Our VerdictUnfazed by time, the entry-level Sonos is just as effective as we remember ForImpressively…
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OneOne of the key reasons to buy in to the Sonos sound ecosystem rather than the smart speakers from Amazon, Google, or Apple is freedom: Sonos simply makes more varieties of audio tracks products than the other players, so you can create a relatively custom home music system very simply.
The unheralded key compared to that versatility for a long time has been the $499 Sonos Connect:Amp, which is specifically what it appears like: a tiny Sonos-connected amplifier that may drive any standard speakers. People (and professional smart home integrators) have used Connect:Amps in every types of wacky ways, from driving multiple sets of ceiling speakers in mono to hacking together TV speaker setups by using a box that was never suitable for that. The Connect:Amp is tremendously useful, but slightly underpowered at 55 watts per channel, and the essential hardware gets fairly long in the tooth.
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So Sonos is increasing the lineup with the brand new $599 Sonos Amp, that is a totally new design which offers unparalleled overall flexibility for a linked music component. It really is vastly stronger than the Connect:Amp at 125 watts per channel, and vastly more capable, with AirPlay 2 support, HDMI input, and an enormous selection of custom control settings and configurations.
You need to use the Amp to operate a vehicle a couple of bookshelf speakers. You can pair it with two more Sonos speakers and a subwoofer and create a 4.1 home entertainment around your TV. You can control it with Alexa (and finally Google Assistant). You can run giant vintage speakers with it. You can rack mount it, if you’re the type of person with equipment racks in the basement. It can most of these things easily and with aplomb, and it firmly cements Sonos as the utmost flexible, powerful linked audio tracks system available.
TheThe Sonos Amp is a sleek, minimal black square. There’s a round depression at the top that adds a feeling of high design, but also serves to create stacking multiple Amps easier. On leading, you’ve got the most common Sonos interface factors of an LED and touch buttons for volume and play / pause, as the back has RCA and HDMI inputs, two Ethernet jacks, a subwoofer output, the energy connector, the pairing button, and the speaker connections.
I’ll just tell: I really like the speaker connections on the Sonos Amp. The essential connectors are suitable for banana plugs for a clean install, but if you’re running bare speaker wire there’s an extremely clever adapter which has standard screw terminals, that you then plug in to the Amp. This sounds small, nonetheless it means you can fit the wires in to the screw terminals and never have to reach around the Amp itself – you hook up the wires first and just plug the adapter in to the Amp. It’s clever, and it creates connections in tight spots so easier.
Once you’ve got everything plugged in, setup is equivalent to any other recent Sonos device: you open the app, open the brand new device setup process, and hit the pair button on the trunk. I was using my very own speakers, as I suspect a lot of people will do, but if you choose the special Sonos Architectural speakers created by Sonance, you can run the Trueplay tuning process. (Why can’t TruePlay tune other speakers? Sonos says it can’t predict what speakers you could possibly be using and what their capacities may be. I still think you have to be permitted to try, though.)
I tested the Amp with three speaker systems in my own house, which are incredibly different: the Klipsch Cornwall IIIs in my own living room, which are gigantic 90-pound monsters designed in the ‘70s, a set of Polk Atrium5 two-way outdoor speakers that hangover our deck, and the Monitor Audio Radius 270 home entertainment speakers inside our media room.
The Polk outdoor speakers will always be linked to a Sonos Connect:Amp, and in a nutshell tests (it’s cold outside!) I can’t say I noticed an enormous difference in sound quality. What I did so notice was a notable difference in volume at different points on the quantity slider: the Connect:Amp was plenty powerful for that application before, and it appeared to get louder faster compared to the Amp. According to Benji Rappoport, principal hardware product manager at Sonos, the increased power of the Amp is merely noticeable when the quantity slider has ended halfway up, although the business is considering adjusting this in another software update.
I hardly ever really run my outdoor speakers at levels that high, so that it wasn’t an enormous deal. If you’ve got a setup with Connect:Amps and you’re pleased with it, I don’t think you’re likely to see enough improvement to justify an upgrade, if you don’t are ride-or-die for AirPlay 2 or you need more power.
The Klipsch setup was the true eye-opener. The Cornwall IIIs have a decades-old design, with massive 15-inch woofers and a robust midrange horn. They’re usually linked to a ‘70s vintage Kenwood solid-state amp that generates around 100 watts, and the complete rig will get incredibly loud without losing any detail. (Fun fact: vintage amps frequently have less total harmonic distortion than modern ones!)
The older Connect:Amp wasn’t powerful enough for these speakers, as the new Amp is obviously up to the duty. But the sound out from the box is totally too bright and precise, that is a criticism other reviewers have made aswell. I had to invest a while dialing in the Amp’s EQ settings in the iphone app (which are surprisingly minimal) to access a thing that sounded more suitable for the speakers and the area. That’s where I wish Sonos either offered Trueplay tuning for third-party speakers or had more granular controls in the app; the Amp can match a whole lot of situations, but it’ll definitely have to be EQ’d out of its defaults in lots of of them.
Once I had the Amp dialed in, it sounded great – clean, powerful, confident. I can’t say I really like it up to my vintage amp, but that’s probably as emotional as anything, because the Amp doesn’t have VU meters or extremely satisfying switches and knobs to play with.
There was a period whenever we spent entire evenings selecting records and using the vintage system; that point went away when our baby was created this past year. Having those speakers directly linked with Sonos without the delicate vintage amp in the centre meant that people used them much more, and spent additional time hearing music – which finally accocunts for for the buttons and knobs, I believe.
A very important factor the Amp doesn’t have is an integral microphone for a voice assistant, making sense: it’s often saved in a cabinet or rack, and it wouldn’t have the ability to hear you anyway. Nonetheless it integrates with voice assistants exactly like other Sonos products, and it had been great in order to say “Alexa, play music in the living room” and also have our biggest and best speakers light. Same with AirPlay 2, which worked seamlessly.
(One thing to notice if you are a insane purist: the Amp is an electronic amplifier, so when you can plug a turntable involved with it, it’ll necessarily convert that audio tracks to an electronic signal. I couldn’t really hear a notable difference, but if you actually need an all-analog signal chain in your daily life, you’ll need to look elsewhere. If you’re scanning this while streaming Spotify to your AirPods, you really can just move on.)
Sonos’Sonos’ user research around the Connect:Amp revealed a surprising number of men and women utilize them with TVs – which required jumping through several hoops to create work effectively with the old box. Therefore the new Amp gets the same HDMI ARC input system as the Sonos Beam soundbar, therefore you can just plug a TV directly into the Amp and move on to a 2.1 system with a subwoofer. (Sonos also sells an optical-to-HDMI adapter if you happen to have to run optical from your own TV; I tried this with the Beam and it introduced hook delay, so I’d test drive it thoroughly if that’s your setup.)
IT integration worked and sounded excellent in my own testing, with the same sense that the Amp could be a little bright out of your box. I definitely missed my full Atmos surround setup, nevertheless, you can pair two more Sonos speakers to complete a simple surround experience. What I surprisingly didn’t miss was my center channel speaker – dialogue sounded clear and well-placed using my two Monitor Audio towers in stereo. The one thing I’d want may be the capability to set different EQ settings for music and TV, which appears just like a miss.
But it’s hard for me personally to state how my experience is wonderful for you – it’s all right down to what speakers you have and where they’re located in accordance with your TV. I also can’t say that it seems sensible to get a $599 high-end amp to perform bookshelf speakers as TV speakers when you’re able to buy a Sonos Beam for $200 less, but when you have ceiling speakers or you truly want to consolidate your living room audio tracks situation around some beloved bookshelf speakers, it becomes an attractive option.
UnderUnder new CEO Patrick Spence, Sonos hasn’t only increased the pace of new product introductions, it’s slowly expanded the breadth of ways it could deliver sound in your own home. There’s the regular group of Sonos standalone speakers and soundbars, just like the Sonos One and Beam, but there’s also new partnerships with tr