Play unit power delivery question


Sonos does not specify this and I can understand why - what matter with play units is how loud they can go without clipping/distorting. But Sonos does not specify this either.

It would be interesting to know how the units stack up on clean sound levels delivered when compared to the 55 wpc Connect Amp, driving a typical HiFi speaker of, say 87dBm sensitivity levels. Has anyone done this comparison between the Connect Amp on one hand and play units on the other?

My experience is that even the 1 units go louder faster than a Connect Amp powered set up does. I haven't the place or the means where I can do this comparison with both running at 100% volume. Has anyone any useful experience to offer in this area? I have no idea of the sensitivity levels on the play 1 drivers, but my limited experience suggests that the 1 has amps that deliver more than 55 watts rms power. If I am not far wrong, that is impressive power delivery performance from the built in amps.

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I don't have a play:1 but I do have a play:3 and a connect:amp running a pair of Q Acoustics Q180CP's. http://www.qacoustics.co.uk/q-install-8inch-in-ceiling-speaker.htm Their sensitivity is rated at 88dB

The play:3 is louder at a quarter volume level than the Q Accoustics. At half volume they are very similar, but the Q Acoustics are significantly louder as you go past half volume.

My guess was that the connect:amp is designed to try and provide volume the same as other speakers in the Sonos range, so the volume slider may not provide output hikes at the same rate between different products?
No idea about your last guess there, but this would indicate a different volume control architecture between the Connect Amp and the play 3 units. And a reasonable inference would then be with 1 units as well.

As I said, I can't say why this should be so, but it means one can't use this behaviour to draw any conclusions about how powerful the play unit amplifiers are.
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I have no idea, Kumar. I was unsure about how well the volume sliders would work between my connects, connect amp and play 3. When grouped (most of the time) the group volume slider works very well turning up the music at approximately the same speed in every zone. As I have more non-sonos speakers than play units, I was impressed that this worked so well.
Lending my ear to this... My thoughts are the volume contours (and charts) over the Sonos '100' increment volume slider, are different for each product. I think a user can notice this, when listening and adjusting/comparing the volumes of a Play-1 and Play-5 Speaker... The latter, seems to really pickup past the 50% marker, I think, whereas the Play-1 steadily increases its volume quickly and tapers off towards the high volume end. Well that's how it sounds to my untrained ear.

I guess the volume contours can/have been adjusted by past firmware/software updates based on careful lab testing etc. Therefore these things can also be adjusted by future updates.

The only true test would be at Max Volume, with speakers set at the same distance/position etc. Identical slider bar positions (i.e. 25%, 50% etc.) along the way are (I think) irrelevant to use, without the unpublished data, to compare the different Sonos Products side by side.

I agree with the OP though, for its comparative price, the Play-1 is certainly a lot of speaker for the money... A pair of them are great for many smaller rooms in most homes - kitchen, bedroom etc. They are also convenient for positioning and perhaps better on the eye than a Connect and ’some' speakers of equivalent wattage output in some cases, but certainly not all.
I remain a big play 1 fan. I don't have much use for fancy sound for TV, so in my book it is the most versatile and value for money product Sonos have ever made till now. Followed by the Sub for what it can do to elevate a 1 pair to audiophile HiFi class, although perhaps only reformed audiophiles will agree:-).

I was just curious to know what the power delivery of the little amps inside the 1 unit would be.
Yes, I'm with you Kumar. I have a number of Play-1’s and love 'em too.

Visitors to my home regularly comment on their size, style, clear sound range and amazing output.

I have spent a lot more money in the past on 'other' speaker brands, which have given me far less, in every respect.

In the same way you do not want fancy TV sound output (I understand that)... I'm personally NOT a customer who wants to give voice commands to my audio system... I just don't like the thought of microphones capable of listening day/night 24-7, in every room. I'm the same with 'location' services too. To coin an English phrase ...'it's just not my cup of tea'.
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Very interesting your opinion on the new Play 5 volume Ken - mine is the same. I'd heard how loud it was but when I first started playing music it was on about 1/4 and I was unbelievably disappointed with the volume. Upto about half way I thought the same. Once above that things definitely pick up - although I'm still sometimes surprised how high I have to have the slider to listen at what I consider at a 'louder than normal' volume... but the last quarter really makes me smile..
Lol. I agree that voice is a gimmick and I can see people having to shout over the level of the playing music giving control commands! And words not meant as commands being heard as such.
But it seems with the success of Amazon's Echo that has Sonos scurrying for cover, this attitude to voice dates us!
on about 1/4 and I was unbelievably disappointed with the volume. Upto about half way I thought the same. Once above that things definitely pick up - although I'm still sometimes surprised how high I have to have the slider to listen at what I consider at a 'louder than normal' volume... but the last quarter really makes me smile..
This is very similar to Connect Amp.

Just shows how we have been misled by the common practice of building hifi amps that go loud early, and do little past the 50% mark. All that does is give a false impression of power while restricting the usable range of the volume control knob.

These amps will not play at even 80% without distorting, while Sonos is stated to not do so even at 100%; stated, because those levels are too loud for me to verify.
Lol. I agree that voice is a gimmick and I can see people having to shout over the level of the playing music giving control commands! And words not meant as commands being heard as such.
But it seems with the success of Amazon's Echo that has Sonos scurrying for cover, this attitude to voice dates us!


Kumar I really did laugh at loud here, thinking of people shouting commands above the sound of their music and instead of playing the next playlist, their garage door opens or the curtains get drawn in the middle of the day... I don't think I'm ready for a voice-controlled smart home just yet... ha ha.

Sjw ... Yes I noticed this when comparing Play-1’s to Play-5’s .. There is a volume-control difference and you are right, it can feel a little odd when sliding the volume bar to a higher position to reach the correct sound barrier. I have got used to it now.

There is still no way I could have my pair of Play-5’s in the living room turned up close to Max, without the 'mad' neighbour next door coming and knocking on my door, telling me to turn it down. My wife usually steps in first anyway and quickly hits the Play/Pause button and then wags her finger at me. I pretend I'm going deaf and try to exclaim 'it wasn't that loud' ... (That's the 'stock' answer isn't it?) .. I haven't found a way to disable that damn speaker button .. ha ha.
In all honesty, Amazon has solved the problem of background music or dialog interfering with the proper functioning of Alexa Voice. It's not flawless, but it's 98% there. It is really amazing in its ability to filter out background voices and hear commands over even loud music. The only time I see it fail every time is when Alex Baldwin says "Alexa" on the Echo TV commercials. She always wakes up to Alec.
Good to know. Still remains a perhaps good to have thing for me, I can't see myself pining for microphone equipped speakers.

I suspect Alec Baldwin still has that effect on more than just Alexa.
suggests that the 1 has amps that deliver more than 55 watts rms power. If I am not far wrong, that is impressive power delivery performance from the built in amps.

Remember that there is an amplifier per driver in the Play's, so it's not a direct comparison vs a 2- or 3-way speaker. A well designed passive crossover should have minimal losses, but the mid and/or tweeter will often be padded down to balance with the woofer. The Play series use DSP, splitting highs from lows before the power amp stages.

One of the teardown sites mentioned that the Play:1 uses TPA-3116 Class D chips, each of which can very efficiency put 50W into a 4 ohm load if the DC supply is healthy enough. So, 50W+50W in the Play:1, max, though the tweeter will use far less power than the woofer.
Isn't that roughly the same then as the 110 wpc into 4 ohms from the Connect Amp? Quite impressive for the size and the price, if that be the case.
I thought this article by Robert Silva (Home Theatre Expert) was rather interesting, when it comes to talking about Amplifier Power Output ... It helps explain things in very simple terms.

http://hometheater.about.com/cs/audiocomponents/a/aapowermada.htm

Another article I read, also talks about the weight of speakers being useful.. These things need transformers to produce the watts and that means the more watts the heavier the transformer has to be (and the associated parts). Any speaker claiming a certain wattage output should have its spec. looked at very closely and not least 'picked up' to see just how heavy it is.

Those little Play-1’s are rather heavy, aren't they?
Another article I read, also talks about the weight of speakers being useful.. These things need transformers to produce the watts and that means the more watts the heavier the transformer has to be (and the associated parts). Any speaker claiming a certain wattage output should have its spec. looked at very closely and not least picked up to see just how heavy it is.

Provided you're talking about active speakers yes, anyone trying to find a transformer in a passive speaker might be disappointed, it's the magnets that make up most of the weight in a passive speaker.
Another article I read, also talks about the weight of speakers being useful.. These things need transformers to produce the watts and that means the more watts the heavier the transformer has to be (and the associated parts). Any speaker claiming a certain wattage output should have its spec. looked at very closely and not least picked up to see just how heavy it is.

Provided you're talking about active speakers yes, anyone trying to find a transformer in a passive speaker might be disappointed, it's the magnets that make up most of the weight in a passive speaker.


Yes of course, thank you.
Sonos uses switching power supplies in all current products, so the power transformer can be tiny and lightweight. Only in linear supplies, where the transformer operates at 50/60 Hz, are they going to be heavy. Most pro amps these days (Crown, QSC, Behringer, etc) are also very lightweight for the same reasons: switching power supplies, class D amplifiers.
Right; I suspect the weight comes mostly from the magnets in the drive units and substantial casework. It does reinforce the quality feel of the unit of course.

Digressing, I remember a review where it said that weight was one good way to distinguish between two amplifiers for quality, and it wasn't said tongue in cheek!
Probably the cleanest power amp ever, delivers enough power for 99% of home situations. Weight? 12.5 lbs.

http://benchmarkmedia.com/products/benchmark-ahb2-power-amplifier
That looks like a very impressive modern amp. A Connect on one side, and as decent passives as one can find/afford on the other.

What does it retail for?
Sonos uses switching power supplies in all current products, so the power transformer can be tiny and lightweight. Only in linear supplies, where the transformer operates at 50/60 Hz, are they going to be heavy. Most pro amps these days (Crown, QSC, Behringer, etc) are also very lightweight for the same reasons: switching power supplies, class D amplifiers.

I concede completely that I still have much to learn on this subject and really my comment on the weight aspect of an 'active' speaker was really more of a 'rule of thumb' rather than taking onboard the exceptions... (Admittedly I certainly did not know there were so many that could quickly spring to mind). I guess that's the experience I really do lack and need to study.

I have rediscovered the short article I read on the topic and have provided a link to it here, to show at least it was not something I had made up. Weight is still on the books as a 'thing' to maybe bear in mind when looking at a buying decision, alongside the manufacturers published specifications.

It's not the single thing though that gives a clear difinitive answer to power/volume output. There will always be some exceptions.

Here is the article that mentions weight:

http://www.cnet.com/uk/news/whats-up-with-watts-how-much-power-do-you-need/
More on the Benchmark - I see it retails for about USD 3000. Throw in the Connect and a pair of decent speakers, and the spend will cross USD 4000, even approach USD 5000.

Will this deliver a better listening experience compared to a pair of 5 units, for a quarter of the price? Except perhaps in very large rooms?
Ken, I have read similar articles.

But these really focus on 20th century tech and are obsolete now except in the world of audiophiles/would be audiophiles, that want to remain an exclusive club. Unsurprisingly, a club of no interest to women!

If a play 5 pair does all one needs it to, the watts it puts out somewhere inside the box are not relevant. I know I started this thread with questions on watts, that was only to benchmark the Sonos units in some way against the older tech kit as a curiosity perhaps. On their own, watts no longer matter for integrated kit like Sonos.
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Hi, everyone! That looks like a very impressive modern Connect Amp! Thanks for sharing this information with us!