixed at 80Hz.
Userlevel 2
On my Denon amp each input has it's own saved setting from the last time you used it. You haven't said what input on the amp you are using and which speakers are being output to on that input. As I said before, my inputs such as CD are set by default to only output stereo to the 2 front speakers and nothing comes out of the subwoofer.
Userlevel 2
jg666. I am using a B&K Receiver not a Denon in my Den. For the B&K, I have the Sonos plugged in to the V1 in. I have set the B&K to universally play 2.1 sound with all signal LFE or Stereo/multichannel, set to go to the sub at 110Hz with a 24db/Octave Slope. I can just barely audio locate the sub on some music.

For your Denon (I have the 4810 and 3806), most likely you need to go in to the input source and set all LFE +Music/Stereo to split the signal to the sub and also set the frequency. You would need to check the Denon manual. The ZP90 doesn't have a sub out so let the receiver do all the processing. One other thing, Most Denon's have a "Quickselect" feature that lets you quickly get a single setting set up for one button audio macros in addition to what you mentioned where the Denon remembers the last way you set it. Hope this helps.
Userlevel 2
Small stupid question, do you ever looked into the Equlizer settings from the ZP90?? Perhaps there governed the bass down?

Is indeed a stupid question, but simple things we overlook so often :-)

English by Google Translation ... 😉
Userlevel 2
hi there,

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I did try to get it working for a while, but I was out of luck for a while, so I kinda just gave up since the sound was still pretty decent.

At any rate, my output on my amp is set to 5-ch stereo. I did see all the speakers highlighted as well as the subwoofer, but for some reason I never got the bass coming to the subwoofer.

Finally, I decided to call customer support and asked for their help. He guided me to goto my subwoofer setup and set the output to LFE + Main (originally it was just set to LFE). After I did that, it worked! Wish I had made the call a year ago 😃. So yeah, SeattleHTGuy's suggestion is correct. I am all good!

On a side note, after I got this working, I got so excited I decided to play around with some more settings on my amp. I am pumping more audio into the zp90 line-in jacks so now I am broadcasting my football games all over the house! I am loving my Sonos system even more now 🙂


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