Expected music listening quality?

  • 23 November 2023
  • 7 replies
  • 205 views

Hello. Perhaps forthcoming Sonos user here that is tinkering with the idea of replacing my Yamaha ecosystem with Sonos. But, before I hit the buy button, I’d like to get some insights.

I’m considering to buy a Sonos Arc + Sonos Sub (gen3) + two Sonos Era 100 (placed behind sofa for TV-watching) to get a decent surround sound when watching movies and whatnot.

But – can I expect that setup to perform well (or even awesome?) when I decide to listen just to music? Is there a simple way to switch to stereo listening (which I assume the app can help me with), and can I expect the audio to be … well … ‘pristine’?

Me and my wife talked the other day about replacing our sound system, and also getting a vinyl player to be able to listen to our old records, just like we did in the 80:s/90:s, and I guess that’s possible as well. But the important question is regarding what I can expect of music listening in this sonos-setup, especially compared to what I’d get with a dedicated music-listening-setup.

Thanks!


7 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +18

Hi @Blacktip 

Welcome to the Sonos Community, and thanks for your interest!

With an Arc + Surrounds (+ Sub) setup, you have 3 options for music playback - have only the Arc (and Sub) play, have the surrounds join in quietly (so the music still sounds like it’s coming from Arc, but a little will come from surrounds too), or to have all 3 speakers (+ Sub) playing the music at the same volume. Which you choose is entirely up to your preference.

To connect a turntable, you will need an extra device that is fitted with Line-In (or Bluetooth, if you get a Bluetooth-enabled turntable). Note that although Era 100 can accept a line-in adaptor (and Bluetooth), it can only do so when it is not configured as a surround speaker, so an additional device will be needed. Era 100 happens to be the cheapest of these, but Era 300, Five, Move 2, Amp, and Port are also options (Era models and Move 2 will require one of the line-in adaptors). With Bluetooth, Era models, Move 2 and Roam can all share the Bluetooth feed to other Sonos devices.

Please also note that as it’s an Atmos-capable system, you will have the option to stream Atmos-encoded spatial audio to an Arc - Atmos music is available on Amazon and Apple music services, and the TV need not be on for this to work as the Arc streams and plays Atmos music independently of the TV. Note that for the best Atmos experience (with music or TV), we recommend the use of a pair of Era 300s as surrounds.

The quality of the music you hear will heavily depend upon the source - you could play mp3 quality from one source, lossless FLAC CD quality from another, or high-resolution, 24bit audio from another. Arc is tuned for Home Theatre, so some prefer the sound from non-HT speakers when listening to music - it’s a matter of preference.

I hope this helps - if you have further questions, please don’t hesitate.

Userlevel 5
Badge +13

I’ll add my 2 cents here..Sonos is nice. But just be aware that Sonos has a monthly firmware update. They say it’s for bugs and performance enhancements. They never tell you what the enhancements are and but constantly change the frequency sound curve. Watch Peter Pee and his YouTube videos on this. He shows you how they change it constantly. Seems that the “sound engineers “ at Sonos can’t settle on a permanent sound. Maybe it’s job security for them. I know that my Sonos doesn’t sound as good today as it did 3 years ago when I bought it. They also seem to push the bass from the subs more than the highs. 

Take advantage of the best audiophile accessory in the world - your brain. It can accommodate, over a few weeks of listening, any decent sound signature so long as you spend more time listening to the music than on what’s missing in sound quality. Sonos can be as good as you need it to be but will never be as good as the live experience, no make offers that level of “pristine”, whatever that means. And make sure of what features are needed in your kit to accommodate obsolete sources like turntables.

I’ll add my 2 cents here..Sonos is nice. But just be aware that Sonos has a monthly firmware update. They say it’s for bugs and performance enhancements. They never tell you what the enhancements are and but constantly change the frequency sound curve. Watch Peter Pee and his YouTube videos on this. He shows you how they change it constantly. Seems that the “sound engineers “ at Sonos can’t settle on a permanent sound. Maybe it’s job security for them. I know that my Sonos doesn’t sound as good today as it did 3 years ago when I bought it. They also seem to push the bass from the subs more than the highs. 

 

Stop with the hyperbole and insulting accusations.  It’s not a monthly update.  It’s barely a quarterly update. And there was only one major change to the sound signature, and that was fixed. Also, how can you possibly remember what your system sounded like 3 years ago when studies have shown auditory (echoic) memory only lasts around 4 seconds?

With an Arc + Surrounds (+ Sub) setup, you have 3 options for music playback - have only the Arc (and Sub) play, have the surrounds join in quietly (so the music still sounds like it’s coming from Arc, but a little will come from surrounds too), or to have all 3 speakers (+ Sub) playing the music at the same volume. Which you choose is entirely up to your preference.

 

Thanks. There’s various modes to select then. Swapping from a surround soundscape to stereo shouldn’t be problematic I assume. What if I say, sit and watch a movie in full-atmos-enhanced-reality and then decide to listen to music. Would the system (via the app) recognize that “ok, someone started to play a Spotify track. I’d better switch to stereo mode and adjust any speakers as the user (me) has defined for this purpose”?

As for hooking up a vinyl player, I understand that I need to hook a wired connection from the turntable to a speaker. And, that speaker can stream audio to the rest of sonos speakers (should i want to)?

Take advantage of the best audiophile accessory in the world - your brain. It can accommodate, over a few weeks of listening, any decent sound signature so long as you spend more time listening to the music than on what’s missing in sound quality. Sonos can be as good as you need it to be but will never be as good as the live experience, no make offers that level of “pristine”, whatever that means. And make sure of what features are needed in your kit to accommodate obsolete sources like turntables.

 

Hehe. Sure. I just would like to be somewhat assured that it’s possible to use my previous described setup for both a.) surround-sound movie-watching or b.) reasonable good plain music consumption. No, I’m not an audiophile that only digest obscure transylvanian FLAC-releases – on the contrary. As for ‘obsolete sources’, hell yeah! I’d very much have the opportunity to time travel back to when music listening involved manual hassle, needle placing, pops and crackle:ing and … well, just the fact that you would listen to _all_ tracks on one side of the vinyl (as opposed to the hectic skipping that’s the case nowadays)

With an Arc + Surrounds (+ Sub) setup, you have 3 options for music playback - have only the Arc (and Sub) play, have the surrounds join in quietly (so the music still sounds like it’s coming from Arc, but a little will come from surrounds too), or to have all 3 speakers (+ Sub) playing the music at the same volume. Which you choose is entirely up to your preference.

 

Thanks. There’s various modes to select then. Swapping from a surround soundscape to stereo shouldn’t be problematic I assume. What if I say, sit and watch a movie in full-atmos-enhanced-reality and then decide to listen to music. Would the system (via the app) recognize that “ok, someone started to play a Spotify track. I’d better switch to stereo mode and adjust any speakers as the user (me) has defined for this purpose”?

 

 

Actually, it’s not really simple.  Surround mode requires reconfiguring the radios from a normal network to a direct 5 GHz one way connection from the soundbar to the surrounds/sub in order to achieve the low latency needed to keep in sync with the video.  It takes a little time to configure, given the handshaking going on between devices.  Switching back is quicker.  You also lose any Trueplay settings when you switch.

Sonos’ preferred solution is to keep the soundbar in the mix, and allow you to choose between Full for full volume surrounds and Ambient for ambient volume surrounds.  This switch is automatic, it will sense a music source and play in the appropriate settings. 

 

As for hooking up a vinyl player, I understand that I need to hook a wired connection from the turntable to a speaker. And, that speaker can stream audio to the rest of sonos speakers (should i want to)?

 

Correct.  Note: The Line-in function is disabled (due to the above reconfiguration) when a Sonos device is used as surrounds. 

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