I have a Sonos Speaker System: What Music Service Will Serve Me Best?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Ronald Epstein, Oct 6, 2017.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Just purchased 4 Sonos Play 5 Speakers.

    Using them paired (for left/right stereo) in two large rooms.

    These Sonos speakers are supposed to be one of the very best wireless speakers available.

    I want to stream music through them that will take full advantage of their powerful capabilities.

    I currently am a subscriber to Amazon Music Unlimited at $8 per month. The bitrate of their music is 256 kbps.

    I am eyeing Spotify at $10 per month with a bitrate of 360 kbps.

    However, then there is Tidal, which offers FLAC streamed music which sounds as good or better than CDs for $20 per month.

    This begs the question....

    On a truly sonic-revealing system like Sonos, will I be able to hear and appreciate the difference between 256, 350 or FLAC streamed music?

    Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.
     
  2. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    That's some awesome kit. Enjoy them! I don't have a Sonos setup but I do have a whole home stereo setup, it is so cool to be able to walk through multiple rooms hearing your stuff uninterrupted.

    I think it's going to be a very personal decision whether any streaming service is better than the others. For me personally the answer has been a resounding NO. Those of you who wanted uncompressed or nothing may have higher standards. I don't get it, but maybe you do!

    The good news is each of these has a free or low cost trial period. Wait till your speakers are up and running and see for yourself. =)

    Also, one candidate you aren't yet considering: Apple Music is only $100 a year if you buy a year at a time.
     
  3. Joe Wong

    Joe Wong Second Unit

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    Nice, Ron!

    A question for you: How much do you value the sound quality of your music?
     
  4. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Heya Joe! Good to hear from you.

    I really value the sound quality of my music -- especially when I am spending so much money on high-end wireless speakers. The Sonos speakers are among the best in the wireless field and the fact that I am pumping streamed music at lower bitrates through them is somewhat concerning.

    I have had people tell me that I'm crazy for saying this, but I'll repeat it again....

    I can hear the difference between a low and high bitrate song. Up till now, I listen to all my music in my car. Makes sense as I spend a good amount of time in the vehicle. I have always had high-end music systems installed. I can immediately tell (as most people can) how bad Sirius Radio sounds. I can usually distinguish a 256/360kbps MP3 from a CD due to the fact that the lower bitrate recordings tend to fall apart in the highs. When in a closed environment like a vehicle, you can really hear these things.

    While I am here, just wanted to say that you have a great family. I follow them on Facebook. I admire your son's love for pugs. He's a cool kid.
     
  5. ChristopherG

    ChristopherG Screenwriter

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    Totally agree - I have fairly significant high frequency hearing loss (have hearing aids) and even I can tell the difference between low and high bit rate songs. That said, it has made it very easy for me to get happy with 320 kbps mp3s. Between the services you are looking at is there a discriminator besides bit rate, such as content available?
     
  6. Joe Wong

    Joe Wong Second Unit

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    Thanks Ron! Sarah keeps me posted on the pug stuff! Hilarious. You have an open invite if you're in town.

    I can hear the difference, too, even if subtle - lossless is better than lossy (theoretically, it should!) so I will always go for lossless if available. Lossless sounds fuller, lossy often sounds thin. High bit rate mp3 can be quite good, but knowing the lossless is available means I don't have to compromise.

    That said, I have never subscribed to Tidal. Depends on whether you like streaming, etc.
     
  7. Joe Wong

    Joe Wong Second Unit

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    And Ron...one more thing...have you tried DSD or 96/24 or 192/24 music?
     
  8. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Joe,

    Thanks for the open invite. Please allow me to say here that I have so much fun interacting with Sarah and the photos she posts. I am a big fan of Brendan. He's a funny kid. I always love kids with a sense of humor. They grow up to be fun adults.

    I know no-one here understands what I am saying to you, but I don't get to converse with you often and just wanted to say that.

    Moving on....

    Have not tried those codecs.

    However, spending a few days with my Sonos system in multiple rooms I am very impressed with how good 256kbps streamed music sounds on the system. It's very clean. I haven't really played it at screamingly high levels. For that reason I don't know yet if the highs get muffled. I am simply playing Apple Music radio stations and I am very satisfied with the audio I am hearing.

    Take care of yourself, Joe!
     
  9. Joe Wong

    Joe Wong Second Unit

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    Thanks Ron!

    I have a FB account but rarely use it since Sarah's provides all the info and that's where we post photos and such.

    Maybe at the next HTF meet Brendan should come along...;)

    Getting back on topic...Yeah, for casual listening (headphones, at work, traveling, etc...) I just use Amazon Prime streaming. Lossy, but I'm focused on something else so the quality is less of an issue.

    If you have a chance to listen to some DSD...to me it sounds "effortless." Roy Orbison's Black & White Nights in DTS was amazing back in the day, but the DSD kicks it up a notch....

    Joe

     
  10. Adam Gregorich

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    I can tell the difference between XM, FM and HD radio. I haven't done much streaming with Sonos, but mostly play purchased music (from Amazon) that was imported into iTunes and is on my phone. I think its 256k and it sounds great. I am using single Play 5s in some rooms and the soundbar with sub in other rooms. The new Alexa integration is pretty cool.
     
  11. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder
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    Didn't know you had Sonos, Adam.

    Really, I had no intentions of getting a Sonos system.

    However, a few weeks ago they announced the small Play One with Alexa integration. I wanted such a speaker that was compatible with Amazon Unlimited music. I knew the Apple HomePod wasn't.

    Then I put some thought into the decision. I decided to put wireless music throughout my house. So, I bought a total of four Play:5 speakers (playing them in pairs) and my two Sonos One speakers are on the way.

    Next up are subwoofers that I plan to purchase shortly.

    Without a doubt, the radio stations don't sound very good. That's by nature. Sirius/XM? Forget about it. They stream at a very low bit rate.
     
  12. Adam Gregorich

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    We moved about a year ago. Our old house had build in speakers in just about every room, but we built it from the ground up with that in mind. Our "new" home was built in the late 70s and there was no easy way to retrofit a similar audio system, so after looking at both Heos (Denon) and Sonos, we decided to go with Sonos. For the first round we have a Play:1 in each of the kids rooms (and they use them A LOT), a Play:5 in the office and Kitchen, a playbar in the guest and playbase with sub in the family room. For the next round we will be adding 3 Connect:AMPs - one for a ceiling speaker installed in the master bath, and two for outdoor speakers. I may further at a Play:5 in the master bedroom and a connect in the theater to be able to play music there. I have been very happy so far.
     

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