Dilemma in choosing Sonos components

  • 30 October 2023
  • 17 replies
  • 570 views

Hi - to make this complex question simple to read I am being direct with my dilemma.

I have two priorities.

  1. the best hifi sound I can get for the money
  2. enhanced tv/movies
  • Average size room
  • 55” LG C1 tv (terrible sound)
    • Bluetooth Surround Ready
    • Simplink (HDMI CEC)
  • Currently have a traditional stereo component system I want to get rid of, Nothing great
  • Turntable music important

After countless hours of Sonos research but never having heard anything in person, I am pondering the following options:

  1. two Era 300s - the comments I’ve read make me wonder if these would suffice without a soundbar.
  2. Beam 2 AND sub mini AND two Era 100s - Since the 100s are not dolby atmos would the soundbar give me all the enhanced tv sound I might like?
  3. Beam 2 AND two Era 300s - Do the Era 300s make the soundbar redundant?

Your thoughts are very much appreciated.

-Will

 


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17 replies

  1. No, there isn’t a way to make this work.
  2. i like this option, although Atmos is simulated in the Beam, there are no true upward firing speakers in either the Beam, or the 100s. The optimal setup would be the Arc, which has those upward firing speakers, and the 300s, also with the upward firing speakers built in.
  3. Not terrible, just not as optimal as above, and you’d miss the Sub. No, the 300s do not make the Beam redundant, they’d be surrounds, not fronts. 
Userlevel 7
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Best: Arc, 300 Surrounds, Sub or even two.

Downgrade to, 100 Surrounds and/or a mini-Sub or no Sub.

 

Not bad: Beam, 300 Surrounds, mini-Sub.

Downgrade to, 100 Surrounds or One SL Surrounds

 

I have Beams and an Arc here and for my main room and music the Arc stands well above the Beam.

Sub or no-Sub for watching TV shows or background music is fine. My music and movies really are better with a Sub. I don’t have a mini-Sub to compare but it would be better than no Sub.

I’m using Play 1s and One SLs as surrounds and they are decent but I’d really like to go to 100s. I don’t do much Atmos and don’t have room for the 300 or they’d be on my list.

Userlevel 7
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Note though that all systems above address your home theatre needs only. When Eras are used for surrounds the line-in is disabled so you have no turntable input to your system yet. 

For best music quality, Sonos themselves say two Fives as a stereo pair is the way to go. They have line-in too but you will need a pre-amp if your turntable doesn’t already provide this output level. 

Thank you Airgetlam, Nik and Stanley.

I realize you folks are not paid audio consultants so I appreciate any attempt to continue this discussion.

Please clarify: I assumed that whatever source sound is coming through the soundbar is also going to come through any and all other Sonos speakers.  But if I now understand correctly, only one speaker can have music coming from a turntable and there is no way to synchronize it to all the speakers(?)  Even if it was just a soundbar and subwoofer, the sub would be silent?  If that's true, I'm afraid Sonos is not the best choice for me. However, could this be an option: Connect the turntable rca plugs to hdmi and connect the hdmi to the tv.  Would that allow me to play records through the whole system?  I'm just not sure the tv would recognize an analog output.

Alternatively, what about a bluetoothe transmitter from turntable to tv?

I’m assuming I would be able to play a dvd or cd through all the speakers as long as it’s connected to the tv, right?

Airgetlam, re: “ Not terrible, just not as optimal as above, and you’d miss the Sub. No, the 300s do not make the Beam redundant, they’d be surrounds, not fronts.”

I asked this question because the 300s are dolby atmos.  Would they be atmos as surround speakers?

Stan, I think the Arc is just too big for my room and tv.  I would HAVE to mount it on the wall because it would cover too much of the screen. Plus it’s expensive.

Nik, Just so I understand how it works, could the turntable play through two Fives at the same time?

Thank you again.

Will

Bluetooth transmitter
rca to hdmi

 

Yes, as surrounds, the 300s would receive an Atmos signal from the Sonos soundbar, and split it to the upward firing speakers. It would not do this (to my knowledge) from the Sonos Amp, although I would be happy to be corrected on that. 

Userlevel 7
Badge +18

Thank you Airgetlam, Nik and Stanley.

I realize you folks are not paid audio consultants so I appreciate any attempt to continue this discussion.

Please clarify: I assumed that whatever source sound is coming through the soundbar is also going to come through any and all other Sonos speakers.  But if I now understand correctly, only one speaker can have music coming from a turntable and there is no way to synchronize it to all the speakers(?)  Even if it was just a soundbar and subwoofer, the sub would be silent?  If that's true, I'm afraid Sonos is not the best choice for me. However, could this be an option: Connect the turntable rca plugs to hdmi and connect the hdmi to the tv.  Would that allow me to play records through the whole system?  I'm just not sure the tv would recognize an analog output.

Alternatively, what about a bluetoothe transmitter from turntable to tv?

I’m assuming I would be able to play a dvd or cd through all the speakers as long as it’s connected to the tv, right?

 

Nik, Just so I understand how it works, could the turntable play through two Fives at the same time?

Thank you again.

Will

 

To answer the question directed to me:

You can have one standalone Five, and connect your turntable to it via line-in. If you have two Fives, they can be two independent “rooms” (Sonos’s terminology to identify a speaker or a set of speakers), or you can set them up as a stereo pair.

If they are a stereo pair, the sound from your tt will play through both speakers - ie left channel and right channel. 

If they are two separate rooms, you can use a Sonos feature called grouping. This means the same source - ie your tt - will play to both rooms. Indeed, if the tt is connected to the Five in room1, you can still stream music to room1 and yet have the tt as a source in room2. 


On your other questions:

If you have an Arc, Sub and surrounds set up as a room called, say, Den, then any time you stream music to Den, that music will play through all speakers including Sub. If you have a stereo 2-channel cd as a source, Den will only find a front-left and front-right signal so nothing will play through the rear surround speakers. The Sub will always play the low frequency sounds, with the Arc handling other frequencies. 
If you do have Den and room1, the Den can be grouped as per grouping I mentioned above - ie Den can play the tt as a source. In this scenario, I believe that the Arc and surrounds will all play. 
 

 

Userlevel 7
Badge +22

For streaming (and maybe line-in) you can select a setting on a surround system that will get the rear speakers to mirror the stereo signal the front is playing. See Full Mode.

Your eyes may say “too big” but it is rarely something your ears will say.

Instead of wall mounting consider a TV stand like the Sanus I have that lets me raise the TV to clear the Arc. You can also mount the Arc to the stand if you would like it to pivot with the screen instead of sitting on your cabinet.

 

Stand:  https://www.crutchfield.com/p_051WSTV1/Sanus-WSTV1.html

Arc mount:  https://www.crutchfield.com/p_051SATM1B/Sanus-WSSATM1-B2.html

Userlevel 7
Badge +17

Yes, as surrounds, the 300s would receive an Atmos signal from the Sonos soundbar, and split it to the upward firing speakers. It would not do this (to my knowledge) from the Sonos Amp, although I would be happy to be corrected on that. 

To my knowledge Era 300’s cannot be bonded as surrounds to an Amp. They need a master that can handle Atmos too, i.e. the Beam (Gen 2) or the Arc.

Strangely though, the Era 300 page does not mention the Amp in the faq section: https://www.sonos.com/en/shop/era-300

Thank you Airgetlam, Nik and Stanley.

I realize you folks are not paid audio consultants so I appreciate any attempt to continue this discussion.

Please clarify: I assumed that whatever source sound is coming through the soundbar is also going to come through any and all other Sonos speakers.  But if I now understand correctly, only one speaker can have music coming from a turntable and there is no way to synchronize it to all the speakers(?)  Even if it was just a soundbar and subwoofer, the sub would be silent?  If that's true, I'm afraid Sonos is not the best choice for me. However, could this be an option: Connect the turntable rca plugs to hdmi and connect the hdmi to the tv.  Would that allow me to play records through the whole system?  I'm just not sure the tv would recognize an analog output.

Alternatively, what about a bluetoothe transmitter from turntable to tv?

I’m assuming I would be able to play a dvd or cd through all the speakers as long as it’s connected to the tv, right?

 

Nik, Just so I understand how it works, could the turntable play through two Fives at the same time?

Thank you again.

Will

 

To answer the question directed to me:

You can have one standalone Five, and connect your turntable to it via line-in. If you have two Fives, they can be two independent “rooms” (Sonos’s terminology to identify a speaker or a set of speakers), or you can set them up as a stereo pair.

If they are a stereo pair, the sound from your tt will play through both speakers - ie left channel and right channel. 

If they are two separate rooms, you can use a Sonos feature called grouping. This means the same source - ie your tt - will play to both rooms. Indeed, if the tt is connected to the Five in room1, you can still stream music to room1 and yet have the tt as a source in room2. 


On your other questions:

If you have an Arc, Sub and surrounds set up as a room called, say, Den, then any time you stream music to Den, that music will play through all speakers including Sub. If you have a stereo 2-channel cd as a source, Den will only find a front-left and front-right signal so nothing will play through the rear surround speakers. The Sub will always play the low frequency sounds, with the Arc handling other frequencies. 
If you do have Den and room1, the Den can be grouped as per grouping I mentioned above - ie Den can play the tt as a source. In this scenario, I believe that the Arc and surrounds will all play. 
 

 

I certainly appreciate the thorough response.  Helps a lot.

For streaming (and maybe line-in) you can select a setting on a surround system that will get the rear speakers to mirror the stereo signal the front is playing. See Full Mode.

Your eyes may say “too big” but it is rarely something your ears will say.

Instead of wall mounting consider a TV stand like the Sanus I have that lets me raise the TV to clear the Arc. You can also mount the Arc to the stand if you would like it to pivot with the screen instead of sitting on your cabinet.

 

Stand:  https://www.crutchfield.com/p_051WSTV1/Sanus-WSTV1.html

Arc mount:  https://www.crutchfield.com/p_051SATM1B/Sanus-WSSATM1-B2.html

Those are great ideas and you’ve given me something to think about.  I’m going to go to Best Buy and hear the Arc.  It’s’ not the ideal environment I know but there aren’t any stereo sound rooms around here where you can really compare.  I did hear the Arc at Costco but you can’t really tell much there.

Userlevel 7

Hi

I’ll just throw in my two cents on this subject for what it’s worth 😊 My comments are focused on Dolby Atmos sound with Sonos.

I’m not keen on Buetooth audio for a turntable. Therefore, I will always recommend a direct connection to a Sonos speaker via line-in or a Sonos Port (the latter is not a direct connection but is still better than Bluetooth).

However, for the price of a Sonos Port ($449) you can use two Era 100’s in stereo pair ($500) connected via line-in to one of the speakers. The turntable must have a built-in pre-amp or be connected to a 3rd party pre-amp that sits between it and the Sonos Era 100’s. 

Here are my suggestions for Home Theater with option for turntable audio:

  • Arc, Era 300’s as surrounds and Sonos Sub (Full Size)_Era 100 x 2 for Turntable ($2,971*
  • Arc, Era 300’s as surrounds and Sonos Sub Mini_Era 100 x 2 for Turntable
  • Beam 2, Era 300’s as surrounds and Sonos Sub (Full Size)_Era 100 x 2 for Turntable
  • Beam 2, Era 300’s as surrounds and Sonos Sub Mini_Era 100 x 2 for Turntable ($2,326**

All the above will provide excellent sound and allow audio for any source connected to your TV. Prices shown include $500 cost of Era 100’s x 2.

Turntable audio can be dedicated to the Era 100’s in stereo pair and/or heard through any of the above options for Home Theater when Grouped.

Note:

  • The line-in for Sonos speakers when used as surrounds is disabled; therefore using the Era 300’s is not an option.
  • Sonos subs are dedicated to Home Theater options with Arc or Beam 2 and cannot easily be joined to the Era 100’s (possible but very time consuming) 

 

 * Expensive (includes Sonos limited time $125 discount)...but is the Best option for a complete immersive experience with Dolby Atmos and any other digital codec supported by Sonos

 ** Most cost effective option for Dolby Atmos experience and any other digital codec supported by Sonos

Update to all my helpers.

Yesterday I went in to Best Buy. They have a complete Sonos demo area set up.

 I know that room acoustics are everything and this contradicts everything but when I A/B the Arc vs Beam, I liked the Beam a little better. In this demo I could turn subwoofers on or off.  I could hear the difference but I liked the sub mini just fine.

Then I compared the Three vs Five (just one, not paired).  I have to say I preferred the Three.

Maybe this is because that’s what I wanted to happen.  I don’t know.

Now as far as setting up a turntable to integrate in to the entire system, turns out my local Best Buy has a Sonos “expert” on staff and he does free in-home consulting.  The guy I talked to said he (the consultant) is all about Sonos.   He also said he would probably come along because he is learning this stuff himself.

I know Best Buy does not pay commissions or subs/spiffs so I am not too concerned about them pushing one thing or another.

I will update after the consult.  Thanks!

Userlevel 7

@WillWillWill 

The Beam can sound better in certain situations as it does not have upward firing drivers therefore forcing all sound toward the front. In my environment where I can relax in my favorite seating position and play the same content the Arc sounds better especially for Dolby Atmos movie content. BTW…have Arc and Beam2 and did perform a A/B test. It was time consuming but worth the effort.

Preference for Era 300 vs Five is again a personal decision. However, to my ear the Five offers a true-to-life hi-fi experience for stereo. I have both Era 300 x 2 and Five x 2 and prefer the Fives for serious stereo listening. 
The Era 300’s are the best speaker for music encoded for Spatial Audio hands-down.

As for turntable integration a direct input (line-in) will outperform a Port interface…pro-consult recommendation or not. 

 

Thanks again to Bruce, Stanley, Nik and AJ and Airgetlám.

I went ahead an bought the initial system I proposed:  Beam Gen 2, pair of Era 300s,Sub mini.

Based on all the reviews for each component I thought this HAS to sound great.

Quick background:

  • bit of a hifi nut, but not extreme.
  • wanted better sounding tv and better music system without a gigantic receiver and so many wires.
  • been researching for a new hifi stereo for about 5 years, soundbars for over a year.
  • wanted to keep it under $2000.
  • have been listening to music and tv through a
  •   -  20 year old Sony receiver
  •   -  Pair of 6” Cambridge Soundworks speakers + subwoofer I bought from eBay for $50 about 12 years ago.

Now that I’ve set this system up, I have to say the Sony/Cambridge Soundworks sounded better than I’ve been able to get this Sonos system to sound.

I’ve tried repositioning speakers 3x, each time redoing TruePlay.  They just don’t sound hi fidelity.  No depth. Maybe I’ll try the Fives….

I will say however that I have heard notes and nuances from music that I had never heard before.

Also, I don’t care for the trouble to take the 300’s out of the surround move to make them a stereo pair and remove the subwoofer and add it to the 300’s.

I also don’t like the fact that I can’t play youtube videos through the system. Youtube Music doesn’t have anywhere near the breadth of music as regular youtube, and there’s no video to watch a concert without mirroring my iphone.

Sonos says “Easily manage your system from any room... Easily connect speakers over WiFi to create the sound system you want”.  Nothin easy about it.

That’s my update/venting session.

Will

 

 

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Very interesting thread here. Each of you had something educational (for me) to say. Thanks! Currently, I have an Arc and a Gen3 sub running from my TV HDMI-Arc output. I’m thinking of adding two Era 100’s to as a surround set up. I’ve never had a home theater type of system and I’m thinking this would be pretty good for our 13x13 living room. However, from what I’ve read, it doesn’t sound like the Era 100’s (or others) can be both a surround pair for TV, and a stereo pair for music. I’m concerned that once they’re set up as part of the surround system, it won’t sound nearly as good for music as my Hi-Fi stereo system. Are my thoughts correct? Perhaps I should keep my TV and Hi-Fi system components completely separate instead of trying to satisfy both TV and music from the Sonos set up. Thoughts? Thanks in advance.

Your thoughts are correct. There are no Sonos speakers that can be in two ‘rooms’ concurrently. They are either set up as surrounds, or as a stereo pair.

Yes, you could go through the process of dissociating them from one use to another repeatedly, most of us find that to be a bit too much, and you also lose any TruePlay tuning, if you’ve done so in either room.

Sonos has anticipated this, by offering a ‘full’ or ‘ambient’ setting for the surround speakers when streaming music. When used, ‘full’ makes them stereo speakers, ‘ambient’ gives them a support role from the connected soundbar. I am unfamiliar with anyone who uses the ‘ambient’ setting, although it does appear to be the default setting when you add the speakers. 

You could do as many have done, and have two separate Sonos ‘rooms’ set up. For instance, I have an Arc, a Sub, and a pair of surrounds (PLAY:1s that I use for my TV. In a different Sonos ‘room’, I have a pair of PLAY:5s that I use for music only. They physically flank the Arc, as I like stereo separation for my music listening pleasure.

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Thanks Bruce, and also Stanley who answered a similar question I had asked previously. It’s just taken me a while to digest it all and keep it straight, as I’m fairly new to the system’s nuances. I think I will buy two pairs of Era 100’s. One pair for surrounds and another for a separate physical room to accommodate music listening. Thanks for the replies!

Mike