Airplay 2 Support


Userlevel 1
Delighted to see AirPlay 2 support annouced. However, bubble well and truely burst by twitter support confirming it only works on newest devices - the play5 gen 2, and play base.

Can this be explained further, is it :

(i) Only new devices will support AirPlay 2. So if I have 6 Sonos speakers, 2 of which are play5:gen2, only those 2 will show as airplay speakers?

Or

(ii) You need at least one compatible device in your ecosystem, which acts as a bridge for older devices. So in scenario above, as at least one play5:gen2 is in the mix, all speakers are available.

I am crossing everything that it is (ii)... or there will be a lot of very unhappy people!

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103 replies

Userlevel 1
I am going to assume if you have one Sonos device hat is capable you can group any other Sonos unit to that one to get the signal. Ie if you have a play:5 gen2 you can play from iOS tonthat speaker then group in any other speakers you want to play the same music. But you have to have the play:5 playing that stream. Kind of like with playbar you can play tv sound to any speaker in the house as long as the playbar is playing tv.

The make or break element of this chris will be whether you have to leave the airplay controller on your iOS device to do the grouping. If you airplay from iOS then group in SONOS app, it’s a very poor user experience. If however one device acts as the hub for all other speakers, perfect.

We live in hope...
From the Sonos Support twitter - it sounds like option i. Huge disappointment. I would hope they could use newer speakers as an enabling hub or even release a separate hardware hub to enable Airplay 2 on all speakers (similar to how the Boost connects to the network).
I may be off base here, but (i) doesn't make any sense to me, (ii) does. The reason I'm thinking that is that you just need a way to get the signal in to the Sonos ecosystem, which apparently requires some "extra" chip, or something special, that is in the PLAY:5 gen 2, or the upcoming Sonos One. But once it's in the ecosystem, you should be able to share it all the way around, the same way a line-in works, or the optical connection on a PLAYBAR/PLAYBASE. Once it's "in", then anything can be done with it.

That seems like a logical assumption to me. Happy to have opposing viewpoints discussed.
Userlevel 7
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Very interested in this. Which Sonos products will specifically support airplay 2? Are there any limitations to specific products? Would love to hear directly from Sonos on this.
We're not quite sharing all the details on this yet, still early into development. Newer players have the needed hardware. So the PLAYBASE, PLAY:5 gen2, and the Sonos One will all have it.
Userlevel 7
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I am going to assume if you have one Sonos device hat is capable you can group any other Sonos unit to that one to get the signal. Ie if you have a play:5 gen2 you can play from iOS tonthat speaker then group in any other speakers you want to play the same music. But you have to have the play:5 playing that stream. Kind of like with playbar you can play tv sound to any speaker in the house as long as the playbar is playing tv.

Someone might not need another speaker. ;)


Exactly. I would settle for a hockey puck size device I can plug in or put in a closet. A bridge for Airplay 2 compatibility..
And if I do not want a speaker with a voice assistant? If that is what they push as generation 2, they will lose ground. Not everyone talks to their devices. Had a Google Home - returned it. Have multiple iOS devices, rarely use Siri. Am not a big enough Amazon user to use Alexa.
I don't think so. Probably in 10 years from now the entire lineup will possess built-in microphones; but for the Connect/ConnectAmp, that is. I would be surprised if that was not considered industry standard by then.
Question - I have a living room setup with the Play Bar, Sub and Play:1 for surround sound. If I replace one of the surround sound speakers with a Sonos One, do you think I will be able to take advantage of AirPlay 2 for the living room setup?
I believe if you have them all grouped, yes. I have a couple of Sonos Ones, but I have a connect attached to an old amp down in my basement that is tied into my outdoor speakers. I don't want to group the kitchen one with the outside speakers just to get Airplay 2 to work. So I took an old Airport Express (not the first generation, which means it should also hopefully support Airplay 2) and have it as a line in to the Connect, just in case. I'm hoping that will allow me to use Airplay 2 for both ones, the connect, and all of my apple TVs that are currently hooked into my theater setups. Fingers crossed.


The earlier you announce it, the earlier you can help consumer to make up decision how they can setup their system and stop them running into competitors like HomePod


Yet one of the main complaints about Alexa support was it was announced too soon, so people were getting impatient and looking to competitors. Damned if they do and damned if they don't. Plus, some people will complain about anything.
Sonos has given no details about the Airplay 2 implementation. Maybe waiting until Sonos actually states what is or is not coming with Airplay support before complaining is in order. Also, if it is a requirement of Apple to have special hardware in the unit, what exactly is Sonos supposed to do to make your legacy hardware compliant?
Userlevel 6
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I thought both were in context and were referring to the hardware.
Equally, had anybody else (bar a select few) quoted a 95% figure they would usually have been met with a ‘How do you know this?’ response so assumed you knew this figure as fact and hadn’t just plucked it out of thin air and used it to make a point as you now appear to have done.

While there are reviews that say there are audible differences between the Play 1 and Sonos One, there are also others that say otherwise.  I haven’t heard either so don’t know just how different they do sound, if at all – but wouldn’t be surprised to hear there’s lots of confirmation bias happening when listening and would be interested in users and reviewers blind testing the two.  Even if there are differences, I’d wager they’re so small as to be unheard by the majority – or effectively eliminated completely after Trueplay tuning.

Personally, I feel they didn’t realise the size of the ‘backlash’ from the lack of stereo pairing functionality and now realise they will probably sell a whole load more with this option than without it.  Not keeping the sound signature the same or allowing pairing from the off is a mistake and we will need to see how this all progresses.  Most seem to feel the Sonos One is a replacement, in time, for the Play 1 – but, if this does happen then Sonos leave those Play 1 owners without an easy way of making their existing speakers into stereo pairs.  Adding the option will demonstrate further support for existing hardware.

I suppose we’ll see...
No need to group, then ungroup to pass music room to room. Press Group on the source room or group, deselect non-destination room(s), select destination room(s), press Done. Easy peasy.
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If that is the case. They should come out with a unit that you can add to a group so airplay2 can find the connect connect amp and play1 and play3. Since they said groups with at least one sonos one will make that group airplay2 compatible. Seem like they have the tech already. Just take the brains of the Sonos one and package it as as hub for airplay2 amazon and Google assistance.
... Or just buy a Sonos ONE.


From the way this is written, it seems like that you have to start by casting AirPlay 2 content to one of the newer speakers, then group with an old one. I was hoping they would do this a bit more automagically by having internal logic that said that "ok, the user selected this old play:3, so I will silently start the stream on this new Play:One speaker and forward it to this old one" or whatever. Of course, this could still be how it works out, but from the description it seems to be more... manual.
This would indeed be magically.


Someone might not need another speaker. 😉

Someone might not need another speaker. ;)


Exactly. I would settle for a hockey puck size device I can plug in or put in a closet. A bridge for Airplay 2 compatibility..

It has been mentioned amongst my own friends, since reading the recent Sonos 'AirPlay-2' announcement, that Sonos could perhaps build a kind of AirPlay-2 'control centre' hub into their next generation Boost ?... but to me, that really just seems so unlikely at the moment, as Sonos are always going to want their customers to buy their next generation speakers. They are a speaker hardware (sales) company first and foremost.

I think the processors in the older Sonos units (Play-1/Play-3 etc.) are not powerful enough to deal with the upcoming AirPlay-2 (stereo and 5.1 audio) requirements ... so a more powerful 'gateway' or 'handler' is clearly going to be needed to deal with the streaming process.

I can see why Sonos would install such a 'gateway/handler' in all their latest products (Sonos One etc.) and next generation devices, rather than it being a small 'add-on' device with some extra processing ability.

I'm just grateful that the solution Sonos is suggesting in their announcement, appears to be a reasonable compromise, as it still keeps my older speakers, (Play-1, Play-3 etc.) on the development path with a way of playing AirPlay-2 sources through all of them.
I'm certainly no hardware expert but I'm thinking it's the case that the latest Apple hardware is built around 64 bit processing. Sonos devices need to be able to cope with that faster movement of data, perhaps?
Correct. With the release of iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 apps (and therefore Airplay2-enabled devices from third-party suppliers as well) MUST support 64-bit technology.

https://developer.apple.com/news/
Smilja,

Thanks for that link, that's helpful and perhaps shows the reason why we are seeing some recent Sonos updates that have changes mostly behind the scenes, rather than any new user interface changes.

It seems to make sense that these updates are paving the way for Google Home, improved voice control, SMB upgrade and AirPlay-2 support

It appears there is a quite a lot slotted into the Sonos development pipeline, that's reading between the lines of their recent announcements and documentation.
Userlevel 6
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And we know that Play:1, PlayBar etc. don't support 64bit? 64bit processing is nothing new.
SoAnd we know that Play:1, PlayBar etc. don't support 64bit? 64bit processing is nothing new.
So that’s why 'grouping' will be necessary with the Sonos latest products (Sonos One, Playbase etc.) for the integration of AirPlay-2. It looks like it’s all beginning to make some sense, eh?
Userlevel 6
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No my 64bit comment is a question. Do we 'know' those devices aren't 64bit?
The newer device thing I see as just a way of getting the audio into the system - and the grouping distributes it to non-Airplay 2 devices using existing Sonos architecture.
No my 64bit comment is a question. Do we 'know' those devices aren't 64bit?
The newer device thing I see as just a way of getting the audio into the system - and the grouping distributes it to non-Airplay 2 devices using existing Sonos architecture.

I think the relevant processing power required is clearly described in the Sonos announcement and it 'somewhat' ties in with the link provided by smilja. I’m afraid I don’t see the actual point you are trying to make sjw?
No my 64bit comment is a question. Do we 'know' those devices aren't 64bit? [...]
We are outsiders, so obviously we do not know, but presumably they aren't. I imagine, a few years ago 64bit chipsets weren't common outside of computer systems.
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I think the relevant processing power required is clearly described in the Sonos announcement and it 'somewhat' ties in with the link provided by smilja. I’m afraid I don’t see the actual point you are trying to make sjw?
I'm not trying to make a point. I've asked a question (Does anybody have any actual information on what these requirements are that are so above the requirements they currently satisfy in allowing all of the above multi room functionality? Is there cpu intensive encryption and decryption going on? What is the reason?) and the reply was that the hardware needs to support 64 bit processing. So I asked if we 'knew' that those Sonos systems weren't 64bit capable. It now appears to be a presumption that it is because 64bit processing is required and that the Sonos players are not.
The Sonos reason is that they just don't have the processing power (1/16 etc.) - which was why I asked in the initial question if anybody knew what was so cpu intensive in AirPlay2 as to necessitate this power. My guess it that the 1/16th figure is pure marketing and they maybe have a 1/16th of the RAM so are only 1/16 as powerful..
sjw,

Clearly the latest apple devices are 64 bit and I can't say for certain if the CPU's in the latest Sonos hardware are 64 bit or not but presumably the CPU's will need to be faster than the older Sonos hardware devices.

I do know that AirPlay-2 not only supports 2 channel stereo but it also supports 5.1 surround sound and it looks like the audio will be in perfect sync with video on iOS devices like iPhone and iPad (at least).

So I guess that will add to the processing power requirements but obviously no one knows what parts of AirPlay 2 Sonos intends to support. They may only support 2 channel stereo streaming perhaps? Not even sure if that will sync with the video output on the iOS devices?

We shall have to all wait and see. Those are my thoughts at the present time.

I mentioned the 64 bit Apple hardware as that shows the iOS devices are quite capable of shifting around a fair amount of data and Sonos will need to keep up with that for the implementation of AirPlay 2.
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Hw spec can be found online. The play 1 speakers has a 64bits motherboard. Play 3 has a 32bit. But it is most likely the requirement of airplay2 with what apple has release so far it is a heavy SW application. I suspect it is more an issue with available ram and processor power that can crunch that hw requirement of airplay2.
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I don't think it's anything at all to do with 'shifting around a fair amount of data' - the data you can move around between Sonos now or from a phone (inc. Android) is far in excess than that required from some music files and doesn't need support of particularly quick CPU's - as evidenced by the Sonos system itself and how well it runs on 10year old equipment.
Which is why I was wondering why the demands/requirements for AirPlay 2 are so high and my asking if there was maybe on the fly encryption/decryption taking place. It may well be as simple as Apple require 64bit CPU's and the older (still being sold) ones are not. I asked if anybody 'knew' the answer as there are plenty of people that have taken these things apart so may well know - not speculation.