Sonos now a high end audio system contender



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Majik wrote:


I would also say "no difference to the majority of other people, especially if they are over the age of about 20, and especially if they are male". I find it slightly ironic that the biggest supporters of hires are often middle-aged men.



There are some things to be said for getting old. Understanding and accepting functional degeneration of the body is one of these, and it helps getting off the audiophile merry go round.

I don't know about middle aged, but men are almost the entire population of audiophiles. The women usually don't care about the toys, and even detest them at times. Seen dispassionately, high end audio equipment, with its clutter of cables, stands, speakers placed out in the room and so on does nothing for the aesthetics of the home. It isn't just convenience and features that Sonos brings to the table, it is the elimination of all the wires and the way it can blend reasonably well into modern home decor.

Home video is still making real progress on the quality front. HD is clearly better enough to justify equipment upgrades. 3D is pathetic at the moment, I end up with a headache watching it, but I am sure that it will get better in time.

I wonder what the next leap in home audio quality is going to be, things have stagnated for a decade, maybe two. It is challenging enough to get the room acoustics right for 2 channel, so more channels for surround don't seem easy to bring in. Besides, people watch video from one location, but that isn't the way most listen to music at home.

For now, the Sonos system is as good as it needs to be, to get to the point of it all - enjoying the music. I think operational stability still needs some work, looking at all the posts on the forum. I would love to see a Sonos box that has an ethernet socket to accept a broadband feed. The box should then take care of Sonosnet, NAS functionality, and home wifi. With perhaps a better performing bridge for use as signal extender for challenging homes. I would think that such an integration would address many of the remaining stability/interference issues.
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Kumar wrote:


I wonder what the next leap in home audio quality is going to be, things have stagnated for a decade, maybe two. It is challenging enough to get the room acoustics right for 2 channel, so more channels for surround don't seem easy to bring in. Besides, people watch video from one location, but that isn't the way most listen to music at home.



I hope that the next step in audio quality is a surround sound related step away from the current multi channel madness. So evidence exists that there is no reason to encode sound for playback into human ears in more than 16 bit 44kHz. I have yet to find anything even slightly in favour of distributing a 7.2 surround mix when the same sound field would better represented by a 6 channel second (first in the vertical dimension) order spherical harmonics decomposition such as Ambisonics. And a 5.1 mix should be relatively easy to decode from a 3 channel first order horizontal only Ambisonic encode.

More sound dimensions in fewer channels with a larger sweet spot. Please, someone bring it to the consumer market!
Majik wrote:


The reasons I support the concept of Sonos doing hires are largely marketing ones. There is a significant and vocal minority of users who think it's important. They may be delusional, but they are also influential and can convince buying decisions, and this fact is seized upon and exploited by the marketeers and fans of competing systems.



Also the fact that Sonos customers can now purchase music delivered in HIRES, and the current situation means that they cannot play this new material on their Sonos. This doesn't fit well with Sonos promotions such as "Listen to All of Your Music with Sonos Wireless Music Systems", or that Sonos is the solution allowing "people looking to outfit their homes for the Internet age of music.” etc etc And, it makes Sonos appear to be falling behind.
BarryM wrote:

Also the fact that Sonos customers can now purchase music delivered in HIRES, and the current situation means that they cannot play this new material on their Sonos. This doesn't fit well with Sonos promotions such as "Listen to All of Your Music with Sonos Wireless Music Systems", or that Sonos is the solution allowing "people looking to outfit their homes for the Internet age of music.” etc etc And, it makes Sonos appear to be falling behind.



Ignorant and therefore curious:

Do any of the internet radio stations or music services offer hires? And if they do, do these streams play at all via Sonos?

Also, which competing systems - and by that I mean ones that offers multi room features akin to Sonos - offer hires compatibility?
Kumar wrote:

Ignorant and therefore curious:

Do any of the internet radio stations or music services offer hires? And if they do, do these streams play at all via Sonos?

Also, which competing systems - and by that I mean ones that offers multi room features akin to Sonos - offer hires compatibility?



Internet radio doesn't do lossless, never mind hires. The closest competitor that offeres hirez is Squeezebox, but they require a pretty finicky server to be running in order to downrez on the fly.
jgatie wrote:

Internet radio doesn't do lossless, never mind hires. The closest competitor that offeres hirez is Squeezebox, but they require a pretty finicky server to be running in order to downrez on the fly.



One high bitstream radio station I listen to often is Linn - and while far from lossless, it sounds CD quality to me. That being the case, I can't imagine myself hearing any difference between lossless and the next higher standard:)

The way I see it, the future of listening to music at home is internet radio and internet music services like Pandora/Spotify. Since these services aren't available as yet in India, I am guessing that for a fee, they allow you to hear all the music that most people will want, on demand when they want it, including things such as making playlists. If that be the case, I don't see the point in downloading tracks for a price, let alone buying CDs.

With CD sales in free fall, the other music source for most people will be existing CDs ripped on to a NAS or the cloud.

If that be the case, I am not sure why Sonos will want to bump Hires up the developmental priority list, when it looks like Hires may end up like SACDs, a very niche offering. Particularly if it will take up a load of developmental and testing effort.

Time will tell...
An example of download pricing, all for the same album:
1. MP3, 320k, 147mb, 10 dollars
2. CD quality, 16bit, 278mb, 14 dollars
3.Studio master, 24bit/44.1, 600mb, 20 dollars
4. Studio master pro, 24bit/96, 1300mb, 24 dollars
5. Studio master pro 5.1, 24bit/96, 3000mb, 30 dollars.

How much of this is snake oil? I don't know enough to say.

But if one has bought into it, whether or not it is kool-aid, and can't play the expensive purchases through Sonos, I can understand the noise.
Kumar wrote:


Do any of the internet radio stations or music services offer hires? And if they do, do these streams play at all via Sonos?

Also, which competing systems - and by that I mean ones that offers multi room features akin to Sonos - offer hires compatibility?




Hi Kumar,

There may be Highres streams. I don't know. I didn't mention streams.

Hires examples that a Sonos customer couldn't play:
http://www.hdtracks.com/
or the flac files here http://www.amazon.com/The-Beatles-USB/dp/B002VH7P4O

I didn't mention competing systems either.

I was adding to Majik's point about the desirability of Sonos supporting Hires for *marketing* reasons.

Sonos position themselves as I described, but they are unable to play these premium products which a customer may have, or may acquire, intentionally or otherwise.

It opens Sonos up to queries and doubts about its future proofing and premium qualities.

I don't have any Hires music, and I don't have any current desire to get any, but I agree with Majik that it would be a good move if Sonos added this capability.
BarryM wrote:

I don't have any Hires music, and I don't have any current desire to get any, but I agree with Majik that it would be a good move if Sonos added this capability.



Majik posted his support with a very specific caveat:

By the way, Im personally in favour of Sonos adding hires support if (and only if) they can do it without compromising any of the other features of the system which are far more important than the ability to play music files without converting them to a different format.

(Emphasis mine)

On this I agree with Majik. Compromising the stability, reliability, or ease of use for the current functionality is not worth the checkmark on the carton. Other's mileage may vary.
BarryM wrote:

Hi Kumar,

There may be Highres streams. I don't know. I didn't mention streams.



Barry,

I only asked about the streams because I feel that they will end up being the main source of home audio in future, to find out if they can/will carry hires.

But I take the point you make, along with the one jgatie made later.
From a practical standpoint, "all" Sonos would need to do to support lossless hires files would be to downsample when the file is read. Processing and linked-group distribution thereafter could be at 16/44.1 and, based on empirical evidence, no-one would notice. 😉
BarryM wrote:

Yeah, well nobody is going to disagree with that are they?



There are plenty who disagree with it. People in the 24/96 thread are ready to toss all sorts of functionality and/or reliability in order to implement their particular wish. Ironically, some are seemingly willing to sacrifice music quality to do it, which boggles the mind. Also, one does not have to go too far into the "Make my PC into a Zone" thread before a group of posters chucks out reliable syncing of zones in order to get what they want. Last, but not least, many of the 65k limit people are willing to switch to a possibly less reliable and certainly much slower client/server model in order to break the limit.

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