Rotel separates + Sonos Port (???) to B&W 705S2

hoganstime

Novice Member
Hi guys & gals

Thanks so much for reading post.

So, I believe I’ve researched thoroughly but still not sure I‘ve answered my query; differing to your oracle knowledge !

Im moving from an old-school system, Rotel RA 1570 & RCD 1570 through to streaming. I’m about to invest in some [email protected] 705S2s. Moving forward, I will be using Tidal and Qobuz as music source. I have been recommended the Sonos Port as a simple and effective way of transferring music from my I-phone / I-pad through to my amp and out through the speakers. I’m reading conflicting articles though as to whether the Sonos Port is able to effectively transfer the Tidal / Qobuz streams to true hi-fi, I.e. to the quali that these platforms are able to convey. Do I need a much more expensive streamer ? I’ve been quoted just £350 for the Sonos kit which seems to be awfully cheap for what’s seemingly a key piece of equipment . I don’t want to needlessly waste money but equally , I don’t want to spend £2k on speakers for these to be compromised at a key point in the chain!

FYI I’m based in Jersey and we have excellent gigabit internet here.

your advice is v much appreciated!

With thanks 😊
 

mseve1

Active Member
The Sonus Port will do the job well and has a slick user app but you should also consider the Bluesound Node (£550) which provides similar functionality but pips the Sonus for sound quality. Its doubtful whether you would need to spend any more than this unless you wanted more in the way of physical controls and a display for album artwork etc. to replicate the smartphone/tablet control interface.
 

hoganstime

Novice Member
The Sonus Port will do the job well and has a slick user app but you should also consider the Bluesound Node (£550) which provides similar functionality but pips the Sonus for sound quality. Its doubtful whether you would need to spend any more than this unless you wanted more in the way of physical controls and a display for album artwork etc. to replicate the smartphone/tablet control interface.
Thanks so much for your advice.

Having read a little more on the B/N, I note that there’s no Spotify Connect / Tidal Connect function (neither is there on the SONOS unit). My understanding is that these apps allow you to use the platforms homepage without having to migrate to the streamer app, which for me is attractive. Assuming this is the case, my next option looks to be the Cambridge Audio unit, which, according to press reporting, would provide a small additional step up in sound too.
Does the forgoing all sound correct? Many thanks again for your response.
 

mseve1

Active Member
Rest assured that the Bluesound Node does indeed support both Spotify Connect and Tidal Connect services.
 

Graham27

Well-known Member
Hi, hoganstime.

I’m currently in the same boat as you (and in the same place).

I initially considered the Port because my partner is a bit of a technophobe but she gets on ok with our existing Sonos kit. There’s a few reviews which suggest the sound isn’t particularly great though, maybe due to DSP, and that worried me.

I‘m now trying to decide if maybe it’d be better splitting the process between a simple streamer and better DAC, which means both bits can be upgraded in future.

I appreciate the output of the Bluesound is meant to be pretty decent, but it becomes a very expensive streamer if I decide a better DAC might be in order, and I’ve heard a few people say BluOS isn’t quite as friendly a system as Sonos.

I have Arcam kit and that led me to the ST60, but it’s a lot more expensive. I thought I could maybe update my old Arcam stuff at the same time. Or maybe change everything for Cambridge. Or, or…!

Im currently sitting listening to Spotify through an original Amazon Echo dot (3.5mm output) and it‘s so convenient that I just wish the Echo link had been better.
 
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jamieu

Well-known Member
If you want to use the Sonos app then the Sonos Port is your only option. But Sonos kit is well made, easy to setup and comes with well designed mobile and desktop apps. Likewise BluOS is also a well thought out multi-room platform offering similar functionality. Once deciding factor may be if you indeed to buy additional Sonos devices later on and use them in a multi-room setup, as the various multi-room platforms aren't interoperable.

If you'd prefer to use the DAC / Preamp in your Rotel then you could connect the Port up with a DigiCoax cable. If connected up this way it should provide no better or worse sound quality than the digital output of any other streamer (assuming no DSP is being applied [1]), as it's simply outputting a digital data stream for your Rotel to decode, it either works or doesn't — if the connection between the two devices was so poor that data was lost or corrupted then you'd hear that loss or corruption as clicks and pops, not as a subtle difference in sound.

[1] Digital (software) volume control or levelling is effectively DSP and will stop any digital transport (ie. a streamer without a DAC) from outputting a bit-perfect stream in the very strictest sense. But most transports will have a 'Fixed' or 'Device' output mode that allows it to send the stream untouched. Fairly sure my older Sonos Connect did, although I can't remember if that setting simple sent the PCM data at a fixed level (leaving you to adjust the volume on your amp) or passed the current volume level (on the Sonos app) onto the DAC along with the PCM data for the DAC to handle (I know Roon has an output mode called 'device volume' that does this). To be honest even if the newer Port handled volume adjustment in software before sending the PCM data to your DAC it's a simple, well understood mathematical (bit-shift) operation on the digital PCM stream, that shouldn't affect sound quality — at least at anything approaching a level you could hear. If you're asking your DAC to handle volume adjustments for you it's likely to be using the same bit-shift operations internally anyway, so it's more a case of where the maths happens than stopping its happening, especially if you want to adjust the volume via the volume via an app.

It's been a while since I have used a Sonos device so things may have changed, but I seem to remember that you could use Spotify Connect with it, at least on my older Sonos Connect. You may want to double check that, but the Sonos site seem to suggest their devices still can be used that way.

Another option if your an Appel device user and all you're interested in is 16bit/44.1Khz CD quality and don't mind having your phone in use while streaming is to use AirPlay. Although there are significantly cheaper and equally good options (with digital outputs) for adding AirPlay support if that is all you need.

As your Rotel has a range of digital inputs, including USB, then all you may really require is a simple 'digital transport' rather than a full blown streamer. This could be as basic as a low-cost Spotify Connect supporting device with a digital output, but if you want something a little more HiFi and/or professional looking something like Project's Stream Box Ultra S2 (connected up to your Rotel via USB) would likely fit the bill.

If you're open to some very basic DIY then a stock RPi 4B 2GB running Ropieee XL (or Volumio) connected to your Rotel via USB would get you similar functionality to the Stream Box for under £100. The Stream Box is effectively a RPi in a nice case and better placement of sockets. Admittedly the RPi, even in a nicer Fiirc case, isn't the most attractive of units, but it's also small enough (roughly palm sized) to hide out of sight.

---

I think you probably need to decide if your looking for a unit with it's own multi-room platform and mobile/desktop applications (ie. BlueOS / Sonos) or if you just need a 'dumb' digital transport than can handle Spotify or Tidal Connect (using the streaming services native apps) and pass it out as a digital stream for your Rotel to decode. In which case, attractiveness aside, all of them should perform the task equally well. At the digital level they're basically nothing more than a simple computer and most will be using the same low level software libraries and 'open source' drivers under the hood.

But in answer to your original question "Do I need a much more expensive streamer?" — the simple answer is almost certainly 'No' if you're simply using it as a digital transport. If you're planning to use the streamers own apps then that is where the differences will be found — as not all streamers come with decent apps/software, so worth doing some comparisons there if possible.

FWIW before moving to Roon I used several Sonos Connect units (the predecessor to the Port) and was extremely happy with them. Not only were they well built, but the accompanying software was reasonably well thought out.

Hope that is all of some help...
 
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