Why Can't I listen to my music through my Computer?

  • 26 August 2012
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I'm rather surprised and disappointed that I can't just play Sonos through my existing high quality studio monitors that are already plugged into the very same computer that and are already powered by a high quality digital quality digital audio controller.

If they are true high quality studio monitors, then there is no sound colorization whatsoever... no highs, no lows... just flat frequency response as it should be heard specifically for mixing. Because they are probably powered, you can hook a Connect to them and do what you need, but again, the sound won't be what you expect.

And why that would stop you from getting Sonos kit for the rest of the rooms in the home is perplexing.


I have no problem with purchasing speakers to place into rooms that do not already have a high quality DAC/Studio monitor combination.
I also have no problem purchasing a Connect to power a speaker that is not located in the same room as the aforementioned high quality DAC/Studio monitor combination.
It does not, however, make sense to buy a Connect to power the studio monitors, which have two separate 1/4 jack inputs, which are being fed by an Apogee DAC, which itself is already connected to the computer that is streaming the music.

As to why this would stop me from getting Sonos kits for other rooms, the reason is that I do not wish to invest in a system that does not allow me to accomplish my goals.

If my request seems unreasonable to the people here, it did not seem unreasonable to Apple a decade ago, when they released AirPlay.
Userlevel 4
Inopinatus, your opinion is very important. Please opine on why customers should be forbidden from being able to listen to music through their own computer speakers.

I don't think that. I think your demand for Sonos to enable it for you using their technology, at zero cost to you and considerable product development cost to them, to be laughably absurd.
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The notion that someone would just by a Raspberry Pi is absurd.


No, it's not. Sonos' chief competitor used to be Squeezebox. They created a "software zone", exactly like what is requested here. It was no secret you could cobble together an extra Zone or two by using a Raspberry Pi, if you didn't want to pay the premium for regular Squeezebox hardware. It didn't sync well, but nobody cared. Nowadays, Squeezebox is long gone as a brand, but do you know what lives on? The Squeezebox "software zone" running on Raspberry Pi computers.

Fast forward to today, and there are a half-dozen or more Sonos competitors. You know what they all have in common? They all do not have a software player to play over computer speakers. Looks like the market learned its lesson.


If all I wanted to do was stream music to my own speakers, I would just use Apple Airplay for that. I like the way Sonos speakers sound and want to use Sonos speakers for MOST of the rooms in the house. Just not the studio that already has a studio monitors and a top of the line DAC.
Userlevel 4
... which itself is already connected to the computer that is streaming the music ... it did not seem unreasonable to Apple a decade ago, when they released AirPlay.
This it the crux of the problem. You think the computer is streaming the music.

Sonos doesn't work the same way as Airplay, sorry. The computer is not streaming the music. Sonos players (speakers/connects) are independent computing devices that do the streaming themselves. This is why you can tell a Sonos speaker to play from Apple Music, then turn off your computer and it keeps playing.

If you happen to be playing from a music library that happens to be on that computer, it still isn't streaming it. Sonos run a tiny HTTP service and the speaker/player just fetches most/all of the file.

This is what happens when people make assumptions about the technology, they start making demands that don't fit the way it actually works.

If all I wanted to do was stream music to my own speakers, I would just use Apple Airplay for that. I like the way Sonos speakers sound and want to use Sonos speakers for MOST of the rooms in the house. Just not the studio that already has a studio monitors and a top of the line DAC.


If you like the way the Sonos speakers sound, then why do you want to play music through the monitors? The monitors have a dedicated purpose, as does the DAC, and so do the Sonos speakers. As I wrote, those studio monitors sound vastly different than any other speaker platform. If you want music streaming from the DAC through the monitors, just do it from the DAC. You are talking about two distinctly separate functions and sounds. I've got the same setup, and I have two Play:1s in my studio. I know the Sonos are not computer speakers, and knew they never were, so my setup works just fine when mixing and playing back through either source. I want to hear the raw tracks through the studio monitors, then play them back through the Plays so I can hear how it sounds in the real world.
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Sonos would be cannibalizing their own device sales by creating computer software that can play music as a member of a Sonos system. There are mini computers that can be built or bought for considerably less than the cost of a Sonos Connect. Maybe they should charge $100 or more for the software, to help offset the loss in device sales, and make it less viable to use such a setup as a replacement to a Sonos Connect?
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If all I wanted to do was stream music to my own speakers, I would just use Apple Airplay for that. I like the way Sonos speakers sound and want to use Sonos speakers for MOST of the rooms in the house. Just not the studio that already has a studio monitors and a top of the line DAC.


If you like the way the Sonos speakers sound, then why do you want to play music through the monitors? The monitors have a dedicated purpose, as does the DAC, and so do the Sonos speakers. As I wrote, those studio monitors sound vastly different than any other speaker platform. If you want music streaming from the DAC through the monitors, just do it from the DAC. You are talking about two distinctly separate functions and sounds. I've got the same setup, and I have two Play:1s in my studio. I know the Sonos are not computer speakers, and knew they never were, so my setup works just fine when mixing and playing back through either source. I want to hear the raw tracks through the studio monitors, then play them back through the Plays so I can hear how it sounds in the real world.


Thanks. After some consideration, I've ordered an extra Play 1 for the room with the studio monitors.

I still feel that it should be possible to play Sonos through at least the same computer that is running the Sonos controller. Maybe Sonos could compromise by limiting it to only one computer if there is a concern about someone just using the streaming and not buying Sonos speakers.

I do agree that the studio monitors are designed to be clinical. The sound for even the entry level Play 1's are quite musical.


Thanks. After some consideration, I've ordered an extra Play 1 for the room with the studio monitors.

I still feel that it should be possible to play Sonos through at least the same computer that is running the Sonos controller. Maybe Sonos could compromise by limiting it to only one computer if there is a concern about someone just using the streaming and not buying Sonos speakers.

I do agree that the studio monitors are designed to be clinical. The sound for even the entry level Play 1's are quite musical.


Once again, there is no current capability to send a stream through the Sonos controller. It is simply that; a controller. To enable it to stream, it would require thousands of man-hours to develop, test, release, and maintain the new capabilities. They would have to start from scratch and completely redesign the PC/Mac controller from the ground up. This would also mean a Sonos engineering team would be dedicated to this endeavor for a while, unable to work on other projects which may be more beneficial to both customers and sales. All for what? To cannibalize their own hardware? To give away for free or a nominal fee? There is absolutely no calculation of R.O.I where Sonos comes out on top with this feature. Squeezebox proved that fact, much to their own dismay.
What I can't understand is how someone with "high quality studio monitors" could baulk at simply ponying up for a CONNECT. The cost would be lost in the noise compared to that of serious ATCs...
All this talk about "freeloaders" is nonsense. Nothing is being asked for that is not already easily available elsewhere. As many have already said, there are plenty of PC software packages that can play and stream music. It does seem a bit inconvenient for the SONOS controller software not to have the capability. There are times when I just want a bit of background music through the laptop rather than a full on brace of Play 5s and a sub. What's wrong with wanting a single app that can do everything ?

Rather than creating the capability being a drain on resources as some would have you believe, I see it as a possible sales tool. There are plenty of companies who have freeware versions of their full software. Using those restricted versions lets you see what the full product can do. If this did not drive sales then nobody would do it.

As for the "they just want it for nothing" brigade, the functionality could be restricted if no SONOS players were detected by the app. Simples ! That would however totally defeat the prospect of upselling.
All this talk about "freeloaders" is nonsense. Nothing is being asked for that is not already easily available elsewhere. As many have already said, there are plenty of PC software packages that can play and stream music. It does seem a bit inconvenient for the SONOS controller software not to have the capability. There are times when I just want a bit of background music through the laptop rather than a full on brace of Play 5s and a sub. What's wrong with wanting a single app that can do everything ?

Rather than creating the capability being a drain on resources as some would have you believe, I see it as a possible sales tool. There are plenty of companies who have freeware versions of their full software. Using those restricted versions lets you see what the full product can do. If this did not drive sales then nobody would do it.

As for the "they just want it for nothing" brigade, the functionality could be restricted if no SONOS players were detected by the app. Simples ! That would however totally defeat the prospect of upselling.


Yeah, that was the theory Squeezebox had about their software zone. Turns out, people who get stuff for free don't actually drive sales, they take sales away. Hard to fathom, I know. 😉
So, limit access to existing owners or account holders at Deezer etc.and use it as an upselling tool. In fact, the service providers (for whom SONOS is a revenue stream) could be asked to contribute to any development costs.

All it takes is a bit of commercial flair.
So, limit access to existing owners or account holders at Deezer etc.and use it as an upselling tool. In fact, the service providers (for whom SONOS is a revenue stream) could be asked to contribute to any development costs.

All it takes is a bit of commercial flair.


Or even easier, don't do it at all, and let your actual product upsell folks. How's that for flair? Seems to have worked out OK for Sonos so far. Imagine, they have discovered that if don't spend a massive amount of man-hours to develop something which will cannibalize sales, you don't lose sales. It's a marketing miracle!!

As to the service providers paying for it, it is Sonos' policy to never charge fees or take kickbacks from any service provider. Access to the Sonos Music Partners program is open to any service in the world, free of charge. I highly doubt they are going to start charging for something such as this, especially when the alternative is so simple - DON'T DO IT!

Bottom line, you want a Sonos player for free. You aren't getting one for free. Buy a Connect.
Some people see opportunities, others only see limitations.
Some people see opportunities, others only see limitations.

And other people look at failed companies in the past and learn from their mistakes. There are dozens of multi-room streamers present and past, I can point to one which created a software based player. It is now defunct (except for those who keep it alive by using the - you guessed it - software based player on Raspberry Pi computers to duplicate the hardware at a fraction of the cost.) I don't know how much more textbook a case you need to tell you it is a bad idea.

I'm going to be blunt here - Sonos is not in the business of catering to people who are too cheap to buy their product, because by definition, people who are too cheap to buy their product are the very people who would exploit something like this. Giving away a Sonos software zone is not an "opportunity", it is corporate suicide.
By being blunt, you are not being sharp. Also, see my earlier comment regarding the software detecting an existing component. Given that there are plenty of other freeware programmes that can play streamed or stored music, what damage do you think would be done ? The advantages include brand exposure and try before you buy to name but two. The software could be set to expire after 90 days if no player was detected. It really isn't rocket science and neither is it the rather melodramatic "corporate suicide".
By being blunt, you are not being sharp. Also, see my earlier comment regarding the software detecting an existing component. Given that there are plenty of other freeware programmes that can play streamed or stored music, what damage do you think would be done ? The advantages include brand exposure and try before you buy to name but two. The software could be set to expire after 90 days if no player was detected. It really isn't rocket science and neither is it the rather melodramatic "corporate suicide".

Great, go create your own company then. Let's see how long it takes to achive $1B in sales with your obvious marketing savvy.
By being blunt, you are not being sharp. Also, see my earlier comment regarding the software detecting an existing component. Given that there are plenty of other freeware programmes that can play streamed or stored music, what damage do you think would be done ? The advantages include brand exposure and try before you buy to name but two. The software could be set to expire after 90 days if no player was detected. It really isn't rocket science and neither is it the rather melodramatic "corporate suicide".

Tell that to Squeezebox . . . Oh wait, you can't, BECAUSE THEY PUT THEMSELVES OUT OF BUSINESS! :8
I think you mean Logitech and on the contrary, they are doing rather well. Just Google their share price if you don't believe me, it is currently over 25 CHF. Their squeezebox was a bit of a duffer but it failed for a host of other reasons.
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The SONOS Connect was designed to allow people to hook up their old speakers to their SONOS controller, so they can stream music to them. Playing music from your macbook speakers is not the intended use case of a SONOS connect. No one is buying a SONOS Connect to hook up their mediocre computer speakers to the SONOS network. SONOS would not be losing sales by allowing people to do so.

I believe that some of you are overestimating the difficulty of adding music player functionality directly to the SONOS controller application, while simultaneously underestimating the danger of not responding to market conditions. All major operating systems have an API that easily allows you to play music. I have done it myself on the Android platform. If SONOS is concerned about people hooking up a Raspberry Pi to a speaker, they can handicap the controller so that it only plays from one controller at a time (plus the speakers). This would make it impossible for people set up the dreaded Raspberry Pi network.

Would there be a cost in implementing this functionality? Of course. But the threat from lost sales due to new customers getting frustrated and confused by the inability to play music from their controller almost certainly outweighs this cost.

As others have noted, the accusations that these customers are trying to "cheat" SONOS is both needlessly insulting and also demonstrates a clear lack of understanding about current consumer expectations. Most consumers will not understand why they can't play music from their local computer. This is just the new reality. It is not 2004 anymore. Consumers have greater expectations of connectivity.

And honestly, forget Raspberry Pi. The real danger are the new wave of connected speakers, like Amazon Alexa, Google Play and the myriad wireless speakers that are being released. Yes, I know that SONOS sounds much better. But we live in a world where people primarily listen to music from smartphones, bluetooth speakers and -- yes -- their computer speakers. They are potential customers who are being needlessly alienated. If Amazon or Google release a "hi fi" wireless speaker, SONOS will be in mortal danger. And don't think this won't happen. These companies are constantly refining their product and ruthlessly exploiting.

You don't have to agree with me. Eventually, Apple will probably buy SONOS and integrate it with iTunes anyway.
As said, with all that business acumen and marketing savvy, you all should be in the multi-room speaker business. And I could accept your dismissal of the Raspberry Pi threat, if the Raspberry Pi threat hadn't actually contributed to the demise of the only multi-room speaker company to offer the exact functionality you are asking for. Squeezebox said the same marketing mumbo-jumbo for years about Softsqueeze -" Oh, it lets people try before they buy!" "Oh look, a free zone encourages people to buy the actual hardware!"

Yeah, right. Reality is, people too cheap to buy the hardware used the promotional software to create their own, and the line crumbled. Sorry, but that's reality, and reality trumps your marketing theory every time.

As to the rest of your post, Sonos just partnered with Amazon to be the high quality Alexa speaker, so no threat there, and if I had a nickel for every time someone incorrectly predicted Apple will buy Sonos, I could afford a new Connect to use with my PC speakers. 😉
iTunes? Listening via desktops? What is this, 2004?
I think you mean Logitech and on the contrary, they are doing rather well. Just Google their share price if you don't believe me, it is currently over 25 CHF. Their squeezebox was a bit of a duffer but it failed for a host of other reasons.

No, I mean Squeezebox, the division within Logitech. And I know full well the party line explanation for their failure, and I dont buy it for a second. The fact is, their forum was rife with hints about Softsqueeze/Raspberry Pi zones, and it wasn't too long after the failure that the home grown market seemed to appear out of nowhere (except it was really there all along).
I have to agree with jgatie that the "try before you buy" argument makes no sense since you are not trying an actual Sonos product by using a software emulator. Sonos doesn't need to sell people on their free controller software but rather on their hardware streamers and they do this by offering a 30 day window to return them if you buy one and find you don't like it.

I am not as convinced about the homegrown market killing Squeezebox... it might have done so eventually but the real killer was Logitech and corporate politics which doomed the product before technology or market forces had a chance to impact it one way or the other. If Slim Devices still owned it the result might have been the same or it might be that they would have been quicker and more savvy about how to capitalize on their invention. We will never know for sure.