Sonos Users with REAL High-End setups

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Hello everyone,

after only reading these Forums for a very long time, I finally decided to start a new thread...

Anyhow, I am still looking for a REAL high end music setup with Sonos. I have been using Sonos now for 3 years and am absolutely delighted with the system, yet am looking to read from all of those users with high end audio systems based on Sonos.

I found the thread of the audiophile Sonos Player, yet it did not develop into much. Has anyone done a really nice high end Sonos setup?

To give you an idea of where I am coming from, here a bit of history on my own system.

I came originally from high end audio systems using CD Players and different loudspeaker systems. I used several high quality CD Players, such as T+A PreCD 2000 AC (small German company, that player was around EUR 4,000), then Madrigal Proceed CDP (the last one, around EUR 5,000).

Output on my system is done using high end speakers, mainly German high end active loudspeakers (yes you guessed right, I am German...) from Silbersand and Backes & Mueller. Therefore I am looking at high end systems in the range from EUR 10,000 upwards - why do I mention this? I'd like to avoid discussions about the controller being too expensive etc. As a customer coming from the high end market, the entire Sonos system seems awfully cheap anyhow.

Since I am a minimalist looking for high quality, my current setup is as follows:

Sonos ZP80 with CR100 (very soon CR200)
Linksys Router
Lacie 2Big Disc, 1 TB
Itunes as Music archiving software

This system is directly connected to my Silbersand Emotion 2 active loudspeakers along with a Backes & Mueller active subwoofer.

Of course, hooking up a ZP80 variable output is not exactly the best option, yet the output quality I am getting from my system is outstanding! All music is ripped in lossless data.

My question is:
Has anyone been able to do a high end setup, without having to employ too many components along with Sonos? I just hate to fight with several different remotes etc and love to be able to control everything from my CR100.

It would be great to hear what others have done in terms of setup striving towards a high quality Sonos system...


155 replies

Userlevel 2
I'm not quite sure whether this contitutes high end to you or not but I currently run my main two channel audio system in the following configuration

Entire Music Library stored as Apple Lossless


Sonos ZP90


Cambridge Audio DACMagic


Spectral DMC-10 Preamplifier


Bryston 4BSST Power Amplifier


PMC PB1i Loudspeakers
Userlevel 2
to keep it consistent 🙂 :

Entire Music Library stored as FLAC with some MP3 files here and there...


Sonos ZP90


Chord DAC 64


Gryphon Callisto 2200


Dynaudio Confidence C1
Apple Timecapsule Router and backup
iMac ITB
Itunes as Music archiving software
Apple lossless


Empirical modded ZP80/modded Benchmark DAC1 (ZONE1) into Rotel RKB 2100 power amp (with autosensing) into Castle speakers

Cullen modded ZP90/Northstar 192 MKII DAC (ZONE2) into Linn Majik 4100 Power amp (with autosensing) Linn Active Cards into Katan's

Unmodded ZP80's (other zones) into Rotel RKB 250 power amps (with autosensing)

Everything controlled via Sonos remotes/desktop controllers/iphone. No preamps. Autosensing analogue signal switches on power amps.
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Crustyloafer, OzBuster, wappinghigh - thanks for sharing your configurations!!

@Crustyloafter and Ozbuster: I am sure you are both getting the maximum quality out of your ZP since you are employing Pre-amps as well...

@Wappinghigh: I like your setup since it's rather simple. Can you at all comment on the two modded ZP's - Empirical vs. Cullen? I am also wondering how much of a difference you were able to notice after modding those players... Did the variable output improve much after modding?

I am considering modding a ZP as well, but wasn't sure how much of an impact it will have.
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Not high-end, but I'm going to share what I use anyway 🙂.

FLAC -> ZP80 -> Primare SPA22 (via S/PDIF) -> Wilson Benesch Arcs

Aspirationally I want Crusty's amplification (hi Crusty, recognise your name from the 'wam) into my speakers, but I am rather hamstrung by only having room for one setup, and that has to do movies too.

I know it's heretical, but the whole offboard DAC thing leaves me cold. It's just another box. Can you guys really hear a difference?


Userlevel 2
I would have to say that the easiest way to achieve this would be to use a pair of Meridian DSP7200 Loudspeakers.
Encode at FLAC or WAV, ZP90 straight into the input on the speaker. Done!
The apodizing filter in the Meridians sorts out all the jitter and clocking issues and it sounds fantastic!
Oh, and Gyro', offboard DACS make a HUGE difference 😃
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Yes, great suggestion. I'll have to audition the Meridian speakers... last time I heard an earlier version was probably 10 years ago!

I'm hoping we'll get a few more setups on here!
In Sound ideas. Thread on ZP24/96

It's in there somewhere....;)

Visit both the websites...

I don't think you need a preamp. The power amps look after themselves. Of course the LINN gear sounds the best. But both have the great option of powering themselves on without IR control or a12V trigger (which SONOS lacks as you know)

I think the key is to improve the source. Reduce jitter (this is a whole Phd topic in it's own right!!! ) and to get a good DAC...:D
Userlevel 1
I've mentioned this a few times before, but my system is

Flac->ZP80->Meridian DSP8000s

Simplicity. May eventually add a processor for room correction, but that would be about it.
Userlevel 2
You'll notice a massive difference from the DSP's of old, much less 'digital' in their presentation, lovely!!
Userlevel 2
1) Apple lossless->ZP80->Bryston BDA-1 DAC -> Conrad Johnosn CA200 -> Penaudio Serenades
I also have a Pineer Elite DVD player hooked to the DAC, so that I can listen to HD material (including downloads burned to DVD-R!)
Cables by Audiquest, Stereovox and Audience
2) ZP80 + Panasonic BlueRay + Sky + Wii -> Integra 8.8 Receiver -> JMLabs Cobalt Speakers (5 of them) + Velodyne Sub + large LCD Sony TV
3) ZP100 ->Yamaha speakers (for the deck)

I can tell you that the first system sounds superb, better than similar systems I've had before with $5000 CD players at the source. My only complaint to Sonos as a source is its inability to play 24/96 or "better" material.
I can't afford a truly high-end system, but I believe I have maximized the potential of what I do own. My ZP90 goes fixed output into a Monarchy DIP (de-jitter device) and then (via Lossless digital cable) into the DAC in my Denon 4306 receiver. (This is a family compromise--the system must also be used for movies.) The speakers are customized Polk in-walls with back boxes in a specially constructed, inert wall. The subwoofer is an SVS, the biggest bargain in speakers that I have found. The Sonos sound is an improvement over my high-end universal player (Stereophile Class A-rated) and I am totally satisfied with Sonos, with the exception of its lack of 24/96 capability. I have also found that good power filtration and a good power cord (Lessloss again) makes a difference--I have read that power supply fluctuations are a major source of jitter. The room correction (Audessy) in the Denon receiver makes a huge difference too, which actually might make it superior in some respects to high-end separates.

My second ZP90 is upstairs for headphone use (Sennheiser 600) and gets used for the occasional outside party. But headphones definitely sound much better on the living room system, so the electronics do make a big difference.
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I'm an Audiophile-On-A-Budget (TM) so my system consists of:

D-Link DNS-323 NAS (about 26000 songs, most in average-bitrate 320 MP3 files) > Sonos ZP90 > Benchmark DAC-1 (was a Channel Island VDA-2) > Yaquin MS-12B Tube Preamp > Onkyo TX SR-604 > The Speaker Company TSAT 2400 (Fronts and Center), TSC TSAT 2000 (surrounds), ED A2-300 sub.

All cables are Monoprice.
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Here's mine:

NetGear ReadyDuo NAS -> WAV -> ZP90 -> Benchmark DAC-1 -> Audio by Van Alstine Ultra preamp -> Audio by Van Alstine Ultra amp -> Legacy Audio Whispers + PaceMaker sub.

I just hooked the ZP90 up to the DAC and haven't yet had a chance to see how it sounds.

I also have two ZP80s connected directly to Onkyo receivers in other rooms.
As a general suggestion: Apple Lossless or FLAC files will sound identical to the WAV files, but are much easier to deal with in a modern context. Any of these file formats will result in exactly the same bit stream or analog signal at the ZP80/90 outputs. Except for the possibility of a different physical scratch pattern, the original CD could be recreated from any of these files.
Userlevel 2
Apple lossless

Synolgy 2gig


Benchmark DAC1

Meridian m20 (old but sweet)

Love it! need volume control on dac to keep an extra box out.

If i was to upgrade i would get meridian digital active speakers straight from zp 90.

A good dac is well worth the money!

I have seen on net company makes a dac/amp with a slot in the back for zp90 peachtree nova, i dont know if it is any good. Does anyone have one.
Sonos (soon to be a Cullen Modded version) -

Benchmark DAC-1 Pre -

SimAudio W-6 Monoblocks -

Aerial Acoustics Model 9 -

This is close to the farthest I will go. I don't think my wife would be up to it but I promise I will stop at this: Aerial Acoustics 20T ( and then the Berkeley Alpha DAC (

Simple. Clean. (Uh, we won't talk about the powerchords and interconnects! Though I have to say replacing the stock powerchord on the Benchmark DAC-1 and Sonos (Audioquest NRG-1) made quite a bit of difference to me.)
Double post
Userlevel 2
Apple Lossless > Sonos ZP80 > Meridian 568.2 > Meridian DSP8000s

Sounds fantastic. I tested the ZP80 against a number of high-end transports for weeks. No one could qualify the differences.
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Since we're sharing...

FLAC > ZP90 > Peachtree Nova > eFicion F200s

eFicion is a relative newcomer and happens to be local to me. It's a wonderful speaker built around Aurum Cantus ribbon tweeters and carbon fiber woofers.

The Nova is a recent addition - it replaced a Benchmark DAC1 and NAD amp.
Userlevel 2
FLAC - ZP90 - Cambridge Audio Dacmagic - NAD162/262 (OK, probably not REAL high end...)

Adding a Dacmagic definitely is an improvement (a little bit too much bass though). I also have a Musical Fidelity V-DAC which does not impress me a lot. It's hardly an improvement to my ears at least.

I must say I am quite surprised about the sound the ZP120 produces! Detailed, good bass, very good overall sound. It cannot play too loud though. At higher volumes it lacks 'dominance'.
Userlevel 2
Cool thread... It's great to read about everybody's systems. I've been running a SONOS through my main system for about 3 years now. I've always been pleasently surprised with the quality of sound the SONOS produces. Rarely have I missed using my fancy CD transport. Besides, the convenience of having the majority of my CD collection and Rhapsody at my fingertips can't be beat. My system currently consists of the following:

All files are stored Apple Lossless




Muse Model 192 DAC


Rogue Audio Hera Tube Preamp


Rogue Audio Zeus Tube Power Amp


Von Schweikert VR4-SR Loudspeakers
Userlevel 2
Apple Lossless > ZP80 > Meridian 568.2 > DSP5500s

Too bad Sonos has missed out on video bandwagon. For that using Macs and AppleTVs, with audio through Meridian.
Userlevel 2
Hi, I'm new to this forum and a new Sonos owner.
My system is set up as follows:

Mac Pro with zone bridge (AIFF files)
ZP90 + Iphone app controller
MHDT Paradisea 3 DAC
Onix 120 A mk1 integrated amp
Wharfedale Diamond 9.2 Bookshelf speakers

These are connected with audioquest king cobra, audioquest vsd-5 digital cable, and audioquest type 4 speaker cables. Sound is superb. Can't tell the difference between cd and sonos streamed file.

Userlevel 2
At which level do you run your amplifier in combination with the ZP90 ?


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