Just curious. What's the general audiophile of Sonos speakers?

  • 20 December 2018
  • 37 replies
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I've seen them at best buy and what not, and I know they aren't cheap, but I feel like the cost is mostly about the connectivity and easy of use rather than the audio quality. Is that correct?

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I am very interested to know how Play 5’s compare to the much more expensive Devialet. 

Belly M above nails it regarding sound signature.

A few weeks in, I am very much at ease with the Play:5’s. That – and the Sub works miracles (as it should). Pretty much done with audiophilia now, but listening joy is through the roof.

 

One thing I’ve learned after being married for a few decades is…..Women are much smarter than men!

In general, I would agree, but they too have their weak points. Shoes, as one example.

PS: I just noticed - appropriate subject to approach and then reach the 10,000 count for my posts here, starting from back in 2011, which was the time I had my “enough of this audiophile frenzy” moment.

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Kumar,you are absolutely correct! My old audio friends(of which I have lost touch with,basically because I’d left the hobby/moved far and they stopped calling) would not even bother to give a Sonos set-up a serious listen.

If I wanted to play a CD for one particular friend  who reviewed LP’s for T.A.S.…..a very nice guy btw,but so unwilling to give anything new a fair shake(he’s the only one I miss,because he was a real gentleman,but lives so far from me now that I’ve moved)….well since it as not analogue,but digital,he’d tell me to take it off.No interest in hearing anything new,no matter how god it may have been,because it was digitally recorded and not an analogue pressing…...my wife and I think about him and laugh every time we go to the movies and the Coke commercial plays.the one where the ice drops into the glass.….So crystal clear….but….obviously not analogue...Ha!

Anyway,I realize high end sound has changed in the last few years,but since I always look at the mainstream audio magazines,I pretty much only see insanely high prices,for “about the same equipment" as I remember having myself…..From what I heard at my Sonos friend’s home,it is a comparison similar to owning a really good TV from Aamsung,that is maybe 3-4 years old,with superb resolution…..but…..the newest TV’s have an even higher degree…..Once you have really good picture quality you just get lost in the viewing of the story,or sporting event…..You don’t think that mabe the picture would be better with the latest stuff,because it’s so good already.

That’s exactly how I felt about the Sonos sound in my pal’s house.It was so damn good already,that I was not too worried about the possibility of any higher end (crazy high priced) equipment bettering it.

I don’t care about specs,or freq extremes,or tweaking(a pain)….I only care about music!

That’s why the hi-fi snobs,who became obsessed with the materialistic aspect of the hobby as time went on, got into it in the first place.

“Music For Music’s Sake”.

If my lovely wife,who was not thrilled about how much money I’d spent on the hobby,told me to jump on a pair of Play 5’s and the Sub,it’s “good stuff”!

One thing I’ve learned after being married for a few decades is…..Women are much smarter than men!

 

A “Smart Audiophiles Smart System”!

 

  

One could argue that the first two words in the quote can never go together.

Seriously though, I see two reasons why Sonos isn't an audiophile system, and both have nothing to do with sound quality.

The first is that Sonos just does not look the part to be considered audiophile. Where is the necessary eye candy like backlit VU metres, thick cables, heavy cabinets with massive heat sinks, glowing valves etc.?

The second is that Sonos does not lend itself to tinkering in a way to allows it to be appealing to an equipment hobbyist - once bought and set up, there is no scope for doing anything other than listen to music.

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Sorry to come so late to this interesting thread.I have just purchased 2 Gen.-2 Play 5’s and the Sub,though they are not set up quite yet.

I have recently heard 2 new Play 5’s at a friend’s home.,,,,,Here is my unbiased opinion…..

I was into high end audio for decades and had friends who reviewed for the mainstream mags(Absolute Sound and Stereophile)…..

I had a dedicated audio room and a plethora of extremely pricey equip….from top tier Audio Res/Jeff Rowland/Infinity/Avalon Conrad Johnson etc…...Every time I had a personal listening session,as well as the listening sessions at my friend’s homes it would turn into a tweak/sound effects session.

“you have to hear this,but tweak the cartridge’s tracking force,or VTA,or speaker’s placement,or change tubes”...Etc…...”Can you hear that triangle in the back ground?”

It became very much about materialism/luxury equipment snobbery and I was at fault myself,for years….as well as a bundle of money!

I had been to quite a few reviewer’s homes(famous ones) whose set up was a disappointment to me.The fancy casework and chachkas (audio toys) were almost always at the forefront.Some of the tweak stuff was ridiculous and actually hurt the sound,imo.

Not to mention the space taken up(I had over 3,000 lp’s and 400 CD;s) the cables(my interconnect for the pre/amp was more than my entire Sonos set up) and the frustrating reliability issues that “always” eventually rears it’s head…..Took me 5 months to get my Rowland amp fixed and my turntable(after an expensive update) did not have the motor properly grounded,which subsequently blew up my preamp…...ARGH!

Btw…..sorry for this long winded rant,but I hope to make a point for you Sonos folks.

I sold my stuff to fund my daughter’s wedding and infuse some monies into my small business.Never has a day gone by hat I have not missed my music!

I always though that Sonos was basically for a poolside afternoon,or beach type of thing,because it never sounded very good at Best Buy,so I blew them off…..until………

Three weeks ago a friend got a pair of Play 5’s.He has a nice medium small-ish room.Similar to my new room in a new condo,since I’d sold my old home,having retired.

The sound absolutely blew me away! I am a very serious/critical listener.This was definitely sound at a very high level of reproduction.Since I have not heard much after selling my stuff,I can confidently say that it is about the equal of anything I remember 11 years ago….When I left the hobby.

To me,it sounds just so damn good that I don’t care if it’s not “Ultra High End’…...because it “is” definitely High End!

No cables/no huge expenses/no multi company repair issues/takes up little space/no worries about storing large LP/CD collections/no shelving/no line conditioners…..etc…

A “Smart Audiophiles Smart System”!

Best wishes to all,

  Mark

Once upon a time, I owned a pair of $10K speakers (Meridian DSP5200). Then I owned a pair of $5K speakers (Devialet Phantom Gold).

Then I bought a Beam. And two One SLs. And a Sub. And a Move. And a bunch of IKEA Symfonisk for lesser rooms.

Then finally I broke down and bought a pair of Play:5s.

Today I bought a second Sub.

I hope I’m done.

I’m happy.

:-)

I am very interested to know how Play 5’s compare to the much more expensive Devialet. 

The Devialet Phantoms…. unreal deep base, bowl dislodging, goes to stupid volume levels, no distortion… the software sucks!

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Once upon a time, I owned a pair of $10K speakers (Meridian DSP5200). Then I owned a pair of $5K speakers (Devialet Phantom Gold).

Then I bought a Beam. And two One SLs. And a Sub. And a Move. And a bunch of IKEA Symfonisk for lesser rooms.

Then finally I broke down and bought a pair of Play:5s.

Today I bought a second Sub.

I hope I’m done.

I’m happy.

:-)

I am very interested to know how Play 5’s compare to the much more expensive Devialet. 

Quad and other electrostats sound quite different, but most people have not got the room to set up electrostats properly, and they sound very different from conventional speakers anyway.

Not being able to ever own/listen to a well set up pair of electrostatic panels for lack of space and money is the only thing I regret after spending a decade in the audiophile hobby. 

But that has nothing to do with Sonos sound quality per se, and I have no regrets in abandoning the hobby and using kit - Sonos and others - that is now excellent value thanks to modern tech/large scale manufacturing. Where audio at home is concerned, there have never been times that are as good, notwithstanding the complaints from nostalgia buffs. 

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Once upon a time, I owned a pair of $10K speakers (Meridian DSP5200). Then I owned a pair of $5K speakers (Devialet Phantom Gold).

Then I bought a Beam. And two One SLs. And a Sub. And a Move. And a bunch of IKEA Symfonisk for lesser rooms.

Then finally I broke down and bought a pair of Play:5s.

Today I bought a second Sub.

I hope I’m done.

I’m happy.

:-)

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Have had, and listened to a lot of expensive equipment over a long time. Sonos is far better quality for money than most. Really astonishing quality and value esp Play 5. Especially noticeable with better source quality. (everything sounds average on average/poor source material)  The new Amp is really good. Would agree w dfgiles there are some exceptions - Quad and other electrostats sound quite different, but most people have not got the room to set up electrostats properly, and they sound very different from conventional speakers anyway. Even the 1s are pretty good for size and $.

Sonos has been a game changer for me. You would have to spend a LOT to get something significantly better. 

Had I had the money necessary, I would have certainly flirted with the audiophile market in my youth,
Few have the money in their youth for this hobby; it takes a combination of disposable income and mid life crises to get into this toys for boys thing. You may have missed the fun bits, but you also were able to not descend into the rabbit hole of that Alice in Wonderland world. And most boys outgrow the hobby.

There is a reason why so many great cartoons on audiophile foolishness are out there.

Is Sonos “Class A Stereophile Recommended?” Maybe not. But compared with the majority of high end set ups, is it possible to get near-audiophile sound quality (imaging, dynamics, transients, etc) from a Sonos set up? I’d say yes.

I have a Connect driving a B&W reference system, and the sound is fantastic. And I have a set of Sonos 3s with a Sub in another, larger room, and I’d argue it is extremely close in quality.

Stereophile has a very hard time putting something of the Sonos price point in the Class A category; if they did, their audiophile readers would be very annoyed with that. Better to read their measurement/comments after testing Sonos ZonePlayers back in the day when that is what Connect/Connect Amp were called.

I would argue that your Connect driven system is as good as it would be with any other audiophile source and the sound would entirely depend on the downstream kit and speaker placement. If the latter was reference quality, that would not change.

The other system you refer to would still be in audiophile leagues - extremely close to reference is good enough for it to qualify. That said, a certain member here would want to jump in to denounce me for saying this as he is habituated to do, but that is just how he is, and is of no consequence.
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One exception: Wiley and Magneplanar.
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I’m gonna stipulate that my “reference system” has no electronics or speakers built after 1965 - but drive it with the Sonos Connect. I believe after all the great work done in both electronics and acoustics by McIntosh, Marantz, Klipsch, Bozak, et al, most of the improvements since then have been in cost-containment and marketing (and this comes from a marketer).
I've never perceived that Sonos has positioned themselves as an "audiophile" solution in any case.

But I too, am with Kumar. Had I had the money necessary, I would have certainly flirted with the audiophile market in my youth, but now am pleased to use something that is reasonably priced, and works for my ears. I'm no longer really interested in comparing numbers, costs, ranges of sensitivity, all of those things. I'm interested in listening to what I want to listen to, when I want, without obstruction, and with good fidelity. Sonos hits all of those marks for me.
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Unless the word "audiophile" is defined, any discussion on whether Sonos qualifies for that tag is futile.
Even if it is defined as "expensive" there are enough people that think Sonos to be too costly as those that think it is cheap mass market.
That said, I am very surprised to hear Sonos staff deny here that Sonos make audiophile speakers.

I tend to agree with Kumar’s perspective on this. What matters most are recording quality and speaker placement.

I’ve been into high end audio and equipment such as Audio Research, McIntosh, Nakamichi, Well-Tempered, Wadia, Quad, Duntech, etc for over 30 years.

Is Sonos “Class A Stereophile Recommended?” Maybe not. But compared with the majority of high end set ups, is it possible to get near-audiophile sound quality (imaging, dynamics, transients, etc) from a Sonos set up? I’d say yes.

I have a Connect driving a B&W reference system, and the sound is fantastic. And I have a set of Sonos 3s with a Sub in another, larger room, and I’d argue it is extremely close in quality.

Either way, I still plan to upgrade my main system, but for everyday music there is no substitute for the convenience - and sound - of Sonos.
On the other hand, in opposition to what Sonos has said on this thread, this, from their website:

"“The sound of music or the sound of a great movie should be transmitted into your home as pure and honest as it can be.” – Giles Martin
“There isn’t such a thing as a ‘Sonos sound’,” Martin explains. “Like a clear window that lets the light shine through, Sonos is a portal to the world of sonic culture in your home.”
To keep this metaphorical window free of the dust that could disrupt that clarity, Giles Martin works closely with the Soundboard and a wider network of sound creators to critique and fine-tune the sound experience of the Sonos system.

Other than using the A word, what he says is no different from what audiophile equipment makers claim for their wares. To then also say what has been said on this thread is disingenous.

IMO, all that matters is liking the sound of music from them...or not. That is the bottom line to the decision of buying/keeping Sonos products.

Unless one also needs eye candy like backlit dancing VU meters and the potential to do endless tinkering. That, Sonos does not offer.

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I think they probably take the view that classing them as Audiophile would probably deter more people that it would attract.

Now that you say so, perhaps. But I doubt that many would be as discerning as you about any negatives associated with that much abused and misused word, to the extent that no one really knows what it means anymore.
That said, I am very surprised to hear Sonos staff deny here that Sonos make audiophile speakers.
I found it refreshingly honest and realistic, personally....
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That said, I am very surprised to hear Sonos staff deny here that Sonos make audiophile speakers.


I think they probably take the view that classing them as Audiophile would probably deter more people that it would attract.

If any sales staff start with mentioning Audiophile I switch off and assume =massive cost for very little extra benefit which i could probably not perceive anyway.
https://www.lifewire.com/sonos-play-1-measurements-4103874

Overall, performance measurements for wireless speakers — or any small speakers, really — rarely get better than this.

The frequency response for the Play:1 on-axis, 1 meter in front of the tweeter, is shown in the blue trace of the accompanying graph. Averaged response across a ±30 degree horizontal listening window is shown in the green trace. With a speaker frequency response measurement, you usually want the blue (on-axis) line to be as flat as possible and the green (averaged) response to be close to flat, perhaps with a mild reduction in treble response.

This performance is one that the designer of a $3,000 per pair speaker could be proud of. On-axis, it measures ±2.7 decibels. Averaged across the listening window, it's ±2.8 dB. This means that on-axis and off-axis performance are both superb and that the Play:1 should sound pretty good no matter where you place it in a room.


So, yes, they measure better than many an "audiophile" speaker. Sonos doesn't, however, target the fickle and often very silly "audiophile" market.
Unless the word "audiophile" is defined, any discussion on whether Sonos qualifies for that tag is futile.
Even if it is defined as "expensive" there are enough people that think Sonos to be too costly as those that think it is cheap mass market.
That said, I am very surprised to hear Sonos staff deny here that Sonos make audiophile speakers.
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We had a recent lively discussion on another thread about high-res. My experience in general (may not be your experience) is that given that the equipment stays the same, I feel more warmth when the file is high-res.

However, none of this matters. You get the biggest bang for the buck if the speakers are great.

In my experience, a pair of play 5’s even grouped together sounds as good as or better than it sounded played back at the studio (of course live sounds better). The new play 5’s I currently have blew me away with their sound quality, and sound as good as when played back at the studio with as good or better detail. Of course, studio monitors are flat - but I prefer some DSP in my music. Note: I do have a Klipsch sub in all the rooms with the Play 5.

This is my album: deepinthemeadow.com

When we recorded the Uillean pipes on the Tank Man track, it sounded amazing live, but I was sad that I felt we could not capture the magic in the recording. That is until I heard it played back on the Play 5. Brought tears to my eyes!!! Yes, we had captured the detail, but it could only be heard on the Play 5. The Focal Kevlar speakers sound better and they also come around the $1000 price range.

The quality of sound with Sonos is so good, I sold all my old speakers - a lot of them Bose and replaced with Sonos. Even the Sonos 1 Gen 2 sounds “open”, “clear”, as compared to Bose which always has higher bass at low volumes which sort of mutes out the mids and the highs.

The connect has amazing, amazing sound quality when connected to the same speakers compared to any receiver I have heard.

I have replaced all my receivers with Sonos connect + powered speakers in every room except my “studio” room which cannot have that 70ms Wifi delay. Many people say it is overpriced - but I think Sonos has given us amazing, amazing sound quality in the Connect at a reachable price and widely available with fast shipping and we can hear the speaker at BestBuy.

Of course, things probably get even better when you go beyond $1000 for a pair or a single speaker. But let’s us not talk about the 1% of people who can afford those speakers and have $1000+ phones. Let us talk about normal, regular hardware working folks for which even $499 for a good speaker is out of reach. I needed more expensive speakers so I could test it out on different speakers and improve the final MIX - a process which takes months and listening to the same song on different speakers many times a day.

Conclusion: You got two play 5’s for $499. You paid a lot of money and you are thinking could it have gotten better If it played back high-res? It is audiophile quality?

Answer: You got more than your moneys worth. These are amazing, amazing speakers for a very decent price.

You are not missing anything paying more for better getting lower or similar priced “audiophile” equipment which does not give you the convenience of wireless music. Audiophile is pain getting all the equipment, and getting it all together to make end to end high-res. And it will always be clunky until someone can do it end to end. Most people don’t even have gigabit Ethernet at home, and CD quality music itself causes network congestion - high-res would be worse. So, overall your experience would be horrible and you will feel cheated for all the inconvenience and problems which come with high-res.

Even if I had a little more money to spend, I would probably still stick with Sonos products over say Bluesound. Sonos sells a lot of these speakers at scale, so overall better experience, more stable, longevity, etc will be with Sonos.

Thank you for Gen 2 Sonos! You guys rock!!! - and this comes from a very hard to please guy who has never felt this excited listening to music for a very, very long time! You have rocked my world!!!
Good thoughts here. I started with a Play 5 (yesterday) and feel that the sound is quite good, and probably edges out than anything I could get at $1,500 or below (though I can get better volume). I am primarily using it for music only and may get a second Play 5 to set up in stereo. Maybe I'll eventually get a sub and an Amp as well. Anyway, I will admit that I was surprised at the sound quality (hip hop, alternative, classic rock, and jazz) when I first turned it on. I need to figure out how to tune the bass but I was very surprised. It certainly edges out everything from Bose.
Finding your way in classical music tracks is an adventure :)
Yes, it is :D
Having got the Chromecast Audio working, it's playing through the Play 5 via my phone at the moment. I found a good Android app called Hi-Fi Cast - Music Player which works well, but also seems quite configurable. It's impressive that I can play music via the CA on the Play 5 direct to the ZP90 in the other room, whilst still listening to different music on the Play 5.
Having said that, the casting approach doesn't seem to have any limits on it, unlike Sonos, so I'm exploring the possibility that two CAs could actually replace the Sonos setup - for my particular purposes - I fully accept that they won't do everything that the Sonos kit does.

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