My computer based system in my study sounds better to my ear than my Theta David for sound... The one upstairs gives my Teac Esoteric DV50S a run for the money. Of course, I just use my computer (Windows XP box with some sound deadening), gobs of quiet storage (Terastation), and a decent USB audio device (Waveterminal U24) into my DAC.
Take at a look at Sonos' Z80 platform, "transport" only, no built-in DAC. I'm tempted to give it a shot as well.
The Z80 has a digital out so you can use it with your DAC.
I have the sonos system and love it! I agree that I dont like the built in DAC of the ZP100 but as Andrew pointed out the new ZP-80 has digital outs. I already have 2 ZP-100s in my home which work great in my bedroom and family room where absolute music quality is not required. I am going to use the ZP-80 in my listening room with an external DAC. I will probably get the Benchmark DAC since I have heard great things about this. Does anyone have other opinions on DACS?
Just setup my sonos with a new NAS hard drive, so I don't need to have computer running for sonosnet to work. I have noticed that I have more sissle in the music thru my California Audio Labs iCon MK II. So I too will be looking for a dac. I am commiited to simple clean install. Not alot of tweaking. Any DAC suggestions would be helpful here too. I do love the sonos controller it is worth whatever else I must do to make it all work.
I just finished switching to a Sonos setup for my house and my two channel system. I have three ZP80s and four ZP 100s, all of which run nine sets of speakers in seven zones. I looked at integrating my current Crestron controller to provide whole house audio, but it was going to cost $30,000, whereas the current arrangement cost less than $4500.
For my two channel system, I have a ZP80 with its coaxial digital output going into the Sim Audio Evolution SuperNova CD player to take advantage of the Sim's DAC. The balanced outputs of the Sim then go to the pre-amp (BAT-51SE) and then out to Parasound JC-1 monoblocks. I rippped my CD collection to a Buffalo Technologies NAS drive using Apple Lossless.
If I put a CD in the SuperNova CD player and switch up and back between using its transport and using the "digital in" input fed by the ZP80, I can't tell the difference. I invited my friend "high end Dave" (Mr. MBL 101E) over for a listen and his jaw dropped. He decided to sell his analog gear and get rid of CDs.
I couldn't be happier with the Sonos system. The controllers are fantastic, Rhapsody is great, and now that my CD collection is in a box, I don't have to mess with discs anymore. The ZP-100s drive in-wall and in-ceiling speakers just great-- but I also have a ZP-100 in my bedroom driving B&W CDM-1-SE speakers and an M&K subwoofer-- and the ZP-100 can drive this gear with power to spare.
If Sonos came out with a unit that had a USB output, I might be tempted to replace my Sim SuperNova CD player with a DAC that had a USB input, but right now the SuperNova's DAC performs spectacularly well and it is occasionally nice to be able to test drive a CD in the transport.
The access to organized music files, new releases, top artists and tracks, and different genres is great. Being able to play different music in every room or the same tunes everywhere is also great--- all through a controller that my wife and kids can use without my help (priceless!)
lsbenson, I am glad you are having success with the Sonos. I have been a long time user (2 years) and absolutely love it! I am hesitant to replace my cd player though. First of all, I do not encode in lossless because I have too many cds (10K) so that would take too much storage. Secondly, I like the convenience of being to play a cd right after I get it and not having to wait to rip it. Finally, I "think" the quality from a cdp is better. I am not sure if this is true but that i my perception so I feel comfortable having Sonos and a high end cdp. Good luck!!!
Tboooe, agree completely about keeping the CD player-- it's can be handy on occasion and the DAC in the Sim SuperNova is comparable to many of the stand alone DACs that I looked at.
I have been using a Sonos system for about six months. I run the ZP-80 into an external DAC as the internal DAC in the Sonos is mediocre at best. Into a good quality DAC using Apple Lossless, I found the Sonos to be the equal of the Levinson 390S as a 'transport' - couldn't hear a difference.
Sonos system, $1,100; Bel Canto DAC 3 with a volume control, $2,000; the convenience and ease of having all my music available at a touch via remote from my easy chair and not having to constantly get up to find and load CDs, priceless. I sold the Levinson.
Two months with my Sonos:
My experience with the Sonos is different...(music ripped in FLAC)
Yes I love the LCD remote and convenience, but in no way is it as good as my Theta Carmen II Transport
I feed both my Sonos ZP-80 and Transport through my Meitner BIDAT DAC, while the Sonos is VERY DECENT, it can't compare with the dynamics, sound stage and the musical sound of the Transport.
The problem with the Sonos is it's pitifull Power supply and clock were made to fit a low price point.
It has potential though, and this is certainly the way of the future,but not yet high end audiophile grade.
Steve Nugent from Empirical Audio is working on a full Sonos mod for about $1000.00 which might bring it over the top.
Saffy's reply has me wondering...I have had Sonos for about 6 months and while I am content with the ZP-80's analog outs for a few small systems throughout my home, I find the ZP-80 to be disappointing in my main system, even when using thr digital outputs into a few of the popular $1K DAC's.
I too am ripping in FLAC and wonder if somehow, Apple Lossless sounds better. It seems that those who use the apple lossless for ripping are happier with Sonos feeding an external DAC.
I have spoken to the modders and am curious to see who comes up with what, in bringing Sonos to the high-end table.
No doubt, the controller and access to music are absolutely awesome. Now if I could just make that work without compromising the sound.
A dealer is arranging to loan me a higher end DAC that has a higher price tag, to see if this does the trick. I will report back.
If anyone has bitten the bullet w/Steve @ Empirical, please let us know this this is what we are craving.
I breifly exchanged emails w/Steve a few months back. My recollection was that his mod was almost 2x the amount that Saffy is reporting.
I bought a Sonos system (both the 80 and 100) and compared(with the same Flac and WAV files) it to my Bolder Modified Squeezebox with the Ultimate powersupply into my Theta Gen VIII and the audio quality was not acceptable (Sounded good but not reference level) and I returned the Sonos System. My Theta Compli easily beat the Sonos in sound quality.
I used my TabletPC as my remote for the Squeezebox. I liked the Sonos remote except with 40,000 songs scrolling through letters alphabetically was tiring on the interface. The Squeezebox is much faster to access data in a larger collection.
FLAC and Apple lossless - please don't lose any sleep over that.
If you want to split hairs - then go to uncompressed.(3 x more HD space required - though many say it's slightly worth it).
Steve at Empirical is doing his first Sonos mod this month, his latest quote was for around $1000 -1200.
He says he's going to give it a proper power supply, and probably install a super clock 4, and a proper 75 or 110 ohms out + see if there's room to exchange that hokey C8 connector for an IEC.
You have to believe that a SUPER Sonos might potentailly be the "best of both worlds"