We won’t say too much in this review about the ease of setting up the Amp. Sonos has this process down to a science, and as with all Sonos products, connecting the Amp to our system was almost laughably easy.
One area that will be a novelty to those who have only used the company’s speakers is the lack of a TruePlay tuning option. Sonos claims this is because it can’t truly know the acoustic properties of the speakers people are using with the Amp, so there’s no way to know what effect the software tweaking will have. There’s a bright spot on the horizon however — Sonos plans to partner with Sonance to produce a new Sonos Architectural line of speakers, which will enable TruePlay tuning when used with the Amp.
In addition to the standard loudness, bass, and treble EQ controls, the Sonos app also gives you the option to adjust crossover frequency and phase when using your own wired subwoofer. Normally, we’ve preferred handing over more of the low frequencies to the subwoofer when running the Pioneer VSX 933 receiver, but the opposite was true when using the Amp. The Sonos team suggested that this could be thanks to the fact that the Amp “has relatively more power to drive low-frequency signals into the speakers,” which seems as good an explanation as any.
One thing we would like to see Sonos do on the Amp’s EQ in a future release is offer a series of presets that could mimic the sound of different amplifiers. Tube amps are revered for their “warmth,” so it would be fun to see what software magic Sonos could achieve with a Tube Amp setting — if they can make a $200 speaker sound like a $400 one, maybe they can make an all-digital amp sound like an analog one.
Like the older Sonos Connect:Amp the new Sonos Amp isn’t for everyone, but those looking for a dead-simple was to stream music and even movie and TV audio with authority will find this piece a great addition to their favorite speakers.
Is there a better alternative?
Perhaps. One of the big benefits to using the Sonos Amp, and the Connect:Amp before it, was the ability to harness the power of a Sonos system through your own speakers, including volume control. You simply couldn’t do this as effectively by mating a Connect to third party amplifier. But this is changing. New receivers on the market are equipped with “Works with Sonos” certification, which means that if you hook them up to a Sonos Connect, the Sonos app can take over the volume control of the receiver. Given the Sonos Amp’s so-so performance as a home theater receiver, if you primarily want Sonos functionality in your media room, via your 5.1 (or greater) speakers, a Works with Sonos AV receiver might be a better option.
We would also be remiss if we didn’t mention Denon’s HEOS competitor: The HEOS Drive. It’s a rack-mountable, 4-zone, 480-watt system. Granted, it’s $2,500, but that’s only $100 more than four Sonos Amps. Nonetheless, we don’t think that Denon’s whole-home wireless sound system is as well thought out and as easy to use as Sonos, despite having a few features that Sonos lacks, like high-res audio support.
How long will it last?
If there’s one thing we can tell you about Sonos, it’s that the company is obsessively loyal to its customer base. Product quality is top-notch, and the company has yet to drop support for any of its legacy audio products. That’s an impressive thing to say about any tech company, let alone one that has been selling its products for almost 20 years. We expect the Sonos Amp will last a very, very long time.
Should you buy it?
If you were thinking of buying a Connect:Amp, and if you don’t own full-size speakers, or care a lot about AirPlay support, we suggest grabbing one while Sonos is selling out its remaining inventory. It’s $100 cheaper than the Sonos Amp, and you likely won’t hear a big difference. For everyone else, especially custom installers looking for dead-easy, and customer-delighting solution, the Amp is a great upgrade. Its home theater chops may not wow you but having the flexibility of IR control and HDMI-ARC could come in very handy for certain scenarios where a TV is part of the overall solution. Its 125 watt-per-channel power lets you drive everything from the smallest ceiling speaker to the biggest tower, and everything in between, which means you no longer need to supplement a Sonos Connect with a 3rd party amp, just to get the sound you want.”
You can read the article direct at https://www.digitaltrends.com/gadget-reviews/sonos-amp-review/