Sonos Amp or Integrated Amp for 2 channel Music w/bookshelf speakers

AVUser001

AVUser001

Audioholic
Hello folks
Hoping you guys can steer me in the right direction, on my 2 channel music setup in office-room(mid-size).

Current setup(recent):
2 * MartinLogan Motion 35XTi Bookshelf speakers. Specs below:
  • recommended amplifer : 20-250 W/channel
  • sensitivity : 92 dB
  • Impedence : 4 Ohms, compatible with 6,8 Ohm rated amp
  • frequence response : 50-25Khz
Sonos Amp. Specs below:
  • Power o/p 125 W/channel into 8 Ohms. Also per sonos , 187 Wpc at 6 ohm & 250 wpc at 4 Ohm speaker impedence
  • Desired speaker support: atleast 125W at 8 Ohms, 200W at 4 Ohms
Reasons I bought Sonos Amp are
  1. Airplay 2 support . This is key. Not interested in Line-in
  2. Specs match with above speakers
  3. Sub-out for 2.1
  4. Integrate with my existing Sonos ecosystem ( optional , as I primarily use Airplay2 & non-Sonos speakers with Sonos amps)
  5. Compact size
  6. Promotional deal
Still within return period.

Reason for questioning and looking at alternatives to Sonos Amp are
  1. Sub-out of Sonos Amp is pretty weak. Had to buy a split sub-woofer cable to have any significant bass. Sonos support hasnt been helpful so far and seems other people have reported similar issues on Sonos forum and yet unresolved.. Night & day difference between sub(SVS SB12) hooked upto my Denon HT receiver & Sonos Amp.
  2. No support for speaker calibration, other than basic eq controls within Sonos Amp.
  3. No support for hi-res music ( desired , but not deal breaker )
  4. Sonos is a closed system , at their mercy..for eg, when they pulled the support for streaming music from iphone to Sonos devices and my previous generation Sonos Connects went useless overnight, for lack of Airplay streaming.
I guess , my question is two fold..,
did I make the right call purchasing Sonos Amps (with huge power o/p at 4 & 6 Ohms) for 2 channel music with my ML speakers, which I love btw , for their treble/mid-range performance. Do I forgo the sub support and just stick with 2 channel as opposed to 2.1, offloading <50Hz bass. Anyone else have Sub issues with sonos Amp ? . I dont listen to bassy songs much, but doesnt hurt offloading the low frequencies from the ML speakers which are not known for their bass performance.

Are there better 2 channel integrated amps in this price range(say max $1K), with Airplay2 , Subwoofer out, better Speaker Calibration, than the Sonos Amps. Are the integrated amps (or even stereo receivers) from "hifi" companies like Marantz, NAD,Denon,Cambridge,Yamaha etc..better than Sonos in terms of sound quality, distortion,full range performance(incl bass)..? , with Sonos being more focussed on multi-room audio and user-interface? . What I'm also not sure is the low power o/p from the 2 channel amps from other vendors in this price range..is that going to be sufficient to drive the bookshelves esp at 4 ohms,without damaging speaker ..compared to Sonos which has a huge buffer.

Thanks much
 
AVUser001

AVUser001

Audioholic
Just to add, I do understand, you need to double the power o/p from the amp to get a 3 dB gain..,and to double the volume, need a 10 dB gain. So theoretically, for the fairly efficient speaker ML 35XTi, with a sensitivity of 92 dB, we need only 8W to reach 101 dB.
So do I really that much of a headroom from the Sonos amps? or the money better spent in a higher quality integrated amp with the features mentioned...
 
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AVUser001

AVUser001

Audioholic
Any inputs ? , been researching , but not finding much on Sonos Amp vs Integrated Amp/AVRs.
Thanks
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Well, not interested in Sonos generally myself but little experience (and that's with the little speakers that can be carried from room to room mostly for background type listening that a few friends have). Does seem for a nearfield work desk situation (assuming somewhat) you don't need much amp power, plus you have relatively sensitive speakers.....unless you plan on doing some serious rocking out in the office and even then.... OTOH if it works with other Sonos gear you have, that convenience probably is nice.

Then there's average listening level vs capabilities for peaks etc....but I think most moderate amps would do just fine and keeping the power at a decent level (around 100wpc) gives it usefulness beyond just this particular situation if that matters to you. I don't see a 4ohm spec on the Sonos page or in the manual, just a vague 125wpc at 8 ohm without definition of freq range/thd/anything. You got something more in the way of spec?

If there's a monitor involved and the size doesn't matter I'd think an avr is the best way to go for costs and comes with better options for sub integration than your Sonos for sure (and a weak sub pre-out that can't work with typical consumer sub plate amps without bass management just seems near useless, altho may work with their own sub well enough?). The specs Sonos provides for power are vague, would like to see a bench test. Room eq is possibly of minimal use in a desk setup, but generally another avr advantage if you want such.

Well that's my .02....
 
AVUser001

AVUser001

Audioholic
Thanks for the response.
No rock music..,mostly classical & instrumentals at low-med volumes, with listening position ~10ft.
Integration with other rooms via Sonos, not vital..,as I primarily use Airplay2. Other rooms have non-Sonos speakers with Sonos Amps.

The 4ohm support is from https://support.sonos.com/s/article/4717?language=en_US

Also I found this detailed test results here

"SONOS rates the Amp at 150 watts into 8 ohms. Here we are seeing over 200 watts of power using 4 ohm which is excellent. During the test I could barely detect the Amp getting warmer so efficiency is quite high..
The highlight of the unit is copious amount of power at 4 ohm in such a small and cool running package. I am not sure there are many options in the market with so much power."

Right, the compact form factor , Airplay2 support and high power o/p are the big pluses I see with the Amp. Its just limited in other ways..esp sub pre-out unresolved.

Trying to shy away from placing a big AVR in my office, when I have two already(in HT & Family)..preferably a 2 channel integrated amp(or small stereo receiver) with airplay2 , sub pre-out, sufficient power o/p when impedence dips to 6 & 4 ohms..
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Thanks for the response.
No rock music..,mostly classical & instrumentals at low-med volumes, with listening position ~10ft.
Integration with other rooms via Sonos, not vital..,as I primarily use Airplay2. Other rooms have non-Sonos speakers with Sonos Amps.

The 4ohm support is from https://support.sonos.com/s/article/4717?language=en_US

Also I found this detailed test results here

"SONOS rates the Amp at 150 watts into 8 ohms. Here we are seeing over 200 watts of power using 4 ohm which is excellent. During the test I could barely detect the Amp getting warmer so efficiency is quite high..
The highlight of the unit is copious amount of power at 4 ohm in such a small and cool running package. I am not sure there are many options in the market with so much power."

Right, the compact form factor , Airplay2 support and high power o/p are the big pluses I see with the Amp. Its just limited in other ways..esp sub pre-out unresolved.

Trying to shy away from placing a big AVR in my office, when I have two already(in HT & Family)..preferably a 2 channel integrated amp(or small stereo receiver) with airplay2 , sub pre-out, sufficient power o/p when impedence dips to 6 & 4 ohms..
Interesting Amir says they rate at 150 when the literature says 125....odd that Sonos doesn't post full specs in any case since they seem quite legit (when they're not fully spec'd I tend to think they're deliberately being vague and using 1khz ratings at a high THD....

No bass management and a weak sub pre-out, tho....
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Warlord
No bass management and a weak sub pre-out, tho....
Dealbreaker, imo. I dunno, I'm not familiar with Sonos setups either, but aside from compatibility with already existing Sonos stuff there seem to be more cons than pros. Do mid or upper tier receivers offer Sonos compatibility now? Without stopping to look it up I think they do.
 
AVUser001

AVUser001

Audioholic
This is the post on Sonos forum that talks to the sub-woofer issue

So its not just me and Sonos support seems baffled by this.
I have a couple of other Sonos Amps thats driving my in-ceiling speakers, that dont need the sub.
As I am merely using the Sonos Amp to power non-Sonos speakers, and play them through Apple Airplay2 ( and not Sonos app) , I'm not that integrated into the Sonos ecosystem, as it looks. ie Airplay2 provides me the necessary multi-room audio, not Sonos.
So for the office-room, with MartinLogans, I just need an integrated amp/receiver that supports Airplay2, with sufficient power o/p at 4-6 Ohms, relatively compact and in this price range, if possible.

Any thoughts on this Marantz unit for my case .. https://www.us.marantz.com/us/Products/Pages/ProductDetails.aspx?CatId=HiFiComponents&SubCatId=&ProductId=PM7000N
Only rated at 60W at 9ohms & 80W at 4 Ohms

Perhaps this.. https://usa.denon.com/us/product/hometheater/receivers/dra800h
or

Issue is none of them have the high headroom in power, that the Sonos amp has.. (and cost few hundreds more too). Or is that a non-issue for my use-case ? I just dont have any experience with such integrated amps..have always used Marantz/Denon AVR + PowerAmp combo ( which I dont want to do in my office).

Thanks
 
Shanman

Shanman

Audioholic
Perhaps this or one of the Peachtree Nova's? The NAD has a small footprint, sub out, and 60wpc in to 4 or 8 ohms- plenty of power for your efficient Martins... seems to have the connectivity you seek as well.
 
tmurnin

tmurnin

Full Audioholic
I don’t really understand your issue. I have three Sonos Connects working perfectly well with my iPhone and iPad -they have not stopped supporting that product. Sonos supports TidalHD and Amazon Music HD and Qobuz, so what hi-res music are you missing?

I’m not driving a sub out of my Sonos devices so no experience with that issue but the other problems you cite don’t make sense to me
 
T

thebrieze

Audioholic Intern
You have some nice speakers there. I would invest in a nice tube (or tube + SS hybrid) integrated amp. The peachtree Nova mentioned is a good place to start. Also consider Audiogon if you’re open to buying used.

This allows you to change/upgrade the streamer as your needs change

I wouldn’t worry too much about the specs or watts of the amp, most usage rarely tends to goes beyond 10 watts. Especially if it’s a small room. Better amps (not more watts) will give you better dynamics which is important for they type of music you like.
 
John Parks

John Parks

Audioholic Chief
This is the post on Sonos forum that talks to the sub-woofer issue

So its not just me and Sonos support seems baffled by this.
I have a couple of other Sonos Amps thats driving my in-ceiling speakers, that dont need the sub.
As I am merely using the Sonos Amp to power non-Sonos speakers, and play them through Apple Airplay2 ( and not Sonos app) , I'm not that integrated into the Sonos ecosystem, as it looks. ie Airplay2 provides me the necessary multi-room audio, not Sonos.
So for the office-room, with MartinLogans, I just need an integrated amp/receiver that supports Airplay2, with sufficient power o/p at 4-6 Ohms, relatively compact and in this price range, if possible.

Any thoughts on this Marantz unit for my case .. https://www.us.marantz.com/us/Products/Pages/ProductDetails.aspx?CatId=HiFiComponents&SubCatId=&ProductId=PM7000N
Only rated at 60W at 9ohms & 80W at 4 Ohms

Perhaps this.. https://usa.denon.com/us/product/hometheater/receivers/dra800h
or

Issue is none of them have the high headroom in power, that the Sonos amp has.. (and cost few hundreds more too). Or is that a non-issue for my use-case ? I just dont have any experience with such integrated amps..have always used Marantz/Denon AVR + PowerAmp combo ( which I dont want to do in my office).

Thanks
Ooh - this is fun! Sorry, just living vicariously through you and shopping for new stuff is a pleasure.

I do not have too much exposure to the Sonos-verse, so I am not much help there. I can tell you that when I was demoing my last pair of speakers (KEF R500) the dealer had a pair hooked up to a Sonos Amp in what I referred to the "kids table" (i.e., not the "big" room) and I was not impressed. At the time, I blamed the Sonos, but I could be wrong. They moved the R500s into another room, hooked them up to a Hegel integrated and BOOM went the dynamite. The measurements on the Amp from ASR, though, are a pleasant surprise.

I like the Marantz and Denon integrateds you highlighted. Of course, neither has Sonos support (HEOS is their system of choice) but the Marantz does have a variable crossover for the sub, which is nice. Both would look good in an office. Another option with more control over subwoofer integration may be the Pioneer Elite SX-S30 ( https://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Home/2-Channel+Components/SX-S30 ) which uses their own MCACC room correction. Also, Yamaha's R-N803 uses YPAO ( https://usa.yamaha.com/products/audio_visual/hifi_components/r-n803/index.html ). Of course, all the products mentioned can probably be found at a discount... You mentioned you did not want a big AV receiver in your office and I can understand why. With that in mind and going completely against your wishes, the Pioneer Elite VSX-LX503 ( https://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Home/AV-Receivers/Elite+Receivers/VSX-LX503 ) has everything you mentioned - Airplay, Sonos, MCACC, decent power and can be found a severe discounts ($549 most places). Food for thought...

Let us know what you decide to do!
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
Hello folks
Hoping you guys can steer me in the right direction, on my 2 channel music setup in office-room(mid-size).

Current setup(recent):
2 * MartinLogan Motion 35XTi Bookshelf speakers. Specs below:
  • recommended amplifer : 20-250 W/channel
  • sensitivity : 92 dB
  • Impedence : 4 Ohms, compatible with 6,8 Ohm rated amp
  • frequence response : 50-25Khz
Sonos Amp. Specs below:
  • Power o/p 125 W/channel into 8 Ohms. Also per sonos , 187 Wpc at 6 ohm & 250 wpc at 4 Ohm speaker impedence
  • Desired speaker support: atleast 125W at 8 Ohms, 200W at 4 Ohms
Reasons I bought Sonos Amp are
  1. Airplay 2 support . This is key. Not interested in Line-in
  2. Specs match with above speakers
  3. Sub-out for 2.1
  4. Integrate with my existing Sonos ecosystem ( optional , as I primarily use Airplay2 & non-Sonos speakers with Sonos amps)
  5. Compact size
  6. Promotional deal
Still within return period.

Reason for questioning and looking at alternatives to Sonos Amp are
  1. Sub-out of Sonos Amp is pretty weak. Had to buy a split sub-woofer cable to have any significant bass. Sonos support hasnt been helpful so far and seems other people have reported similar issues on Sonos forum and yet unresolved.. Night & day difference between sub(SVS SB12) hooked upto my Denon HT receiver & Sonos Amp.
  2. No support for speaker calibration, other than basic eq controls within Sonos Amp.
  3. No support for hi-res music ( desired , but not deal breaker )
  4. Sonos is a closed system , at their mercy..for eg, when they pulled the support for streaming music from iphone to Sonos devices and my previous generation Sonos Connects went useless overnight, for lack of Airplay streaming.
I guess , my question is two fold..,
did I make the right call purchasing Sonos Amps (with huge power o/p at 4 & 6 Ohms) for 2 channel music with my ML speakers, which I love btw , for their treble/mid-range performance. Do I forgo the sub support and just stick with 2 channel as opposed to 2.1, offloading <50Hz bass. Anyone else have Sub issues with sonos Amp ? . I dont listen to bassy songs much, but doesnt hurt offloading the low frequencies from the ML speakers which are not known for their bass performance.

Are there better 2 channel integrated amps in this price range(say max $1K), with Airplay2 , Subwoofer out, better Speaker Calibration, than the Sonos Amps. Are the integrated amps (or even stereo receivers) from "hifi" companies like Marantz, NAD,Denon,Cambridge,Yamaha etc..better than Sonos in terms of sound quality, distortion,full range performance(incl bass)..? , with Sonos being more focussed on multi-room audio and user-interface? . What I'm also not sure is the low power o/p from the 2 channel amps from other vendors in this price range..is that going to be sufficient to drive the bookshelves esp at 4 ohms,without damaging speaker ..compared to Sonos which has a huge buffer.

Thanks much
Using the Sonos Port would have been a good idea, if they had bothered to include a Subwoofer Output jack but that would have made too much sense, in light of the fact that their two main competitors (Yamaha MusicCast and Denon HEOS) have that, as well as several other inputs and outputs. Personally, I think the features offered by Sonos are incredibly short-sighted but since you already have other Sonos items, you're not going to mix and match. It's also a good idea to remember that Sonos is a networking company that got into audio, rather than an audio company that got into networking.

You might want to look into the "What I'm also not sure is the low power o/p from the 2 channel amps from other vendors in this price range" comment- where does Sonos show full output specs WRT frequency response, distortion and power into loads other than 8 Ohms?

Yamaha MusicCast WXA-50 specs-

HEOS Amp specs (scroll down to see them)-

The MusicCast and HEOS will drive a power amp easily and they both have a 12V trigger to make an amplifier turn on- I'm using a MusicCast WXC-50 as my preamp and it works great, although I'm not using a sub since I'm happy with the bass from my speakers.
 
AVUser001

AVUser001

Audioholic
I don’t really understand your issue. I have three Sonos Connects working perfectly well with my iPhone and iPad -they have not stopped supporting that product. Sonos supports TidalHD and Amazon Music HD and Qobuz, so what hi-res music are you missing?

I’m not driving a sub out of my Sonos devices so no experience with that issue but the other problems you cite don’t make sense to me
tumurnin,
Have you read this thread carefully ? Apparently not. Also it doesnt seem you own Sonos Amp, which this thread is all about.

First of all, we're not talking about the previous gen Sonos Connect , but current generation Sonos Amp.
Sonos connects dont even have Sub-woofer out, so am sure it doesnt make sense to you. I owned multiple Sonos Connects( with 12 Channel Multi-zone Amplifier)..and now replaced with Sonos Amps which do have sub-woofer output..,which is where the issue is ( which multiple Sonos owners, with third-party subwoofer , have reported on Sonos forums, quoted in this very thread).

Secondly, Sonos stopped supporting streaming local files from iphone to Sonos devices , in Sonos Connects. This again is well known issue , reported in multiple forums and infuriated the Sonos community. You can read all about it here No more "On this iphone" support on Sonos , Sonos announcement , Sonos forum post , yet another forum post , Reddit post on Sonos desupport of local files on iphone etc

Sonos's answer/recommendation was to stream from online Streaming service or Airplay2 or streaming from PC/MAC/NAS . Airplay2 is not even supported on the previous gen Sonos devices like Sonos Connect.

This was one of the very reasons why I ditched my set of Sonos connects , as I'm not a big fan of online music subscriptions. The current generation Sonos Amp (which replaced Connect Amp) & Sonos Port (which replaced Sonos Connect) do support Airplay 2, which is what I use for local streaming.

Thirdly, I was referring to the 24 bit hi-res music files, that Sonos doesnt support yet , not the HD online sources you are quoting. You can read about it here Sonos support for 24bit music files , hi-res 24bit support etc . Its not that they're going to make a night & day difference between 16bit & 24bit, but as I said in my first post, its not a deal breaker. Sonos Amp doesnt even support Bluetooth, not that I'm complaining..,but they do have some limitations.

I did buy and like Sonos amp for multiple reasons, outlined in my first post..,but am revisiting that decision and exploring alternatives. Dont think I found an alternative with huge power o/p, in this price range..,but thats what the fine gentlemen who responded earlier are trying to help, before getting distracted!
 
AVUser001

AVUser001

Audioholic
Perhaps this or one of the Peachtree Nova's? The NAD has a small footprint, sub out, and 60wpc in to 4 or 8 ohms- plenty of power for your efficient Martins... seems to have the connectivity you seek as well.
Thanks..but they dont seem to support Apple Airplay 2 ?
The peachtree Nova is really powerful..,but its priced $1500 and lacks airplay2, from what I saw.
 
AVUser001

AVUser001

Audioholic
Using the Sonos Port would have been a good idea, if they had bothered to include a Subwoofer Output jack but that would have made too much sense, in light of the fact that their two main competitors (Yamaha MusicCast and Denon HEOS) have that, as well as several other inputs and outputs. Personally, I think the features offered by Sonos are incredibly short-sighted but since you already have other Sonos items, you're not going to mix and match. It's also a good idea to remember that Sonos is a networking company that got into audio, rather than an audio company that got into networking.

You might want to look into the "What I'm also not sure is the low power o/p from the 2 channel amps from other vendors in this price range" comment- where does Sonos show full output specs WRT frequency response, distortion and power into loads other than 8 Ohms?

Yamaha MusicCast WXA-50 specs-

HEOS Amp specs (scroll down to see them)-

The MusicCast and HEOS will drive a power amp easily and they both have a 12V trigger to make an amplifier turn on- I'm using a MusicCast WXC-50 as my preamp and it works great, although I'm not using a sub since I'm happy with the bass from my speakers.
Thanks, I agree I'd have gone the Sonos port route ( afterall I had the Sonos Connects the previous generation of Port), but lacks the Sub o/p ..and also introduces a 2nd unit (PowerAmp) , that I'm hesitating to place it in the office room...,preferring a single device if possible. Since I'm more reliant on Apple Airplay2 for streaming & multi-room audio, I'm not strongly tied to Sonos..I just happened to use Sonos Amps in other rooms to power non-Sonos ceiling speakers , in addition to my Denon & Marantz AVRs with Airplay2 support which then allows me to stream from any iphone into any speaker using Airplay ..,Sonos or not.

Right, Sonos doesnt publish detailed benchmarks on their devices. Just this Power o/p , impedence table at
https://support.sonos.com/s/article/4717?language=en_US. , without the THD+N.

This Audioscience review of Sonos Amp is the only one I found talking to the power at 4 ohms & THD ..seem the issues he reported are with line-in, which I dont use..,just digital inputs via streaming.
 
AVUser001

AVUser001

Audioholic
You have some nice speakers there. I would invest in a nice tube (or tube + SS hybrid) integrated amp. The peachtree Nova mentioned is a good place to start. Also consider Audiogon if you’re open to buying used.

This allows you to change/upgrade the streamer as your needs change

I wouldn’t worry too much about the specs or watts of the amp, most usage rarely tends to goes beyond 10 watts. Especially if it’s a small room. Better amps (not more watts) will give you better dynamics which is important for they type of music you like.
Thanks, looking into Audiogon as well. Agree with "better amp" , trying to see something decent in the $1K price range which has sufficient o/p & headroom at 4 Ohms.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Warlord
Thanks, looking into Audiogon as well. Agree with "better amp" , trying to see something decent in the $1K price range which has sufficient o/p & headroom at 4 Ohms.
I wouldn't necessarily go with a tube amp tho, unless that sort of coloration (pleasant sounding distortion) to your music is something you prefer. A lot of folks do prefer the sound of tube amps, but I recommend listening to a few before buying one. Solid state amps generally offer the most accurate reproduction of the source material with little or no coloration to the original signal.
 
AVUser001

AVUser001

Audioholic
Ooh - this is fun! Sorry, just living vicariously through you and shopping for new stuff is a pleasure.

I do not have too much exposure to the Sonos-verse, so I am not much help there. I can tell you that when I was demoing my last pair of speakers (KEF R500) the dealer had a pair hooked up to a Sonos Amp in what I referred to the "kids table" (i.e., not the "big" room) and I was not impressed. At the time, I blamed the Sonos, but I could be wrong. They moved the R500s into another room, hooked them up to a Hegel integrated and BOOM went the dynamite. The measurements on the Amp from ASR, though, are a pleasant surprise.

I like the Marantz and Denon integrateds you highlighted. Of course, neither has Sonos support (HEOS is their system of choice) but the Marantz does have a variable crossover for the sub, which is nice. Both would look good in an office. Another option with more control over subwoofer integration may be the Pioneer Elite SX-S30 ( https://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Home/2-Channel+Components/SX-S30 ) which uses their own MCACC room correction. Also, Yamaha's R-N803 uses YPAO ( https://usa.yamaha.com/products/audio_visual/hifi_components/r-n803/index.html ). Of course, all the products mentioned can probably be found at a discount... You mentioned you did not want a big AV receiver in your office and I can understand why. With that in mind and going completely against your wishes, the Pioneer Elite VSX-LX503 ( https://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/Home/AV-Receivers/Elite+Receivers/VSX-LX503 ) has everything you mentioned - Airplay, Sonos, MCACC, decent power and can be found a severe discounts ($549 most places). Food for thought...

Let us know what you decide to do!
Lot to think about :) , Thanks for sharing your experience.
If I dont find a suitable integrated amp in the price range w/Airplay2, looks like I might have to end up with an AVR, although I will try very hard not to..place an AVR in every room!
 

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