Sonos setup in new construction. Looking for feedback.

  • 20 October 2017
  • 3 replies

I am building a new house and designing the sound system. I do not have Sonos today, so I am new to this technology. I have listed my plan below and have a couple basic questions.

1. Regarding, the living/dining/kitchen setup, do I need to make sure my speakers are 8ohm to run all four off one Connect: Amp? The existing forum responses are not quite clear to me.

2. In the family room, would you suggest the setup as I have list or recommend in-wall rear surround speakers as opposed to the two Play:1 speakers?

3. Any other general improvements to make on my current plan?

Living/Dining/Kitchen open space
-One Connect:Amp running four in-ceiling speakers
-One Playbar connected to living room TV.
-One Connect:Amp connected to two speakers
-One Connect:Amp running to two speakers or one Play:5
-One Connect:Amp running to two speakers or one Play:5
Home Gym
-One Connect:Amp running to two speakers or one Play:5
Family room
-Playbar, Sub, and two Play:1 connected to TV

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3 replies

You can run 2 pairs of speakers off one Connect:Amp, but they have to be 8 Ohm. Note, both paiis will play the same source at the same volume.

For the family room, it is your choice between the Play:1s and the Connect:Amp. Just know you need to have a wired Ethernet connection between the Connect:Amp and the Playbar, either through the router or directly between the two.

Other than that, looks great.
Userlevel 5
Badge +3
If you're doing a full build or a major refurbishment then you should really be talking to a local specialist AV installer. They'll have the experience and knowledge to help you plan for all the things you haven't yet thought of beyond your immediate requirements.

Second, the quality of the gear. I come across it time and again in my business as an AV installer where people underestimate what they need to spend on ceiling speakers to get decent audio. £50 or £100 a pair isn't going to cut it unless your audio standards are quite low rent. You also need to factor in the cost of fire hoods for any speakers where there's a living space in the rooms above. That then brings you on to sound-proofing.

The speakers that you put in to a ceiling will radiate sound in two directions:; down in to the main room but also up in to room above. The better-end of the fire hood market have a little bit of sound deadening capability but it's only equivalent to closing the door to the room where the speakers are playing. When the subject is raised at site meetings the client often says "Oh, my builder says he can put in some extra insulation", but very few builders spend any time looking in to proper sound reduction products because it's very time consuming if they don't already specialise in that area. It's the same reason why you hire an architect to design and plan the building rather than leaving it to a jobbing builder. He'll just chuck a bit of heavier mineral wool in to the ceiling because it's cheap and quick, but it's also pretty useless as a solution.

So, in-ceiling speakers:
6.5" Kevlar woofers, titanium dome tweeters, high sensitivity (88-90dB), 8 Ohm impedance and with 4/8 Ohm impedance switching so that two pairs can be run from a single amp and still maintain an 8 Ohm load without the need for any additional impedance matching electronics. (This ensures that you never have to worry about the sound being turned up too loud either on purpose or by accident, and that's a good thing), and +/-3dB trim controls for bass and treble for better matching to the room's audio characteristics - speakers cost £300/pr

In-ceiling fire hoods - from £30 to £60 each

Don't skimp on the cable, it's a false economy. The minimum should be Low Smoke Zero Halogen (LSOH) 1.5mm copper multi-strand 2-core. If there's budget for it (and it's really not a big difference in price) then go for the 4-core version. It's way cheaper to spend a little money now on the back-up of two extra cores in the speaker cable that you'll forever bury in to the structure of your building than the cost of ripping that structure to bits and then repairing it because some Nimrod with a nail gun knackered your 2-core wire.

Some of this about the in-ceiling speakers may come across as sounding negative. It's not. It's being pragmatic. The correct quality in-ceiling speakers will sound wonderful, as good or better than most people have experienced 2-channel Hi-Fi, but it's a solution that needs to be planned and budgeted for sensibly if it's going to deliver a result you'll be proud to show off.

The equivalent to a good pair of ceiling speakers would be something between a pair of Play 5's and two Play 1's + Sub. If you decide to go for a single Play 1 it'll sound okay but not in the same league as the more comprehensive solutions.

Your plan to run Connect Amps with speakers is fine. I'd have a think about running a proper AV Receiver and 5.1 speaker package or *3.1 passive sound bar + 2x surrounds in the main lounge as an alternative to the Sonos though. Unless your needs are very very basic then the AV Receiver will provide much better connectivity and far greater future-proofing for the world that is rapidly going 4K UHD. It will also do real surround with a multitude of surround sound audio formats that aren't available to the Sonos Playbar.

* Passive sound bars are the three front channel speakers of a 5.1 speaker package arranged in a single under-the-TV linear speaker arrangement. The difference is that they are driven by an external amplifier/AV Receiver rather than having built-in amplification of a conventional sound bar.

You can still integrate Sonos functionality with an AV Surround system. Simply buy and hook up a Sonos Connect media streamer and you'll have all the benefits of Sonos in the main TV viewing room with none of the drawbacks.

I love my Sonos gear. It does some wonderful stuff, and compared to a fully wired in-house multi-room system with keypads and a central amplification system it works better and is far more flexible and scalable for a fraction of the price. However, I'm also realistic about its limitations and about the direction in which the industry is going. Playbar and Playbase really need an update to include HDMI and a more complete roster of sound processing formats. DD alone might have been sufficient when someone just had a Sky box but the world is embracing streaming, 4K UHD, Dolby ATMOS and we've had Blu-ray for 10 years now. It's time for Sonos to consider users who are a bit more sophisticated in their needs.
Userlevel 3
Badge +6
Hi Lucid,

Very good post, very informative.

I'm planning some remodelling and creating a kitchen area and i'v been considering either 4 play 1's or 2 pairs of ceiling speakers and a connect amp. Although a multi zone amp and connects is also an option.

What make & model of speaker would you recommend that fits your spec above

A model that is comparable with a 5 pair or 1 pair and sub would make the extra cost worth it.

Also in terms of insulation for the room above what would you recommend?