I've had a Sonos system for around 4 years. I have a ZP-100 and several ZP-80's (generation before ZP-90.)
My experience has been that the system is great for general listening/background music. Even with mods, it does not compete in sound quality with a good high-end cdp.
Depending on your reference, your mileage may vary.
I agree with the above poster. I have a couple of their products including the ZP90.
Great to listen for a party or just pulling ups some tunes to listen to.
It does not compete with my main system. I actually mainly use it on my back porch with an old Tandberg receiver I recently picked up. I actually like the different radio applications on the Sonos. Found some cool stations from Europe. The sonos systems make listening fun.
I do not use it for critical listening. I do think it sounds fine for what I use it for. Keeps me from lugging cd's around.
Remember if you want to go "wireless", one piece needs to be hardwired to your computer first.
I use Sonos in my computer based system, including the handheld Sonos controller. I am very happy with it.
But, as the other posters mentioned, there are issues with sound quality of Sonos. To begin with, I would avoid using the dac in the unit, and instead use the digital out and an external, higher quality, dac. However, the Sonos digital out suffers from a high level of jitter, which itself needs to be addressed if you want high end sound quality from the unit. Jitter can be addressed with either (1) internal modifications to the Sonos; (2) a downstream dac that is relatively immune to jitter; or (3) an external reclocker after the Sonos but before the dac. I chose to use a reclocker, which allows you to get very high level performance out of a computer based setup, but this approach is rather expensive.
Agiaccio......I don't believe that the above posters are giving Sonos the kudo's they deserve. Sonos provides an excellent platform for your computer based music. It's relatively inexpensive, it's easy to use and install, product support is excellent, and on and on, just can't say enough positive about the product itself....As to the quality, good as purchased, but not high end, however, you can take Sonos to just about any level you want utilizing dac's, reclockers etc. Sonos run through a good system and a $500 dac provides some very nice sounds.
I agree with both Byron and Larry above. For $450 (the price of the Bridge + ZP90), you get an incredible device and experience -- one which really makes music widely available in new, often unexpected ways. It's really great.
And I'll heretically suggest that the sound you end up getting from this-- even with fresh lossless files, doing everything right -- roughly approximates that of a $500 CDP.
I've got about $2k in 'improvements' to the basics - Cullen mod, a Monarchy DIP and NM24 Dac, good cabling and power, and again, I'd say that cost/value/performance is about equal to $2500 worth of 'real' CDP/DAC gear. Which is to say, it sounds just fantastic.
IMO you can definitely get there with Sonos...but it's arguably not its highest and best use. YMMV.
I do wish Sonos would do a good player unit. Their interface is really stellar, especially in terms of engaging spouses, the rest of the family, and guests.
To be able - while seated at dinner -- to call up a Lou Reed Pandora Radio station because your guests mentioned liking that sound, or to shuffle play through your own Reed collection...without them even knowing you pushed any buttons? How is that not worth $450?
Agreeing with soundgasm
I have sonos playing through cullen modified PS Audio dac and PS Audio preamp and wyred4sound st-500 amp (a bunch of work on the cabling side also). It is very good and definitely audiophile quality.
Just to add.......I was not knocking the Sonos at all.
And as people have mentioned above the ease of use and build quality for the asking price are top notch.
My point is if you do have a "main" system I think it is fine the way it is. It is the funnest piece I have had in a long time. Yes you can add a DAC, and it is known about the jitter, but if you are using it as a "radio" type player it is fine.
By the way I have added a zone bridge 100 as a signal sender and have had a signal as far away as 80 yards from my computer in the basement of my home! (ZP 100 to a ZP 100 to a ZP 90)
How cool is building a fire near the woods with a scenic view of a river and listening to a classic rock station from London!
I will chime in here too. I have several ZP80s around the house for convenience and overall usage they are fantastic. In my main rig, I use a ZP80 into a Monarchy DIP then into a PS Audio DAC 3, then on to my Cary SLP-03 preamplifier and McIntosh MC252 amp. The results are fantastic. When I compare a CD ripped in AIFF format to the original CD into that same front end using a Lexicon RT-10 as the transport instead of the Sonos.......hell if I can tell the difference!
My current setup has me wondering if I should swap the Sonos/Monarcy/DAC 3 for the newer PS Audio PWD with Bridge. Could it get any better?!
I have a Cullen modded Sonos, Antipodes cable, Peachtree Nova and am delighted with the sound quality. A friend has a modded Sonos and in sound tests it faired very well compared to his reference ($30k) system.
Don't underestimate how good Sonos can sound.
I too have been using SONOS around my house. However just recently I was asked the simple question, why not try it in your hifi system. So I did, went out and purchased a Cambridge Audio DACMAGIC plugged it in via COAX, then balanced out from DAC to Ayre K-5xe preamp and balanced out to my MC252. I performed an A/B test with the CD transport I had at the time and as one memeber said, hell if I could tell the difference. So I have not looked back. I have ripped all of my music to FLAC and placed then on my NAS and its available to me 24/7 from anywhere in the house. I use the new SONOS controller in my listening room and am happy as a CLAM. Now am thinking of either modding my existing ZP90 or just buying one modded from Cullen. I am wondering if the extra $550 for the mod is worth it.
Sonos also just released a free controller app for the iPad. Really slick! Can't imagine that there is a nicer controller out there for any system.
Bertico0357, at least in my experience, the Cullen mod is worth it. I've A/B'd both modified and unmodified units in front of a modest Monarch DIP>Monarch NM24 DAC>Jolida 302 integrated>Aerial Acoustic 5B system, and the difference is pretty significant. I sincerely wished that were not the case, but there it is.
I've also tried deleting the DIP, thinking maybe there's too much stuff in the signal chain, but it too consistently improves things. IME.
Pkubica, I agree -- it's very very slick and it's FREE.
i was thinking of replacing my old zp100 with a zp90 so that i could use the digital outs in the zp90 to a dac and then to a jolida integrated. based on what i am reading here, a cullen mod is needed and just an external dac does not suffice. what is a better way to get lossless music from a nas to the main system? i know a bit anout olive, but anything elsr that can work with an existing nas?
I use a stock ZP-90 > digital out > a Cary Xciter DAC > Bada hybrid integrated amp. I also stream my entire library stored as AIFF via ethernet into the Sonos and out the digital cable into the DAC.
While it sounds terrific I still can not critically listen to music this way. I can sit back and enjoy the randomness of the programmed "station" but if I want to seriously listen I need my cds. The files on the NAS still don't compete either. Oddly. Maybe a modded ZP90 would help. I am going to put a reclocker on the Cary in the naxt couple of months. Maybe that'll help.
tiggerfc, i am swapping th zp 100 for a zp 90 with digital outs and bought a ps audio dl iii dac here on agon, lets see if it sounds close to cd
Pjohri, you may want to try to a/b the ethernet to your zp-90 through the dac against the usb from the NAS to the dac. I personally think that ethernet is still the way to go. A lot more low end and a cleaner more detailed sound. I don't get what the fuss is over USB aside from people wanting their computer to be the primary server. My computer will never be used as a server. And I rarely use my NAS either. I still prefer cd. And that's going againt a PS3. If people are saying a NAS to a dac sounds better than their $4,000 cd transport to dac then they paid way too much for their transport when they could have spent $300 for a PS3 which I think sounds damn good with my Cary dac.
BTW, don't know if this matters to you but I run optical out from the PS3 and the standard digital (non-optical) output from the Sonos. I would run both optical but I only have one optical input on the dac which is a slight let down. If you need more of an idea of what I run I do have it posted in virtual systems. Might help for comparison. Good luck with your DLiii. I here the mods really do make a world of difference too.
Can you tell me why you prefer CD? What is it that you're hearing, or not?
I've been able, occasionally, to detect differences from my CDs vs. Lossless files. Not always, not all files, no real reason or pattern I can detect, which is interesting at best and frustrating at worst. But generally I can only detect 'different,' not necessarily that one or the other is actually 'better.' I might prefer one over the other, depending upon the track and the file, but it's not an across-the-board indictment of one over the other.
I'm not blessed with audiophile language to describe particularly accurately what I'm hearing (when there is a difference), but it's something around the space surrounding bass notes, and/or the attack of these same notes. The generalization would be verrrry slightly more of both (more space, sharper attack), but again, this is not always a net benefit to my ears by any stretch of the imagination. I know should be able to describe what's being sacrificed when I hear these changes that would make me prefer 'less space and less crisp attack,' but I can't.
I've only got that it sometimes sounds different, and different is not always better.
So any specific language you can share about what it is that you're hearing differently off disk vs. from your files would be very interesting to me. Thanks!
When you rip cd's you can get errors if error correction is not used, so there is a very valid reason why a flac of a cd may not sound as good as the cd. This will vary depending on the performance of the drive doing the reading you are using in the ripping process.
Shiitaki, I actually do use error correction. It's awesome. I can burn a whole cd in a half hour! lol
Soundgasm, I guess I could describe the sound difference with cd as a fatter, fuller sound with a very distinct sense of presence. Coming from the NAS it just seems lifeless and thin. The bass is actually a bit more textured (which I like) coming from the NAS. CD not so much. While I suffer a lack of the audio lingo as well I think what I used to describe it should suffice.
And I have done an a/b between these. Both with a slightly different and distinct flavor. It is quite evident. And that is the part that really bothers me. Everyone is so anti-cd now and claiming insane results with digital files and I've done everything and taken every step to ensuring I'm doing it correctly with no besting of the cd. From a PS3 no less!
So either everyone is caught up in the convenience of going digital and trying to justify it by saying its better or I have some serious equipment issues. I might not have high-end gear but come on, at nearly $7k retail it isn't exactly the most basic entry system either.
I also was going to go the SONOS route, but a few things in my research changed my mind. First SONOS is not compatible with all brands of NAS drives. Also, there is a limit to the number of song you can have in your NAS drive. I opted for a squeezebox for my general listening around the house, and I an still looking for a high quality component to use for my hi-end system. I just installed a 10/100/1000 network, so what I get will have to be on that speed level.
tiggerfc: 'Pjohri, you may want to try to a/b the ethernet to your zp-90 through the dac against the usb from the NAS to the dac.'
sorry, but what is a/b? the setup i will have is a NAS with flac, over wifi to sonos zp 90, digi out from zp90 into a DLIII and DLII to Jolida integrated.
Pjohri - You already know the answer. a/b is just a direct comparison between two items to attempt to most effectively differentiate, in this case, sound. :-)
tiggerfc, ok! i dont intend to use usb anyway, my nas is wireless :)
have read all the reply's to this and have not found an answer to my question which is in regards to the wyred for sound dac 2 paired with a stock sonos zp90 using coax digital out. i think i am correct in understanding that wyred has either bought or teamed up with cullen, which makes me wonder if the wyred dac 2's stated jitter reduction capabilities would take care of sonos' issue in that department. is it a wrong assumption? does another $500 for the cullen mod on the sonos need to be made (assume i have good interconnects, power, ect.) in order to go to another level?
W4S is owned by Cullen, we could call it a division of Cullen. As for the ZP90 jitter issue the ESS chip in DAC 1 and 2 have extremely good jitter reduction. I hear very little difference with my Cullen modded ZP vs an un modded unit. Beyond that the sound quality of a ZP90 and a W4S Dac is great, add to that the functionality of Sonos and I think you'll be very happy.
Bobf1717, I have the Dac2 and the Sonos ZP80. I also have a Mac Mini that I use as a server via USB to the W4S. Sonically, the Asynchronous USB of the Mini is superior to the Sonos, but the Sonos user interface is much, much better. Cullen offers an I2S via HDMI mod to the Sonos, which they haven't publicized for some reason. it's less expensive than the clock/power supply mod, and should equal or beat the USB out. Give Rick or EJ a call for more info. I'm going for it as soon as I can get around to shipping the zp to them.
Has anyone had the HDMI/I2S mod done on their Sonos yet? I have been thinking about that along with the DAC2, and was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on it? Thanks
Looking for some advice. I currently have my ZP-90 connected directly to my amp (Rotel 1582). I dont have a pre-amp or DAC. If you were me and could only afford one, would you get the ZP-90 Cullen mod or get a DAC? Also does using a DAC then force you to use a pre-amp?
Not directly answering your question here, but if you're using variable output on the sonos, the biggest gain (no pun intended) you'll get is to switch it to fixed output. If that requires a preamp, ok, but that variable out is where a huge amount of the veiling is on the sonos, IME.
So preamp, DAC, Cullen would be my suggestion.
Mraza, since we're spending your money, I would get a DAC with adjustable gain that will drive an amp directly. The Wyred4Sound and PWD would both work. I personally chose the W4S.
I am in the same process.
What Jgless asked about, quoted below, sounds like a good choice.
"Has anyone had the HDMI/I2S mod done on their Sonos yet? I have been thinking about that along with the DAC2, and was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on it?"
I am also considering the PS Audio choices. I want to keep from having a full Cullen modification on my Zp80. Do not know yet.
Cullen told me that the I2S mod is less expensive than their other Sonos mod, because it doesn't require the new clock and power supply.
Soungasm,To switch the Sonos to fixed output do you just turn the volume to max or something else? I don't have a sonos but a friend does and he could find this useful if I knew what to tell him.Thanks Gary
I will reply. It is simple. On his controller he goes to:
1. " System Settings "
2. " ZonePlayer Settings "
3. Choose which Zone
4. " Line-Out Level "
5. " Fixed "
Denis (Excellent forums on the Sonos site for him. )
what is the song limit for your nas connected to your sonos? It wont handle large libraries? 2Terabyte+? Could be a deal breaker...
65,000 songs is Sonos's published limit.
For the searchers, I have a modified Sonos ZP90 with I2s installed by Wyred4Sound feeding a W4S DAC-2. Amps are also W4S with Monitor Audio Gold speakers. Sounds fantastic! The Sonos ZP90 sounds good unmodified and superb with the I2s modifications.