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Old Dec 18th, 2009, 05:35 AM
Bialykot Bialykot is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 11
Default New to all of this - Sonos sound quality?

Hi - I'm one of these old 'audiophiles' that over the years has built up a reasonable hi fi system that still comprises vinyl and many CDs. The CD spinner is an older Meridian 588 red book player - top of the range in its day - feeding Meridian pre and power amps. Sound qulaity very good and no qualms there. I'm playing LPs less and less and finding that it's a pain maintaining CDs, cracked covers, kids borrowing and not returning CDs and in general a busy lifestyle. Thinking that time may be right to explore the wireless route and ergonomically the Sonos system seems to tiock the boxes in many areas. So some questions (assuming I always will deal with uncompressed sound for maximum quality):
1) If I purchased the Sonos system with an external DAC (eg Cambidge DacMagic) - can I bypass my pre-amp and feed the power amp directly, controlling volume from the Sonos handheld remote? If not, what reasonable DAC would anyone recommend that has a volume control?
2) Sound quality - this is important for me. Will uncompressed files going through a Sonos into a DAC with reclocking and into good quality external amps and speakers be reasonable comparable to the old Meridian CD player? I don't mind a slight reduction given the beauty of the ease of use of the Sonos - but I still would like great sound.
3) Will Sonos scale up in future to pass through Hi-Res sound formats into appropriate external DAC (eg 24/96)?
Apologies if this stuff has been covered elsewhere - I'm really new to this and would be great to get some general advice from you.
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Old Dec 18th, 2009, 06:04 AM
jgatie jgatie is offline
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 5,887

1) Yes, you can. But because the output to the DAC is digital, Sonos will be manipulating the data stream, specifically the gain level, in order to control the volume. This means you will not have a bit-for-bit copy of the original going to the DAC. Whether this matters to you is up to you.

2) At full volume level or fixed output, the digital stream from a ZP90's coax or optical output, playing a properly ripped WAV or lossless codec file, will be identical to the original CD. If you let Sonos control the volume, the stream will be attenuated as above, but the rest of the stream should be untouched

3) Nobody knows, but there is a call for it. Sonos does not publish a roadmap for future development, but they do listen to their customers. Practically every refinement and/or new functionality released by Sonos started as an idea submitted by customers, often right here in the 'Sound Ideas' forum.
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Old Dec 18th, 2009, 06:38 AM
ratty ratty is offline
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Scotland
Posts: 16,117

Just to add to that, if you go the route of allowing Sonos to manipulate the volume in theory there should be no loss of resolution at the digital output (until the attenuation reaches -48dB), as the lowest byte of the 24-bit S/PDIF comes into play.

Relevant links:

IIRC there was still an unresolved question over whether dither was being applied to the 24th bit during the volume adjustment stage.


Last edited by ratty; Dec 18th, 2009 at 06:41 AM.
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dac, quality, volume

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