Connect:Amp System Recommendation

  • 9 April 2019
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This is probably mostly of interest to those in the UK, because that's where the prices are relevant. Consider this a pubic service announcement :)

I had a spare Connect:Amp after buying one of the new Amps. It was sitting forlornly in its box, so I was looking for a pair of relatively compact and inexpensive speakers to partner it with, to return it to usefulness. I settled on a pair of Q Acoustics Concept 20s, and I ordered a pair without listening to them beforehand. (Yes, I know.)

They arrived today, and I'm really, properly impressed with the sound quality of the resulting system. They're a perfect match for the Connect:Amp's power (and more than loud enough for me), and if you buy the white version they're also a perfect match aesthetically, with their white and aluminium construction. In my view, this system is something of an excellent audio bargain, with the Connect:Amp discounted at £399 and the speakers discounted at £279. You're getting a lot of sound quality plus Sonos integration and convenience for £678.

I also happen to prefer the look and build quality of the Connect:Amp over the new Amp, but that's probably just personal. The Concept 20s also have high-end build quality.

Anyway, I have no skin in this game. I just think I've stumbled on a very good system pairing, so I thought I'd share.

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I settled on a pair of Q Acoustics Concept 20s, and I ordered a pair without listening to them beforehand. (Yes, I know.)

with the Connect:Amp discounted at £399 and the speakers discounted at £279. You're getting a lot of sound quality plus Sonos integration and convenience for £678.

I also happen to prefer the look and build quality of the Connect:Amp over the new Amp, but that's probably just personal. The Concept 20s also have high-end build quality.

I find that these days, speakers at the above price points from the usual brands are more similar sounding than different, in a good way; which is to say that most sound good enough to deliver long term listening pleasure. One could just choose the speaker pair on the aesthetic without too much risk, seeing also that how a speaker looks does influence how good it is perceived to sound.

The other thing with passive speakers is long service life, so it is relatively safe to pick up used kit which can make it even more value for money.

And as far as the look of the Connect Amp is concerned, it can be made a non issue by keeping it out of sight, as long as it gets enough space above it for the heat to radiate away.

The only rider I have to offer is that there is a two step process that will usually better the above recommendation: start with a pair of discounted play 1 speakers and when budget next permits, add the Sonos Sub. Properly set up, placed, and true play tuned, this will give HiFi set ups of even higher price points a very strong challenge. However this misses out on bluetooth connectivity, more on which below:

My desktop system now is a Connect Amp + Dali Zensor 1 pair which is also very good. I had a play 1 pair there which sounded just as good even without a Sub, but when I wanted voice control via a Echo Dot it had to make way for the line in equipped Connect Amp because that is the only way I can combine Echo and Sonos in India. The 1 pair on desktop stands from Flexson was better suited from a size/footprint point of view, but I needed the line in jacks of the Connect Amp. This also comes with the bonus of getting bluetooth connectivity for the Connect Amp via the Dot, to stream from either the desktop Mac or from a phone, making this a more versatile set up than a just Sonos set up. In fact even if one does not want voice, the Dot makes for a very good/cheap way to add bluetooth connectivity to Sonos, and where Amazon music is concerned, music can also be cast to Sonos via the Amazon Music phone app, with the Dot mic left disabled.
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I thought I'd throw in some gratuitous photos to illustrate the aesthetic match of these speakers with the Connect:Amp. I'm still delighted with the sound quality from this setup.









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And as far as the look of the Connect Amp is concerned, it can be made a non issue by keeping it out of sight, as long as it gets enough space above it for the heat to radiate away.
I really like the look of the C:A, no need to hide it away!

The only rider I have to offer is that there is a two step process that will usually better the above recommendation: start with a pair of discounted play 1 speakers and when budget next permits, add the Sonos Sub. Properly set up, placed, and true play tuned, this will give HiFi set ups of even higher price points a very strong challenge.
The system I'm describing is in a different league to a pair of P1:s without a Sub. However, I should try my P1:s with my Sub when I'm feeling less lazy. I'd say the system runs a pair of P:5s quite close, but is not as good as a pair of P:5s + Sub.

However this misses out on bluetooth connectivity
I don't have a need for Bluetooth because I can use AirPlay to all of my Sonos devices. Much better, not range limited, and lossless end-to-end when required.

when I wanted voice control via a Echo Dot it had to make way for the line in equipped Connect Amp because that is the only way I can combine Echo and Sonos in India.
Like you, I use separate Echo devices for voice control, grouped with the relevant Sonos players for music playback. I prefer this to the Sonos integrated options.
I don't know where the table is from, but the photos also show that the Ikea design aesthetic and Sonos go quite well together! Not surprising, I reckon the Apple/Ikea/Sonos designers are from same/similar design schools.

I do not expect the 1 units to sound as rich as the speaker pair here given the cabinet size constraints, but I expect the Sub addition to tilt the balance. Hence the two step description, saving the money from a discounted 1 pair for the later addition of the Sub. And an interesting comparison would be 1 pair + Sub against the set up in the picture + Sonos Sub, which would be significantly costlier. I would expect the 1 pair + Sub to comfortably hold its own.

But the big miss for the 1 pair could be line in jacks, if these are needed for things like Dots and turntables.
How do you use Airplay with Connect Amp?
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I don't know where the table is from, but the photos also show that the Ikea design aesthetic and Sonos go quite well together! Not surprising, I reckon the Apple/Ikea/Sonos designers are from same/similar design schools.
Not IKEA, but I think your point is correct.

I would expect the 1 pair + Sub to comfortably hold its own.
I think that's quite plausible.

How do you use Airplay with Connect Amp?
I use AirConnect [1], wrapped up into a little plug and play Raspberry Pi appliance I've been tinkering with. I'll PM you the details. I've made some modest contributions to AirConnect to make it work better for non-technical users. AirConnect allows the use of AirPlay with any Sonos player, very reliably in my experience.

[1] https://github.com/philippe44/AirConnect

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