Price differential of Sonos 5 vs Non-streaming hi-fi with similar audio quality

Discussion in 'Music Streamers' started by Laurence, Aug 26, 2013.

  1. Laurence

    Laurence
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    Hi All,

    If you want the quick version, TLDR is this: What is the price differential between (a) buying a Sonos play 5 or (b) buying a completely featureless bookshelf micro hi-fi system (i.e. like those from before the digital streaming era) which has similar audio quality to the Sonos 5?

    Detail is here is that we're looking at getting an audio system for the living room, starting from scratch and budget is around £400. We'd like the audio to be of decent quality for that price range and also have the ability to stream napster / spotify controlled wirelessly by android handsets.

    So option number one is simply to buy a sonos play 5 + bridge and be done with it. From what I gather the sound is perfectly fine for a modestly sized living room (and baring in mind our budget). This is our clear favourite option so far.

    But I get this nagging feeling that if we were planning to stop at one system rather than ever go multi-room (not 100% sure yet but let's just assume...) then it would be far better value to just buy an older hi-fi, focusing purely on sound quality rather than features and then attach an airport express (using one of the airplay android apps). Airport express costs c£80 I think so if a hi-fi of similar audio quality to the Sonos could be bought for under £150 then the total saving might be big enough that we would consider doing this instead.

    To be honest, both my and my girlfriend really like the look of the Sonos. I just want to make sure I'm not being sucked in by the overall elegance of Sonos system when a far better value solution might available for only slightly more hassle.

    Let me know your opinions (my knowledge of this stuff isn't great so go easy!)

    Thanks.
     
  2. neilybealy

    neilybealy
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    Recently got a play 5 for my kitchen diner after originally intending getting just a Bluetooth enabled speaker. Then looked at AirPlay devices but my mate said sonos. Decided to take a gamble on the play 5 and it paid off. Can't fault the sound

    Highly recommended and I'd like to get a play3 for the bedroom
     
  3. neilball

    neilball
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    I think you've got to factor in the wide range of music options with Sonos, all from a single box - streaming music over the network, Internet radio or over wifi from an IOS or Android device, Napster, Spotify, Rdio, 8-Track, Last FM etc. It won't play CDs directly though, which may or may not be a issue. It will not give the same stereo image as "proper" HiFi speakers unless you use two units as a stereo pair (or go for 2xPlay:3 units), but it does play loud without distortion and is very easy to "fit" into the room.

    An Airport Express can also work, but you've not got the same flexibility unless you also add a PC into the mix running something like Airfoil. And then it is nowhere near as easy or elegant to control.
     
  4. 802Diamond

    802Diamond
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    I first wasn't going to react on your post, but this sentence got my attention.

    First of, I can understand you (or your girlfriend) want sth good-looking and maybe sth that integrates well in your interior, but, what is it you like about the look of a (pardon my words) clunky and plastic white (or black) thing? Even the grille looks cheap...

    Second, the fact that you post this question let's me believe you already know the answer: there is always sth better and sth cheaper and probably both.

    There is sth that Sonos does good: 1/ the connection is better than comparable wireless speakers, 2/ the integration is super and not met by other manufacturers (eg. you can combine to play's to have them play stereo, etc.)

    But there is also sth that Sonos doesn't do good: there is no Airplay to begin with and, more importantly, the sound quality (I am going to say it politely) is mediocre (play 5/Soundbar) to straight out bad (Play 3.) You asked what a micro set with comparable sound would set you back; I don't know the prices in UK, but I am sure that Yamaha MCR-042 and Onkyo CS-245/255 will be cheaper. These sets will blow Play 5 easily away. Go a step further and for a comparable price as the Sonos you will have sets that will play a whole lot better (and actually sound good - Denon D-M39 springs to mind.)

    The story doesn't stop there: let's say that out of matter of practicality or WAF, or whatever reason you can think off you would go ahead with Sonos, than, while I can imagine someone have a Play 5 in the kitchen or the garage or the garden, I wouldn't dream to have it in the living room. You wouldn't have zero stereo effect, which would kill the listening pleasure. I have an Audio Pro Air One which easily blows the Play 5 away in terms of audio quality, but I wouldn't for a moment think to have it replace my stereo kit in the living room. The Air One is, like the Play 5 a stereo player, but it comes out of the same box which means the stereo effect is little if any.

    If you cannot stretch your budget, I would look at the Yamaha MCR-042, which gives a decent sound, or the D-M39 which is sound wise excellent value for money (with very nice looks to boot.) The Yamaha should set you back less than £300,-; the Denon a little more than that. That should give you room to get an Airport Express...

    Let us know what choice you made...
     
  5. amcluesent

    amcluesent
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    Tricky, a new PLAY:5 and bridge would be £390 ish.

    I used to run an Onkyo CR515-DAB mini-system and Monitor Audio Silver RS1 speakers which was cracking wee setup; looking at t'Bay you could get both of these for £250 plus another £40 for an Airport Express. The CR515-DAB is unusual in having an optical input, so you can hook up up the Airport Express by S/PDIF, bypassing it's rather poor DAC.

    Add in a bit for cables and stands, and you'd be good to go for £350.

    Having used a Sqeezebox Boom, which is much the same as a PLAY:5, I can say the Onkyo CR515-DAB and Monitor Audio Silver RS1 was miles ahead in SQ.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2013
  6. Cebolla

    Cebolla
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    Hang on a minute, why hark back to decent non-streaming old micro kit when the latest hifi micro systems, which sound every bit as good if not better, also support streaming?

    No need for Airport Express because they have AirPlay support, plus UPnP/DLNA streaming, internet radio and WIFI.

    The classy Denon CEOL DRA-N5 Piccolo is below your budget at ~£350 including speakers (Monitor Audio BX1).
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2013
  7. Laurence

    Laurence
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    Thanks guys for all your help so far.

    We've noted the comments about Sonos sound quality and also the Denon does indeed look nice. Having looked a bit further the Denon RCDN8 seems to do literally everything I'd want, though I'm guessing with a decent set of speakers it'd push us well past our budget. So 2 more quick questions if you don't mind:

    - If we bought a micro system excluding speakers and added on some cheap speakers (for now... giving us time to search and save for a proper set of speakers to invest in later) could you recommend any decent little budget speakers which would sound good in a smallish room?

    - Having looked there doesn't seem to be too many modern micro hifi system with all the wireless streaming stuff built in yet (for under £300). Most of my searching brings up the same 3-4 products each time. Are there any others you could recommend? It's not essential but also having a CD player would be a nice little bonus (like the Denon RCDN8).

    Thanks.
     
  8. Cebolla

    Cebolla
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    You can definitely get the Denon Piccolo's larger sibbling, the CEOL RCDN8, just within your budget at £399 inc delivery with speakers (Denon SN-N8 worth ~£100) at Peter Tyson. Seems to be a no brainer considering the unit alone sells for ~£350 and the speakers are the intended matching budget ones:
    Denon RCD-N8 with SC-N8
     
  9. 802Diamond

    802Diamond
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    +1 This is an excellent set and for the price a real bargain...!
     

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