Sonos vs Bluetooth speakers: help!

canderson

Mr. Brightside
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Jul 16, 2005
28,929
Harrisburg, Pa.
It's time for me to step into this decade and get some type of audio system. I'm overwhelmed with choices though.

My usage will be streaming from my iPhone/iPad MLB.tv audio, podcasts via Overcast, and I'd like to listen to NPR, TuneIn Radio, Amazon Prime Music, etc. Oh and loading my iTunes catalog that's on my Mac would be ideal too.

Sonos seems awesome except from what I can tell it lacks the ability to stream from my iPhone/iPad. That's a dealbreaker. Am I incorrect?

If that's true Bluetooth seems my only logistical option. Any advice on one that could do all the above?

Portability isn't too important, soundbars are OK but I don't care if the TV sound goes through it really, and I'd like to keep the price somewhat reasonable (say under $350-400).
 

jercra

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Check out Amazon Echo too. The sound is pretty good and you'll get a lot more functionality than just music. It can play from Amazon Prime and Spotify over wifi and Bluetooth for anything else. You can sync your iTunes library up to Amazon too so all of your music is available over wifi.
 

Leather

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Jul 18, 2005
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Do you have Apple TV? If so, you can stream through that, negating the importance of the device being directly compatible with your iPhone/iPad.
 

B H Kim

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You can do everything on your wish list with Sonos, except podcasts via Overcast (you'll have to use the Apple podcast app instead). I find the convenience and sound-quality of Sonos far superior to any Bluetooth option I've tried or seen.

Edit: To clarify, for some services, you wouldn't stream from your iPad or iPhone to Sonos. You can just access the service/app directly through the Sonos controller.
 

canderson

Mr. Brightside
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Jul 16, 2005
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Harrisburg, Pa.
Do you have Apple TV? If so, you can stream through that, negating the importance of the device being directly compatible with your iPhone/iPad.
No AppleTV at this moment but could easily be convinced to buy one if it helps in this endeavor. I have a Fire Stick I'd replace.

How would that work exactly? Phone > AppleTV that's plugged into Sonos?
 
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Leather

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Jul 18, 2005
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Well your phone can play music through the Apple TV box (without even turning on the tv itself), which is connected to your soundbar. Apple TV would also allow you to stream video or display photos (or play games, browse the net, etc) on your tv.

If you've basically decided to be an Apple family, the Apple TV is pretty great.
 

canderson

Mr. Brightside
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Jul 16, 2005
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Check out Amazon Echo too. The sound is pretty good and you'll get a lot more functionality than just music. It can play from Amazon Prime and Spotify over wifi and Bluetooth for anything else. You can sync your iTunes library up to Amazon too so all of your music is available over wifi.
Echo - forgot about it. That might make more sense actually ...
 
Nov 15, 2006
565
Aarhus, Denmark
Got a Sonos at some point. Hate it. They have their own software for playing your music and I've had trouble keeping it running. Use my bluetooth speaker every... single... day.
 

Saints Rest

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When I was in your spot about 4 years ago, I asked a friend of mine who is in the audio business and he put it really simply: "<my business partner> and I installed Sonos throughout our homes and in our office. I think that's all you need to know."
This is a guy who does the audio for the Victoria's Secret Fashion shows, the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and a hundred other events every year. He knows his shit.
 

alydar

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Nov 19, 2006
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I'll second the rec for Sonos. We have three spread throughout the home and the sound quality is good enough for me (I am not an audiophile). I find the app to function well enough, some rate glitches that generally get resolved easily (eg unplug and plug back in)
 

Yaz4Ever

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Got a Sonos at some point. Hate it. They have their own software for playing your music and I've had trouble keeping it running. Use my bluetooth speaker every... single... day.
If you hate it that much, I'll take it off your hands. I'm good like that.

I'm not an audiophile, so that criticism aside, I'd like to get 2 Play1's, a soundbar, and a subwoofer. Just don't have $1600 burning a hole in my pocket.
 

Traut

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When I was in your spot about 4 years ago, I asked a friend of mine who is in the audio business and he put it really simply: "<my business partner> and I installed Sonos throughout our homes and in our office. I think that's all you need to know."
This is a guy who does the audio for the Victoria's Secret Fashion shows, the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and a hundred other events every year. He knows his shit.
That's like a gamer advising someone to build their own computer. Whereas the guy would benefit from a mac. I've had Sonos and I've had bluetooth speakers. I am not an audiophile. I want to be able to play my music easily and for it to sound nice. I use my bluetooth speakers (a JBL and an Amazon Echo Tap) every day. The Sonos was more difficult to set up. Required more maintenance. It sounded better. Was cool to have music in every room at the same time but given the cost and relative complexity - I'd go with an Amazon Echo every day of the week. It's easier to use, much cheaper, and sounds fine to my ear.
 

canderson

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Jul 16, 2005
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Harrisburg, Pa.
Reading for the past hour or so, Sonos not able to play Overcast easily is a true dealbreaker.

I don't want to spend $700 for the soundbar and using the Apple TV is fine but seems much more messy than sourcing directly from one of my devices like I can do via Echo.
 

VORP Speed

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I've been very happy with the Bose Soundtouch system. Can control everything pretty easily from an app on your iPhone, can stream via Bluetooth from your iPhone or play directly from Spotify, Amazon, etc and there are also pre-set buttons on the speakers themselves so you can have 6 stations from your service of choice set to play by touching the button on the speaker without having to use your phone or any kind of controller.
 

crystalline

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Oct 12, 2009
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Bluetooth audio stinks. Bluetooth is a low bandwidth protocol. So it compresses all audio.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/SBC_(codec). It can work out fine in ideal conditions- close distances, no interference or reflections, both devices Bluetooth stacks work well and work well together- but it's really easy to break and get skipping.

I wanted what you want. I looked into Sonos. I opted for the cheapest option and bought a single Bluetooth speaker thinking I'd try it and buy more if I liked it. (I never bought more).

For years Android Bluetooth audio was horrid. Mac OS support still stinks. Both produced sufficient skipping that the audio was unlistenable. If you tweak some constants in some files in /etc on Mac OS you can improve it a bit. iOS devices are the only ones that worked well in my hands. (Android recently worked out their issues and now Bluetooth audio works OK.)

Use a wireless protocol that works over 802.11. I have had decent luck with AirPlay and have heard good things about Sonos but have never used it myself.
 
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NortheasternPJ

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Nov 16, 2004
15,561
My main issue with Sonos was fixed with the last update. Prior to the last update there was no lock screen integration on iOS devices. It was a pain in the ass, now they have it so I have no negatives to Sonos. We have 2, one in our kitchen, one on our porch and use them every day. The app for awhile kind of sucked, but the latest versions of the app are way more responsive and great.

We have a Play 1 and a Play 3. The Play 1 is great for the kitchen since it's very small but the sound quality on the 3 is definitely better. I have a Zvox soundbase on our TV's so i don't know anything about the Soundbar.
 

Oil Can Dan

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I've had Sonos for the past four years and love it. It's easy to set up and work with so long as your phone is on your wifi. And I usually stick with listening to Spotify but I have streamed music from my phone before.
 

smastroyin

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I'm a big fan of SONOS as well, though I have complained about some of their quirks in the past. I do love having accept a me volume music throughout my house without having it cranked in one place. But I had a lot more success after cable connecting one of my speakers to my router. I don't think the wireless alone works very well unless you have only one speaker. You can also buy the bridge as a separate product of you don't want a speaker near your router.

I have two related complaints about SONOS. First, they don't have a weather resistant solution, so that you can mount and leave a speaker on a patio. Also, they don't have a portable solution. So, for instance, my workshop is up in my attic. I could permanently install a speaker there, but I'm not up there enough to justify the expense. So it would be nice if I could easily move a speaker up there. Ok yes I could move one of my others up there on days I'm working, but then I need to set it up on the network again.

I guess what I'm saying is that if I were SONOS I'd be working on a portable speaker.

Last, I find the most annoying thing about BT speakers is that music gets interrupted by notifications or calls. So make sure if you go that way you get a brand that has good software and app to control that behavior.
 

canderson

Mr. Brightside
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Jul 16, 2005
28,929
Harrisburg, Pa.
I ended up buying an Echo. We have Prime and the wife likes to use it a lot so between that, the linked Calendar and the shopping lists + ease of use for playing from my phone via voice commands I think it'll be a winner.

If SONOS ever allows native AirPlay or Bluetooth I'll be all-in. Given they seemed to have moved the target away from those physical speakers though I don't see it happening.
 

zenter

indian sweet
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Oct 11, 2005
5,641
Astoria, NY
I spent basically all of 2016 searching for a similar device @canderson. What I sought needed to hit the following criteria:

1) Could connect to a real speaker/sound system
2) Could be fully-controlled via any device in the home (ie, not "casting" from a device - so I could start playing something and wife could hit "next" from her phone)
3) Allowed playback of Google Play, Amazon Music, Pandora, MLB

You'd think there'd be dozens of devices out there. Basically, #2 and #3 made it so only one choice was reliable and usable - Sonos (I bought a used Connect).

Tested:
- Built-in Yamaha SW - sucks at basically all apps, doesn't even support "cast"
- Bluetooth adapter - sound quality as good as Bluetooth can be, "cast" only
- Chromecast - "cast" only, does not do Amazon
- Nexus Player - does not do Amazon, kludgey & needs TV interface
- Echo - not great with sound system, no Google music
- Repurposed Android phone controlled from other phones - VERY buggy

Adding the iOS layer would probably not make much of a difference except maybe Apple TV as an option. But, if you're like me and ecosystem-agnostic, the fact that Apple TV does Google Play Music or Amazon Music would be prohibitive.

IOW - Sonos is more expensive and the interface isn't perfect, but it's the only reliable option I've seen.
 

alydar

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One downside to all (I think) of what's out there is the lack of ability to actually use a radio. Sure, you can stream most stations, but if I want to use my Sonos speakers to listen to a Red Sox game, even though I can get WEEI over the air, I need the mlb at bat subscription.
 

B H Kim

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If SONOS ever allows native AirPlay or Bluetooth I'll be all-in. Given they seemed to have moved the target away from those physical speakers though I don't see it happening.
I have an Echo Dot (the small Echo) connected to the line-in jack on my Sonos Play 5, which lets me use the Sonos as a bluetooth speaker (along with all of the other Echo functionality).
 

NortheasternPJ

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Nov 16, 2004
15,561
I'm a big fan of SONOS as well, though I have complained about some of their quirks in the past. I do love having accept a me volume music throughout my house without having it cranked in one place. But I had a lot more success after cable connecting one of my speakers to my router. I don't think the wireless alone works very well unless you have only one speaker. You can also buy the bridge as a separate product of you don't want a speaker near your router.

I have two related complaints about SONOS. First, they don't have a weather resistant solution, so that you can mount and leave a speaker on a patio. Also, they don't have a portable solution. So, for instance, my workshop is up in my attic. I could permanently install a speaker there, but I'm not up there enough to justify the expense. So it would be nice if I could easily move a speaker up there. Ok yes I could move one of my others up there on days I'm working, but then I need to set it up on the network again.

I guess what I'm saying is that if I were SONOS I'd be working on a portable speaker.

Last, I find the most annoying thing about BT speakers is that music gets interrupted by notifications or calls. So make sure if you go that way you get a brand that has good software and app to control that behavior.
The network setup thing isn't true anymore. I unplug ours on our porch whenever it rains and plug it back in days later and no. Setup required. I often steal the one out of the kitchen and move it around too.
 

HriniakPosterChild

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Jul 6, 2006
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One downside to all (I think) of what's out there is the lack of ability to actually use a radio. Sure, you can stream most stations, but if I want to use my Sonos speakers to listen to a Red Sox game, even though I can get WEEI over the air, I need the mlb at bat subscription.
Are you sure about this? My wife uses the TuneIn app on her iPhone to listen to M's games on KIRO. It's not blacked out locally. I assume it WOULD. be blacked out outside of the M's market.

Is the TuneIn app on the Sonos blacking out WEEI in the Red Sox market during games?
 

NortheasternPJ

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Nov 16, 2004
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Yep. I can't get any MLB streams I've tried for Sox games. Occasionally a station like 104.5 North Shore forgets to block it but not often.

It really does suck. I'm going to get a small pocket radio and plug it into my outdoor Sonos.
 

smastroyin

simpering whimperer
Dope
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Jul 31, 2002
20,684
The network setup thing isn't true anymore. I unplug ours on our porch whenever it rains and plug it back in days later and no. Setup required. I often steal the one out of the kitchen and move it around too.
I'm about 50/50 with the re-connection happening without doing the white light/green light start up routine. And, about 20% of the time I have to deal with other speakers falling off of the network. Also, I typically then have to re-configure all of my groups and volume settings. It's not a huge huge deal, just one I like to avoid.

Regardless, a portable would be great. I understand the market is probably small because of the fact that you need the wireless network, though.
 

Hendu for Kutch

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I'm about 50/50 with the re-connection happening without doing the white light/green light start up routine. And, about 20% of the time I have to deal with other speakers falling off of the network. Also, I typically then have to re-configure all of my groups and volume settings. It's not a huge huge deal, just one I like to avoid.

Regardless, a portable would be great. I understand the market is probably small because of the fact that you need the wireless network, though.
I used to have this same problem all the time, it was very frustrating. But when I updated my router a few months back all the problems stopped immediately. Might be worth looking into. I've got a guy here painting the house, so I'm moving speakers in and out of rooms for him and they work perfectly with just being plugged back in.

One other small benefit that I've found is being able to start whatever you were playing last straight from the speaker. So if I had the Rolling Stones Pandora station playing last time I was in a room, I can just walk up to the speaker and push a button on top and it starts right back up, no controller needed. Handy in certain situations.

The 1 is plenty for a small room, but there is a noticeable jump in quality from the 1 to the 3. The 1 sounds OK and does fine in my bathroom, but the 3's in my basement and living room sound remarkably better. Worth the cost if you're going to cover any kind of area, IMO.
 

jercra

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Echo is freaking awesome. Holy cow.
Yep, I use mine constantly in the kitchen and my Tap outdoors. It's so nice not to care about where my phone is when I'm going back and forth inside and out while I'm grilling. Just being able to set timers while I'm cooking without needing my hands is worth the price.
 

cmac24

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Aug 2, 2001
1,996
Sorry in advance for a slight highjack...

We are building a patio. Any recommendations for an outdoor speaker with blue tooth that we can mount on the house?
 

sunoff

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Fyi...the sonos play 1 is water resistant. It's held up fine in my shower for going on two years. I put one outside on my deck a couple weeks ago under an eave. So far so good, with some real snotty weather. I've got them everywhere now, it just kind of happens. For $200 I'll take the gamble it lasts for awhile.
 

TFP

Dope
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Dec 10, 2007
19,270
FYI - Sonos released an update recently where you can control it directly from the Spotify app (not having to go through the Sonos app). This is a game changer for me, I'm much more likely to search and use the Spotify app than maintain a playlist in the Sonos app.

Huge upgrade, in my opinion.
 

StupendousMan

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Here's a depressing little note about Sonos speakers (and perhaps similar units made by other manufacturers).

I purchased a pair of Sonos Play:1 speakers about five years ago and set them up in the living room. Good sound, convenient interface. I installed the control software on my laptop (a 2011 MacBook Pro) and my iPod. No problems.
As time went by, I discovered that my wife and I have rather different musical tastes, and since we both spend much of our time in the living room, that meant we didn't use the speakers all that much. Still, they were ready when I wanted to listen.

Last night, I fired up the interface for the first time in a few months and -- foolishly -- clicked on the "Update software" button which had popped up. A new version of the control software was installed, jumping forward from 5.3 or 6.1 to 7.1. Turns out that 7.1 doesn't run properly on old versions of Mac OX 10.7.5: it can stream radio stations, but refuses to play music from the hard drive. Sonos does not make older versions of its software available, so I can't revert to the version that was running properly. And my hardware doesn't run (as far as I can tell) the newer versions of OS X which support the Sonos software.

Just use my iPod, right? Well, no, for two reasons: first, I dropped a year ago and so switched to an old Galaxy Note that my brother gave me -- and that old Note won't run version 7.1 of the Sonos software, either. Two, even if I still had my old iPod, it wouldn't be able to play the music which is sitting on my laptop (3 GB, ripped from a very large CD collection).

The only way to continue to use the speakers with my existing music collection seems to be to purchase a new computer or iPod, transfer all the music onto it, and hope that I can keep that new device up-to-date with the Sonos software as time moves forward.

If I used regular old speakers with wires, I could easily send the output from my laptop (or some other computer) through an output jack into the speakers. But with Sonos, or other fancy wireless systems, one is to some extent at the mercy of the corporation which writes the control software.

If anyone can suggest ways for me to listen to my music with the Sonos system, I'd be happy to listen and learn. I'd prefer methods that don't involve the additional outlay of cash, of course :-/
 

Red Sox Physicist

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You should be able to upgrade to macOS Sierra 10.12. It supports MacBook Pro Mid 2010 and newer. That's likely the easiest and best route.

Mac OS X 10.7.5 hasn't received security updates in years. Google dropped support for Chrome for it with Chrome 49. Gmail will no longer support that version Chrome soon as well.