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  #1  
Old Apr 23rd, 2013, 12:59 PM
Spirit84 Spirit84 is offline
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Default Question about streaming quality

I would appreciate if one of the Sonos afficiandos could answer this question for me:
I have a library of ripped CDs on a hard drive: Some in WAV format, some in FLAC codec.
An audio retailer in my area told me that if I stream any of these files the SONOS system will downgrade the audio bitrate to MP3 quality unless I plug the SONOS into an external DAC. It is only through the DAC that I can hear my songs at true CD quality.
Is this true?
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  #2  
Old Apr 23rd, 2013, 01:23 PM
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Buegie Buegie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spirit84 View Post
I would appreciate if one of the Sonos afficiandos could answer this question for me:
I have a library of ripped CDs on a hard drive: Some in WAV format, some in FLAC codec.
An audio retailer in my area told me that if I stream any of these files the SONOS system will downgrade the audio bitrate to MP3 quality unless I plug the SONOS into an external DAC. It is only through the DAC that I can hear my songs at true CD quality.
Is this true?
That audio retailer is dead wrong. Time to ignore that one.

No external DAC needed. Sonos plays Lossless FLAC, ALAC & WAV files just fine.

See: https://sonos.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/80

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Old Apr 23rd, 2013, 02:02 PM
jgatie jgatie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spirit84 View Post
I would appreciate if one of the Sonos afficiandos could answer this question for me:
I have a library of ripped CDs on a hard drive: Some in WAV format, some in FLAC codec.
An audio retailer in my area told me that if I stream any of these files the SONOS system will downgrade the audio bitrate to MP3 quality unless I plug the SONOS into an external DAC. It is only through the DAC that I can hear my songs at true CD quality.
Is this true?
Buegie is correct. Sonos has been tested by Audiophile magazine to be bit-perfect to the source file. Now some may see a difference between external and internal DACs, but it is due to the DAC, not to the downgrading of the digital signal by Sonos.

By the way, you might want to look into converting the WAV files to FLAC. Sonos depends on tags, and since WAV predates the idea of tags, it uses non-standard tags that can sometimes cause problems. Plus, you will save space while not losing quality.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2013, 02:36 PM
buzz buzz is offline
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I'll join the chorus.

One could recover the music digital data stream from a SONOS CONNECT and use this to recreate the master CD. Unless one of the masters has a different time stamp or serial number etched on its surface, there would be no way to tell them apart.

And, the above would be true if playing a WAV, FLAC, or Apple Lossless copy of the CD.

As jgatie indicates, you may be able to perceive a difference between the analog output of the CONNECT and the analog output of an external DAC playing the digital output of the CONNECT. However, designing an experiment to prove this difference, one that could stand up against a scientific peer review, is surprisingly difficult.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2013, 03:54 PM
NoBoB NoBoB is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spirit84 View Post
An audio retailer in my area told me that if I stream any of these files the SONOS system will downgrade the audio bitrate to MP3 quality unless I plug the SONOS into an external DAC. It is only through the DAC that I can hear my songs at true CD quality.
Let me guess. This retailer just happens to have a great deal on an amazing DAC, right?

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  #6  
Old Apr 23rd, 2013, 04:00 PM
Spirit84 Spirit84 is offline
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Thank you so much for the quick answers.
I thought he was wrong!
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Old Apr 23rd, 2013, 04:02 PM
Spirit84 Spirit84 is offline
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Let me guess. This retailer just happens to have a great deal on an amazing DAC, right?

No - not at all. He really thought that music was downgraded to MP3 quality.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2013, 10:32 PM
Kumar Kumar is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buzz View Post
As jgatie indicates, you may be able to perceive a difference between the analog output of the CONNECT and the analog output of an external DAC playing the digital output of the CONNECT. However, designing an experiment to prove this difference, one that could stand up against a scientific peer review, is surprisingly difficult.
That is so true, the last part. Given that any external DAC and the analog outputs of the Connect will probably not have the same signal strength going into the amplifier, the one that results in louder music at the same setting on the amplifier volume control will always sound better.

For the OP, remember too that CD players, just like the Connect, have a DAC built into the box. The one in the Connect is very decent and quite capable of producing true CD quality. Hard to say what exactly the word "true" means though, it isn't a precise term unless expressed in measurements, which is rarely done.
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  #9  
Old Apr 24th, 2013, 12:59 AM
ratty ratty is offline
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Originally Posted by Spirit84 View Post
No - not at all. He really thought that music was downgraded to MP3 quality.
The retailer needs to pay more attention to the training he should have received. I'd suggest you take your business elsewhere. You're not likely to get well informed advice there.

If you want to tweak his tail ask him what MP3 bitrate is used, and whether it's CBR, ABR or VBR.

Last edited by ratty; Apr 24th, 2013 at 01:32 AM. Reason: typo
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Old Apr 24th, 2013, 01:08 AM
the_lhc the_lhc is offline
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That is so true, the last part. Given that any external DAC and the analog outputs of the Connect will probably not have the same signal strength going into the amplifier, the one that results in louder music at the same setting on the amplifier volume control will always sound better.

For the OP, remember too that CD players, just like the Connect, have a DAC built into the box. The one in the Connect is very decent and quite capable of producing true CD quality. Hard to say what exactly the word "true" means though, it isn't a precise term unless expressed in measurements, which is rarely done.
Over on the WHF forums this week someone got a NAIM SuperUniti on demo to compare to his ZP90. When he plugged the digital output of the ZP90 into the digital input of the SU he couldn't tell any difference at all in sound quality between files the Sonos was playing and those the SU was playing directly. This is despite people telling him that the ZP90 apparently has quite high levels of jitter which the experts say will make it sound terrible.

He DID moan about how bad the user interface on the SU is though...
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