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Audio quality of Sonos speaker vs traditional bookshelf speaker?
January 4, 2014 9:13 AM   Subscribe

We have a new Sonos Play 5 (just one for now) and are comparing the audio quality to a 40 year old small advent bookshelf speaker run from an equally old Luxman receiver.

For the comparison we set the Luxman to mono, selected a single speaker, and used a Yo-Yo Ma CD. I ripped a couple of tracks to flac to play on the Sonos. We are not audiophiles and our 60+year old ears are not going to be overly discriminating, especially to high notes.

Compared with the Advents, the Sonos seems to lack clarity and crispness. Question: am I missing something or just experiencing the inherent limitations of the Sonos speaker?

If this is an inherent limitation of the Sonos speaker, then I guess our next step would be to get a Sonos connect or connect:amp, with third party speakers. If this is an inherent limitation of the Sonos approach (and not just the speaker), then I guess we should return the whole thing.

All comments and thoughts are appreciated. Thanks
posted by Kevin S to Technology (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
I am a big Sonos owner (1 connect, 2 Play:3s, 1 Play:5) and I know a couple of folks with the new Sonos Play:1. I experience the sound of the Play:3s and Play5 to be very similar to the Sony HT-CT150 home theater speaker I have connected to the Sonos Connect.

Sort of rich and filling and clear.

I do listen to some classical (Brandenburg Concertos) and A Capella but I'll be the first to admit that I don't listen to heavily quality audiophile type music and I may not be discriminating enough for your tastes.

I'm 45.

Also I note that Bose is selling a product (SoundTouch) now that appears to be in direct competition with Sonos. If it's not too late for you to return your Play:5, you might want to shop around.
posted by kalessin at 9:30 AM on January 4


If my bedroom Sonos isn't getting a good wireless signal, it will severely throttle the quality of the music. Is yours wired right now, or can you wire it temporarily as a test?
posted by ftm at 9:53 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]


am I missing something or just experiencing the inherent limitations of the Sonos speaker?

I'm strongly leaning towards possibility #2 here

This is all completely in my personal opinion, but the early advent speakers are some of the nicest speakers ever made. I've compared them to a lot of new midrange stuff, and a lot of older high-end stuff and they really punch far above their weight. Luxman, as well, was highly regarded as one of the better brands of stuff out there at the time and even their more basic models kicked ass pretty hard.

You're essentially comparing old, but upper midrange stuff to a new lower-midrange(and imo, pretty overpriced for what it is and does) all-in-one solution.

If i was trying to achieve a similar setup to the sonos, i would just get an airport express and connect the audio output from it(which is 100% lossless) to the luxman receiver with a Y-cable.
posted by emptythought at 2:12 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]


I have a Sonos 5 and am generally satisfied with it. But I use it as an extra sound system in my basement or porch. I don't think it in any way would compare to your Advent/Luxman system. It is more like a soundbar or portable system, while your system is true high fidelity. A comparison with the Advents running stereo vs the Sonos would make it sound worse. The Sonos speakers aren't large enough for much bass and you won't get the stereo separation either. I'm not sure if playing Pandora or itunes wirelessly will have the same sound quality as a cd either. So I guess the answer is - it's the Sonos and depending on what you are trying to do, it may or may not be the answer. The Bose won't be any better, IMO.
posted by mikedelic at 2:23 PM on January 4


ftm - good idea; we'll try it plugged in to the router instead of going through the bridge.

emptythought and mikedelic - not what I wanted to hear, but that is the information that we need which confirms my uncomfortable feeling that the sonos 5 just isn't that great.

We do like the sonos infrastructure as it solves the music distribution problem in a mixed apple/windows environment. Maybe the Sonos Connect or Connect Amp makes sense. Looks like a couple of more experiments then sleep on it for a day or two.

Thanks all.
posted by Kevin S at 4:14 PM on January 4


In this thread the advice I got was to try a Sonos, and I did it, but the sound was disappointing. It was only the Connect itself that I tried. With a different digital source I got much better sound, and concluded the problem was the Connect.
posted by jet_silver at 4:29 PM on January 4


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