Sonos CONNECT & a Turntable - Evolution or Blasphemy?

By
Advertisement
We recently added a SONOS CONNECT to our primary home theater.

This got some pushback... and I'll grant that it's a little bit unnecessary.

Our home theater has an AppleTV and Apple Music... we can already play almost any song ever published, immediately, with voice control.

So why a Sonos? Because we have a turntable!

The Sonos CONNECT is, essentially, their old "ZonePlayer" product.

It doesn't replace your receiver (it's not an amplifier, that's the CONNECT:AMP) - it's an add-on to your stereo receiver, making it, essentially, a Sonos device.

And there are 3 very good reasons to bring Sonos functionality to your stereo.

1) Sonos synthesizes all of your music services, in one device. 

Yes, it's true - the AppleTV already has our iTunes library and Apple Music available as an app.

And yes, just using Apple Music through the AppleTV, is quicker. No inputs to change. (You can play videos, too!)

But, it's not the most intuitive experience.

Apple Music through Sonos is a superior interface. (It's also FAR easier to manipulate the "up next" queue."

More to the point - Adding Sonos to our home theater brought music services OTHER than Apple Music to our family room.

For us, primarily, that means Sirius XM.

We have an Amazon Prime account -- and now that Prime Music is available through Sonos, that is a COMPELLING argument for dropping Apple Music or Spotify!

But really, if you have ONE of Apple Music, Spotify or Prime Music, there is NO reason to have more than one - they're largely duplicative.

SiriusXM, though.... that's unique content. Getting that into our home theater is a big step forward.

2) Sonos allows us to play the same songs in multiple rooms. 

We have a PLAY:1 in our kitchen - with Sonos, we can play a song over both the CONNECT and the PLAY:1, and set the volume of each item independently.

Having your music perfectly synced across devices in different rooms is a really, really cool effect - especially given that it's wireless.

3) The CONNECT has analog line-in capabilities - play your records over Sonos! 

Audio Technica LP60
Here's the killer feature - the CONNECT plays all of your streaming services, and it also has a standard red/white line-in, so you can attach a CD player, a tape deck, or a turntable.

In our case, a turntable.

NOTE! If you attach a turntable to the CONNECT, it's going to need amplification. You need to make sure it's pushing sound out at the "LINE" level, instead of "PHONO".

That means buying a phono pre-amp, getting a turntable with pre-amp built in, or getting a stereo with a pre-amp built in.


We have an Audio Technica LP60 turntable. That model, which retails for around $100, has a phono pre-amp built in - so this is a plug-and-play solution.

The turntable plugs directly into the Sonos CONNECT - which then has a Toslink Optical cable running to the stereo.

And just like that, your record player is a selectable "music service" in the Sonos menu.

You can play your records through all of the Sonos devices in the house, and select their volume independently.

So how does it sound?

Really, really good. Suspiciously good.

We played Supertramp's "Breakfast In America" on the LP60, through the Connect, and then over our home theater and the PLAY:1 in the kitchen.

Both sets of speakers were perfectly synced - but you expect that from Sonos.

The thing that caught my attention was that the record sounded perfectly clear over Sonos.

No pops and hisses whatsoever.

And that's great! Right?

Well, maybe not. The whole point of playing music on vinyl is because the sound is analog - there is no loss of the waveform due to digital artifacting or compression.

Taking an analog music source (like a phonograph), and playing it through a Sonos CONNECT... changes it into a DIGITAL music source.

That may be a dealbreaker for you -- and I get that.

Playing records through your Sonos completely defeats the purpose!

If I wanted to listen to "Breakfast In America" digitally, I have Apple Music / Spotify / Prime Music / AAC / MP3... and those don't have to be flipped every 20 minutes!

On the other hand.... I'm not an audiophile, but MAN these records sound good.

It's a cleaner sound - granted, almost indistinguishable from a lossless rip of a CD - but in our setup, that's an IMPROVEMENT from the pops and hisses from our vinyl.

Plus... it makes your records available in every room you have Sonos. Wirelessly. That's a massive step forward in terms of accessibility.

The ONLY drawback - Sonos CONNECT uses an optical cable, not HDMI - so it requires actively changing the stereo input.

At this point, we are so used to Bravia SYNC HDMI-CEC control, that changing an input seems almost antiquated.

I'll try to find a workaround.... but for now, yes, I have to turn a knob on the stereo sometimes. Life can be so unfair.

Verdict

Now, I'll grant that this isn't for everyone.

Vinyl purists and audiophiles may argue that we're being ridiculous, and making our records sound worse.

And that may be the case for super-expensive home audio solutions, with tube amplifiers and rooms that have been tuned to maximize the vinyl audio experience.

For us.... any difference in sound quality was never really the point.

For us, buying and playing records is more about curating a physical collection, than any concerns about "audio purity".

The multi-room capabilities you get with Sonos make having a record collection a lot more worthwhile.

FOUR STARS


0 comments :

Post a Comment