Sonos Connect Speaker Review
When Sonos first appeared on the market in 2005, the focus was squarely on replaying music from networked computers but with the glut of streaming services its scope has increased dramatically. Sonos’ biggest strength is simplifying the networking nightmares of installing most wireless music systems and sounding good in the process. The Sonos Connect brings these capabilities to users who want to add network music to an existing stereo but is the asking price too high? Keep reading on for the Sonos Connect speaker review.
Sonos Connect Speaker Review
Sonos Connect Speaker Review: Sound quality
After a setup process that is a little more involved than you might expect for the mass-market option (the app requires your music location as an address and won’t simply find it, for example), the Sonos puts in a very authoritative performance. The presentation is fundamentally neutral, but there is very slight tonal darkness to the upper registers that ensures that the Connect is extremely hard to provoke into harshness or aggression. Even as Adagio For TRON reaches its dynamic peak, the Connect displays an impressive sense of control and spaciousness to the music while doing a very good job of maintaining a believable feeling of scale and power.
This ability is underpinned by extremely good bass. The low end of Dissolved Girl is handled with a very compelling combination of depth and control. There is a palpable impact to each note, which is partnered with a useful sense of speed and texture that achieves a decent level of emotional engagement. The slight downside to this is when the Connect is given recordings that are naturally refined – like Sinner In The Sea – the result is less exciting than some of the other streamers here because the already very controlled recording feels like it is being further calmed down.
The Sonos pulls some of this back with Mr Clean. This is also a very restrained piece of music, but the extra dynamics it possesses allows it to regain some of the excitement and drive that it shows with some of the other pieces. This civility is generally more of a help than a hindrance and it does a good job of ensuring that compressed and edgier material stays listenable. As a result, the Connect puts in a very strong showing with internet radio, helped of course by the very comprehensive control app.
While most of the media streamers available today are no larger than a drink coaster in platform shoes, the Sonos Connect is one of the larger options. It measures 2.91 inches high and is roughly square at 5.35 inches wide and 5.51 inches deep.
The Sonos Connect resembles the larger Connect: Amp with the same squat shape, but instead of the two-tone color scheme the Connect opts for a simpler, and arguably more attractive, all-white design. The device sits on blue rubber feet, which offers some isolation from the outside world.
The front panel, like all Sonos players, features a mute button and volume up/down but sadly it lacks an on/off switch.
If you have an existing stereo or home theater system and you’re looking to add streaming, then the Sonos Connect is your beast. It’s essentially a Sonos: Connect amp without the 55W-per-channel amplifier and as a result comes at a $150 saving.
The Connect was formerly known as the ZonePlayer ZP90, and was renamed just after the Play:3 came along. The company offers free control apps for PC, Mac, Android, and iOS.
Unlike some of the competitive media streamers on the market, this is a music device only. While it may seem expensive for what it does at more than three times the price of the Apple TV and the Western Digital WDTV, the Sonos distinguishes itself by both a friendly interface and in the number of services it offers. Sonos’ tagline is “Stream All The Music On Earth” and music subscription providers are added periodically. The most recent is Amazon Cloud Player and it joins a dozen other services such as Spotify, MOG and Pandora.
If you’re an audiophile, then the idea of the Connect will be much more compelling than the Connect:Amp. The inclusion of the digital output enables users to connect their own Digital Analog Converter (DAC) for a potential sound quality upgrade. While the Logitech Squeezebox Touch saw very little benefit from an outboard DAC — its onboard sound is that good — there was room for improvement with the Connect.
Nevertheless, sound quality of the unit was very confident, but like the Connect:Amp a little lean in the bass. The more expensive Connect:Amp demonstrated a greater sparkle when paired with Bowers and Wilkins speakers than a combination of the Sonos Connect, Marantz receiver and B&Ws.
In general, the software is quite easy to use, and the capability to make playlists on the fly and control multiple zones around the house on the fly is the Sonos system’s greatest strength. If you can use a tablet, you can use the Sonos.