Sonos Connect Amp Review
In the beginning of 2012, rumors started spreading that Google was readying a home entertainment device to rival famous brands the Apple TV and the Sonos system. However when that mythical creature ended up being the Nexus Q, it had been hard to swallow our collective disappointment.
As the Nexus Q will stay a curio until Google can enhance its feature set, the competitive Sonos Connect:Amp feels as though a genuine hi-fi system. From its solid build to the simplicity of an individual interface it’s a thing that the Nexus isn’t: refined. It’s appropriate for practically every online music service available to buy, and will also stream your individual digital-music collection.
But if you thought the $300 Nexus was expensive — and for what it can, it is — you then might want to retain something: the Connect:Amp is two-thirds more costly. (Thankfully, Sonos offers three other models — the Play:3, the Play:5, and the ampless Sonos Connect — at $299, $399, and $349, respectively.) Yet, whatever the price, the Sonos Connect:Amp is a full-featured digital audio tracks system with too much to offer both everyday users and serious music enthusiasts — particularly if they’re seeking to eventually build out a multiroom audio tracks system.
Measuring 3.5 inches high, 7.28 inches wide, and 8.15 inches deep, the Sonos Connect:Amp is bigger than your average “small black box” media streamer including the Roku or Apple TV.
The Sonos includes a two-tone color scheme with an “anodized precision-machined extrusion aluminum case” nestled on a white plastic base. The 5.1-pound box has some heft to it, and — unlike most of the flimsy plastic boxes you get today — the Connect:Amp feels really solid and smartly designed.
The front panel is approximately as minimalist since it gets: Volume Up/Down and Mute; the rest (including redundant volume controls) is manipulated through an amp on your own tablet or smartphone. There is no power button, because the Sonos is built to stay in standby mode constantly.
The Connect:Amp was formerly referred to as the ZonePlayer ZP120, and was renamed when the Play:3 arrived. As the ZP120 was primarily offered within the BU250 Bundle, that package is no more available, not least for the reason that CR200 touch-screen controller has been put to pasture. The business instead offers free control software for PC, Mac, Android, and iOS devices. Basically, practically any smartphone or tablet — including iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches, Kindle Fires, and all newer Android phones — can double as the remote.
The PC software hasn’t changed much before few years, however the number of services is continuing to grow dramatically. Sarah Tew/CNET
The Connect:Amp is a rare product for the reason that it really is part music streamer and part amplifier. When I say rare, After all there are a handful of products enjoy it, but the majority are hideously expensive music servers, or…ahem…these Google Nexus Q. Whereas the Nexus Q includes a 25W amplifier, the Connect:Amp includes a much beefier 55W -per-channel output.
Obviously, the built-in amp signifies that it’s your decision to provide your own (unpowered) speakers. You could choose something similar to Dayton Audio B652s, or intensify from there.
If you have a preexisting stereo or home entertainment system and you are looking to include streaming to it, might I advise the ampless Sonos Connect ($349). Alternatively, you can go the all-in-one route with the Play:5 and Play:3, both which have built-in speakers.
One feature made available from the Connects and that the all-in-one Play:3 and Play:5 systems lack is audio tracks inputs. The Connect:Amp includes a single stereo RCA input that works extremely well to hook up an external music device — perhaps a turntable or an iPod dock.
For speaker connections, the Sonos includes solid, spring-loaded speaker jacks at the trunk allowing you to connect banana plugs or bare wires — though not spades.
Last in the set of connections may be the subwoofer-out, which can be utilised to hook up to a third-party subwoofer. Or you can choose to go with the wireless Sonos Sub instead.
One feature I kept wishing for with all the Sonos was an IR port, usually so as to mute the machine. Instead, you’ll either have to unlock your phone and launch the Sonos app, boot up your personal computer, or finally — heaven forbid! — walk over and press the Mute switch.
Audio-only — but that is clearly a good thing
Unlike a number of the more well-known media streamers available, the Sonos devices are audio-only, no video. While that may seem to be limited in scope, the Sonos is more about concentrating on doing one thing together with possible.
In my own reviewing time I used both Connect:Amp and the Connect, so when switching back again to the Connect I came across I missed its bigger, amplified brother. Creating a system around the Connect:Amp makes a whole lot of sense if you are beginning with scratch, and the full total application control helps it be much more compelling compared to the Connect — where you’d have to separately start your stereo and flip to the right input before enjoying the music.
There are a good amount of cheaper alternatives to the Sonos Connect:Amp. You can stream music from a smartphone or tablet iphone app to any Bluetooth speaker or a Bluetooth dongle just like the Belkin Bluetooth Music Receiver; but Bluetooth sound quality will leave critical listeners wanting.
Another alternative is to hook up an Apple TV ($99) to any existing audio system. The Apple TV supports each of the Sonos services plus iTunes Match, and you utilize an iPhone, ipod itouch, or iPad as a remote. But with the Apple TV, you’d need to flip between twelve applications (using AirPlay), instead of using the all-in-one Sonos control app. And — unlike Sonos — it isn’t useful for Android or Kindle Fire owners.
By the end of your day, the Sonos Connect:Amp isn’t cheap, but it’s an improved no- compromise digital stereo system than those alternatives in the above list — especially considering Logitech has discontinued its Squeezebox range and replaced it with the UE Smart Radio. If you are seriously interested in your digital music — and about cloud-based music services specifically — the Sonos Connect:Amp is a tidy all-in-one system.