I use the Sonos ZP80 with an Audio Horizons tube DAC. My music is stored in FLAC format on a Western Digital Net Center 500 GB drive.
According to the Sonos web site, they support Apple lossless.
Before switching to Sonos, I used a Levinson 37 transport which had been modified by Joseph Chow (Audio Horizons product designer) to improve the output signal.
Initially the Sonos system delivered OK music. By that I mean the music was not as good as the ML 37 by a good measure but, because the Sonos interface was so good, I was willing to compromise.
Since then, Joseph Chow has built an external power supply for the Sonos ZP 80 which greatly improved the sound quality. I think the Sonos is now the equivalent of the modified Levinson 37.
What did this external power supply cost for the Sonos? Interesting thought, as I just would never have thought wireless could sound as good as a direct connection. For sure, it is the DAC that is also contributing.
I have a sonos system for whole house audio and love it. Have considered modding it, but may get a mac mini instead. Only thing i don't like about the sonos is it won't play downloaded songs from itunes. I have a airport express i may hook up to it and play them that way.
I used the Audio Horizons tube DAC with the Levinson 37 transport and with the Sonos, so that part of the digital source was constant. The external power supply was a project that Joseph undertook at my request. I have been a beta tester for his other products - we live in the same town. He was interested in the Sonos technology.
Joseph told me that if other Sonos users expressed an interest then he would build more of the supplies. Presently mine is one of a kind. I've asked him to build a second unit (as you know, the Sonos system requires 2 ZP80s - one transmitter, one receiver. The outboard power supply is connected to the receiver which, in turn, drives the DAC.
Joseph hasn't told me how much he would charge for the power supply. He did tell me that he thought he could build as few as 3 at a time. I'll ask him what the price would be and let you know. My guess would be in the $150 to $200 range per power supply.
Given the quality of what I am hearing through my system, I'd go for that without hesitation. However, I have voided my Sonos warranty by modifying the ZP80.
Here is how I valued the choice:
1. I replaced a transport which I could sell used for $2K+
2. The Sonos ZP80 system (with remote control) cost ~$1K
So, I wasn't reluctant to spend some money in order to raise the performance of the Sonos.
I've been testing the current configuration of this power supply for 4 months now. No problems so far; it sounds great.
I have 4 Sonos ZP80 and a zonebridge.
I also have a GNSC modded Wadia 20.
Running both into my Audionote 3.1X Signature DAC, the transport is noticably better. It has more air, and much better soundstage.
I find myself listening to the Sonos more though.
It just makes the music more accessable. I have over 4,000 CD ripped to the server in FLAC format.
I'm not noticing any jitter problems, but the Sonos is slightly dark sounding using the internal DAC.
If I had to rerip my collection again I'd still do it myself. You can easily rip 10-20 cd in a sitting, and except for swapping CD's, it can run in the background.
If you paid a service to rip them, its about $1/CD, plus shipping and insurance both ways. 2,000CD @ lets say $15 average value gets you a shipment insured for $30,000! UPS charges 50 cents per $100 value for insurance, or $300 insurance each way.
So, to pay to get them ripped will cost $2,600 or so, and you still have to take every CD out of its jewel box, ship them on spindles, and get each one back in the correct box afterwards.
Regardless of how your music gets ripped, or to what format, you don't want to have to do it all over again. Make sure you have a RAID drive, or other way of preventing loss of data.
VERY interested in the mod you have. Any chance of posting pictures?
Sonos has increased my listening time dramatically as I am a flipper and change cds often song to song. This is easily done by the sonos, but was a pain if done manually. Also, sonos doesn't have to be wireless. You can connect each zone in line with ethernet cable making a hard wired system. Of course, cost is increased significantly.
I would jump on the modified PS for my ZP80 in my critical listening room. I have found the ZP80 to my Meridian processor to be an excellent alternative to spinning discs, and I listen to a lot more music.
I got a sonos in October and it has had a bigger impact on my system than any single upgrade I've ever done. And I didn't even get the remote! (I live in a NYC loft so didn't need it.)
I just wanted a way to listen to music the way I do on my ipod but in full home stereo quality sound. I already had a home network so all I "had" to buy was the ZP80 and an NAS drive. (A Maxtor shared 320g storage drive was enough for now. A second USB drive can be plugged in to back it up.) I chose to attach the ZP80 to the router via ethernet to keep 100% of the streaming hardwired. I then control playlists wirelessly from my laptop. No stress on the computer. No worrying about ram, fan noise, buffering, sound cards, network interference- none of that.
Re-ripped the whole collection to itunes apple lossless and was on the way. Of course, that opened up the upgrade can of worms. Out of the box, the sonos rca's were fine, but not quite up to the same standard as my Cal Icon cd player.
So, a good dac and ic's are a must if you want to get the best out of the system. A Bel Canto Dac 1 was the right price for me. Once that was in the system, neither I nor anyone else who listened could hear the difference between the cdp and the sonos.
Since then the amp and preamp have been replaced too. Not because there was anything wrong, but because I was now listening so much it became a disease. What started as a $350 idea to make my itunes wireless on the cheap is now $2,500+ and counting. I'll also probably be on line for that power supply...
Oh- to answer your other questions. I would go Apple Lossless format. I almost got a Buffalo NAS but got scared off when I read somewhere that they are painfully slow. Sonos recommends Maxtor (among others) so I went with that...
I also would recommend adding a decent DAC to the Sonos, it made a big improvement. I'm using a Parasound 2000 ultra which I borrowed from a friend to try. I am curious to know if it will be worth it to invest in a higher quality one like one from April Music the Stello DA220 MKII for $1700.
It's silly to try to improve the Sonos without addressing the real deficiency, and that is the jitter. Either upgrade the internal clock and S/PDIF output circuit or put it through a reclocker.
It's not silly to run a Sonos through a dac.
Everything has a price.
What I'm saying is that its silly to spend a lot of money upgrading the power supply or cabling on a Sonos. First attack the big improvement, and that is jitter due to output circuits and clock.
Of course you should use an outboard DAC.
I hear what you are saying, but the Sonos engineers say the jitter is quite low. Will there be a big difference from outboard DAC to jitter corrected outboard DAC if jitter is quite low to start with?
Find a monarchy audio dip that reclock the sonos and see if it helps. This unit has been highly praised and said to be a must component. This can be found for $200 or less. I'm thinking of buying for a trial. If I note a dramatic difference then MAYBE I would consider a modification to my sonos module for $1000 plus.
Frederick21 - all manufacturers will claim this. If you compare a stock Squeezebox to a stock Sonos for instance, you will be shocked at the difference in jitter. The SB is much lower, and it still has audible jitter. The Sonos has the worst jitter of any of the computer servers on the market that I have measured. I believe it's primarily because they went overboard in adding filtering to insure that they would pass FCC spurious emissions testing.
As for jitter reduction in DAC's: They all reduce it to some extent, but never to inaudible levels, even ASRC (async sample-rate converters). Even the jitter in a CDP is quite high due to the lousy clocks that they use.
Face-it, the only way that you will ever get rid of it is to use an expensive reclocker or a DAC with a really good internal clock, like maybe a Spoiler, Zanden or Esoteric. DIP is not even remotely close, but it upsamples. It does reduce jitter though.
Hey Steve, not to argue but Soundstage noted in their review that the 48/96 both upsampled and reclocked for jitter reduction?? For those of us wondering if reclocking is needed woudn't starting with $300 for a $300 sonos unit be warranted before spending a few grand on one of those listed above?
I'm really more interested in Sonos adding support for higher resolution flac files. That would be my next digital jump, I think. I don't think Sonos is going to go there. I wonder if that is merely a firware upgrade to be able to happen?
Frederick21 - I agree. Even Squeezebox just launched their new Duet and it does not support 24/96.
As I reported earlier, I have been testing a Sonos ZP80 with an improved power supply. Contrary to what another participant in this thread asserts (based on no direct evidence, it appears), the power supply upgrade made a substantial improvement to the performance of the Sonos system.
Last week I received a second ZP80 with improved power supply. I own three ZP80s, two of which have been fitted with a new power supply. One upgraded ZP80 is connected to my network and hard drive storage. The second upgraded ZP80 is connected to my audio system.
The components of my audio system are:
Audio Horizons tube DAC
Audio Horizons tube preamplifier
Simaudio W-5 power amplifier
Coincident Super Eclipse Mk III loudspeakers.
Also, I have a rotary A-B switch (with unbalanced and balanced connectors) in front of the power amp which allows me to compare two sources. I maintain a direct connection from the ZP80 unbalanced preamp out to the unbalanced power amplifier inputs. Also, I have a connection from the ZP80 digital out through the DAC/preamp to the balanced power amplifier inputs.
In an earlier post on this thread, I described what I heard using one upgraded ZP80 (connected to the audio system). Now with two upgraded ZP80s in the signal path, I can hear further improvement, of same kind I described in the earlier post.
How much improvement? How do you measure such things? By my scale (of which I cannot specify the metric), I think of the improvement added by the second upgraded power supply to be about 20% of the improvement delivered by the first upgraded power supply. In my opinion, after adding the second upgraded ZP80, the improvement from the ZP80 preamp out was greater than the improvement from the ZP80 digital out.
I can say that the quality of the ZP80 digital signal through the DAC/preamp now is the equal or better of the signal I got from my upgraded Levinson 37. It is very good.
I have no information from Joseph about the cost of these units. The modified ZP80s to which I am listening are protoypes. If I learn more, I will share the news with you.
I've had a Sonos system with eight zones for the past year. Just switched my computer system to an iMac and having no problems. I run my music library from a Buff Tech 1.0 TB Terastation Pro with no problems. My Zonos ZP80's digital out goes to my SimAudio CD player's digital in, so I use the CD player's DAC in my "higher end" two channel listening space. The sound is fabulous and I listen just as much to Rhapsody as my own music.
I have a Sonos system and a Transporter. The TP smokes the Sonos, even on lower resolution files (the TP does play 24/96 files), but I listen to the Sonos slightly more often because it is just so convenient. I wouldn't sell either unit but am interested in upgrading a ZP80 and run digital out to a TP input.
Rdc2000. Get the remote! It adds so much to the enjoyment of the system.
Rdb001 - the Sonos is capable of even better sound than the TP with a reclocker and a good DAC. In stock form, it cannot compete though. I dont feel that the D/A chip in the TP is very musical. There are much better outboard DAC's than this, although more expensive. The TP is a good value for the money.
What reclocker have you used with the Sonos? How was it set up?
I just got a Sonos. I run the optical output into an optical input on my Anthem D1 processor and it sounds pretty darn good. Seems like I should be getting an unmodified bit stream fed into the Anthem and the DACs in the Anthem are doing the conversion. Is this not a good way to hook up the Sonos? I'm confused as to why reclockers and external DACs are needed.
Your optical cable is another way, using light rather than electricity, to transmit a digital signal. The Anthem converts the optical digital signal to an electrical digital signal. Through the digital to analog converter (the DAC), the Anthem converts digital signal to analog signal which is fed to your power amplifier. So, you are using an external DAC already.
The Sonos system also has an internal DAC which converts signal and delivers it through the Sonos analog outputs. The Sonos digital outputs bypass the Sonos internal DAC.
The question is, then, how can this signal processing be done most effectively? Some here assert that the digital output signal of the Sonos is the most inportant factor - hence the talk about reclockers, et al. I reported that improving the power supply of the Sonos will greatly improve the quality of the ouput signal.
Very intersting thread -
could we please get some more information on how to improve the internal clock etc. ?
Cedar - I have sent you a personal message.