Field Notes

Get The Most From Sonos

The Pursuit of Perfect Sounds with Sonos

It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t like Sonos. Smartly designed, nicely finished and, for most of its tenure, easy to use. We’re glad they seem to have sorted out their teenage years and now have pretty seamless menus working with all the various new music delivery systems. This time of year, many a tree will find a Sonos wrapped in bright paper underneath it, awaiting installation into its new home for many years to come. The question is, how many will choose to leave 80% of the performance unused, like last year’s Christmas paper?

We’d like to challenge you to think beyond the obvious; let the audiophile inside have a little fun and kit out the Sonos with a few choice pieces that seriously elevate the sonic performance that lies within every Sonos. We see over and over again, installers and stores alike selling the lowest common denominator of Sonos performance—too frequently Soundbars spec’d into every room. Take a walk on the wild side; try using a Sonos Connect™ (preamp), upgrading the amplifier and speakers from run-of-the-mill in-ceilings to high performance monitors and a REL subwoofer tucked discreetly into a corner for the added weight and richness every system craves. Aaah, now there’s a nice den or library system that will provide respite from Winter’s chilly clime.

Start with a good amp, here’s a short list to check out:

  • Rega Brio – Rich, fun, punchy—all entry-level kit should be this good.
  • NAD D3020* – Takes days to warm up and sound like it can, fluid, delicate-good for the money.
  • PS Audio Sprout* – Ambitious work from the House of PS, aims to be all things to millennials.
  • Cambridge Audio CXA80 – Good, solid, balanced performer—all rounder.
  • Yamaha A-S801 – The kid in class who always had all the answers, don’t hate him, buy him.

*Denotes Class D, listen carefully to ensure full sonic compatibility with your particular system.

Small Speakers that Deserve a Look and a Listen:

  • Magnepan MMGis – OK NOT small, but oh so cool. Pairs with a pair of T/5i or Tzero for small rooms.
  • KEF LS50 – A mini-modern classic, really finicky set-up but get it right and it lets you peer inside your own soul. Best paired with stereo pairs of T/7i unless you have a too-big room in which case you’ll want T/9i(s).
  • B&W 706S2 – Based on the bones of the old CM5, great overall balance, metal dome seems under good control. Dynamic and very good value. Pairs of T/5i’s will do the trick. (Try B&W 705’s if you really like an eyeball staring at you)
  • Martin-Logan Motion 35XT – Great tweeter looking for its midrange mate, but good value overall. A T/5i or 2 if the room is decent-sized or one can easily step to the T/7i.
  • Various Rega, Elac, and Monitor Audios will do nicely as well.

Bottom Line Takeaway: We encourage you to take the Sonos concept to its natural limits and find out just how fun a good whole house system can be. All we’ve done is build out some of the promise built into every Sonos Connect or ConnectAmp. And look, we haven’t even started in on the front end yet. While the common knock on Sonos is that it can’t handle streaming hi rez digital files, they absolutely pass CD quality files when fed directly by a good CD player or a transport and DAC. Keep it green bananas, always look for new ways to have fun and get the most out of every audio opportunity.

Enjoy the Music (and film!).


November 21, 2017 - Posted in: Connectivity, News