Author Topic: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?  (Read 39760 times)

onemorebike

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 319
Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« on: January 15, 2015, 04:45:41 PM »
We've had a recent windfall and as part of a move I'm considering splurging a bit to outfit our new house with integrated music with a couple of Sonos units. At 199 a piece for the small ones, and 399 a piece for the larger ones, this is no small decision.

I'm wondering if anyone has had success rigging up a similar system that can be operated wirelessly and networked throughout the house with decent sound and for less money. I bought a much smaller house, so smaller, less obtrusive units are a big bonus.

Thanks in advance,

onemorebike

Mini-Mer

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 49
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2015, 08:33:36 AM »
This is on my wishlist too!  There are a few different instructions on using a Raspberry Pi as a music server, using wifi to send the audio around the house.  Work blew up so I haven't been able to start tinkering, but the initial hardware cost was under $100 (Pi, card, case, wifi, and improved audio output).  I priced Sonos for my (very small) house at $450 minimum, and decided it was worth trying the Pi. 

The sites I have bookmarked are:
http://allthingspi.webspace.virginmedia.com/lms.php
http://www.jackenhack.com/raspberry-pi-squeezebox-logitech-server/
http://www.linuxjournal.com/content/raspberry-pi-perfect-home-server

I don't know what the sound quality will be like, but I figure it can't be worse than laptop speakers.  Some kind of computer experience would probably also be a help - I'm not a tech person, and not very experienced with Linux, but have done enough that the instructions more or less make sense to me.

Commercially, Bose also makes a similar system, but Sonos looked like the best bet to me.

RapmasterD

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 589
  • Location: SF Peninsula
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2015, 04:45:19 PM »
Go with AirPlay.

It's less expensive if you have extra HW lying around.

Here is your core tool. https://www.rogueamoeba.com/airfoil/

chesebert

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 749
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2015, 09:12:01 AM »
used squeezebox 3, radio or boom. I would get the regular squeezebox and just plug that into a regular stereo. Don't forget to check out all the options with the sox converter - you can build yourself a reconstruction minimum phase filter that befitting units costs several thousands for free.

Prepube

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 245
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2015, 01:32:30 PM »
I know they are expensive, but SONOS systems are worth every penny for the interface, the quality construction of each piece, the looks of them, and the technology.  I stream Pandora or Spotify through them constantly, have the bar for my tv, mix and match components for my home theater, and have put a couple at my workplace for the lobby and for my office.  Don't even fuck with any other product: this one will last for years and is the highest quality.  SONOS changed the way i do music and i have had their components since they first came out. 

jopiquant

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 98
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Burnaby, BC
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2015, 01:44:50 PM »
I know they are expensive, but SONOS systems are worth every penny for the interface, the quality construction of each piece, the looks of them, and the technology.  I stream Pandora or Spotify through them constantly, have the bar for my tv, mix and match components for my home theater, and have put a couple at my workplace for the lobby and for my office.  Don't even fuck with any other product: this one will last for years and is the highest quality.  SONOS changed the way i do music and i have had their components since they first came out.

I hear you (heh), but have you tried anything else?

chesebert

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 749
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2015, 06:16:12 PM »
To be honest Sonos looks nice and all, but it's not audiophile quality, whereas SB3 with external DAC is. So if all you need is consumer quality boombox with stream capabilities, then just get a used SB boom or one of the Sonos units, but if hi-fi is your goal, look elsewhere.

firewalker

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 308
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2015, 06:23:18 PM »
My two cents. Spend based on your current listening habits. If you currently have music on at home regularly, even with a simple so so system, you are more likely to get your dollars worth out of your purchase. However, don't think that a Sonos or a Bluesound will turn you into a regular listener. You might end up with an expensive dust collector.

onemorebike

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 319
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2015, 06:38:43 PM »
Interesting point. We definitely listen daily, radio on, via an old stereo that I have an equally old ipod run to via auxiliary. Lazy as it might seem, something about it being wireless and being able to turn on or adjust what we are listening to from anywhere in the house is appealing and may affect our listening (but perhaps not by the hundreds of dollars worth!)

Per some of the other posts, I may have overstated it with the "audiophile" label, we casually listen to Pandora, Youtube, and Spotify around the house and we definitely aren't ones to notice the quality of audio. Still not sure where we'll land here. It seems like getting just one of the 5 speaker sonos could be really nice, but similarly, hacking an old stereo with a chromecast or the like would cost about 10 percent of the sonos without much loss in sound quality (my guess).

I'm sure I'll ponder it longer, we have music now no problem, and are moving in a month and a half so no need to add to the list of things to pack! If I still think "SONOS!" in that time, I'm probably going to spend the extra ching and get my listen on. :)

-onemorebike

My two cents. Spend based on your current listening habits. If you currently have music on at home regularly, even with a simple so so system, you are more likely to get your dollars worth out of your purchase. However, don't think that a Sonos or a Bluesound will turn you into a regular listener. You might end up with an expensive dust collector.

aspiringnomad

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 828
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2015, 06:54:37 PM »
If you use Apple products, connect an AirPlay to your stereo(s). Cheap, effective, and very reliable. I also use a UE Boom to connect via Bluetooth quickly and take with me when I travel. Obviously, not audiophile sound, but certainly good enough for what you're looking for. I love music, gadgets, and high-quality stuff, but cannot justify the price of Sonos, especially with the ease of use and quality of the cheaper alternatives.

sol

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8493
  • Age: 42
  • Location: Pacific Northwest
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2015, 09:20:08 PM »
I haven't actually tried it yet, but I understand that the Roku players will all allow you to stream content from your computer using the Plex Media Server. 

They cost $50 per location where you already have speakers, and you would need to have a computer or phone/tablet from which to control the streams, and a wifi network over which they can all communicate.  Assuming you already have those things, I don't think it makes sense to reproduce them by buying a Sonos.

Spondulix

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 644
  • Age: 39
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2015, 01:02:54 AM »
I work in pro audio (regularly working on speakers 5-$10k+ a pair)... The majority of the popular consumer/prosumer market brands are overhyped and overpriced (Beats, Bose, etc). I haven't tried Sonos, but my guess is it's more of the same.

For consumer level products, it's better to pay what you're comfortable spending, get what sounds good to you, and whatever technology you like. Even on a pro level, people have different preferences, and expensive doesn't mean better (room sound is a big factor, actually). I'd never pay extra for "better sound" that I couldn't perceive myself.

At home, I've got cheap consumer speakers in the living room (aux cable all the way, baby!) and a Jambox for portable use.

Geldsnor

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 32
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2015, 03:49:19 AM »
If you have an iPhone or iPad, I would recommend buying a 100$ Appletv and see if you like the streaming experience. You can stream music and video (Netflix & your pictures and such) to it, but keep your current audio system.

When you really do like and use it and need less bulk, you can always upgrade to a Sonos system and solely use the Appletv for streaming video and pictures.

marathonman

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2015, 07:43:05 PM »
What about audio|acacia, from www.plethra.com? Is anybody using this? If so, what are your thoughts?

alsoknownasDean

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2022
  • Age: 35
  • Location: Melbourne, Australia
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2015, 07:59:50 PM »
Sonos involves buying new speakers. I'm using an Airport Express and Airplay, plugged into my amp. I don't have to buy new speakers then :)

Ricky

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 842
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2015, 08:27:41 PM »
To be honest Sonos looks nice and all, but it's not audiophile quality, whereas SB3 with external DAC is. So if all you need is consumer quality boombox with stream capabilities, then just get a used SB boom or one of the Sonos units, but if hi-fi is your goal, look elsewhere.

They may not serve the ultra-discerning market, but they sound pretty damn great for anyone who demands above average sound quality. I've had my Play 3 for about 4 years now. The software and convenience is what you're really buying. I don't know any other apps that house all the most common music services together.

kato

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 40
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2016, 12:35:27 PM »
I don't have speakers or receiver.. starting from scratch.  Want indoor and outdoor speakers so music plays around my house.  And selectable would be good, so if playing something on TV I want to hear loudly I can, or else pandora/spotify while cooking, relaxing, etc. 

Any other ideas for powered, wireless speakers?

thanks

Psychstache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 874
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #17 on: June 19, 2016, 01:03:18 PM »
I don't have speakers or receiver.. starting from scratch.  Want indoor and outdoor speakers so music plays around my house.  And selectable would be good, so if playing something on TV I want to hear loudly I can, or else pandora/spotify while cooking, relaxing, etc. 

Any other ideas for powered, wireless speakers?

thanks
I'm planning on waiting on the Google home. Already have chrome cast and cast audio, so it makes sense. You can use whatever speakers you want and can sync audio across rooms.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk


Turkey Leg

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 202
  • Location: US
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #18 on: June 19, 2016, 01:10:49 PM »
I have a Sonos Play 5 I received as a gift. It's kind of awesome, although I would not have bought it for myself. But now that we've experienced it, we are considering an anti-mustachian Sonos sound bar and a couple of Play 1's for the TV.

(However, we are NOT audiophiles!)

Put a price watch on each component using camelcamelcamel.com is the only suggestion I have.

gooki

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2393
  • Location: NZ
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2016, 10:01:35 PM »
Get an Amazon Echo and battery and just unplug and move it around as you see fit.

We use our squeeze box radio that way - at night it's out alarm clock, during the day it sits in the kitchen as a radio, and during the summer it comes outside with us.

Psychstache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 874
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #20 on: June 23, 2016, 09:45:19 AM »
Get an Amazon Echo and battery and just unplug and move it around as you see fit.

We use our squeeze box radio that way - at night it's out alarm clock, during the day it sits in the kitchen as a radio, and during the summer it comes outside with us.
They actually have a new portable product in the same vein as the echo: amazon tap.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk


Candace

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 584
  • Age: 53
  • Location: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #21 on: June 23, 2016, 11:31:47 AM »
Another factor in favor of Sonos: if you're an Amazon Prime member, you can now stream any Prime music through your Sonos. I added literally hundreds of albums to my Prime library for no additional charge. We constantly listen to music, and I doubt we'll ever get through all the albums. It's a fabulous benefit, although more expensive.

Peachy

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 5
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #22 on: June 23, 2016, 12:25:02 PM »
Like so many things these days-  there is such variety in new technology, you really need to do your homework to find out what is the best fit for you and what is "worth" it. 

This is my experience, YMMV. 

caveat: I had a relative who worked for Sonos for several years who turned me on to Sonos and I got all my speakers at a discount- I would have eventually put aside other things to save up for the Sonos because once I had one speaker, it wasn't enough- I wanted it in the whole house.  Everyone in the house can listen to whatever music they want in whatever room they are in (I have 2 teens). I started with one single speaker and then kept expanding with more speakers, sound bar, and finally the sub. 

We had a nice "stereo" system that was slowly falling apart - and it could only hook up 2 sets of speakers and were wired.  I was ready to go wireless- and add speakers to any room or spot in my house/yard.
I love the fact that I now have sound in virtually every room and can move any speaker(s) anywhere or outside for entertaining. 


Do you own an existsing system?  (esp a high end one with lots of speakers?)  If you have already made an investment, you might want to look into either the Sonos Connect or a different system to give you the access to streaming.

Sonos is pricey- but so isn't Bose or HEOS and a many others - what seems to differentiate Sonos is not just their hardware, but their Software.  Software interface -on the PC, any smartphone or tablet is intuitive and easy to use.   For me, this really sets them apart.  To easily create/update playlists from your phone/tablet or computer.  The first year I used Sonos- it was nice and a big step up from the Roku music player I tried and hated, but I still didn't have the desire to expand until I started noticing changes to the Software and the features that were updated and added.   This system is more than just the speakers- but that you will always get the latest updates to the software and new features.     

Are you technical or do you want something close to plug and play?  I am technical- but when it comes to music and ability to just turn it on an listen was what mattered to me.   I don't want to fiddle with it or deal with updates or technical issues.   I already spend enough time on the computer updating/fixing things, when I want to listen to music, I don't want to have to work for it.   The early years of Sonos had some glitches here and there, speakers dropping out of the network, etc. but it appears they have done a great job with their software updates and the system has worked flawlessly the last couple years. 

If you do need help-  they have pretty darn good support.   

We have a friend who works for Bose says the bose wireless speakers are good and got one cheap as an employee- but it still does not compare to the Sonos on many levels-  the abililty to connect to certain streaming sources and their software. 

If you can get to a store (Best Buy?) that might be able to demo the sonos (not just listen, but use the app - what they call the controller) - it's worth checking out -   using the app and how I can connect to various streaming sources, or play music from my PC, tablet, phone.... are a huge bonus.  (you can create playlists that mix music from your PC and google play, or amazon...etc)  You can search for a song or artist- and it will search ALL of your sources that are searchable.   You can use any smartphone-  apple or adroid... my teens have friends who come over and can download the app and play the music on their phones... 

CONS: (these don't matter to me, but I've heard these criticisms)

 -you can't stream from your "Computer" -  this is not a set of computer speakers- you import your Digital music library (itunes or other) into your Sonos library.   You don't play youtube videos, etc. 

-You need wifi.  These are not bluetooth speakers you can take out to the park.  You can use it outside your house as long as it is in range of your wifi.  We did take a pair when we rented a vacation home with wifi.  We didn't have access to our music library on our computer, but could stream online music sources and play music from our phones/tablets.   

-They are "wireless"  but they need power- so an outlet or extension cord is needed.   I find this to be a bonus-  Battery life- even high end lithium ion have a shelf life.  I have found not all the devices allow you to replace the battery easily.   


So overall, these speakers are not "audiofile" quality, but darn good sound and the ability to search new music through different sources and customize playlists,  mix and match which speakers I want to play at any given moment or adjust the volume on all or any individual speakers- all with a few taps on my phone/device -  that is something I have not had anyone tell me they can do with their system.  You have to decide which features would be worth it for you.

Also, with the Sound bar on the TV,  - that itself is another speaker that can be used just to play music, like any other speaker not just from the TV.  Or, share what soundbar is playing on the TV to any (or all) of the other speakers.   

 the individual aspects of Sonos may not be a big deal in and of themselves, but collectively, we all use all the features -there are plenty of things I'd give up before the Sonos. 

If you just want to get your feet wet- then get a Play1 - and use all the services - importing your library- etc.    The Play5 is nice, but not worth it if you really don't use the music services or the features of the app...

« Last Edit: June 23, 2016, 12:31:36 PM by Peachy »

Midwest

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1346
Re: Audiophiles: Less Expensive Alternative to Sonos?
« Reply #23 on: June 23, 2016, 12:36:06 PM »
I haven't actually tried it yet, but I understand that the Roku players will all allow you to stream content from your computer using the Plex Media Server. 

They cost $50 per location where you already have speakers, and you would need to have a computer or phone/tablet from which to control the streams, and a wifi network over which they can all communicate.  Assuming you already have those things, I don't think it makes sense to reproduce them by buying a Sonos.

We use plex to stream our entire collection through roku.  The newer receivers have streaming capability as well.