Sonos V Bluesound?


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Why should I get Sonos over Bluesound? Never heard of them before now whilst searching the web.

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The only real reason is they support higher resolution audio, which some people think offers hiher fidelity, a claim whihc has never been proven in actual scientific analysis or experimental data. Otherwise, their app is inferior, the number of supported music services is a fraction of Sonos', and they appear to suffer from some reliability issues. There is some talk of their support being better than Sonos, but a smaller user base sometimes allows for a more attentive support team.
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Thanks for reply.
I noticed their Soundbar is more expensive than the Playbar, So I'm assuming that applies across the board right?
Bluesound costs more but has over Sonos (might not be full list)

A line / optical in.

Bluetooth AptX (so you can send any Audio on your device)

Headphone socket.

Can be controlled by IR remote (except Pulse Flex)

Pulse Flex has an optional battery pack.

Pulse Flex has preset buttons.

Supports MQA and hires (nice to just play music rather than worrying about converting it first)

In my experience the Bluesound iOS App is as good as the Sonos app and sone area's better such as displaying bitrates, track file locations and sorting.

Airplay 2 / Apple Homekit / Siri and Apple Music support comming later this year. Airplay 2 will allow any iOS audio to be transmitted in high quality, no need for a music service to be supported.

Support of two subs paired with a Bluesound Pulse Soundbar.

As jagtie says... their support is fantastic, suggestion to the app bybusers are often implemented. Bluesound are part of the group of companies that own NAD & PSB they share buildings hence NAD & PSB technology is inside Bluesound devices.

If you get the chance to compare the Sonos vs Bluesound that would help you decide.
@Belly M: That sounds like Bluesound is superior over Sonos. Just being curious, why aren't you going fully with Bluesound then?
Thanks for reply.
I noticed their Soundbar is more expensive than the Playbar, So I'm assuming that applies across the board right?


Yes, it applies across the board.
@Belly M: That sounds like Bluesound is superior over Sonos. Just being curious, why aren't you going fully with Bluesound then?

Nobody ever does.
@Belly M: That sounds like Bluesound is superior over Sonos. Just being curious, why aren't you going fully with Bluesound then?

lack of money
Ah but wait..... can we consider some of these advantages?

Airplay, Bluetooth. Consciously avoided by Sonos because of unreliability. But if you really want them with Sonos you cam have them. Airplay 2 may be better than Airplay 1, and Sonos has said that it is actively looking at it.

I wonder which will come first, Siri on Bluesound or Alexa on Sonos? And which will be more fully featured? Pure speculation either way.

Sonos already supports Apple Music.

Headphones. If that is important to you then that is a plus. But I never use them at home so for me it isn't an advantage at all. But if you want to use headphones with Sonos, it can be done.

Some Sonos devices have lines-in (and the source can then be played through all speakers in the system).

One Sonos Sub shakes the walls at my place. One is awesome, who needs two?

I don't know if Bluesound uses its own, robust mesh networking technology as Sonos does. Perhaps someone could let us know.

Bluesound certainly has some features I'd like to see on Sonos. But I am not remotely tempted to switch,
In essence, I agree with JohnB - specifically, the last line above.

The case for ownership by NAD is overstated. There is nothing they bring to the table that is beyond Sonos other than a longer existence in the world of quality home audio. I say this having used NAD kit since 2002; a NAD stereo amp still drives my 2 channel HT set up very satisfactorily. It isn't the best build quality though; I have seen more component failures on NAD kit than that of any other brand I have used.

IMO, Bluesound kit sells because of that pedigree of doubtful objective relevance, on the Hi Res red herring, on perhaps looking more cool, and ironically, also because it is more expensive, catering to the belief that one gets what one pays for.

The Sonos net and consequent music up time question is often overlooked. All of the above factors can be rapidly negated by music streaming that isn't stable. Sonos isn't up there with legacy wired kit, but given a foundation of a solid home WiFi network it comes closer to that than any other.

Leaving all that aside, I haven't seen any decent comparison anywhere between the best of the two in standalone mode without adding downstream legacy kit: A true play tuned 5 pair + Sub compared for just sound quality to the Bluesound equivalent with all other variables eliminated as they need to be if any valid comparison is to be made. I doubt Sonos will concede any ground, even with Hi Res music, as long as Sonos is fed the down sampled version of the same file.
I recently compared Sonos and Bluesound side by side (Sonos Play 1 vs the Bluesound Pulse Flex). These are the cheapest / smallest speakers in their respective range.

My conclusion: I am sticking with Sonos for music in sync around the house. However I am acquiring a Bluesound Node 2 to use for more critical listening at my main HiFi.

Bit of background:
I have had Sonos speakers (2 x Play1s, 1 x Play 5 Gen 1, 2x Sonos Connects, 2 x Play 5 Gen 2) for a very long time (since 2008) and I love them. There are some problems:
i) I am one of those rare use cases where I keep a large-ish local library with multiple playlists so I am dreading the 65K limit.
ii) I am unhappy with Sonos Connect no longer being bit-perfect.
iii) I use Roon alongside Sonos which is for me a superior music player / organiser / streamer. Roon can control Sonos which is fantastic although there are some small bugs which Roon is gradually fixing.

I am well aware that I am a minority and fully respect most do not mind / care about the above.

I considered Bluesound because:
a) Bluesound speakers were reported as having a better sound quality (even for low resolution music),
b) It offers a 200K track limit for local libraries,
c) It is Roon ready so it works better with other Roon ready devices, and most importantly (for me)
d) The Bluesound node 2 is bit perfect (as opposed to the Sonos Connect).

I tested the small Bluesound Flex (equivalent to Sonos Play 1, in terms of size) against the Sonos Play 1. I had them side by side for about a week. Here is what I found

- Sound Quality: Very surprised but a Clear win for Sonos Play 1 to my years.
I am not claiming that the Play1 offers high fidelity but it sounded more balanced and more fun overall than the Bluesound Flex. Having said that, I find Sonos play 1 initially sounds boomy and muddy (even with loudness turned off) and needs true play tuning and additional EQ adjustments. After that it sounds lovely. The Bluesound was much better with vocals but it lacked mid bass punch and it also had a rounded treble as compared to the Play 1. I very much preferred the Play 1 (after eq adjustments) which sounds 'big' and fun :-)
- Price: Big win for Sonos.
Sonos Play 1 costs £180 in the UK vs £300 for the Bluesound Flex. This price differential becomes more profound as we move up to bigger speakers.
- User experience using Roon: A win for the Bluesound here as they offer Roon ready devices.
Even better with Bluesound as I can sync them with other Roon zones (e.g. a PC running Roon). I can easily control my Sonos speakers with Roon and despite some small bugs, the experience is great.
- The main App: A win for Sonos.
The Bluesound app was fine overall but the user experience felt better with Sonos. Small things but they did make a difference in user experience.
- Bluesound Node 2: For me a clear win over the Sonos Connect as I believe the latter is no longer bit perfect.
I know and respect this is not important for many users.
- Local libraries: Draw.
Sonos is super easy for integrating and indexing local libraries but it is limited to 65K indexed tracks. Bluesound has a 200K limit but the indexing and linking with local libraries is terrible and buggy. Very bad user experience here.


I returned the Bluesound Flex speaker for a refund and I am sticking with Sonos for all around the house music. Despite the limitations, Sonos offers the best VFM and all around convenience with good SQ for whole house music in sync.

I am keeping the Bluesound Node 2 for when I sit down to listen more critically via the main HiFi.

Wanted to share the above just in case it is useful.

Cheers

- Bluesound Node 2: For me a clear win over the Sonos Connect as I believe the latter is no longer bit perfect.

If you were to not know this about the Connect, what then?! Aren't your ears when in an objective state of not knowing this little fact the best judge of things?
I have actually been unhappy with the Sonos Connect SQ for a number of years without knowing why.

I had an older version which sounded better to my ears. I had no idea why. This is of course subjective, bias prone and totally non-scientific. I just had a bugging feeling for the past few years. When I configured a mini pc with a Roon bridge and a USB to SPDIF interface I compared it against the Sonos Connect and felt that I preferred the former. Again, subjective and biased test.

I embrace psychoacoustics but I respect the alternative 🙂
As an owner of both Sonos (Connect, Connect AMP) & Bluesound (Node 2, Powernode 2, Flex, Pulse Mini) I can offer my opinion:

Sound Quality:
Bluesound >> Sonos... and this is not about HiRes (noting the participants in this thread and not wanting to engage that done-over debate). The amp in the Powernode is better, the DACs in the Node are better... with the Connect I was preferring Coax out to Peachtree Nova's ESS Sabre DAC. With the Node 2, the DAC is an upgrade on the Peachtree. I hate to say it, but you do get what you pay for in the hardware department.

Speakers: Can't comment on Sonos as I never had one. Many people love the Pulse Mini but I wouldn't say it is the be all and end all... it's good, it has heft. I find it boomy. I am generally not a fan of stand alone powered speakers. The Flex is a great product. The presets are great for stepping into the shower and putting on NPR with a press of a button rather than going back to my phone.

Voice Activation: Obviously a hands down win for Sonos. What a convenience it would be to have that in my house... if you don't believe in HiRes then this would actually cast the deciding vote for me... if you do and you insist on HiRes in more than one zone Bluesound may still be your bet. You can rig up Alexa control of Bluesound using Harmony Hub... but it is very limited.

Apps: Sonos is a much better app. The setup is also WAY more straightforward. Bluesound is a pain.

Roon: Integrates far better on Bluesound... in sync with my main PC hooked up to a speaker set... gives ultimate flexibility in Bluesound, but not Sonos (since Sonos only plays with Sonos even in Roon). With Bluesound you could repurpose old iPhones or Android phones to be "endpoints" with connected speakers to add additional zones... and control it all in sync from Roon. Given I use Roon most of the time, and it integrates better with Bluesound hardware, this overrides the inferior BluOS app... since I don't use either app.

Network: Sonos was more reliable for me... but then I wasn't slinging HiRes/MQA files around.

Future Proofing: Bluesound has been adding services all the time... but Sonos obviously has more heft with more users, so it is a better bet if you are worried about where the streaming industry goes, or what next device/service you'll want to integrate with (case in point: Alexa).

Overall, it depends which category you fall in:

1) If your "streamer" will be in your critical listening system, you love Roon, and you value hardware that will yield great sound quality... go Bluesound
2) If you want proven performance, ease of use, and greatest flexibility in terms of the latest/greatest services and most important is consistent performance across the home... go with Sonos.

I would note that the addition of IOS and Android device as endpoints in Roon puts both Sonos and Bluesound at some risk of obsolescence if Roon can get its act together with additional streaming services.
Broadly similar experience to YoBucko overall with one or two exceptions:

Interestingly I actually find that Roon works better with Sonos especially for reliable multiroom playback which stays in perfect sync. I agree however that the Bluesound Node 2 sounds better than the Connect (I have both).

I find that Roon + Bluesound integration is problematic when attempting to use a few Bluesound units in multiroom playback (they go out of sync). This is well documented in both the Bluesound forum as well as the Roon Community forum. Apparently (hypothesis) this is due to Bluesound not keeping up to date with Roon updates. As you also mention there is no problem when streaming to a single unit.

I know that the latest Sonos app is not that popular with users but if you want to feel better you should check out the Bluesound App... oh dear what a mess.

I am finding that some Sonos speakers sound great to me but others I find harsh and forward to the point of discomfort. The latest Sonos One and the Gen 1 Play 5 are my favourites with a sound that to my ears is quite well balanced. The Play 1 and Playbase are both quite sharp sounding and I need to reduce the treble on both significantly. Trueplay does not work on either the Play 1 / One as it always results into bass popping (well documented in the forum). The Play 5 Gen 2 is actually the worst and sounds to me both boomy and very grating despite reducing the treble all the way down to 0 (after true play tuning to contain the boomy bass ). Bluesound speakers are less dynamic than the respective sonos but a lot smoother sounding. However they also suffer from boomy bass which can be partially addressed with EQ.

Despite the above issues, I am happy using the connect, One and gen 1 Play5 which all work reliably with Sonos and Roon.
I keep my Bluesound Node 2 for critical listening as YoBucko mentions.
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let me give some background...i'm often at my (home) desk/table...so bought the focal alpha 50 with my chord mojo, Roon and Tidal ...loved this combo..but sold them due to size...then decided on sonos play 1 (single) and was very impressed for what it offers given it's size...but like many I wanted more so upgraded to the sonos play 3...fab little speaker...
but again wanted more so decided to go with the bluesound pulse mini (i'm also using roon and tidal, with a sonictransporter and microrendu)....

but when i finally plugged in the bluesound pulse mini, man was i SO disappointed in the SQ...i was expecting the opposite, in it's higher price tag and footprint...but the sonos play 3 stomped on it (i've not got a trouble ticket in with bluesound to just play it safe, but i've read of others having this issue, too)...so yesterday and this morning plugged back in the sonos play 3...then decided after a few hrs to try once more the bluesound....uck!...inferior sq...so i have no clue if i have a dud or this is just the sq of the bluesound pulse mini.

i find the sonos play 3 has more detail, balance and yet good bottom end (of course it's not to compete with a 5-6.5'' driver i realize that)...but for being at my desk, drinking my morning java and having some enjoyable music playing it's a winner in my books...such that i'm considering adding another one for l/r...

but question: will sonos support 5 ghz as many wifi systems are all moving that way.

1) If your "streamer" will be in your critical listening system, you love Roon, and you value hardware that will yield great sound quality... go Bluesound
2) If you want proven performance, ease of use, and greatest flexibility in terms of the latest/greatest services and most important is consistent performance across the home... go with Sonos.

The logical reading of both above would suggest that the benefit from 2 is missing in 1. In my book, based on that, Sonos wins because I want my music play to be reliable and I want the equipment to stay out of the way of the music listening experience as far as possible. I don't value audio hardware for anything more than the experience it provides.

As to sound quality, I have compared all Sonos speakers except the 3 with my earlier in use high end audio kit, and found Sonos to be a very adequate replacement. I can't say more than that because preference for how speakers sound can still be a very personal preference and therefore subjective. But I have also found that as long as the speaker is not outright bad/coloured/fatiguing in sound delivered by it, but just different, in less than a couple of weeks of listening to it the brain moves beyond the subjective difference and focuses on the music. But in no amount of time will it get used to music stuttering and stopping to the point that this stops being a distraction.
The other thing is that if Bluesound offers - as I think it does - a way to use third party speakers and/or amps in the way Sonos does, any sound differences that exist between Bluesound speaker units and Sonos play units disappear . Leaving Sonos with only the advantages of more stable play and ease of use.
A very recent good review / comparison between the two systems:
https://www.digitaltrends.com/home-theater/bluesound-raises-the-bar-for-wi-fi-hi-fi-but-can-it-beat-sonos/

I use both systems at home: a sonos (Connect, One, 5 Gen2) and a bluesound system (Node 2, Flex) and I agree with most of the points in the review above. Especially the WiFi stability / reliability which is far superior with Sonos.

Most reviews fail to test this aspect of a system. The WiFi stability and reliability is paramount for happy user experience.

SQ is good with both and as the review highlights.... subjective. The 'flavour' of sound is different between the two systems. Sonos speakers sound more dynamic and fun. I prefer them overall.

Where Bluesound is (for now) superior in my opinion: The Node 2 vs Sonos connect..The bluesound streamer sounds better than the sonos connect to my ears. What is more, the bluesound is is more versatile. You can connect the optical digital from your tv and it will essentially become an av receiver. Also, the tone controls work even when the analogue output is set to fixed. This is very useful. The sonos connect disables tone controls when output is set to fixed.

If the rumours are true though, a new sonos connect may be in the cards so lets see 🙂. As things stand I use the sonos system more than the bluesound when I need the multiroom fun. Serious listening is for the Node 2 (for now).

Well done Sonos.

Cheers

The bluesound streamer sounds better than the sonos connect to my ears.


You really should donate your remarkable ears to science, then, as they have achieved the impossible.
Thank you but I don't deserve the compliment 😉. I don't think it is remarkable to have a preference on a sound 'flavour'.
Cheers


The bluesound streamer sounds better than the sonos connect to my ears.


You really should donate your remarkable ears to science, then, as they have achieved the impossible.
However I am acquiring a Bluesound Node 2 to use for more critical listening at my main HiFi.


Yiannis I am in more or less the same boat as you are. I too switched to Roon and let it run my Sonos speakers. However, I gave up on the Sonos Connect (actually the ZP90) and replaced it with a very cheap Raspberry Pi which has been running Roon (Bridge) flawlessly now for over a month and which I use to send my music to the DAC (in both standard and hi-res). I am very happy with the results.
Thank you but I don't deserve the compliment 😉. I don't think it is remarkable to have a preference on a sound 'flavour'.

Actually you do perhaps deserve it:-). Speakers come in different flavours of sound where subjective preferences attach to these; streamers that merely pass on a bitstream for amplification do not, unless they also have a tone control either built into them, or as a controllable feature.

If the Bluesound streamer is without a built in permanent tone control and if those on both it and Connect are set to zero, any differences you hear are either psychological, or because apples to apples for EVERY other variable is missing. Or if you have the said special ears of course. And of course one can prefer the BS streamer for features that are missing on the Connect.

And someone else needs to verify the claim that in fixed mode, Connect tone controls cannot be used.
The linked review is excellent though, no question about that. Rare to find one correctly laying out the key differentiators that matter in actual use - more features where BS is concerned versus better stability for Sonos. But I think it still gets one thing wrong and that is when it talks about the two different approaches to sound flavours, with the BS sound tailored to and more suited for audiophiles that prefer a flat frequency response that delivers a cleaner but more sterile sound.

The problem with this statement is that it fails to recognise how any room found in a typical home will audibly mess with the sound delivered by any speaker in ways unique to that room. Regardless of how the speakers are tuned. That Sonos speaker sound is preferred by many as the review suggests is not because it is tuned for the mass market uneducated ears as opposed to BS tuning meant for discerning ears that know better, but because the former takes into account the room response as well and tweaks the sound to compensate for what the room does, to bring the sound back to what sounds pleasing to human ears - trained or not. Sonos does this in two ways - first via the built in processing that shapes the sound of the speakers and then via Trueplay which further shapes this based on actual user room responses. Which is also not to say that no one will prefer the room modified - which is an inevitable modification - BS sound as a subjective preference. But the reason for that preference will not be because it is a more accurate sound as the review suggests. Once the room has done its thing, what will be heard are the many different flavours of the original accurate sound, none of which are accurate anymore. How distant from accurate will change from one room to another.

And of course the above applies to only such kit of both makes that includes speakers made by them.
Emile that is a great choice indeed. I will send you a PM as I would love to hear your experience regarding SQ difference with the Sonos Connect.
I understand you had the ZP90 so most likely it is the bit perfect version which does not suffer from the soft knee compression that has been introduced in the more recent connect. Best if I PM you so as to not derail this thread.

Best

However I am acquiring a Bluesound Node 2 to use for more critical listening at my main HiFi.


Yiannis I am in more or less the same boat as you are. I too switched to Roon and let it run my Sonos speakers. However, I gave up on the Sonos Connect (actually the ZP90) and replaced it with a very cheap Raspberry Pi which has been running Roon (Bridge) flawlessly now for over a month and which I use to send my music to the DAC (in both standard and hi-res). I am very happy with the results.
For other readers of this thread: No one till now has demonstrated any ability to pick out any audible effect of anything done to the Connect by Sonos in a well controlled double blind listening test.

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