Appletv vs sonos system

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by cuciu76, Apr 16, 2008.

  1. cuciu76 macrumors newbie

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    Apr 16, 2008
    #1
    In audio quality term, is it better Apple TV or Sonos System?
    I'd like to convert my cd's collection in flac/apple lossless and i have to decide what buy. Audio quality of the product is my target, so what do you suggest?
     
  2. MikieMikie macrumors 6502a

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  3. uva25 macrumors regular

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    #3
  4. Chocomonsters macrumors member

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    #4
    HTPC or Music server?

    If you goal is to use it as music server, go with Sonos. FLAC is much better format to store all your music collections. Many audio equipements support FLAC but not Apple lossless. FLAC format is also more versatile without DRM. With Sonos, you can get digital out to your audio system. It has better ADC than Apple TV also.

    If you are going to use it for video or HTPC, Apple TV is only way.
     
  5. cuciu76 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #5
    are there other better alternatives to sonos system as audio quality.....for example i saw the new squeezbox duet of logitech, it seems to have a better dac convertion...
    what do we think about?
     
  6. Avatar74 macrumors 65816

    Avatar74

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    Feb 5, 2007
    #6
    Here's the exec summary:

    FLAC/lossless is a waste of your time. Encode at 128 Kbps AAC.

    You won't be able to tell the difference, and you'll get far more bang for your buck by having all that extra space for 3-5 times as many songs.

    AppleTV will suit your needs just fine unless your entire library is comprised of 24-bit master recordings in which case, both FLAC and AAC would be worthless.

    Those who claim to be all about fidelity and yet consider uncompressed 16-bit CD Audio to be suitable fidelity are kidding themselves horribly.

    Also, squeezebox... stay away from Logitech, if you are at all serious or trying to be serious about audio. I found several things on their marketing page that reeked of pseudoscientific snake oil mumbo jumbo.
     
  7. oli2140 macrumors 6502

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    #7
    I disagree about encoding your songs into 128kbs, this is fine on an iPod but I think that the sound quality loss is clear when listening to music through reasonable speakers. I would also recommend Sonos as when coupled with a NAS it is a superb system.
     
  8. Monetthecat macrumors newbie

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    Mar 14, 2008
    #8
    Sonos and Itunes

    For me I have both Sonos and AppleTV. If you want multi-room and handheld controller its hard to beat the Sonos system. Set up was 15 minutes and has worked perfectly ever since. I rip everything in Apple Lossless and then create another copy in ACC 128K. The Lossless is for Sonos and the 3 rooms it supplies music for. Its stored on a NAS connected to my router.

    The ACC is for AppleTV and my iPod Touch. Its stored on my Time Capsule.

    If your doing music only for a single room the AppleTV is great not to mention the interface as a bit of a wow factor with album art, etc..

    If you doing multi-room, want the ability to stream Sirius, Rhapsody, Pandora, etc.. along with a mindless setup and the handheld controller the Sonos is hard to beat. Sonos WILL NOT play DRM protected music purchased from Itunes.

    Sonos offers a "test drive" for a month (I think). You can try it and if you don't like it return it.
     
  9. Avatar74 macrumors 65816

    Avatar74

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    #9
    This is not the case. There are many self-professed audiophiles who claim this but there is not a single scientific, double-blinded study that substantiates this oft-repeated claim.

    The problem lies in the fact that CD audio isn't much fidelity to begin with, and it isn't difficult to produce acoustic transparency with a codec that not only utilizes linear prediction compression methodologies but also uses perceptual encoding descended from techniques utilized in Dolby SR-D/AC-3 perceptual encoding schema.

    There isn't a tremendous data requirement to produce the same kind of fidelity that is achieved by the severely limited 16-bit Linear PCM format of CD audio. By contrast, 24-bit Linear PCM has an ungodly degree of fidelity that is very difficult if not impossible to reproduce with AAC at various bitrates. Even FLAC doesn't hold its weight if the source material is 24-bit Linear PCM.

    The difference? 16-bit Linear PCM has a paltry 65,536 possible amplitude values per sample whereas 24-bit LPCM has 16.7 MILLION possible amplitude values per sample. Even SACD is far behind 24-bit LPCM in terms of dynamic range, noise floor, and frequency response. SACD boasts superior fidelity but has not only an elevated noise floor which negatively impacts dynamic range, but also allows roughly 2.7 million possible amplitude values per quantization interval. 24-bit LPCM is roughly eight times the resolution of SACD... THERE you can argue a very perceptible difference. But between 128 Kbps AAC, using dramatic data reduction through perceptual encoding, and 16-bit (1411 Kbps, recording every bit of junk including the junk you can't perceive) Linear PCM? Forget it. AES can't tell the difference and their ears and equipment are better than yours and mine.

    Trust me, CD audio is absolutely nothing fantastic... and 128 Kbps AAC, as stated by the Audio Engineering Society, is acoustically transparent relative to this format... that is, no study has been able to show that any statistically relevant number of individuals can discern the difference.

    Audiophiles also claim that vinyl possesses a better response than digital formats, but they seem to ignore factors such as groove width, the limit of which severely hinders dynamic range, and groove degradation upon repeated playback, which kills waveform resolution and thus frequency response and amplitude dynamics. But few people on message boards seem to possess the courage to challenge their unsubstantiated dogma as if this is somehow an off-limits topic akin to personal religious beliefs. Sound reproduction is a science, not a religion, and has measurable factors. It is not a matter of opinion.

    I will say it unequivocally and repeatedly... If you think you can tell the difference, you're imagining it... because a perceptible difference does not exist. There is a difference between data and information, and as formats such as ADPCM, home theater DTS (ATX-100) and Dolby Digital AC-3 clearly demonstrate, there are many ways to reduce the amount of data required in order to reconstruct the same analog information to a degree of accuracy indistinguishable from the original by human ears.

    If you want to claim otherwise, the only thing that will prove it is a double-blinded study up to par with scientific standards... and not online ABX testing which, I might point out, surveys which format people think "sounds better" which is itself a fuzzy and meaningless metric when we are trying to evaluate actual acoustic transparency of one format vs. another... None of these ABX tests aim to verify how consistently people can distinguish PCM from AAC, nor do they do it according to scientific standards (true random sample, double-blinded, etc.). It requires demonstrating degree of accuracy greater than by chance alone (the placebo effect) in correctly identifying not which format sounds better, but which format is which... and under controlled, double-blind conditions with identical equipment in each trial.

    There's no debate here unless the evidence to the contrary is on the table. Personal anecdotal claims do not qualify as scientific evidence... for indeed if they did, astrology would be published in science textbooks right next to pastafarianism.
     
  10. cuciu76 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Apr 16, 2008
    #10
    Hi monetthecat,
    thank you for your answer. U can really help me because u have appletv and sonos.
    I have to use it only in one room, i'm not interested in multi room...
    I'm looking for the best audio quality possible.....
    I'd like to listent to internet radio and appletv can't do it....but it's not so important.
    As you have both, can u tell me something about audio quality....did u try some file on appletv and sonos? which is the difference?

    Another question: how do u convert in apple lossless?
    I have some files in flac format and i should convert on applelossless.....how can i do it?

    And....what do u think about logitech sqeezbox duet?.....I read in some forum it's the best for sound quality

    tks very much
     
  11. Monetthecat macrumors newbie

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    Mar 14, 2008
    #11
    Sonos and Itunes

    Here are my thoughts... If you just want single room go with AppleTV, rip everything in Apple Lossless and use the digital output from the ATV into your receiver. That way you dont have to worry about the D/A conversion quality in the ATV and you let your receiver do it.

    However, few additional comments....

    1) Regarding the debate above about Lossless vs. ACC... I personally think you can hear a difference. However, that's just me and by no means right or wrong. Additionally I think the quality of the stereo system you are running this through plays into it as well. I have Meridian equipment which will use the full resolution of lossless. The other reason for Lossless rip is to future proof your collection. Ripping everything in 128K ACC means you can never go back to the original music resolution if you wanted to because a new format arrives on the scene. Lossless allows you to always be able to start with the quality as close to the original as possible. Ripping in Lossless is easy... Just tell iTunes in the Preferences/Advanced/Ripping (doing this from memory) to do "Lossless"

    2) The AppleTV only has max 160G of storage and if you collection will be larger than this you will need to have the music either stored on your PC or an external HD/NAS. You have to figure about 350meg per CD in Lossless rip. Once you dont have the music stored on the ATV HD you will need iTunes running on your PC to allow the ATV to stream the music from iTunes in order to play. Thus you cannot come home, hit the power on the ATV and rock out if the music is stored elsewhere. Might be some workarounds for this, but be careful. Sonos can run the music from a NAS (Network Attached Storage - Basically a externally HD with a network controller card in it attached to your router) without any PC being turned on. It will suck the music right off the NAS without any problems.

    3) Sonos is music only... ATV has all the other options of uTube, Movies, itunes rentals, etc... Lot more powerful if you want it.

    4) ATV needs to have the TV on to select songs or doing it through iTunes on your PC. With Sonos you just need the handheld controller to run it.

    5) Not sure about FLAC to Apple Lossless. I think both are good and I just selected Applelossless due to my use of iTunes and iPod. In terms of quality I think both are equal and Sonos (FLAC/AppleLossless) and ATV (AppleLossLess only) will be the same in quality output if you are using the digital output into your receiver. The quality you want is more a function of your receiver and speakers than Sonos vs. ATV.

    Good luck!
     
  12. oli2140 macrumors 6502

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    Jan 13, 2008
    #12
    I cannot argue with your 'facts' but even so, even if I think the quality is better (when it may not actually be) then I enjoy listening more and will continue to rip my music at a higher quality.
     
  13. trichardlin macrumors newbie

    trichardlin

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    Location:
    California
    #13
    AppleTV sound quality

    I see a lot of discussion about the merits of encoding schemes, what people "think" which 'should' sound better, but does anyone have anything to say about what they actually heard from their AppleTV? I thank Avatar for injecting scientific sanity into this discussion. I thought maybe I can share my experience on AppleTV after living with one for a couple of months.

    Always, background information first. I'm one of those cheap audiophiles who actually have to watch their budget when shopping. Here's the context of my experience:

    Amp: NAD M3 integrated amp: a wonderful piece of equipment, built like a tank with enough, but not too many, features to be flexible. The NAD replaced my Cary SLI-80 Signature a few months ago. Before the Cary, I had the Plinius 8200.

    Speakers: Diapason Adamantes III (nice mini monitors from Italy). Speaker cables are 10 gauge no name cables, no multi-thousand dollar pythons here.

    Sub: Von Schweiker VR-S1 powered sub.

    My other digital source: Denon DVD-3910, analog section upgraded by Roger Sheker. Interconnects are Signal Cable Silver Resolution.

    The AppleTV audio output is fed into the amp via AppleTV's analog output. I use regular interconnects I dug out from my garage.

    So how does the AppleTV sound compared to my Denon? The Denon might be a bit warmer sounding than the AppleTV, but the AppleTV sounded very detailed and lively. I can live very happily without touching the Denon much these days. The only time I needed the Denon was when I needed to play SACD or DVD-Audio discs. Oh yeah, also when I watched DVD movies.

    Personally, I wouldn't worry about AppleTV's sound quality in a sub-$5000 audio system.

    Lastly, the new iPhone 3G eliminated my need to turn on my TV to play music through my AppleTV. Very neat.

    Richard
     
  14. tronic72 macrumors regular

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    Feb 10, 2007
    #14
    I totally agree. I recently listened to a Classical CD instead of it through the Apple TV or iPod. The difference what quite noticeable. It actually made me think "Hey, I've been missing out". I think certain music lends it's self to less loss of fidelity while other stuff tends to get more severely butchered when encoded.

    The same goes for Movies. Although I looooove me Apple TV for 95% of my media. There are certain movies, such as the LOTR series which are so beautifully shot that ANY loss of resolution is a crime. I watches a Blue-Ray movie on friends new Sony LCD recently and the resolution and details is breath taking.

    This is something I'm thinking of doing. I love my Apple TV but where are some CDs I own where loss of fidelity really detracts from the enjoyment of the music. Sound-Tracks & Classical Music spring to mind, but I think anything you really "listen" rather than "sing along too" is suitable for loss-less achieving.

    My 2c
     
  15. trichardlin macrumors newbie

    trichardlin

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    California
    #15
    Tronic, what was the equipment you used to do the comparison?

    I did a quick comparison tonight, using a couple of tracks of a live recording of Beethoven's symphony #6 and #5. Ripped in both 128K and Apple Lossless formats, sync'ed to AppleTV, then played back and compared to the same CD played through my Denon player. Yes, there were some differences, but I wouldn't say I can pick out the source if I just walked into the music. And I would venture to say that I have a pretty good music system with reasonable dynamics and good resolution.

    Granted, this was a very short session and I did not crank up the volume as it was late at night. But I still think AppleTV is adequate for music playback for a lot of people.

    Richard
     
  16. bacaramac macrumors 65816

    bacaramac

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    #16
    So this thread was dead and revived so I might as well jump in. Now that Apple has released their remote app for iPhone/Touch, I think Apple is by far the best approach to multi room audio (not to mention server based video files). My final setup will look like this:

    - 5 Apple TV's (Family, Media, Kid 1, Kid 2, Master Bedroom)
    - 2 Airports Express' (Pool/Patio and Garage)
    - Amps/Speakers TBD at the moment, but not to expensive.

    I think the fact that you can control all speakers via remote app makes it worth the buck for me. It may take a while before I buy all this, but I will build slowly. I just hope Logitech roles out an iPhone app with a Wi-Fi/IR/RF repeater. This would allow me to loose the Harmony remotes and use an iPod Touch as remote.
     
  17. trichardlin macrumors newbie

    trichardlin

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    #17
    I would be more than interested in knowing how your setup turns out. Please keep us posted. Now if someone can write an app to turn on the TV... oh, wait, something like this will be cool for your whole house lighting control: http://www.synthe-fx.com/products/luminair.

    Richard
     
  18. uva25 macrumors regular

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    Feb 2, 2008
    #18
    Not sure why you think this set up is better than Sonos for music. Sonos lets you controll all zones (track, volume, etc) with one remote as well. Sonon also lets you link all or some of the zones to play tracks at the same time. I'm not sure if Apple TV allows this which is necessary for a party. Putting a receiver or powered speakers in each room is not something I would want to do so that's still another drawback. Sonos allows Napster and Rhapsody as well which I don't think is possible on ATV. I have both so I am by no means a Sonos follower but for music, I don't think the Apple TV is still quite there.
     
  19. bacaramac macrumors 65816

    bacaramac

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    #19
    Okay, let be back-up. I prefer Apple products as they all work together and since the majority of the extenders are ATV's, I will stick with this approach. Also, having the remote app on my phone that I always have with me is nice to. I guess from an integration stand point I prefer Apple. And yes I am being biased as I have Apple now and love the setup so far.

    The way Apple works for audio is, what ever is playing on iTunes you can select what speakers they play on (Airport Express' or ATV's). You don't have to play it via the computer speakers, Example: I can play music in Family and Patio by itself linked together). Drawback is you can not get multiple tracks to different speakers unless you have multiple iTunes libraries on separate computers. Also, iTunes cannot be used to play anything else i.e. watch a movie or different song then what is playing on the speakers.
     
  20. trichardlin macrumors newbie

    trichardlin

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    #20
    Sound quality

    Who else has hooked up your AppleTV or Sonos to your high-end system? What do you think? Did you use the analog or digital output? How does it compare to your $3000 transport + $5000 DAC combo? ;)

    -R
     
  21. cubbie5150 macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    Eh, I don't think I'm "hi-end" by any means, but I have my ATV connected via optical (since Apple decided to not offer us digital coax, which I would highly prefer) to a modified PS Audio Digital Link III DAC, which feeds a soon-to-be replaced solid state preamp > solid state amp > Monitor Audio GS60 speakers. I know this will get me flamed by the objectivists here, but yes, I prefer the sound quality using the DAC's output vs. the ATV's analog out. I'll leave it at that.
     
  22. trichardlin macrumors newbie

    trichardlin

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    #22
    Interesting. That's what I suspected. My guess is that the D/A conversion is the weak spot in ATV, and that can easily be solved with a good DAC or processor. Now, if there's a way to rip higher resolution digital contents (blu-ray level video and sound) and get ATV to handle them, we'll have a powerful media server. I can't even rip my SACDs into iTunes.

    Richard
     
  23. brankow macrumors newbie

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    Apr 16, 2009
    #23
    Do you know if the AppleTV can act as a server to the Sonos ?

    I have a Sonos now and an AppleTV could be an interesting option instead of a NAS...

    With or without hacking it ?

    Thanks a lot
     
  24. bacaramac macrumors 65816

    bacaramac

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    Dec 29, 2007
    #24
    Interesting Enough!!

    Talk about bringing a thread back to life. Well, now that I have been in the new house for awhile, I have changed my approach to whole house audio. I am moving to the Sonos system since having different music playing in different parts of the house is critical. Also, having the independent volume controls is another plus.

    The biggest reason I am dropping the AirTunes route is twofold. 1. I want in ceiling speakers now and need an amp to run them. 2. The Sonos ZP120 has amp and multi room capability.

    I plan to hard wire all speakers to the the audio closet and have a Sonos Zone Player for each zone.

    I will still keep the ATV's, but only for video. I don't see apple following the Sonos model, but who knows. The only thing that sucks is my Home Theater system speakers cannot be used unless I buy the non-amplified Sonos box (ZP90) which means ATV and Sonos together side x side.

    This setup is obviously more expensive, but it is simple (no separate components, just a box and speakers) and offers complete control of everything from my iPhone.
     
  25. Diatribe macrumors 601

    Diatribe

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    #25
    How do you like the Sonos system? I am seriously considering it. I am just not too sure on how to set it up as I only have a laptop which has all my music on it and I would rather not leave it on 24/7.
     

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