Getting close to "vinyl" sound on Sonos speakers

  • 6 February 2017
  • 20 replies
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Hello all,

My question is pretty simple: with the understanding that I may not be able to achieve true analog sound (i.e. the "warmth" of vinyl) via a wireless Sonos setup, are there things that I (or others) could do that could get close to it?

I have recently set up my turntable to play through (via a phono preamp and CONNECT) a set of play 1's and a sound bar. I am probably going to add in a play 5 and sub eventually . I think it sounds pretty good at the moment and I really like the capability of switching back and forth between streaming music and my vinyl collection.

I have researched (ad nauseam) the differences between playing vinyl on an analog, hardwired system vs playing it on a Sonos wireless system. While I still consider myself a novice on this topic, I have come to the general conclusion that I may not get the exact "warmth" and sound of an analog system. However, I am willing to live with that due to Sonos' ease of use in playing different media types and its compatibility between the various components.

That being said, I would like to know if there are any options for Sonos users out there who want to come as close to a "true analog" experience as possible.

Any input or suggestions would be most helpful.

Cheers,

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20 replies

I'm not sure what you're looking for in a "vinyl" sound. Compromised frequency response and channel separation? Tracking distortion? Wow? Groove noise? Pre-echo?

Notwithstanding its fidelity shortcomings one can understand that some enjoy the rituals of vinyl, but digital reproduction has long since overcome the harshness exhibited by early equipment.
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Thanks ratty. By "vinyl" sound, I mean the actual sound being produced from the record player. I know that this sound has to then be digitized in order to be sent wirelessly through a Sonos system. To the extent that this changes the original sound (maybe it doesn't and my question is a moot point), I am wondering if there are things Sonos users can do to limit the amount of alteration that takes place.

My goal isn't to argue the relative sound quality merits/demerits of early equipment vs digital. Generally speaking, I get that some like each for different reasons.

Thanks again,
Ah, okay. So basically you're just looking for 'transparency', so that the turntable signal can be whatever it is, good or bad.

In that case just set the Line-In compression setting to Uncompressed. The network encoding is then lossless and the transport from end-to-end is as good as perfect. Any distortion introduced by the front-end ADC and the far-end DAC will be insignificant compared to that which is already present in the turntable's audio output.

You can if you wish use 'Airplay Device' as the Line-In device type, which will retain the lossless encoding but will increase the buffering to improve stream resilience.
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You already have the response from one of the most active experts in the community... the only thing I would add, purely a subjective comment.... add a SUB far sooner than later.

I do love the Sonos gear... and for size and response the 1s are amazing... However, the transformation of my listening experience with the addition of a SUB to my system was amazing. The ability of the system to provide as complete a response as it possibly can from your turntable will be, IMHO, materially augmented by the addition of the SUB to allow the other speakers to lessen the bass response load they carry.
Are you not getting all the clicks and other assorted sounds from the inevitably damaged records even now? That's the vinyl sound! The other thing that you may not be getting is the slightly distorted towards warm sound that tube amplifiers of the past put out that some prefer, and short of adding a valve amplifier and speakers downstream of the Connect.
Hi n8erg8er,


I am a user similar to yourself. I have three play five gentoos and two play ones. Two months ago I hooked up a record player via preamp to my play fives. I have to tell you, the experience has been absolutely wonderful. I was happy with how my streaming service sounded but certain records absolutely destroy digital. There is something missing from digital music that I didn’t realize until now. Don’t let The previous replies stop you on your quest for analogue sound. I think the key is high-quality pieces. I have a 40-year-old deck running into a 30-year-old preamp. They knew how to do audio back in the 70s. The hiss crack and pops people I referring to or people that likely never owned a decent record player or took care of their records. I have run song comparisons vinyl versus streaming for multiple people now and they all prefer the vinyl and are absolutely shocked with the sound reproduction. The only morning I have for anyone wanting to do what we have done is that you will be unsatisfied with streaming your digital music afterwards. LOL
jonathonk74: total newbie here... if I understand right, you have your turntable hardwired to a preamp to a Play:5 also hardwired? Does this mean the sound reaching the speakers is analog as long as they remain hardwired? And then you have the option of going wireless and the sound is converted to digital for the wifi transmission?
No, the play 5 will convert the analog to digital and then back to analog, even where it gets the analog signal into its line in jack.

But this has no audible effect on sound quality, which is why the previous poster has praised it for its analogue quality, while remaining ignorant of these conversions - or should I say, because he is ignorant of them. If he now knows that the sound signal has undergone two conversions inside the 5, how likely is it that he will change his mind because of now being aware of the digital adulteration?! The answer depends on his integrity.

This business about digital destroying records is nonsense, along with the vice versa.
jonathonk74: total newbie here... if I understand right, you have your turntable hardwired to a preamp to a Play:5 also hardwired? Does this mean the sound reaching the speakers is analog as long as they remain hardwired? And then you have the option of going wireless and the sound is converted to digital for the wifi transmission?

Sonos immediately digitizes the analog input using a lossless codec. As Kumar has stated, the poster above is listening to digital music and does not realize it because the lossless codec makes it indistinguishable from the source. But be assured, his "analog" records that "destroy digital" are actually a digital representation of the analog source.

Ironic, eh?
Not just ironic, it is yet another example of psychologically driven bias that all humans are susceptible to, that only some accept as such.
So basically you guys are implying that the sound produced by a Play:5 wired directly to pre/TT is the EXACT SAME audio that would come out of a Play:5 across the room that received the signal wirelessly??
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So basically you guys are implying that the sound produced by a Play:5 wired directly to pre/TT is the EXACT SAME audio that would come out of a Play:5 across the room that received the signal wirelessly??
Not implying, but stating. This is definitely the case.
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You guys must be listening to a lot of garage sale LPs if you think vinyl inevitably entails pops, clicks etc. Although if you don't have a mechanism for cleaning LPs you certainly will end up with artifacts from the curd on the record, just as a gummed up CD may be rendered unplayable.

To the original question, I would comment that by inserting an A/D and D/A conversion in the chain, you introduce the possibility that what comes out may or may not have and sonic difference. In my experience the D/A conversion done on board by Sonos is actually pretty good, although a good stand alone D/A converter may show a difference/improvement (mine does based on blind listening).

BTW, although I have not listened to the Play 5, reports I have from people that have indicate that they are quite good (I use Play 1s for casual listening but have separate amp/speaker set ups in four rooms in the house)
So basically you guys are implying that the sound produced by a Play:5 wired directly to pre/TT is the EXACT SAME audio that would come out of a Play:5 across the room that received the signal wirelessly??

Yes. They are both playing the exact same lossless data stream.

Think about it, if there were sonic differences, stereo pairing of Sonos speakers would not be possible because the quality of each channel would be different.

Also, ADC and DAC chips are basically commodity items. It's not hard to make one that is perfect, and even the most expensive ones are under $10 US. So any decent ADC to DAC conversion should be transparent to the source. If there are differences, it is because the electronics are coloring the source on purpose.
So basically you guys are implying that the sound produced by a Play:5 wired directly to pre/TT is the EXACT SAME audio that would come out of a Play:5 across the room that received the signal wirelessly??

Yes. They are both playing the exact same lossless data stream.

Think about it, if there were sonic differences, stereo pairing of Sonos speakers would not be possible because the quality of each channel would be different.

Also, ADC and DAC chips are basically commodity items. It's not hard to make one that is perfect, and even the most expensive ones are under $10 US. So any decent ADC to DAC conversion should be transparent to the source. If there are differences, it is because the electronics are coloring the source on purpose.


Ok, I get it. I guess I never really thought about it because I've never considered wiring a turntable directly to a Play:1. The point here is that what he believed was true analog sound had actually undergone a digital conversion process.

So is this same conversion occurring when wiring a turntable+ pre-amp+ Connect:Amp+ wired speakers with RCA connections?
Yes. All Line-In connections on Sonos are digitized before playing.
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I've never considered wiring a turntable directly to a Play:1.
Just to point out that a PLAY:1 has no Line-In connection, so you can't wire a turntable to it.
I've never considered wiring a turntable directly to a Play:1.
Just to point out that a PLAY:1 has no Line-In connection, so you can't wire a turntable to it.

Sorry I meant a Play:5 as 'jonathonk74' had mentioned in his post..
Yes. All Line-In connections on Sonos are digitized before playing.

So in a setup with turntable as the source, wired to pre-amp + Connect:Amp, wired to (passive) speakers AND streamed to other wireless Sonos speakers, everything is still in sync (no lag)?
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So in a setup with turntable as the source, wired to pre-amp + Connect:Amp, wired to (passive) speakers AND streamed to other wireless Sonos speakers, everything is still in sync (no lag)?
Correct.