Sonos Amp - What floorstanding speakers to get?


Hey everybody,

As a music & home theater set-up: I currently have the Sonos Amp + 2x Boston Acoustic VR2 floor-standing speakers.


I also have 2x Sonos Fives as the Surrounds, and 2x Sonos Subs connected.

 

It’s an awesome set-up as is!

 

I started with the Arc (instead of the Amp) + 2x Fives + 2x Subs and loved the sound quality, but needed more ‘oomf’ and energy from the front of the room since I’m used to a traditional 5.1 set-up with floor-standing speakers.

 

Now that I’ve transitioned to the Amp, I love the volume; but I’m missing that high fidelity sound, immersive effect, and subtlety in instruments the Arc had (when coupled with the Fives and Subs).

 

My primary use case is music and the Amp shines with music.  The Arc did too, though it had to be turned up considerably to feel that energy.  But it was great when turned up because you could hear every individual instrument around the room.

 

Feel like I should probably upgrade from these old Boston Acoustic VR2’s, and curious if anyone had any personal feedback to share on 2x great Floor-standing speakers I could get that could come close to replicating the Arc sound quality experience. I obviously understand I won’t get the Atmos stuff, and may lack some immersion that the Arc had, but want to see if I can get close to it with newer floor standing speakers! 

 

Also, does anyone have feedback on replacing the Sonos Sub(s) in favor of a third-party woofer if you wanted more bass output, such as SVS SB or PB (when connected to the Sonos Amp)?

 

Just for general awareness my settings are:

 

Surrounds (Fives)

  • TV Level: +12
  • Music Level: +12-15

Sub:

  • +12-15
  • Crossover: 110Hz

EQ

  • Bass/Treble: Mostly Neutral
  • Loudness: Off

 

Thanks everyone


17 replies

Speaker preferences are very personal/subjective so I will write in general terms.

First, not much has changed in passive speaker tech so if you like the sound that the speakers make, you are unlikely to get a marked improvement by changing to newer floor standing speakers.

Second, in floor standing speakers you are paying for expensive cabinetry and sound quality is usually better from equivalent stand mounted speakers for a lower price. If the speaker box preferred for mid range sound quality is too small to do justice to bass - that is why there are subs. A stand mounted speaker and Sub are capable of delivering more accurate bass than floor standers and the control over bass bloat also elevates mid range sound quality. The stands can be but need not be expensive. Anything that meets the need to have the tweeter at ear levels in the listening position, and provide a safe place for the speakers to be on, is good enough from a functional perspective.

And since you have Sub to deploy, all the more reason for not to get new floor standing speakers. From stand mounted units you will get the same sound quality at lower price points, or better quality at the same price point. Even after including the cost of functionally adequate stands.

That sounds great Kumar and thank you for the in-depth response. 
 

I can definitely see the value in some stand mounted book shelf speakers given your response and the logic, especially since I have subs to deploy. 
 

do you have any stand-mounted speakers/bookshelf’s you would recommend? 
 

I forgot to mention my preferred price range would be $500-$1,200 usd total for the pair, regardless if they are bookshelf or floorstanding

 

do you have any stand-mounted speakers/bookshelf’s you would recommend? 
 

I forgot to mention my preferred price range would be $500-$1,200 usd total for the pair, regardless if they are bookshelf or floorstanding

If you are in the US - I can’t help much because I am not familiar with the likes of Polk or Klipsch, or even Boston Acoustics. I know the UK/EU makes like Dali, KEF and others but I have a sense that these are sold for much higher than what they are sold for in the EU, and may not be good value.

The thing to do would be to find a place where you are able to listen to Polk/Klipsch and similar because the one thing you should not do is buy a speaker pair unheard. Ideally, a home test drive is the way to go, if you can get that.

Here is a pair worthy of a test drive, going just by the specs and the reviews:

https://www.amazon.com/Klipsch-Reference-Premiere-Bookshelf-Speakers/dp/B07G3D2C8S/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=klipsch%2Bspeakers&pd_rd_r=6cd479f1-0840-4c57-a9b8-2f20559b97d2&pd_rd_w=f3teq&pd_rd_wg=Z2hXa&pf_rd_p=4fa0e97a-13a4-491b-a127-133a554b4da3&pf_rd_r=3G8EWSSM296NND0NS68A&qid=1622692028&sr=8-5&th=1

And here is review, but a listening before buying is still recommended:

 

https://www.cnet.com/news/the-klipsch-reference-premiere-600m-is-the-audiophiliac-speaker-of-the-year/

https://www.stereophile.com/content/klipsch-reference-premiere-rp-600m-loudspeaker

 

I am intrigued by these now - unfortunately they are not easy to source in India, where I live.

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Before we downsized I loved my Klipsch Heritage La Scallas, the Cornwall sounds very similar.

Their more modern floor standers sound great too. For Atmos I’d really lean to a Port and Atmos capable AVR with R-625s up front with a matching center and surround. The reason we skipped the Sonos Amp was the lack of a center channel and our hearing issues that make one important to us.

Heritage line, many out of stock at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/stores/page/B7342FE2-DA0E-4AD9-BE25-323F204B3DE3?ingress=2&visitId=aa1a7d30-52fd-4618-86d4-c9bd29b396ab&ref_=ast_bln

 

R-625 https://www.amazon.com/Klipsch-R-625FA-Powerful-Detailed-Floorstanding/dp/B07FK6QH39?ref_=ast_sto_dp&th=1&psc=1

Thanks Kumar for the follow-up.  Those look like some awesome Klipsch bookshelfs!  Those reviews are great, and seem to be exactly what I am looking for. 

 

I called Crutchfield and asked for some recommendations given their experience in US, and they said although those Klipsch speakers are great, they can tend to take over a room, and may sound mis-matched with non-Klipsch speakers (due to their signature sound).  He instead steered me to these options (B&W, ELAC, Monitor Audio) :

https://www.crutchfield.com/p_749606MB/Bowers-Wilkins-606-Matte-Black.html?cc=02

https://www.crutchfield.com/p_749607S2MB/Bowers-Wilkins-607-Anniversary-Edition-Matte-Black.html

https://www.crutchfield.com/p_970UB52B/ELAC-Uni-Fi-2-0-UB52.html

https://www.crutchfield.com/p_970DB62/ELAC-Debut-2-0-B6-2.html

https://www.crutchfield.com/p_893B6G50B/Monitor-Audio-Bronze-50-Black.html

 

The Crutchfield rep also agreed that bookshelf/stand-mounted speakers may be a better fit for fidelity and instrumental separation, compared to Floorstanding. 

 

Thanks Stanley for your input!  I haven’t completely ruled out the Floorstanding just yet, since they do look nicer/more at home in a living room.  Need to investigate if there is a nice looking / homemade stand for the bookshelf’s if I go that route.  I’ll definitely keep those Klipsch you mentioned in mind.  I was looking at the Klipsch RP-280F (Floorstanding) before examining bookshelf’s.  These have great reviews too.

 

All future consideration/comments/suggestions are definitely appreciated

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I agree with Kumar that you should buy a pair of bookshelf speakers. There are some great ones available for a reasonable amount of money. I use Sonos Amps with two TVs to drive a pair of Kef Q150s and for the other a pair of Elac DBR-62s.  I really like both of them, but the Elac pair is my favorite. The Elacs are available on Amazon and are at the lower end of your budget. 

 

Regarding your Subs, I would stick with the Sonos Subs you own, which have pretty good output down to 30 Hz, I believe. The exception is if you listen to a lot of music that has lower bass.

 

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Here’s a review of the Elac speakers on audiosciencereview.com. He found that they measure very well and have a sound to match.

 

I agree with Kumar that you should buy a pair of bookshelf speakers. There are some great ones available for a reasonable amount of money. I use Sonos Amps with two TVs to drive a pair of Kef Q150s and for the other a pair of Elac DBR-62s.  I really like both of them, but the Elac pair is my favorite. The Elacs are available on Amazon and are at the lower end of your budget. 

 

Regarding your Subs, I would stick with the Sonos Subs you own, which have pretty good output down to 30 Hz, I believe. The exception is if you listen to a lot of music that has lower bass.

 

Awesome Dan!  I’ll check these out.  Great to hear some more confirmation on the above notes.  Also cool to hear your perspective on keeping the Sonos subs.  Definitely helps and interesting note on the low-end cut-off.  Some music definitely has lower end bass but not sure at this point if it merits a switch.

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I’d only change one thing at a time, so buy some bookshelf speakers and use them with the Sonos subs. If you’re unhappy with the bass, you could try a 3rd party sub, but not many instruments generate output below 30 Hz. The pipe organ is one. Below 30 Hz bass may be more desirable for movies than for music.

I’d only change one thing at a time, so buy some bookshelf speakers and use them with the Sonos subs.

Another good candidate speaker is the Dali Oberon 3.

But all the standmount speakers mentioned on this thread are more alike than different from each other, and all are capable of delivering good sound quality. How good depends more on how carefully they are placed in the room, and the room acoustics.

Remember also to not be misled by how loud they sound at a given setting on the Sonos amp volume slider because that is a function of how efficient they are - and this can vary a lot across speakers with some less efficient ones rated at 85dB while some are 90dB plus. So the less efficient ones will need higher volume settings to get the same sound levels - and no comparative assessment of sound quality is valid unless sound levels are the same. But the Sonos amp has enough grunt to get all to deliver adequate sound levels for a typical domestic environment; all that is needed is the use of the volume control slider to elicit the required sound levels both for comparative testing and for regular listening thereafter.

 

Thanks Dan and Kumar!

That makes perfect sense. I’ll definitely test one thing at a time. I reached out to a local shop and luckily get to try a few of the different B&W’s (606/607’s). I’ll see if I can try out a third party sub too. Will be good to test everything. 

Thanks for the heads up on the sensitivity Kumar. I read a little about that before and it’s good to get further clarification. I think all the speakers are in the 84-88dB sensitivity range so hopefully that’s a good spot for the Sonos Amp and output levels. If not I’ll toggle the output of the surrounds while listening. 
I’ll report back on how everything sounds!

For the update:

The B&W 606 AE’s sound perfect for the system!  Honestly a great turn-out, I went ahead and purchased them.  Every frequency sounds like it’s accounted for now, and the balance of all the audio is superb. 

As I set these up, I immediately noted they make the 2x Sonos subs shine.  Not sure what did it, but the moment I plugged in the new B&W’s, the subs took over exactly where they were supposed to.  Maybe the floorstanding speaker’s bass output was muddling the Sonos sub output, and that’s why everything didn’t hit/sound right.

Thank-you to Kumar and Dan for pointing out this bookshelf direction may work best.

As an additional heads-up, I gave a third-party sub a shot for use with the Amp.  I was able to pick up a B&W DB4S (Great open box deal at best buy).  This sub has incredibly great sounding bass.  It fills the entire room with the feeling as soon as music is played.  

The 2x Sonos subs are tighter and punchier, but the B&W DB4S can hold lower notes longer and envelops the room in bass.  Additionally, the Sonos subs may move air around a little bit more, since they’re ported versus the sealed nature of the DB4S.  

Tough decision.. Currently I’m leaning B&W given the sound quality of the bass. 

Definitely open to hear thoughts here if anyone notes differences in these sub set-ups.

 

As a side note:  I noticed you can actually deploy a third-party sub through the Amp, and 1-2x Sonos Subs as an addition in the same home theatre set-up!  Once I noticed this, I tried adding 1x Sonos sub to the B&W DB4S, and this was intense..  Although the bass was loud & the frequencies worked together from both subs in some areas, they also cancelled each other out in others.  The Sonos sub would almost cut the extended note that was being deployed from the B&W in some cases.  Just thought it was interesting this type of set-up could be incorporated, since previously I heard this was not possible to do.

 

As always, welcome all comments and feedback and thank you to everyone again for all the help.

  Although the bass was loud & the frequencies worked together from both subs in some areas, they also cancelled each other out in others.  The Sonos sub would almost cut the extended note that was being deployed from the B&W in some cases. 

Where subs are concerned, 1+1 may often be less than 1, leave alone 2 - for the quoted phenomenon of cancelling each other out. Therefore unless one knows the subject well, more than one Sub in a domestic environment is not recommended, especially if the crossover is being set to 80 Hz or lower thereby rendering the frequencies rendered by the Sub not being locatable and therefore not affecting the stereo imaging.

Presumably when two Sonos Subs are being deployed in one zone, the Trueplay tuning is being done for both simultaneously; if not, it may not deliver good results, for the same reason quoted.

Update:  

I decided to keep the B&W DB4S and 2x Sonos subs in the same home theater set-up. 
It took some moving the subs around the room to find what works best but the final result is audio bliss.  Just wanted to share.

To conclude, the final setup is:

  • Sonos Amp
  • 2x B&W 606 S2 AE
  • 2x Sonos Fives as Surrounds
  • 1x B&W DB4S Sub
  • 2x Sonos Subs

Thank you all!

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