Multi-Room Audio Platforms

I assume that most of the people here use Sonos for their multi-room audio, which I will say is a very simple solution for most people, but it has its limitations, so I was wondering what other platforms do people use?

These are the platforms that come to mind:

  • Yamaha MusicCast
  • Denon Heos
  • BlueOS
  • DTS Play-Fi
  • Amazon Alexa
  • Chromecast Audio/Google Home
  • Apple Homekit/Siri

I personally started with Yamaha MusicCast since I upgraded our home theater a few years ago now with a Yamaha RX-A2060, but after buying a couple of their WX-030 standalone MusicCast speakers, I quickly found how unreliable the system was. That would be the end of the story, but recently I gave it another shot and after a firmware upgrade, it has been rock-solid, and I say this with the utmost bemusement because it was straight-up UNUSABLE, as @TechMedX can attest to, before the, what I assume to be the 4.3.1 firmware using wireless, and I cannot speak for wired mode. This made me put into question the one thing that Sonos had over the platform, the reliability of connection, so I wanted to reach out for two reasons:

  1. To see if I am alone in this and that for some reason MusicCast just works with my network for some reason now, or if it has been fixed for more people than just me. I am too scared to factory reset or change networks for fear it will break, which should tell you how much I trust this system right now haha, but since the update I have not run into a single hiccup.
  2. See what alternatives other people have given a fair shake.

Also interested in. Watching.

Thanks for letting me know they might have pulled their preverbally head out of their @$$. If they could fix the timing issue I could get onboard. As even an armature audiophile out of time music in unexpectable

Can I enquire on what you find limiting? I use Sonos in many residential/commercial environments and have yet to find a ‘problem’ I can’t solve with the platform.

That said, as most companies do they have change since going public and quality has had to find a common ground with profit. :-1:

Playing devs advo :smiling_imp: the sound field they have been able to produce with the new sounds bars (ARCH) with Dolby ATMOS is room filling beauty to my ears, at a price you could not get any other way.

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So this is my system:
RX-A2060 Amplifier

  • Main 5.1 system
  • Zone 2: Stereo Front Room

RX-A2060 Pre-Out w/ External Amp

  • Zone 3: x2 stereo pair for outside

WX-030 Driveway speaker
WX-030 Floater speaker (Dining Room currently)

The audio syncing is perfect in my limited testing. That being said I have not done scientific testing nor have I done a lot of trials, but so far so good. Combined Main Zone + Front Room + Dining Room with standard, audio sync, and uncompressed settings. Also tried with Outside + Driveway with stable, audio sync, and compressed settings and it was perfect as well. But I imagine the moment you introduce zone video this gets a lot more complicated.

FYI, my WiFi signal strengths for my WX-030’s are 68(0.028) for the driveway and 98(0.034) for the floater/dining room as described by the MusicCast app.

My main problem with the platform is the fact that they have effectively adopted the Apple model of a tech company. I hate that they have closed everything down to the point of at the flick of a switch, they can make all of your products obsolete, as shown last year. And yes, they do have the Port and the Amp which allow you to connect your receiver or passive stereo speakers/sub to their system, but for that privilege, you have to pay the price of a budget home theater receiver.

Take for instance their latest release of the subwoofer, this is a direct quote from the product page:

How is Sub (Gen 3) different from the previous generations?

  • Sub (Gen 3) features updated internal technology, including increased memory and a more powerful CPU, and finishes, including a new join button.

If that does not sound like them updating something just to update it, so that down the road they can arbitrarily discontinue and stop support for your perfectly functional “old” sub because they said so I am not sure what is. Bundle that with it being more significantly more expensive than subs that sound significantly better, e.g. low-end SVS or HSU subs, and my frustration emerges.

IMO if you want to the worst actors in the entire Sonos ecosystem look no further than the Port, Amp, and Sub, and without those products, the ecosystem is really no different from a smart speaker ecosystem that can do multiroom since imo you cannot have a home theater speaker system without a subwoofer, especially at the prices Sonos is charging.

I also am not even going to get into the whole Lossless/Hifi audio debate because one, iirc Sonos recently is trying to cater to that crowd, and two, it is an innately subjective topic, so no need to get bogged down in the weeds when there are a lot easier arguments to make imo.

Don’t get me wrong, Sonos is exceptionally good at UX and their reliability in my experience is tied for if not THE best, but you pay for it in multiple ways.

Also one minor annoyance, definitely a nitpick, is how their speakers populate my network and the difficulty to track down which speaker is which due to the mesh. Netgear Orbi is pretty good at naming devices based on the MAC addresses, but all of the speakers are just generic SONOSNET on my network. This matters less because their reliability is solid so troubleshooting is minimal, but it is still annoying.

Don’t even get me started on that, the fact that they are forcing people to use their TV as their receiver sounds like a train wreck in slow motion. IMO, it is creating so many bad habits for people that they will not see the effect of until it is too late, and as a business, it is genius if they can get away with it, but as a consumer, I hate it. It reminds me of the whole situation with VR. VR is great, the issue is, the general population does not understand what it is because the market was flooded with folded cardboard “headsets” that advertised themselves as being VR, so to a certain subset of people that is all it will ever be, first impressions matter, especially in the tech field. It muddied the waters and made it more difficult for every other product to actually be seen.

On another note, I am curious what people’s experiences are with Alexa, because out of the smart speakers it seems the most well equipped: it has products at all price points, it supports basically all music services, and it has analog audio out so theoretically supports any speaker system. The issue is I have never tried their multi-room stuff. I had nothing but issues with stereo pairing echo dots together though, to the point that I just picked up a pair of Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 speakers from Costco and just linked that into a single dot, which has been excellent I will say. But I would love to hear from someone that has more extensively used Alexa for a sound system, because I only use it as an assistant, except in one-off external speaker cases, which usually has bedroom duty.

Side note on that last point: The echo flex is a great little all-in-one device for someone trying to make their bedroom smart on the cheap. Before Hubitat, I had the motion sensor attachment on it and some old computer speakers on the 3.5mm out and paired with some cheap Yeelight bulbs, you have a smart bedroom for under $50. The only thing that would make it better is if it had a passthrough for the outlet that was smart as well.

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I have an amazon device in pretty much each room, this is our primary go to music player. I do tho, have a heos 1 in our living/lounge that i use on occasion when im home alone working and want my music louder!
Im impressed with the audio quality for a small size speaker - tho, ive never used sonos, so cant really compare

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I use sonos. But not the sonos ecosystem. We use sonos for Airplay 2. Works for us because we are an apple household but it also works great. We listen to a lot of podcasts for both music and talk. We just play whatever we are listening to on our phone to whatever speakers we want in the house. Then when we get in the car continue where we left off etc. It works.

The main reason I keep it all sonos is because it stays in sync nicely. At one point I had a mix of airplay 2 devices and found that they would not all stay in sync.

We have a mix of the Ikea Symphonisk, Sonos One’s and the beam. Its nice utilizing the Beam for more than one option. TV doesn’t have to be on for us to airplay to it.

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I have an Google Home Mini in every room.
By far the cheapest and most “invisible” way to have music everywhere - and for their sizes they offer IMHO a nice sound quality.

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We use a mix of Google minis and chromecast audio, I dread the day that support is finally pulled.

I did use echo dots for a while, they offer an audio jack but sadly I’d be hung drawn and quartered if YouTube premium wasn’t available and I can’t justify paying for that as well as amazon music.

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Do you have any experience with multi-room audio for heos? I have heard it is very similar to MusicCast, including its faults, but I do not know anyone in the denon ecosystem so I have not tried it for myself.

Do you have any specific scenarios that you want me to test BTW? Like specific settings or device combinations?

no, if it happens you’ll know. Listening to music with rooms being ‘out of time’ creates an echo effect. Drives me nuts!

I setup a heos system for someone and could not even get through 2 songs before they told me to pack it up and get a Sonos. I’ve deployed at least 100 Sonos systems and never had a complaint (We don’t sell cheep, only good stuff, thankfully most our clients have deep pockets)

I’m surprised, #1 that Sonos let Ikea into the fold, and #2 that they sound decent (have 1 bookshelf and 1 lamp, for…testing yeah testing…accountant excuse :rofl: ). For $99 they are pretty dang good.

FYI - This never happend. Yes you cannot use S2 with old speakers, but my system fully functions 100% and I still use the S1 app. Nothing has change for me or any of my clients running old Sonos devices. I have 3x connect amps, 2 connects, and one of each of the play 1, 5, play base, sub, Symphonisk bookshelf, lamp. Zero issues, like my Lutron stuff they just work, always.

The only ‘problem’ it created is I now have 2 apps to manage systems when I deploy :cry: :grin:

My understanding is yes, after a MASSIVE backlash from the community, they allowed the old and new systems to coexist, but to my knowledge, and please correct me if I am wrong, but you cannot link S1 and S2 speakers together, so if you have a single old speaker and you want full-house audio you either upgrade to a S2 speaker, or everything has to be S1. I am also not sure if you can downgrade to S1 after upgrading if you change your mind down the road.

Yeah I’ve heard they are also great for DIY setups, you can rip the electronics out and use your own speakers with them relatively easily, iirc the only issue is that the output is split between woofer and tweeter, so mixing them is a bit annoying for a standard speaker.

Post firmware upgrade, I have listened to them for hours at a time and no noticeable issues.

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Its not like I blast them so they are perfect. When the whole house is in sync and your walking from room to room it sounds awesome. And I wanted to get something that would let me use airplay 2 integrated. I didn’t want external speakers I would have to leave on at high volumes so I can also have volume control. I even set an automation that would turn down the volume once it stops playing for 5 minutes so you don’t blast it when you try to connect back.

The WAF is high. She’s even impressed when I’m controlling everything from my watch while laying in the pool. Thats always fun to do. HAH

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Yes, but your not missing a ton in S2 or your justified to move on from that one device.

taken from FAQs



Why would I split my S1 and S2 products into separate systems?

  • Some Sonos products require the S2 app. The only products that currently require S2 are products released in 2020: the Arc, Five, and Sub (gen 3).*


Keep in mind the list of devices that are NOT S2 compatible is the oldest of the old. Really do most people even know what what they are? How many here have even heard of a CR200, let alone own one?

So yes and no. If your not done building out a system, I could see where it MIGHT be an issue. IME people don’t build out a whole house audio system over decades. Most people build them in a few years if not all at once.

If you did build your system out over decades, like I did, you’ve gotten years of enjoyment and you ROI is more than satisfied. There are few thing you can buy for a couple hundred bucks and get a decade plus out of. And the very old stuff is worth replacing. IMO

Then one might ask, why did they release it at all? Why did they put themselves and the rest of their community through all of this?

The conspiracy theorist in me has a plausible reason, they thought they could get away with it, they thought no one would call them on it and thus set a precedent for the future of slowly phasing out products not because they don’t work but because they want their customers to have to make another purchase from them. The SaaS model does not work well with the audio field because speakers do not change all that often, hardware or software, there are speakers from the 80’s that still hold up today and when was the last time there was a new audio standard, for music that is.

I get it, they are a business, they must keep updating and producing products to stay relevant and if the market is not going to cull their products through obsolescence, then they must force it to stay afloat or risk saturation, but as a consumer I don’t think they should get a pass for it.

Yes and no, for their Connect, Connect:Amp, and Play:5, iirc if they are manufactured before 2015, they are considered legacy now, and at the worst case, 6 years, it is not that great of a life for a speaker imo.

Oh, I just remembered, one of the other biggest gripes I have with the system is how they handle “Trueplay” and the fact that if you are not an iPhone user, you now just have an objectively worse system than everyone that does and there is no workaround. I am not sure how they cannot do what every other Room-Correction system does and just provide a microphone for calibration, you could even get a microphone that just plugs into the Type-C or 3.5mm jack on your phone. Hell, Dirac Live is one of the best room-correction softwares out there any they have Windows/MacOS/Android/iOS apps.

Negative.

You know I consider you a friend, so under the bus you go. Ignorance and misunderstanding is what made this ‘minor hardware limitation’ in to a major PR issues.

Only these devices with release dates. Are S1 only everything else in the ecosystem is S2.

https://support.sonos.com/s/article/4786?language=en_US

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I dont sorry. I only have a single heos1

I got the 2015 threshold from this post FYI:

That table you listed I agree, is release dates, but it does not talk about EOL dates or production stop dates.

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The devices with more mem, can run all the new SaaS platforms.

Why? profit! :rofl:

Don’t believe everything you read. Especially things posted by me or @RRodman :wink:

@LosinIt not a hint! :rofl:

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