Finally fed up with Sonos - alternative sought for music collection etc.

Allanwhoops

Novice Member
I bought my first Sonos components back in 2009. The idea was to rip about 3,000 of my CDs to Flac using dbpoweramp and put them on an NAS. I would play them through the Sonos system which would link to my old (Acoustical Manufacturing as it was when they were built) Quad 22/II amp.

I bought a Bridge, ZP90 and CR100 controller and charging cradle and all was good. When I moved house later in the year, I expanded the system to a ZP120 and then a Play 5 plus another CR100 and then a Play 3. Everything was more than fine until early 2017 when a software update was going to brick the best part of £600 of kit, namely the controllers. I froze the updates as the system did everything I wanted, namely played my music and gave me access to radio on the Internet.

The ZP120 has packed up and Sonos don't have a proper repair policy. To put this into perspective, Quad, now Chinese owned, virtually rebuilt my 22/IIs at minimal cost a few years ago.

I am looking for a replacement system and any suggestions are welcome. It needs to be able to access the NAS and stream music to the Quads. It would be handy, though not an issue, if it could utilise the existing Sonos speakers. It would also be handy if the solution had an amp similar to the ZP120 though I can always pick up a secondhand amp as it is just for my office.

Many thanks in advance,

Allan
 

jamieu

Well-known Member
I bought my first Sonos components back in 2009. The idea was to rip about 3,000 of my CDs to Flac using dbpoweramp and put them on an NAS. I would play them through the Sonos system which would link to my old (Acoustical Manufacturing as it was when they were built) Quad 22/II amp.

I bought a Bridge, ZP90 and CR100 controller and charging cradle and all was good. When I moved house later in the year, I expanded the system to a ZP120 and then a Play 5 plus another CR100 and then a Play 3. Everything was more than fine until early 2017 when a software update was going to brick the best part of £600 of kit, namely the controllers. I froze the updates as the system did everything I wanted, namely played my music and gave me access to radio on the Internet.

The ZP120 has packed up and Sonos don't have a proper repair policy. To put this into perspective, Quad, now Chinese owned, virtually rebuilt my 22/IIs at minimal cost a few years ago.

I am looking for a replacement system and any suggestions are welcome. It needs to be able to access the NAS and stream music to the Quads. It would be handy, though not an issue, if it could utilise the existing Sonos speakers. It would also be handy if the solution had an amp similar to the ZP120 though I can always pick up a secondhand amp as it is just for my office.

Many thanks in advance,

Allan

Bluesound is probably the obvious alternative, but no support for your existing Sonos kit.

A better route might be Roon as i) it will work with all your existing Sonos kit [even the older models no longer supported by the new Sonos app/platform] ii) it probably has the best user interface and apps of any music management platform out there.

In terms of hardware to run the Roon Core on — this is the central server component in a Roon setup that sits in the background and indexes your local files and communicates with your Roon Remote apps and your audio endpoints — you may be able to run it on your existing NAS.

But if that isn't possible then the smoothest, least hassle experience (outside of buying Roon's own Nucleus) is probably to install Roon's ROCK OS on a used Intel NUC (a model 7 or 8 is fine, even the 5 is fine for a library with 3000 albums — the ROCK page lists the recommended NUC models).

With either route (to running the Roon Core) your legacy Sonos kit will automatically be picked up as 'endpoints' that Roon can play music to - using the Roon remote app on your laptop/phone/tablet. But if you later add amps, streamers and wireless speakers from other manufactures (including BlueSound/BlueOS kit) that should work fine with it too, which means you're not locked into a single hardware vendor. You can even use a low-cost Raspberry Pi to easily add streaming capabilities to a non-streaming amp (much like a Sonos Connect/Port).

You can do all the obvious standard muti-room things like grouped playback (amongst devices using the same streaming protocol) and you can start playback using the Roon remote on your laptop and then use the Roon app on your phone to adjust the volume or transfer what is playing to another zone.

In terms of licence/costs to run Roon you can either pay monthly/yearly on a subscription basis or get a lifetime licence and think of it like the one-off cost of a piece of audio hardware.

The one downside to Roon, compared to Sonos and Bluesound, it's that it's limited in the streaming service it supports. On the other hand that is partly down to Roon's need for rich metadata, so if you want the full rich interface that Roon offers then you need a service that provides that data to them. It also has no support for Podcast if that is important to you.
 
Last edited:

Allanwhoops

Novice Member
Thanks for this. Bluesound looks the obvious route in terms of simplicity. I can run the Sonos in parallel and replace the speakers etc when they die.
 

jamieu

Well-known Member
Thanks for this. Bluesound looks the obvious route in terms of simplicity. I can run the Sonos in parallel and replace the speakers etc when they die.

The downside to Bluesound/BlueOS is that only their hardware / wireless speakers will work with it, which could be limiting or expensive down the line as you switch out your Sonos speakers. In fact you could just end up in the same situation you are now in with Sonos.

If you can run Roon on your NAS (not all models support it) it may be worth giving the free trail a go.

Other than installing the Roon Core package on the NAS and the Roon Remote apps on your phone/laptop there's nothing else to do or configure. Your existing Sonos kit should all just be picked up as devices you can play audio to. So no additional hardware needed.
 
Last edited:

Allanwhoops

Novice Member
It's something to consider when the Sonos speakers give up.

Many thanks for your input. It is much appreciated.

Allan
 

neilball

Well-known Member
If you don’t want to dump your Sonos gear yet then why not look out for a 2nd hand ZP120? There’s usually a collection in the classifieds from owners who have upgraded to the newer S2 compatible range.

So is used to have a lower-cost out-of-warranty exchange service (rather than repair) for their products, so I’m guessing they do not offer that on ZP120s now?
 

Allanwhoops

Novice Member
No, I want to move away from Sonos. Having had to scrap £1,000 of non-functioning kit because of their policies is too much. Not offering repair or spares is another reason for moving away.

I will run the speakers in parallel until they die - apparently the Play 5 is known for that as well!

I used to recommend Sonos but now tell people to avoid.
 

jamieu

Well-known Member
Hardware issues and willingness to repair them aside, the problem is that streaming devices (or amps with streaming capabilities) effectively include small computers running complex software.

As software improves and becomes more memory and processor hungry the older products by nature become obsolete, much like an old desktop computer won’t run the latest web browsers.

If you want to ensure a long life for your most expensive HiFI components (like an amp) it’s worth thinking about avoiding hardware vendor lock-in and separating out the software based network streaming components (which can often be run on an off-the-shelf PC, SBC or NAS) from your HiFi components. Or at least separate out the parts likely to date more quickly or become unsupported down the road.

That way when a new streaming service, platform or app comes along you can simply update or replace the main media controller software without having to re-buy a whole new set of hardware based network streamers/wireless speakers from a single vendor.

One option to achieving this is to buy an amp with an more 'open' (or at least commonly used) low-level streaming protocol (RAAT, Squeezelight, AirPlay, Chromecast, DLNA) which are likely to remain working for longer (as there is no app, interface, library management or 3rd party streaming service integration for the vendor to maintain) and use a vendor neutral product/media manager (Roon, Audirvana, LMS, JRiver) running on your NAS, or elsewhere on your network, to stream music to those devices.

Likewise you can achieve the same ends (and introduce even more separation) by using a small, low-cost 'bridge' or 'endpoint' device (connected to your analog amp) that supports low level streaming protocols like RAAT, Squeezelight, AirPlay, Chromcast, DLNA etc. but that doesn't include any apps or library management features itself and instead uses 3rd party software (Roon, Audirvana, LMS, JRiver) running on your NAS to stream to them.

The most cost effective option to building a 'bridge' or 'endpoint' is probably a Raspberry PI (with an appropriate hat) running an OS like RopieeeXL or HiFiBerryOS. But you can buy commercial bridges or endpoints that do exactly the same thing, even down to being based on RPI hardware, if you have the money to spend and like nice cases. You can even just use an old/used Sonos Connect, ChromeCast Audio or AirPlay Express to act a 'dumb' endpoint/bridge to which LMS or Roon can stream music.

As for wireless speakers, much like TV sets nowadays they're seen as non-repairable devices. Unless regulations are brought in to force manufacturers to offer repairs for a longer period to cut down on landfill I can’t see much changing there as it’s such a price competitive space. Much like modern TV sets and mobile phones, you have to assume these will have limited life, compared with purely analogue HiFi components.

For pure plug-n-play, one-box, does-it-all simplicity the BlueSound Node 2i is probably your best bet (even more so if it's only the one system/room you are using it with). But I'd be careful about getting too drawn into the whole BlueOS ecosystem (esp. in terms of their wireless speakers) as you may just end up where you are now with Sonos in five years time. That said, like Sonos you can use BlueOS/BlueSound products as a basic 'endpoint' or 'bridge' with 3rd party software like Roon, so there is some fallback should the BlueOS operating system or app stop getting regular updates (or you simply find yourself not getting on with it).

If you have multiple speakers / zones you want to play music to, then — as you've probably guessed from the above — I'd seriously consider installing a multi-room music manager package on your NAS (be that Roon, LMS or similar — which are largely vendor neutral re. what devices they can stream to) rather than getting locked (again) into a particular audio hardware vendors multi-room platform/ecosystem.

btw. I went though this same scenario/dilemma a few years ago when migrating away from Sonos. In the end I settled on Roon (via a period using LMS) and it's served me well since (there are a few features I wish it had, but what it does do it does exceedingly well). My main reason for migrating was the cost of having to replace my older Sonos Connect's and Connect:Amp with the newer Sonos Ports and Amp (if I wanted to keep with the latest Sonos app/platform) and the realisation that adding additional zones/rooms in future would bring that cost up even further while increasing my lock-in and sunk-costs to a single vendor. That cost saving more than covered a lifetime subscription to Roon (which has a far richer/better interface than Sonos and plays nicely with almost all the audio devices in my house). In the end I did actually replace my Sonos Connect's and Connect:Amp with Raspberry Pi's (along with an appropriate hat) running HiFIBerryOS as the older Sonos devices were limited to 16bit/44.1.kHz (and I was a bit bored and fancied an upgrade), but they each worked out at a fraction (~£100-150) of the cost of a new Sonos Port or Amp.
 
Last edited:

Allanwhoops

Novice Member
btw. I went though this same scenario/dilemma a few years ago when migrating away from Sonos. In the end I settled on Roon (via a period using LMS) and it's served me well since (there are a few features I wish it had, but what it does do it does exceedingly well). My main reason for migrating was the cost of having to replace my older Sonos Connect's and Connect:Amp with the newer Sonos Ports and Amp (if I wanted to keep with the latest Sonos app/platform) and the realisation that adding additional zones/rooms in future would bring that cost up even further while increasing my lock-in and sunk-costs to a single vendor. That cost saving more than covered a lifetime subscription to Roon (which has a far richer/better interface than Sonos and plays nicely with almost all the audio devices in my house). In the end I did actually replace my Sonos Connect's and Connect:Amp with Raspberry Pi's (along with an appropriate hat) running HiFIBerryOS as the older Sonos devices were limited to 16bit/44.1.kHz (and I was a bit bored and fancied an upgrade), but they each worked out at a fraction (~£100-150) of the cost of a new Sonos Port or Amp.

Many thanks - it's always helpful to have someone who has paved the way!!!
 

Spuddy353

Novice Member
Thanks for this and, more importantly, the links. Much appreciated.
I was in same boat as you but only lost a bridge and play 5 Gen 1, completely lost the plot with Sonos and sold everything on eBay and weirdly didn’t lose a huge sum of money. I was amazed at how quickly they sold. I’m debating now what to invest in Music cast, HEOS or Bluesound??? With Apple doing what they’ve done with premium audio under cutting tidal, if a speaker has Airplay capability then you can stream spatial lossless music 😉👍🏻
 

irishkeet

Member
also totally fed up with Sonos, I have an android tablet & phone, both are out of date according to Sonos, I had to borrow the wifes iphone to add a speak, update etc. Loved Sonos back in the day but now I have little faith in them, Roon looks like a good alternative...
 

The latest video from AVForums

Podcast: Panasonic JZ2000 Final Thoughts - TV Calibration: Should you? And More...
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Full fat HDMI teeshirts

Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom