SONOS Competitor

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by critter13, Feb 19, 2015.

  1. critter13 macrumors 6502

    Aug 23, 2010
    SONOS pretty much has a market lock on multi unit wireless speakers. iTunes on a mac supports multiple airplay speakers, hopefully iOS support is coming. With the Beats acquisition I think it is time that apple comes out with a line of products that competes with SONOS. Having to buy a 100$ airport express for each pair of speakers gets a little annoying. Plus there is excess hardware that isn't needed for purely adding wireless functionality to speakers.

    Would you guys be interested in AirPlay speakers from apple?

    and just to be clear, the main advantage would be a multi room or multi speaker setup which rules out bluetooth. also sound quality is obviously better.
  2. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    Why? I get this already and I get to bring my own speakers by using airport expresses and appletvs. What is the difference between buying an airport and $200 speakers instead of spending $300 on a Sonos speaker setup? With the airport set up I also get the ability to extend my wifi which gives me better coverage for my devices. You can already do multi room audio just not multi stream which isn't a huge loss to me...

    But if you want AirPlay speakers, there already are a ton out there. Here's my favorite...
  3. jdag macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2012
    There actually now are Sonos competitors. Polk, and Definitive Technologies both offer similar options, and I believe Bose has something to offer as well. When I say similar, they are wireless ecosystems. I am not sure how similar they are to the Sonos ecosystem.

    That being said, the main advantage of AirPlay is that other than the AirPlay device (Airport or AppleTV), all other components are standard. You use standard speakers. You can use standard stereo or home theater receivers. You can pick from literally thousands of speaker combinations at all price levels.

    With Sonos or any other closed ecosystem you are locked in to their speakers.

    For example, I have a Denon AVR receiver with AirPlay built in. I ran a pair of outdoor speakers to my patio using the receiver's Zone 2. So, no added AppleTV or Airport Express, yet I still can use AirPlay to the back yard, all while someone is watching TV in the family room using a single receiver.
  4. critter13 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 23, 2010
    maybe an airplay receiver that isn't a full blown wifi router would be ideal. It just seems like 100$ to add wireless functionality is a little steep.


    those look great! thanks for the suggestion that is exactly what I am looking for
  5. Madmic23 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 21, 2004
    That's not entirely true. Sure, buying Sonos speakers is the way most people go, but I have a Sonos Connect Amp in my basement with wire running to speakers built into the ceiling of my living room. I also have speaker wire running out to my backyard, so I will eventually buy another Sonos Amp and whatever outdoor speakers I feel like (When I built my house, I had it pre-wired for whole home audio).

    You can also use an existing Audio / Video Receiver with Sonos if you buy a Sonos Connect, as it just plugs into an input on your receiver.

    Having said all that, it's not cheap. The Sonos Connect Amp is $600 and the Connect is $400 (Canadian prices, I'm sure it's a bit cheaper in the US).

    I chose Sonos because it's compatible with both iOS and Android. I've had iPhones for years, but you never know, I might some day buy an Android phone.
  6. jdag macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2012
    Well OK, my statement was not 100% accurate. But it was on point as the OP was inquiring about wireless speakers.

    I said that that "With Sonos or any other closed ecosystem you are locked in to their speakers." I guess I chould have substituted "speakers" with "speakers or Sonos Connect amp". But that does not change the fact that it is a closed ecosystem and in order to run requires at least some/most Sonos-only components.

    AirPlay is unquestionably more open (I didn't say better, I said more open).
  7. thewordiz macrumors member

    Nov 8, 2010

    you can rule out Bluetooth, is a good time to me!
  8. waw74 macrumors 68040

    May 27, 2008
    currently the only advantage sonos has over airplay is the fact the the speakers have a player built in.

    Have you seen the internet? or maybe google?? try putting in "airplay speakers" and see all the results that come up.
    I honestly had to check the date on the original post twice to make sure it didn't say 2008
    airport express + speakers is not the only way to go.
    There are many A/V receivers with airplay builtin so you can build your own system of speakers, and also a wide range (both in price and quality) of "bookshelf" style speakers with airplay builtin.

    why should apple take the time and money to invest in a whole new product category when there are companies out there that make really nice speakers with airplay compatibility already.
    It's easier for apple to just license the tech and take the royalty payment for each device sold, instead of spending $$ on the R&D for something new.

    They tried a speaker in the past called the ipod hi-fi it didn't do well.
  9. pn247 macrumors newbie

    Apr 6, 2015
    AirPlay Speakers

    Sonos do a really nice job but I have always preferred to use a dedicated AirPlay speaker. These days so many speakers are tagged as being wifi speakers which support streaming, DLNA, Bluetooth and AirPlay so there really are a load of options out there.

    For out and out AirPlay Speakers you won't get better than the B&W A7 or Naim Muso, but these do cost a lot of money. It seems that people think that because you use premium devices (iPads / iPhones etc) that you must pay a lot for your speakers too :).

    There are a load of decent review sites out there for AirPlay speakers and the reviews on Amazon etc are pretty good too. Shop around for a bargain too. :)

    My list of favourites can be seen here so let me know what you think:

    Hopefully you will see something useful. I have to admit, the Wren didn't test too well when I looked at it though.
  10. Uofmtiger macrumors 68020


    Dec 11, 2010
    I am probably one of the biggest Airplay fans on this forum, but I agree that Apple should push Airplay into new directions. I have two apps right now that will allow me to Airplay from one iOS device to another iOS device without having a computer involved. Both have been pulled from the app store, so you can no longer get them. For me, this is one of the most typical uses for my old iPhone 4S (docked on a Pure i20 Dock).

    The second is something similar to the WHAALE app built into the iOS system. The WHAALE app allows you to send audio (from that app) to several Airplay devices without a computer. This should be built into the OS and be accessible from the Control Center.

    Third would be the ability to send audio directly from the music service to the Airplay device when the service has that feature available. Even the $35 Chromecast has this feature. The upside to Airplay is that if it wasn't available from the service, they could default back to the current Airplay features. One could be called Airplay+ (it would just have a plus symbol next to the device if it was streaming directly from the web) and the other would just be Airplay. I think they have some apps that do this with the AppleTV, but I think they have been vague about it.

    I am happy with the way Apple has made Airplay available in tons of third party devices. So, I don't really care if Apple makes its own speakers, but with the purchase of Beats, I could see it as a possibility.

    I should mention that if you involve a computer, you can already get most of the things I mention above. However, a lot of people don't want to bother with installing Airfoil and they just want the simplist way of handling everything. Apple could make that very easy without much work at all.
  11. philipk macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2008
    When sound is processed digitally, there is always some delay. Each DAC (decoder) works differently and there can be a several millisecond delay differences between DAC's of different designs. Thus, you can have several wireless speakers in different rooms of your house and can hear that they are off sync.

    SONOS has factored this into their product. They deliberately introduce a slightly longer than average delay when transmitting the digital signal to their speakers. Then through the magic of digital processing, all the speakers on the same network are in perfect sync.

    There are many good choices in the market. SONOS is the best for me in spite of the high cost.

    Actually, they are really competing with built-in whole house systems which start at about $10,000. My cousin designs and installs such systems in million dollar homes. He said SONOS is the only (lower price) company using the same technology in their system. There is still a huge difference. The custom systems are built in and when designed properly are more seamless.

    However, for those of us who can't afford a $10,000 to $20,000 system, the SONOS is a great system with high end electronics.
  12. Uofmtiger macrumors 68020


    Dec 11, 2010
    I have never noticed any syncing issues with Airfoil for music and they have some sort of video player with sync control for audio/video syncing.

    The WHAALE app, which does not use a computer (other than the iOS device) in the chain, gives you independent control of the delay for each speaker, so if you have syncing issues that are meaningful to you, you should be able resolve them.

    As I said, this would be very easy for Apple to update and make this possible without Airfoil or WHAALE, but it seems that they are content with how it works now.

    That being said, I am not surprised. They currently want you to use iTunes as your main music source and iTunes has multi-room audio built in. With them buying Beats, I do wonder if we will eventually see a change in the future, though.
  13. Attonine, Apr 30, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2015

    Attonine macrumors 6502a

    Feb 15, 2006
    Kent. UK
    Sonos all the way. The only real competitor to them at the moment is Bluesound, which can also stream 24bit HD audio, Sonos can't do that. Bluesound are more expensive though. If you go on any audiophile forums, you will see these two systems are pretty well respected SQ wise.

    Someone mentioned Naim Muso above, that's not in the same category, you're not going to buy 7 of them to put around your house, in the kitchen, bathroom etc. They are very, very good though.

    A lot of manufacturers are coming out with Streamer/amps at the moment. There are some very good options available at very good prices.
  14. MacInTO macrumors 65816


    Apr 25, 2005
    Canada, eh!
    I have literally discovered Airplay technology in the last few days. While trying to figure out how to get music from my Mac in the living room to play music in my home office down the hall.

    I received the Pioneer A1 XW-SMA1-K today and set it up in about ten minutes. Technically, it works pretty well so far. The sound is better than I expected from a $100 speaker ( The sound is good, but I'm not totally amazed - but I guess I shouldn't be for $100. I'm used to a certain sound which is from my 25+ year-old Paradigm speakers in my living room.

    I probably would not be interested in speaker from Apple. Unless they buy a quality speaker company then I might consider it. Speakers are a very personal thing and the brand isn't always the best way to select a speaker. My favourite speakers are Paradigm and second are PSB (two Canadian speaker companies!). I've only ever owned Paradigm speakers though (and Bose in my car, but that doesn't really count).

    I feel there might be some sort of compromise with this sort of tech. If they're a speaker company, the tech side might not be so go and if they're a tech company, the speaker side might not be so good. If you have the best of two, the price might be a bit too much for what it is they're trying to do. Maybe a partnership with the two might work well.

    The second part of the equation is the amplifier - this does make a difference, imho. With a portable speaker, the amp is inside the box of the remote speaker and again the speaker/tech debate. The manufacturer has to try to emulate what a full size amp can do for a wired speaker. Not an easy task.

    Right now, my task after figuring out how easy Airplay was to use, is to find a speaker that I can live with for the next 25 years! For $100 the Pioneer speaker that I purchased is good, but I'm wondering if I spend a bit more (but not too much), I can probably have something that sounds better (to me).

    Do you own a set of Wren speakers? If so, which model and what's your take on the sound?

    I also, just purchased a Bowers and Wilkins Z2 to try out. There seems to be some sort of random sale on - these were on for $135. I may order a set of the Sonos as well to see what I like best.

    Does anyone have any recommendations for speakers? I'm more into the sound than the technology. If I could have run wires in the walls of my house, I would have done that first, but it wasn't a viable option for me for what I wanted to spend and the amount of time I wanted to spend doing it.
  15. DarwinOSX macrumors 65832

    Nov 3, 2009
    No. Why do I need speakers from Apple when I can roll my own with my choice of speakers and an Airport express?
  16. ixxx69 macrumors 65816

    Jul 31, 2009
    United States
    I don't think there's much point in Apple-branded speakers, but I could see them doing something with Beats... But I'm good with anything as long as they keep it open to the rest of the AirPlay ecosystem so I can put together my own amp/speaker setup if I want to.

    Main improvements I want built into native AirPlay: Multi-room/multi-stream from any device (obviously OS X, iOS, but also Windows, Android, etc. if that's technically possible) to any other AirPlay enabled device(s).
  17. Uofmtiger macrumors 68020


    Dec 11, 2010
    Airfoil works with Windows, so the only OS missing would be Android. I have been using a beta version of Whaale for Android and it capable of multiroom streaming to AirPlay. However, it is limited by the number of sources it works with.

    AirPlay isn't really the issue as far as the technology. Synology can send multiple streams using the DS Audio app and AirPlay now. That issue would be with OS X . Even iOS can send multi streams to multiple AirPlay receivers with Whaale. The main downside to Whaale is that it doesn't work with most audio apps. It works with media servers, Deezer, Internet radio, vtuner, and audiobus. I have been told that Tidal should be supported at some point.

    The limitations that we are seeing are because Apple hasn't implemented the feature. It could be a licensing issue or a lack of wanting to bother with it considering how small the niche would be for multi-streaming. With family sharing, that niche will just get smaller.

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16 February 19, 2015