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Sonos port and digital out

  • 6 June 2022
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I acquired a Port a couple of months ago and it is operating through a 30myear old Rotel amp. I am thinking of upgrading to a new Rotel a14 Mk ii which incorporates a reasonable dac. I understand that streamed hires files will play their full resolution. I am wondering if a usb attached to the network and set up as a music library on the port will those files also play at the appropriate resolution?

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Best answer by ratty 6 June 2022, 14:00

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It depends what “reasonable DAC” means. The DAC in the Port is actually perfectly acceptable, based around the well regarded AK4490 chip. 

When Port was first released there was in fact adverse comment about the digital out in Variable Volume mode, owing to some internal signal processing. Using Fixed Volume avoided such DSP effects, as indeed did the analog outs in either Variable or Fixed modes.

As for playing local files, here are the formats supported: https://support.sonos.com/s/article/79. Note that so-called hi-res files of 24-bit depth will play, but sampling rates greater than 48kHz aren’t supported.

I acquired a Port a couple of months ago and it is operating through a 30myear old Rotel amp. I am thinking of upgrading to a new Rotel a14 Mk ii which incorporates a reasonable dac.

If the old Rotel is working as it should be working, there will be nothing audible gained by this move.

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There is also the convenience of having a remote and as I have access to a broad range of hires files that won’t play through the port as they are 96khz or higher it would be nice to be able to play them. The port simply won’t play them. So is it possible for the port to play hires files through the digital from a usb drive attached to the network and set up in Sonos as a music library? Or will it be expecting the music library to play through port dac and therefore say that it cannot play them?

There is also the convenience of having a remote and as I have access to a broad range of hires files that won’t play through the port as they are 96khz or higher it would be nice to be able to play them. The port simply won’t play them. So is it possible for the port to play hires files through the digital from a usb drive attached to the network and set up in Sonos as a music library? Or will it be expecting the music library to play through port dac and therefore say that it cannot play them?

No it’s not the DAC. The Port’s DAC chip is an AK4490, theoretically capable of supporting up to 32/768.

Sonos simply elect not to support the decode of files with sampling rates that deal with frequencies only of relevance to the animal kingdom. Such sampling rates are unnecessary outside the studio (where they help to avoid filter effects), increase network traffic by a factor of x2 (or worse), and have been proven not to be detectable in blind testing.

I suggest you simply batch convert your ‘hi res’ files to 24/48 and enjoy them through your Sonos.

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