Should I replace my hifi separates with a Sonos system?

  • 2 September 2016
  • 82 replies

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My system comprises an all British set of separates, including a pre-amp and mono blocs. It still sounds great after twenty years, but things change and technology marches on. Whereas I used to listen to CD's, I now stream my music via AirPlay. A Cambridge Audio DAC is the interface between the hifi and Apple TV. I'm considering selling the whole system and replacing it with Sonos kit, principally for music but also to integrate and upgrade my TV sound. My question is, should I expect the Sonos units to be truly comparable to the high end hifi I've known for years?

Best answer by Kumar 2 September 2016, 15:10

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82 replies

Please don't try and compare a simple internet review to the proper test - it's the same as quoting an article that says that 24 bit is superior, so it must be true.

Apart from the fact that he is simply saying that Sonos is probably the best in it's niche (which I'm not disputing) are we actually reading the same review?

At one point he says "I'm sure my friend Steve Guttenberg over at CNet will dutifully inform you that you can get better sound for less from two separate stereo speakers and a small amplifier. He has a point. " - so he is admitting that a fairly basic setup can outperform a Play1 - that's entirely what I'd expect.
Yes, but you are forgetting that the Butterworth review did not include a Sub. A bit of kit with a lot more packed in it than even something bigger than a small amplifier. And I for sure don't know what will give better sound than a play 1 pair for less than USD 400. Cables thrown in as well.

And for what it is worth, a quote from the review : " This is performance that the designer of a $3,000/pair speaker could be proud of."

I have no idea about why any inconsistencies arise in the review, I did not write it. And as I said, it may not be much, but is as good as any other casual comment about the unit that can be found on the net.

By the way I have to ask: I have extensively used high end legacy kit as well as a 1 pair + Sub. Have you any experience of the latter?
. I find myself scared to click!
Lol. Have you sorted out the Connect distortion?
That was someone else. I am concerned that the digital output is not bit-perfect and any possible effect on bass punch. There is compression applied that cannot be disabled. Ryan said they are looking into it. I know you were asking about volume normalization too. Perhaps there are some DSP issues with the Connect related to all three problems that require attention. In the meantime I continue to enjoy the music and get frustrated with the software 🙂
My style of listening is long playlists in shuffled mode that play for days with breaks, so the Sonos software antics don't trouble me.
If there is an audible effect on bass punch that is present in the source signal, it is distortion and good luck with getting that bit fixed. My normalisation is a different issue, it affects play units and Connect/Connect Amps as well.
fwiw I have always had a good stereo setup, though not overkill. I also have a desktop studio setup where I have Focal near field monitors that are brutally honest and articulate. I first purchased the Playbar hoping to do a dual-use TV-music setup and getting rid of my stereo (Cambridge Audio, NAD, and Dana). The Playbar alone didn't impress for music or TV. Adding the Sub made the TV awesome, but music still...not there for me. Added a pair of 1s as surround and remembered that I really don't crave 5.1 (and I don't use a lot of good 5.1 sources), so the Playbar went back. I was ready to ditch the whole thing but decided to run the pair of the 1s with the Sub. Bingo - was very impressed. It isn't "accurate" but it is enjoyable. I'm tired of chasing "accuracy" and really if I want that I'll go listen to my Focals and hear every scratch and breath.

For me the Playbar just couldn't give a wide enough soundstage. With the Play 1s I could spread them as far as I wanted. The Sub is pretty much a must-have though - that said I run it probably at a bit lower level than most people. Which is odd since I'm a bassist but go figure...

The legacy stereo setup will get donated or sold. For TV I'll just keep using the TV speakers like I have since forever. Ymmv
It isn't "accurate" but it is enjoyable.
What's more important for music listening pleasure over extended sessions? Accuracy is for test instruments, and perhaps for mastering professionals.