Replacement of Sonos system

Snakeplex

Member
After 3 years of trying I am giving up on my 6 speaker Sonos system as my sanity is threatened by the constant drop outs. The Sonos User Group has tried to help, to no avail, while Sonos itself has been fairly unhelpful. So, it's end of the road time with Sonos. I've had it with wireless music - my house is 200 years old and has thick walls, and we live in an area of poor internet.
I am proposing to go back to a traditional separates system (amp+speakers) fed by an ageing Cocktail Audio unit for my main rooms (Sitting Room and Dining Room), but I need a way of accessing around 1TB of FLAC files on hard disk to play in the kitchen as a separate item.
Can anyone suggest something which would read files from a hard drive and allow them to be selected for playing? The only option I can think of is a laptop either with a 1TB hard disk or and external hard disk coupled to software such as Media Monkey Player.
Does anyone know of a more elegant solution please?
 

Jamie

Distinguished Member
Personally I'd be looking at a raspberry pi based solution, for me most probably PiCorePlayer based which uses Logitech Media Server (LMS)

There's several ways you could go from an all in one single pi4 with a touchsceen attached, a decent DAC board and a hard drive plugged in.

LMS is incredibly flexible and can easily integrate other playback devices using plugins, for example Airplay and Chromecast devices can also be used as players, I use a few Google smart speakers as extra zones.
 

ItsNotAllSnakeOil

Active Member
After 3 years of trying I am giving up on my 6 speaker Sonos system as my sanity is threatened by the constant drop outs. The Sonos User Group has tried to help, to no avail, while Sonos itself has been fairly unhelpful. So, it's end of the road time with Sonos. I've had it with wireless music - my house is 200 years old and has thick walls, and we live in an area of poor internet.
I am proposing to go back to a traditional separates system (amp+speakers) fed by an ageing Cocktail Audio unit for my main rooms (Sitting Room and Dining Room), but I need a way of accessing around 1TB of FLAC files on hard disk to play in the kitchen as a separate item.
Can anyone suggest something which would read files from a hard drive and allow them to be selected for playing? The only option I can think of is a laptop either with a 1TB hard disk or and external hard disk coupled to software such as Media Monkey Player.
Does anyone know of a more elegant solution please?
If the real issue is dropouts and network related, could you not look at sorting that out instead of replacing the SONOS kit if you are happy with the sound quality, that is? Apologies if you have already done this but you could look at any of the following:

1. Wireless MESH system with better coverage around the house
2. SONOS Bridge and SONOS NET if not already in use
3. Ethernet powerlines to create a wired network

Just some thoughts.
 

reggiegasket

Standard Member
In true 'recommend-what-you-have' mode, I have a pair of Bluesound Pulse Flex 2i's in the kitchen, with an external harddrive plugged into the back of one of them, with all the FLACs stored on it. That works fine, and the BluOs app is dead easy to use. I use my phone but you could also use a bigger tablet to cue songs. If you wanted a standalone player instead then a Bluesound Node would work (I have one of them upstairs in the main listening room).

re. wireless. Have you tried a mesh wifi system? I use a TP Link deco discs, with a number of separate deco discs spread around the house. The Pulse Flex plugs directly into the ethernet port of one of the discs, so gets really strong internet connection and no dropouts. Not cheap but works well.
 

Snakeplex

Member
If the real issue is dropouts and network related, could you not look at sorting that out instead of replacing the SONOS kit if you are happy with the sound quality, that is? Apologies if you have already done this but you could look at any of the following:

1. Wireless MESH system with better coverage around the house
2. SONOS Bridge and SONOS NET if not already in use
3. Ethernet powerlines to create a wired network

Just some thoughts.
Thank you for the suggestions, but I already use a Tenda Mesh system and have a Sonos Boost in the system. I have used ethernet where possible but the Sonos experts have cautioned about not using too many ethernet connections as it "confuses" the Sonos network. I believe the real problem is my poor internet connection which isn't going to improve anytime soon. Hence the reason I'm looking for a non-network solution after 3 years of trying.
 

jamieu

Well-known Member
As suggested above a BlueSound Node allows you to directly attach a USB drive with some limitations — but it's not a cheap option if this is just for a kitchen setup and you’ll still need to use a phone and WiFi to control it.

If that seems like overkill and you’re up for some DIY then again as mentioned above there's a bunch of RPi based options that could fit the bill.

If you're willing to scale back your main collection to a smaller ‘kitchen collection’ that would fit on 256GB thumb drive or SD card then that opens up a whole world of options from portable kitchen radios with ports for a USB thumb drive, to dedicated portable FLAC music players, though to just using a tablet as a player — a cheap tablet could double up nicely for other uses too and for kitchen use you may find that the 3.5mm analog output is more than good enough.

--

In terms of the wider Sonos issue, if the issue is with your WiFi connection this won't help at all. But if the issue is more specifically with how Sonos implements it's own mesh network in your house you could look at trying out Roon as your controller instead of Sonos which works over standard TCP/IP. I wouldn’t hold out too much hope and you’ll still have to find somewhere central to run the Roon Core if it does. But before you get rid of all your Sonos kit it may be worth giving the free trial a go as Roon can connect to Sonos speakers both via AirPlay and Sonos’ own protocol.
 
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Snakeplex

Member
Thank you so much to all the contributors who have given helpful advice and made many useful suggestions.

I have now ditched my Sonos system, which has never worked correctly in the 3 years I have owned it. I am in the process of reviewing all of your suggestions, before making my next move.
 

[email protected]

Active Member
It depends upon your setup. If the hard disk can be attached to the player, Bluesound and other systems can have a disk attached by USB. Otherwise the hard disk will be on a computer or file server, and we’re back into network. If the computer is nearby, you can use an Ethernet cable. Otherwuse probably something like a powerline ethernet, since wireless doesn’t work for you. Most streaming systems and some amplifiers can get music from a computer or file server over the network. Many of them use DLNA or equivalent. That requires the right software to be running on the computer. It’s common software, available for Mac and PC. Some file servers also support it. Bluesound mounts the disk using Microsoft file sharing. The appropriate server software comes with Windows, Mac, and all file servers.

My personal experience is with a Bluesound Powernode 2i. I’ve used it with both wireless and power line Ethernet, talking to a Mac. As with Sonos, and probably everything else, the connection has to be solid. I had issues with wireless, which is why I went to power line Ethernet. I’ve recently changed to a wireless configuration with the wireless router right next to the Posernode. To my knowledge all you need is a solid connection. It doesn’t care what the network technology is.
 
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T1berious

Member
I was in a similar position to you OP, fed up with the instability and the kit I had wouldn't work with higher bit rates. Plus the threat at the time SONOS was going to brick my stuff.

So I threw it all out (2 x play 1, 3 x Sonos connect) and replaced them with 2 raspberry Pi running LMS and a couple of Blusound Node 2i's.

I couldn't be happier, it's a stable as a rock. Easy to use as it's linked via Spotify so SWMBO just uses her phone and selects what she wants to listen to where, blissfully unaware a Raspberry Pi is doing the heavy lifting.

I use Tidal as well as my Library of flac content.

The Raspberry Pi isn't the easiest route but there's several tutorials that take the pain out of it.

I do think in the near future I'll switch to Roon. I'll just change the Pi's to Roon nodes.
 

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